This hybrid session was a side-event to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) resumed sessions of the twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24), the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) and the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020-3), taking place in Geneva, in March 2022. The side-Event was organized by the SwedBio, Forest Peoples Programme, Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN), ICCA Consortium, IIFB, W4B, UNEP, WWF, Natural Justice, OHCHR, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Geneva Environment Network.

About this Side Event

Human rights and the environment are inextricably linked and thus require equal respect and protection. In the context of biodiversity, rights over lands, resources, associated traditional knowledge and other rights that can be collectively held and enjoyed are particularly critical.

Draft one of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) commits to applying a rights-based approach to conservation, sustainable use and benefit-sharing of biodiversity to realise the vision of “living in harmony with nature”. The rights-based approach is anchored within the post-2020 GBF’s theory of change and is reinforced in the enabling conditions. The recently adopted resolution 48/13 on the rights to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, by the Human Rights Council, in October 2021, further sets the scene for a rights-based approach by encouraging governments “to adopt policies for the enjoyment of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as appropriate, including with respect to biodiversity and ecosystems”.

This side event drew attention to the importance of human rights in the GBF and created a common understanding of how a human rights-based approach to conservation works in practice. It also further reflected on how applying a human rights-based approach can help the effective, inclusive and equitable planning and implementation of the framework, as well as the associated monitoring and reporting, prior to the final negotiation of the post-2020 GBF. The side event

  • Showcased specific recommendations for mainstreaming and strengthening a human rights-based approach in the GBF in effective and coherent ways, including in the principles, structure, language of targets, monitoring (indicators) and reporting
  • Ensured all participants after the side-event understand what a human rights-based approach in the implementation of the GBF means, and how it can help achieve goals and targets in effective, inclusive and equitable ways for nature and people


David BOYD

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment


Mexico’s Chief Negotiator for Climate Change and Biodiversity


Senior Specialist, Biodiversity, Government of Finland

Mphatso Martha KALEMBA

Principal Environmental Officer (Biodiversity), Environmental Affairs Department, Government of Malawi

Vivienne SOLÍS

Associate and Board of Directors, ICSF/CoopeSoliDar R.L


Executive Director, ANAPAC, Democratic Republic of Congo


Field and Research Coordinator, Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT)

Abigail KITMA

Indigenous Peoples Rights Focal Point, Tebtebba


Associate Human Rights Officer, OHCHR


Environmental Governance Coordinator, Forest Peoples Programme


Graphic summary of the 19 March 2022 event by Maria Richter Simsek.

David BOYD | UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment

Delivered through a video message.

  • Two critical reasons why human rights are such an essential part of this conversation about conservation:
    1. All human rights ultimately depend on healthy ecosystems and biodiversity. From the pollinators, the food we eat, the plants that produce oxygen for the air we breathe, and the healthy forest that protect us from spillover of zoonotic diseases, all of these protect our right to health.
    2. Conservation actions violate human rights: evicting people from their homes and their communities, criminalizing traditional lifestyles, and even acts of violence against indigenous peoples and local communities. We see this happening today in Tanzania where tens of thousands of Maasai people are evicted from Ngorongoro National Park. In the 21st century, this is unacceptable.
  • So, rights -based approaches to protecting, conserving, and restoring biodiversity are really the only effective and equitable way to save nature and save humanity. Three recommendations:
    1. Rights based approaches should be at the heart of the post2020 Global Biodiversity They should be included in legislation, National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, and in processes for creating and expanding protected areas and their management. Conservation finance expected to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars in the next decade has to be carefully streamed using social and human rights safeguards to ensure donors and investors respect, protect, fulfill, and promote human rights.
    2. The rights of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) as well as other rural rights holders should be given top priority. Not only in terms of free, prior and informed consent, but also advancing the rights, titles, and governance responsibilities of indigenous peoples and other rural rights holders.
    3. The right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment (resolution 48/13) should be incorporated directly into the post-2020 GBF, as well as measurable targets related to its implementation. Recognizing this right empowers everyone to engage in nature conservation, essential for the protection of both human and ecosystem health.
  • It is known that rights-based approaches to conservation work in lands where indigenous people’s titles and rights are recognized are high in biodiversity. Examples are plural around the globe:
    • In Namibia, community conservation areas are leading to larger wildlife populations, economic benefits, and increased human well-being.
    • In Mexico, marine protected area near Cabo Pumo was designated at the request of the local community and has helped rebuild fish populations and generate a thriving ecotourism sector.
    • Indigenous protected and conserved areas in Australia and Canada are protecting biodiversity, reviving cultural traditions and generating economic benefits for indigenous peoples.

