Biodiversity loss and inappropriate conservation practises dominated
the agenda of Indigenous Peoples who from all corners of the globe under the umbrella of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) converged on Hyderabad, India for the Convention on Biological Diversity – Conference of Parties meeting.

Signed by government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. The Convention recognises that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live. The Earth’s biodiversity is essential to the survival of humanity. At the same time, the threat to species and ecosystems has never been so great as it is today. Species extinction caused by human activities continues at an alarming rate.

At this years conference these were concerns that were global to Indigenous peoples. Gam Shimray of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact reiterated this during the IIFB opening remarks, Five years ago, the United Nations General Assembly passed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which sets the minimum benchmarks for the recognition of Indigenous peoples and their effective participation in decision making processes.

We note with regret that most states in the implementation of decisions under the Convention on Biological Diversity have failed to mainstream the rights inherent in the declaration in their decisions relating to biodiversity in respect of conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use and equitable access and benefit sharing arrangements.

These sentiments were echoed by Indigenous peoples representatives from Africa when Baba Festus, a San from the Kalahari, stated at a IIFB press conference that:

We have serious concerns about discussions relating to repatriation of traditional knowledge. We reiterate our position to the parties that no continued use of repatriated traditional knowledge should be allowed without the prior informed consent of the holders of the traditional knowledge and under mutually agreed terms.

Tui Hoterene of Ngati Hine supported this and concluded “When there are opportunities to enhance the Convention within National and Local contexts States should welcome and support these opportunities. The Waitangi Tribunals’ WAI 262 report would inform and enhance its obligations under the Convention in particular environmental and conservation management issues in respect of hapu and iwi.

IIFB Closing Statement

IIFB Statement on Forest Biodiversity

IIFB Statement on Eco-Restoration

IIFB in India

IIFB Opening Statement