Indigenous caucus welcomes the Kunming Declaration, but more work to be done


As COP 15 Part 1 draws to a close, the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) welcomes the recognition of the vital role of indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation of biological diversity and re-iterates the ongoing need for dialogue around conservation on traditional lands and territories. 

15 October, Nairobi & Kunming. 

In closing the COP15 High-Level Segment, IIFB Co-Chair Lucy Mulenkei reiterated the importance of indigenous peoples’ involvement in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP 15.

“There is overwhelming evidence showing that indigenous peoples and local communities are the de facto custodians of a significant portion of the planet. Biodiversity is decreasing at a much slower rate on indigenous peoples’ lands and territories than anywhere else on the planet,” said Mulenkei.

She said that she was also encouraged by the theme of the COP 15, which is ‘Ecological Civilization – Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth.’

“This theme reaffirms that Indigenous Peoples’ cultures, lifestyles, knowledge and management systems are key in maintaining the largest portions of the world’s remaining biodiversity,” she said.

“We have been undertaking ecosystem restoration for centuries, learning from generation to generation. We continue to be committed and ready to join the world in ensuring the ecosystem restoration efforts succeed on a global scale.” 

Commitment 5 of the Kunming Declaration recognises the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to have full and effective participation in the context of area-based conservation, which Mulenkei described as “critical, and very timely”.

“However, IIFB calls on the Parties to the Convention to recognise the rights and contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities beyond protected areas and area-based conservation,” she said. 

“Any recognition and/or designation of our lands and territories must be subject to the self-identification, self-determination, self-governance and Free, Prior and Informed Consent of indigenous peoples and local communities.” 

She also highlighted Commitment 8, which aims to ensure the fair and equitable benefit-sharing from the utilisation of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.

“This commitment should be extended to include the digital sequence information on genetic resources to ensure Nagoya Protocol validity in the near future, particularly on matters related to indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.”

The statement goes on to say:

“The emerging global biodiversity framework must more fully address the second and third objectives of sustainable use and benefit sharing, as well as balancing the three objectives of the convention. If it does not, it risks failing to meet the 2030 Targets, and the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature.”

IIFB hopes that these commitments in Kunming Declaration are carried into the negotiations and adopted in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. We are committed and ready to work with you all and at all levels to ensure that the Post-2020 global biodiversity framework leads to the truly transformative change urgently needed to save our Mother Earth for the present and future generations.

The COP 15 will continue in person in April and May 2022, where the Post-2020 global diversity framework will be agreed.

Further information

For enquiries or to arrange an interview, please contact IIFB Secretariat at

IIFB’s full closing statement is available here:

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