Based on international and national human rights law, putting human rights at the heart of conservation is an obligation for governments, not an option.

Helen TUGENDHAT | Environmental Governance Coordinator, Forest Peoples Programme

  • In February 2020, an informal working group on human rights and biodiversity was established. We gathered in Chiang Mai, Thailand, hosted by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, with representatives of many of the Major Groups and observers to this Convention to discuss the challenge of implementing international environmental commitments in a way that contributes to human rights being not only recognized, but potentially enhanced.
  • In Chiang Mai, we discussed ways to enhance the GBF and proposed human rights language to the Rome meetings of the OEWG. During the pandemic, we saw momentum building towards a clearer understanding of the link between human rights and the environment.
  • Two important outcomes produced since then.
    • In March 2021, the Human Rights Council passed a resolution on human rights and the environment.
    • In January of the same year the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment issued an open letter that recognized:

“[…] The profound importance of implementing a rights-based approach to both the climate and biodiversity crises. A rights-based approach to environmental protection is an obligation, not an option, because of the international human rights commitments made by all States”.

  • Many of the participants knew from their work, experiences and the communities and peoples with whom they worked that human rights violations linked to conservation initiatives are real, and they persist. They are too often denied access to areas culturally sacred to them, or access to the resources that underpin their customary sustainable use patterns. We knew that the Aichi Targets were largely blind to human rights considerations, with a few important exceptions, and we wanted the GBF to do better.
  • The Human Rights in Biodiversity Working Group just launched its most recent collective analyses about the GBF from a human rights perspective. This briefing draws together collaborative analysis from across many organizations, experts in the rights of younger and future generations, in the rights of women, and representatives of indigenous peoples’ and of local communities, and their organizations, all joined our global effort to share and clarify our thinking about the implementation of the GBF.

We stood back and looked at the visions of the world that underpinned the framework and agreed with the call for transformative change. We sought to place people back into a positive role with nature, and to engage with the many ways in which humans and nature interact, and how human rights are impacted both by environmental change but also by actions taken to stem environmental change.

  • From the key messages above, there are three to be highlighted:
    1. Indigenous peoples and local communities’ ways of life and territories are part of the solution to our global crises. They must be identified and supported across the framework, including through recognition of rights over lands, territories and resources, in area-based measures, in customary sustainable use, in traditional knowledge and in full and effective participation.
    2. The rights of women and girls to participate is enshrined in the Convention. This requires both disaggregation of data across Targets and Indicators, and the development of a specific Target (new 22) and associated indicators.
    3. The rights of younger and future generations, and our responsibilities to them, are intergenerational and sacred. Transformative education and full engagement of children and youth in the design and implementation of this framework will be essential to enable us to live up to those responsibilities.
  • We welcome everyone to read the resulting briefing that approaches the GBF as a comprehensive whole. The briefing provides framing text suggestions, addresses goals and milestones, and approaches each target from a human rights perspective, addressing what the target is and how to measure it.

Vivienne SOLÍS | Associate and Board of Directors, ICSF/CoopeSoliDar R.L

  • What do these photos seem to show?

  • Perhaps, (1) women that are gathering mollusks and they are coming with their product to the shore. (2) A very vulnerable condition of a community of fishers looking like they are not managing the fish well.

  • (3) A seemingly good day of fishing and happy people moving in their  gathering center; and (4) an Afrodescendant community and you might say they are doing some of their traditional use of jellyfish.

If one observes these pictures with our human rights space approach glasses, a different image emerges.

  • In Picture (1), we see these women working on that mangrove – a protected area – might raise the question, do we recognize decent work of these women?
    • Are there issues of health, education, and childcare that had not been taken into consideration because they do that activity everyday? Is the distribution of benefits just and equitable? Do they have a lot of knowledge concerning those huge mollusk that they are carrying in the little bag? Do they know which one to take out of the ecosystem? Do they participate indecision making and what is happening to the young girls that are following them in the work?
  • Picture (2) touches the issue of tenure rights, a long-discussed topic as a key aspect for sustainable use.
    • We need to talk about dignity and well-being and food security of communities that do not have any alternative living in the lands that are owned by the government.
  • Picture (3) regards access rights.
    • Eight out of ten small scale fishers in Costa Rica without incorporating women are non-formal: they do their activities without any permit from the government to traditionally use the resource. This non-formality will make them sell their product in a very unfair market, even if they had a great day of fishing even if they have provided and done a lot of work.
  • The last photo is about economic impact. It represents a huge international industry that came to this community tell them to buy the jellyfish. How is this decent work? They are gone now. How was the prior informed consent?
  • Key issues to remember from a human-rights based approach here are:
    • How are we talking about tenure rights?
    • How are we talking about the rights of women and Target 22 that needs to be established in this global framework?
    • How are we thinking about future generations and right for a decent work and decent tenure rights and access  rights to the biological resources?

