Recognising and respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, including over their traditional territories, is paramount for achieving Target 3. Indigenous peoples and local communities play outsized roles in biodiversity conservation through their collective action, systems of government, transmission of knowledge, biocultural protocols and others. Yet in many places, their rights are not sufficiently recognized, respected or protected, including in the protected and conserved areas context. Target 3 recognizes this in the commitment to “Recognizing and respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, including over their traditional territories.” This is foundational for Target 3 (and Global Biodiversity Framework; GBF) implementation. In “Recognising and respecting rights,” recognizing rights refers to affirming and acknowledging rights, including inherent rights; respecting rights refers to the duty and responsibility not to violate or interfere with rights. The collective and individual rights of Indigenous peoples and of local communities, including over their traditional territories, are recognized in a wide range of international instruments, as well as regional, and national and subnational statutory and customary laws and protocols. One key instrument, cited in the GBF, is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – a cornerstone document for recognising rights.
Amongst the many relevant rights in relation to Target 3 implementation are rights to own, govern and manage lands, waters and territories; to participate in decision making; and to give or withhold Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). FPIC is an enshrined right of Indigenous peoples in United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) – including in relation to lands and territories, cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property, adoption and implementation of legislative or administrative measures that may affect them, and effective redress where FPIC is not upheld. FPIC of Indigenous peoples and local communities is also required in the GBF and earlier Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) decisions, specifically in relation to: Rights, knowledge, innovations, worldviews; Establishment, expansion, governance and management of protected areas; and in the Mo’otz Kuxtal Voluntary Guidelines on Traditional Knowledge.
In the context of CBD Article 8(j), traditional territories can be understood as “lands and waters traditionally occupied or used by indigenous peoples and local communities.” The new inclusion of “indigenous and traditional territories” requires some development of similar understanding, with the Article 8(j) definition providing a starting point for what this might mean and acknowledging at the same time that it is of central importance that the views and positions of Indigenous peoples and local communities (as major rightsholders) are given full consideration and priority when it comes to resolving this definition.