Stories articles Policy

United Nations room with people speaking on screen and seated in chairs on the conference room floor.

A scene from the 22nd Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, taking place in New York City from April 17 - 28, 2023. Photo by Hill Ossip.

April 18, 2023

UNPFII Statement from Nia Tero, Tebtebba, and the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB)

Statement delivered by Grace Balawag on behalf of Tebtebba, Nia Tero, and the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) during the 22nd Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The theme of this session was “Indigenous Peoples, human health, planetary and territorial health and climate change: a rights-based approach.”

Tuesday, 18 April 2023 – Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to address this agenda item.

At COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in December last year, intensive and sustained advocacy by the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity resulted in a breakthrough: a global framework that will guide biodiversity action until 2030, towards the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework explicitly mentions Indigenous Peoples’ rights in 30% of its targets and 25% percent of its goals with many more targets and goals supportive of the rights and contributions of Indigenous Peoples. The only international instrument specifically mentioned in the framework, aside from the Convention itself and its protocols, is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The framework explicitly adopts a rights-based approach and a non-derogation clause for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. It adopts a third pathway for recognizing Indigenous territories, beyond Protected Areas and other effective conservation measures.

Now, we need to ensure robust implementation of the Framework. As countries revise their national biodiversity strategies and develop national commitments pursuant to the Framework, the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples must be ensured. National laws and policies need to be reviewed and reformed to ensure that Indigenous territories are recognized and protected, because the science is clear that Indigenous Peoples are the best guardians of nature and their territories the most biodiverse. Furthermore, the CBD must ensure that it’s work on Indigenous Peoples meets the need for global guidance and national implementation of the Framework.

We recommend that the Forum:

  1. Welcome the Kunming-Montreal biodiversity as a global instrument that fully respects Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
  2. Call on governments to ensure the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in planning, implementation, and reporting on the framework.
  3. Call on governments to review and revise their laws to recognize and protect Indigenous Peoples’ territories as an alternative pathway for ensuring biodiversity conservation.
  4. Recommend that the CBD establish a permanent body on traditional knowledge and other provisions relevant for Indigenous Peoples, with a robust work program that supports implementation of the Framework, and with methods of work that adopt the enhanced Indigenous participation modalities of the Article 8(j) working group as a minimum standard.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.