It is therefore important to maintain those human rights eyeglasses because a human-rights based approach is required to maintain this biodiversity alive.

Camila ZEPEDA LIZAMA | Mexico’s Chief Negotiator for Climate Change and Biodiversity

  • A few months ago here in Geneva, the UN HRC passed through resolution 48/13 on the rights to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Unfortunately, such achievement did not permeate into other UN bodies. At COP 26 in Glasgow we did not acknowledge this resolution in the final decision known as the Glasgow Climate Pact.
  • Mexico asked for it extensively in all negotiations and technical meetings and scoring few successes, but it was not enough. We failed with the Glasgow work programme on Action for Climate Empowerment.
    • Contrary to the assumption that this agenda would be recognized in principle a human rights based-approach and a gender perspective, such mentions proposed by Mexico were deleted in a very late night session, leaving Mexico’s delegate alone. Due to COVID restrictions, observers and civil society were forbidden from being in the room.
    • This shows you that even if a country such as Mexico who has a very strong mandate to mainstream human rights approach in every multilateral forum demands for humans rights, it might not be enough.
  • We need critical mass. At this Convention, we need more coordination. Having a critical mass entails that all present here ask their parties, other delegates, civil society to demand and keep pushing for human rights. Otherwise, human rights will not be upheld in this Convention.
  • On implementation. The right to a healthy environment is at the core of a fair, peaceful, and inclusive exercise of all other human rights. One way to contribute to a healthier environment is to guarantee human rights of access when it comes to the environment.
    • The Escazú Agreement (Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation, and Justice and Environmental Matters in Latin American and the Caribbean) is an unprecedented agreement featuring significant participation of civil society representatives and experts in environmental law and human rights. It is a binding agreement and a particularly important one for this region since it contains legal specific provisions to protect environmental human rights defenders.
    • Being the first of this kind, the process to figure out its implementation is still ongoing. Still, it is a legally-binding agreement aiming to guarantee the full and effective implementation of the rights of access to environmental information, public participation in the environmental decision-making process, access to justice environmental matters and the creation and strengthening of capacities and cooperation.
  • Contributing to the to the protection of the right of every person to live in a healthy environment, Escazú Agreement offers us a path to advance. Despite it only covering Latin America, it could be a good example for other regions for strengthening the rule of law, fostering participatory democracy and protecting human rights.
    • Next month the first Conference of the Parties will be held in Chile will be held virtually and this represent a great opportunity to learn more about the Escazú Agreement.

Ramson KARMUSHU | Field and Research Coordinator, Indigenous Movement for Peace Advancement and Conflict Transformation (IMPACT)

  • My presentation will focus on the development projects that are happening in my country and the struggles, challenges we are facing as indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as our perspectives we fight for our rights.

  • In the picture above is a development corridor in northern Kenya, which we always say connects the world. Connecting to the world means many things: from the radio line, the superhighway, the power line, optic cable fibres, to an oil pipeline.
    • One threat is the size of the corridor, which is about one kilometre wide from each side of the road. Our worry here is the connectivity of biodiversity. Because we have biodiversity on both sides, we also have exploitation of this biodiversity whether they be livestock or wildlife.
    • When these projects were proposed, nothing was mentioned, in terms of development, about inclusivity, biodiversity and connectivity, even though it has been proven by research that it’s very expensive not to include them during the inception, making them eight times expensive.

