Developing the capacity of indigenous communities to use bio-cultural rights to secure self-determination and protect biodiversity

By NatalieRDS | November 28th, 2011

70% of the world’s poor – often indigenous people and traditional communities – depend on their natural environments for their livelihoods. Although this heavy dependence on the environment exists, the world continues to witness the massive loss of biological diversity that impacts the food security, livelihoods and health of millions of people.

In light of massive biodiversity damage, the ability of indigenous people to sustain their ways of life is threatened. One of the best ways to preserve biodiversity – and indigenous people who depend on these environments – is through the development of a set of rights termed bio-cultural rights. These rights share in common with the Open Society the desire for transparent and democratic governments to safeguard the fundamental rights of citizens.

The loss of biodiversity also undermines the rights afforded to indigenous people by the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), including their right to self-determination. Research has found that sustainable use of biodiversity is best achieved when decisions are left in the hands of indigenous communities – traditionally the stewards of these environments.

The overall aim of this project is to advocate for people centred conservation that protects the ecologically bound ways of life of indigenous people and, by extension, their survival. This is achieved through the recognition, and usage, of the Bio-cultural Community Protocols – by indigenous communities, NGOs, CBOs, lawyers and governments – as a tool to secure the bio-cultural rights of indigenous people.

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