Indigenous peoples, the cornerstone of ABS as custodians of biodiversity and holders of traditional knowledge
9 Aug 2019
Despite the fact that for decades indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, their way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources, throughout history, their rights have always been violated. According to the United Nations, there is an estimated 370 million indigenous peoples in the world, living across 90 countries. These figures accounts to less than 5 percent of the world´s population, however this minority group represent 15 percent of the world´s poorest.
The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life. In order to raise awareness of the needs of these population groups, every 9th of August, the United Nations commemorates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, chosen in recognition of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in Geneva on 1982.
In line with this recognition, the Nagoya Protocol on ABS – the Treaty of the Convention on Biological Diversity that the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project helps to implement in 23 countries globally– acknowledges Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCS) at the center of the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) thematic. In this sense, Nagoya Protocol considers IPLCS not only as custodians of biodiversity but also as holders of traditional knowledge that directly leads researchers to the potential uses and characteristics of associated genetic resources.
Alejandro Lago, Global Manager of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project indicates:
“The Nagoya Protocol sets obligations in order to guarantee the right of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to grant access to their traditional knowledge, to ensure communities’ prior informed consent and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from its use. It also establishes that access to genetic resources must observe community laws and procedures as well as customary use and Exchange.”
In this framework, the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project in Honduras has launched a video campaign to raise awareness of the importance of indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge to the sustainable use of genetic resources and biodiversity conservation. As a mean to draw attention to the critical loss of indigenous languages and the urgent need to preserve, revitalize and promote them, the campaign has been released in Miskitu and Garifuna, both indigenous languages from Honduras. Click here to view the videos.
To know more about the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project and its work to implement the Nagoya Protocol on ABS click here. Register as a member of the Global ABS Community to access additional ABS related content here.