  • Another kind of development project that we are facing is the Isiolo Resource City. It may have a nice plan out outlay, but it’s also a threat to biodiversity. This may show paradise, but if something like this is developed in biodiversity areas in other cities, but we are worried about the biodiversity of the area in terms of livelihoods and in terms of wildlife areas. Who is it also planned for? This is not for the communities that live and own this land. The people who are going to invest on the land must be people coming from other areas. The community livelihood in terms of their biodiversity areas and their security of land is also threatened.
  • The challenge here is the recognition and inclusion of indigenous peoples and local communities in decision-making in all of these plans that are coming into our land. The communities are pastoralists and we already have our own challenges that we are facing. But due to the kind of development projects that are coming in, we foresee facing into more and more challenges. Evictions are already happening where communities are forced out of their territories for these developments to take place.
  • What we are fighting for: we want to see communities having secured their land and having the security of land tenure. We have various kinds conservation projects we have which is mostly community-owned and -managed, and we would like all of them to be inclusive.
  • Expectations and possible outcomes:
    1. We want the traditional government system restored, preserved, and promoted. They inform our ecological functions and ecosystems to sustain biodiversity for livelihoods.
    2. We would like to see IPLCs rights to land and natural resources fully secured. We want the communities to have power and authority over their land and natural resources.
    3. We would like to see indigenous peoples and traditional practices being preserved, protected and promoted.
    4. Restoration and preservation of sacred sites are something we also fight for. The totems are very important. Through biodiversity monitors, We have a system that ah that is really inclusive in terms of management of natural resources.
    5. We would like to protect indigenous peoples’ languages and cultures. They underpin the governance and knowledge and livelihoods, systems of pastoralist groups.

Joseph ITONGWA | Executive Director, ANAPAC, Democratic Republic of Congo

Highlights translated from French.

  • The rights of indigenous peoples, especially in relation to the management and governance of biodiversity has been problematic, because the spaces of biodiversity for a very long time has been protected by indigenous people, by traditional and cultural ties. The territories on which we live are territories that have been filled with biodiversity for a long time. We have traditional links with biodiversity. We know of course what to do and what not to do with animals, plants, rivers, areas with high biodiversity where natural resources and traditional territory reside.
  • We do not conserve them because there is no need for conservation. Conservation has changed outcome, including of our sustainable management practices of these territories. We have ways of using resources that really respect cultural values and keeps biodiversity intact.
  • When there are decisions on these territories that become, for example, protected areas, it is necessary to take into account the traditional and cultural rights that we have. Most of the spaces for example, the most failed of Congo: protected areas there are at 13 percent but there are many spaces that we occupy where there are still resources and biodiversity but where indigenous peoples are attacked.
  • I don’t know if we really still need to have a GBF if they will not take into account the efforts and contributions of indigenous peoples, justice and equity, and the rights of indigenous peoples and the traditional roles that we have played.
  • It is also necessary to take into account in the GBF the traditional mode of management. We cannot have a kind of governance linked to protected areas that has not produced successes or those that produce situations where we lose the peace of such biodiversity.
  • We cannot protect biodiversity without taking into account the contribution of the values and the contributions of the indigenous people. In short, it is necessary to take into account the rights of free, previous and informed consent on the decisions on the territory of the indigenous peoples, the consultation of the autonomous peoples, and the traditional ways of biodiversity management by the indigenous peoples.
  • In the plan of action of the implementation of the biodiversity, we must take into account the traditional ways of management, other effective conservation measures, and the rights of the indigenous peoples.

Nina MIKANDER | Senior Specialist, Biodiversity, Government of Finland

Sharing a few practical examples of the Human Rights Based Approach is implemented in Finland.

  • Last December we published the government report on human rights policy which includes a chapter on climate change and biodiversity. This will promote the human rights-based approach even further within Finland on all levels. We also have a unique opportunity to promote the approach even further because we’re currently a member of the UN HRC for the next two years. We’re going to look at this as a further opportunity to promote equity and gender equality.
  • We’re also currently in the process of updating our NBSAP, ensuring it’s in alignment with the new human rights policy that that we adopted in this report and in the wider context in Finland. This ensures equal access to information by rights holders and other stakeholders.
  • The Finnish Swami people as well as a wide range of civil society representatives are involved in our National Biodiversity work and have been doing so for a long time. Our stakeholders and in particular, our environmental NGOs have a long tradition of collaboration and cooperation. These are a big part of strengthening not just the content of our work but also good governance.
  • Under the current finished chairship of the Arctic Council Biodiversity Working Group, we are working in collaboration with our IPLCs to advance the inclusion of indigenous knowledge into the monitoring of the Arctic ecosystems as well as the co-creation of knowledge. We’ve revised our long-term development cooperation strategy which means that in future, development cooperation funding and capacity building will include the allocation of funds can be prioritized for projects which advance human rights and a human rights-based approach.
  • I want to encourage all parties to embrace the human rights-based approach going forward and our experiences that you have nothing to lose but everything to gain At the same time, we want to acknowledge that in Finland, we’re also continuously learning, learning by doing. We look forward to continue learning from other parties and stakeholders on how we can improve our work.
  • If any party is interested in discussing this further, we’re very to do that. If anyone here is interested in getting in touch with any of our various rights holders to hear their views going forward after this event, I’m happy to set up any of those connections.

