Recognising indigenous and traditional territories


The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) recognizes the crucial contributions of Indigenous peoples and local communities in conserving biodiversity through their governance systems, values, knowledge, innovations, practice and worldviews. Ensuring protected and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) systems recognize, respect and support territories and areas conserved by and with Indigenous peoples and local communities is crucial for equity and effectiveness. Area-based conservation should not be used as an excuse to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their territories but rather promote and restore traditional values and practices that support biodiversity and ecosystem services and contribute to sustainable livelihoods.

Target 3 calls for effective conservation through, among other elements, “recognising indigenous and traditional territories, where applicable.” The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) and meetings of the IPLC Caucus identified the inclusion of this phrase as crucial for Target 3 during negotiations. (IIFB has been recognized by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as a representative body in the deliberations since 1996.) The IIFB position is that “recognizing indigenous and traditional territories” in Target 3 provides a distinct pathway to conservation in addition to protected areas and OECMs, so not subsumed to protected areas and OECMs. The CBD Secretariat has posed an interpretation as “This target calls for the expansion and enhancement of protected and conserved areas, (i.e. areas that are managed with the aim of achieving positive outcomes for biodiversity). The target indicates three approaches that may be employed to achieve this aim”: and lists protected areas, OECMs and Indigenous and traditional territories.

Systems can include protected areas and OECMs governed under diverse governance arrangements. There are contexts in which territory custodians may seek (and have sought) protected area designations or OECM identification. Some Indigenous and traditional territories are governed and conserved under their own customary government systems. In addition, there are also in other cases shared or mosaic arrangements. However, there will also be (and are) contexts in which Indigenous peoples and local communities consider that protected area designation or OECM recognition do not support, potentially undermine, or are not appropriate for recognition of Indigenous and traditional territories that otherwise meet Target 3 criteria.

Enabling factors and challenges

Approaches for recognition of indigenous and traditional territories should be led by their owners/governing authorities, and with FPIC in all cases, in accordance with Global Biodiversity Framework implementation considerations and Targets 21 to 23. Decisions and their implementation should uphold applicable law and multilateral agreements, including the Nagoya Protocol, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

ICCAs and Overlapping Protected Areas: Fostering Conservation Synergies and Social Reconciliation

This Policy Brief explores the issues of territories and areas conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities (ICCAs) and overlapping protected areas, discusses key approaches for appropriately recognising, respecting and supporting overlapped ICCAs, and offers recommendations. It is based on an in-depth report to the ICCA Consortium, Recognising and Respecting ICCAs Overlapped by Protected Areas, which presents information and analysis from a three-and-a-half year process of consultation and discussion within the ICCA Consortium and at international meetings of the IUCN and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Territories and areas conserved by indigenous peoples and communities are often called ICCAs or ‘Territories of Life’. ICCAs and overlapping protected areas: fostering conservation synergies and social reconciliation. This resource provides information on ICCAs around the world. The ICCA registry includes descriptive and spatial data, case studies, maps, and photos that are submitted by ICCA custodians.

The Global Support Initiative to territories and areas conserved by Indigenous Peoples and local communities. The Global Support Initiative to territories and areas conserved by Indigenous Peoples and local communities (ICCA-GSI) was formed in 2014 to broaden the range and quality of diverse governance types in recognizing ICCAs. This publication takes stock of the outcomes of the ICCA-GSI at the global, regional, national, and local levels.

LandMark: The Global Platform of Indigenous and Community Lands

LandMark is an online, interactive global platform that provides maps and other critical information on lands that are collectively held and used by Indigenous Peoples and local communities. It complements the ICCA registry, in that it captures a broader set of territories that are held and managed by Indigenous peoples and local communities around the world. A new version of LandMark will be launched in late 2024, which will have enhanced, user-friendly features and access to data summaries, as well as analytical tools.


Respecting the rights and leadership of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in realizing global goals: Link to the document