Mphatso Martha KALEMBA | Principal Environmental Officer (Biodiversity), Environmental Affairs Department, Government of Malawi

  • I will mostly focus on the right holders that we have prioritized, specifically the youth and women, in this presentation. When I started myself participating in the discussion under the CBD, it was through the Global Youth Biodiversity Network, through the creativity and the innovation that the youth can bring in the discussion.
  • Target 15 of Malawi’s NBSAP focuses on issues that have to do with gender, the youth, the poor and the vulnerable because they are the right holders. We prioritized them to ensure their participation and that their needs are being addressed in each and every activity we undertake, through clear indicators that guide implementation and ensures that the needs and participation of these right holders are considered.
  • One of the ways that we have enhanced this kind of participation is through coming up with a number of activities that enhance the dialogues as well as help create an understanding of young people in how their needs are being addressed in biodiversity management. We bring in other government participants and organizations to showcase how the youth fit in in the various programs.
  • We also created opportunities for participation and learning visits. In the recent celebrations of biodiversity day, we brought some young people to some of the projects that are happening so that they can have a view of what is happening on the ground and see how these address their needs.
  • We are also implementing youth-focused programs, such as the Malawi Youth Restoration Program. It involved 11,000 youths across the country, with now a successor program that will engage 2,000 youths.
  • Malawi is a champion of gender, as gender matters a lot to us.

We need to support the youth programs more. They have their own ideas. If we don’t involve them, we are missing out because they are the only hope that can act and think differently, and change the world and their future. Their needs and voices need to be brought on board if we are to change the next generation.

Abigail KITMA | Indigenous Peoples Rights Focal Point, Tebtebba

  • I would like to highlight our experiences in Tebtebba as well as an indigenous youth working on human rights and indigenous rights, particularly through the photo below.

  • This was taken beside our office, and the sign says that Tebtebba should leave because we are (allegedly) associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines.
  • In our experience those who work in human rights organizations and those working on with indigenous people’s rights often experience these kinds of problems, being associated with terrorism because of our assertion of our rights to freedom of self-determination, freedom of assembly, and to express our opinions.
  • We are working at the international level, but we are also working in the Philippines, showing that even at an international level, we experience these kinds of problems. What more for those working on the ground who don’t have much visibility?
    • Vicky Taoli Corpus, our executive director and former UN special rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples was also listed as a terrorist in our country. She was eventually delisted and rightfully so, but this shows what other indigenous activists experience.
  • The human rights-based approach is important to us who are working with organizations on the ground, those who are working in defence of their territories. Among our partners, the issues they usually face are in protecting their land are the free, prior and informed consent violations when there are projects in their territories. There are also community-based initiatives for schools in far-flung areas who are being disbanded because associations with these kinds of issues.
  • Despite this, there are a lot of actions on the ground across many actors: CSOs, indigenous peoples, government agencies can build on the relationships that we are already establishing with indigenous peoples and how they assert their rights to development and rights to their territories.
    • In the Philippines, we do have some recognition of our rights through the law. We have institutions and programs that recognize our knowledge systems and our practices. However, there are no mechanisms for genuine participation and rights recognition – I think there should be. And where there are already existing mechanisms, we should work on enhancing them, as part of the progressive realization of human rights.

We all have a role in this in the human rights-based approach work towards conservation


Helen TUGENDHAT | Environmental Governance Coordinator, Forest Peoples Programme

  • The threats that exist on the ground, the harassment and criminalization are very real and very direct experiences that many indigenous peoples and other environmental human
    rights defenders face daily. This is the reason why many of us are here in Geneva for these negotiations: policy frameworks matter.
  • They can open space or they can close down space and some of the decisions that will be made here will have an impact on how governments interpret and develop frameworks at the national level.
  • This has an impact on whether there is a sign put up outside of a Filipino organization saying you are communists.
  • One of the reasons why this panel is made up in the way that it is, is to reflect the diversity of the stakeholders and right holders who care about these issues. There are governments here from three of regions across the planet: Latin America, Europe, Africa, governmental organizations showing that support for these issues exists across the globe. Also present are indigenous people’s representatives, youth representatives, small scale farmers, women.
  • There is an enormous momentum behind some of these issues at the national level and increasingly at the global level as well. This diversity of speakers was really important for some of the key messages of this panel.

Q: How do we address the misunderstanding a between national governments and indigenous peoples and local communities?

As indigenous peoples from Mexico, our desire for of self-determination is often taken for a proof we want to secede, contrarily to our intentions. We identify ourselves as indigenous people and we are aware that we are part of a national state but due to widespread biases, we are excluded from many national-level discussion.

Q: Is there an opportunity of articulation among National Parks Authorities and the indigenous authorities to foster a horizontal relationship in the territories?

In Colombia, it is important to address the human rights approach, explaining why we propose the inclusion in Target 3 as such. Our experience in national parks in coordinating between national authorities and indigenous and Afro-Colombian authorities has been positive. It has been a long history with mistakes that have been corrected along the way and the situation has been improving. This would entail for instance channelling the concerns of the indigenous peoples throughout the different governmental entities.

Vivienne SOLÍS

  • The CBD has already accepted that we should have a diversity of governance models, and the inclusion of indigenous people and local communities is one of the  ways in which this can be done. The issues of  sovereignty and determination present when discussing  governance and decision-making.
  • Therefore, it is of paramount importance to really be based in the already agreed agreements and remember that conservation is being thought and being accepted not solely via state governance, but also shared governance, community and local and indigenous peoples’ governance.
  • In that sense, it is key that we have the safeguards in initiatives like the 30×30 targets*, to back that up and the respect of the rights of indigenous people and local communities. In the same sense, Target 22 for the defence of women should be as strong as the defence of the rights of communities and indigenous people.

*Editor’s note: The 30×30 target is part of the first draft of the First draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework which aims to “Ensure that at least 30 percent globally of land areas and of sea areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and its contributions to people, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.”


  • The Federal Government Mexico has established a National Institute of Indigenous People, which served as a structure from to reach out to the many indigenous communities speaking more than 68 indigenous languages.
  • So far, the process of consultations is not completed not only because of the multitude of communities, but the process has also not managed to have a broad representation of the diversity even with indigenous peoples. Whenever representatives can reach national and international level discussions, it is because they managed to overcome linguistic barriers. Therefore, Mexico is as active to those communities as it should, but having a governmental structure in place to deal with those specifics can help.
  • For Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is important to work with local authorities as the International Agenda is discussed at the Federal Government level, but then most of its implementation happens at the local authorities level. Mexico is taking upon the task to coordinate with all different entities, including states and municipalities. For instance, through a program called “Localization of the 2030 Agenda” and other initiatives trying to reach out and bringing international cooperation to the specific local authorities. The Biodiversity Agenda is gaining its momentum in Mexico, having eleven states who have signed the Edinburgh Declaration. We also wish for local authorities to engage and have commitments to protect our biodiversity and we are working in that direction.

Q: When we talk about governments, to what extent is there a connection also at the cities level? Have any of the panelists been working directly with cities?

Cities are place often where people have the closest connection to their communities and my organization recently started a project called Urban Natural Assets, which looks at it from human rights-based lens and it is being implemented Sierra Leone and and Ghana.

Abigail KITMA

  • My experience as an indigenous person working in an organization and as well as a youth representative presents examples of city-level engagement.
  • In the Philippines, there is Local Government Code and we also have the Indigenous Peoples Rights Charter. The harmonization these laws allows spaces for participation and inclusion of our development of indigenous people’s development plans in local government plans. This is one way by which we also can work with government and have our concerns in relation to the use of biodiversity to be integrated at a local level.
  • We also have a at the regional level mechanisms for participation in regional development council. In the northern part of the Philippines, we have a regional council where the representatives from indigenous organizations are also able to speak as part of civil society. We also help smaller commissions or agencies within the government that do not have resources to have offices and who are working on the ground.


  • In Finland, spatial planning of cities implements a broad engagement of all parts of society, giving everybody a chance to influence that.

Q: How can we ensure that’s a rights-based approach is mainstream not only in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, but in all working programs and initiatives of the CBD?


  • What we see here also with this diverse panel and, the sort of broad range of issues in each country so, there is no one size fits all answer.
  • On the question of how to address the misunderstanding that some countries may have regarding the intentions of their indigenous people and local communities and trying to assert their rights, one of the things that can be attempted is to engage in dialogue, maybe with another government who does not have the same concerns.
  • Regarding the various sub-regional local governments, collaboration should happen on all levels depending on the on the local circumstances. A good example are the Finish Parks and Wildlife who manage the state-owned lands up in Northern Lapland are in close collaboration with the with the Finish Swami people there.
  • Again, the need for mainstreaming and for all of us working together towards common goals for mining, industry, extraction, is important as these all concern us equally in our fight to halt the loss of biodiversity.


  • Regarding the governments’ recognition of the conservation agenda, I think they should come all the way to the community level where they can have community conserved areas. When it comes to the percentage in 30×30 targets in indigenous peoples lands and territories, my view is that the desire of indigenous peoples and communities is to have 100% of sustainable IPLC lands as our territories.
  • However, when we talk about protected areas, a protected area is governed by the government and not the local community, as what’s happening for example in Kenya. This raises the alarm when we discuss protected areas in community lands. I think the language of the Conservation Agenda needs to be looked into and to be “community-conserved areas”, instead of talking about the 30×30 targets as protected areas.
  • It threatens the human rights approach and people start blocking ways and talking against this agenda, which is very important.

Vivienne SOLÍS

  • In the book that we are launching now, right holders and stakeholders are used to stress the difference between the two. This is a key issue in the wording that we will be using and moving on to implement the convention and to recognize that those right holders have had their own processes.
  • For example, the voluntary guidelines for sustainability of small-scale fishers in the context of food security and poverty eradication is a process that is coming from the bottom up. The convention also needs to join forces with all these different efforts of the right holders to be able to move ahead.


Benjamin SCHACTER | Associate Human Rights Officer, OHCHR

  • I hope this has been of inspiration for all of those who are able to join us, and I hope you are convinced after having heard from States, indigenous peoples representatives and experts on human rights that this is the way forward.
  • As Camila said: human rights are not negotiable. Human rights need to be a red line. It is not just about the law or doing the right thing, it also is about outcomes.
  • “We are not going to get this framework nor environmental action right unless we have a rights-based approach.” Those are not the words of a representative of the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, but the words of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, stating that rights-based approaches are essential to climate resilient development. Scientists are saying that this is the way forward.
  • So, going forward, I want to ask all participants to think about your role here. You are in Geneva, the home of the Human Rights Council during a pivotal time for the environment. Who you are, regardless of where you come from, you are privileged to be here, to have the opportunity to exercise your right to participation, and to potentially change the course of human action and the relationship between people broadly, and the environment, to advance the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, and these processes to advance rights based environmental action in these processes.
  • You heard a lot about how important access to information, access to justice, and participation is in these contexts. We absolutely will not make the progress we need unless these concepts are integrated in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the other critical outcomes of these discussions.
  • I want to invite all to do two things.
    • One, is to learn more. On 22 March 2022, there will be another side event on Integrating Human Rights in the future of Biodiversity Action on specific issues like integrating rights in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans.
    • Second is to get specific in these negotiations where there is important human rights language in various parts of the text. Language can be improved and strengthened to ensure that an outcome here that will protect people and the planet, that will move us forward towards sustainable development that leaves no one behind. So, there are some examples of places where to get specific. (You can find the targets in the first draft of the post-2020 GBF)
      1. Target 3. It is really important that we respect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to their lands, resources, and territories.
      2. Target 15. It is important that we think about the responsibilities of businesses, and that we emphasize that they are responsible for their negative impacts on the environment. They should not be causing those impacts, they should be eliminating them and they should be providing access to remedy for harms that they have caused. This is the UN guiding principles on business and human rights.
      3. Target 21. More can be done than just talking about access to information participation, access to justice, protection of environmental human rights defenders.


  • The key message that has been expressed throughout this panel is the importance of full and effective partnerships.
  • To achieve what is been the goals that we are outlining in this framework and this really for me focuses in part on Goal D and the means to implement this framework.
  • If we want to implement this framework we are going to have to create, sustain, effective partnerships, and partnerships are not easy. They have rough patches, but it is there that I think we need to focus if we are going to find ways in which to bring human rights considerations more fully and to implement the framework.


In addition to the live and Facebook transmissions, the videos are available on this webpage.




Additional Resources