The preservation of cultural diversity and languages, and the new programme of work dominated the first day’s deliberations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions. Delegates highlighted the intimate connection between language, culture, and nature, and considered the establishment of a permanent subsidiary body to further considerations on Indigenous Peoples’ rights and contributions to biodiversity conservation.
Opening the meeting, Working Group Co-Chair Ning Liu, China, on behalf of COP 15 President Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment, China, emphasized the importance of recognizing and supporting the collective and local actions of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs). Kenneth Atsenhaienton Deer, Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, offered a traditional blessing, noting the importance of considering all of creation before making important decisions.
David Cooper, Acting Executive Secretary, CBD, emphasized the need to protect the planet’s remaining biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity, and encouraged delegates to be ambitious so that these discussions are a “catalyst for unity, transcending the polarization that has enveloped our world.”
On organizational matters, the Working Group designated June Rubis (Asia) as Indigenous Co-Chair. Delegates adopted the provisional agenda and organization of work; elected Hlob'sile Sikhosana, (eSwatini) as rapporteur; and designated six IPLC representatives as “Friends of the Bureau,” representing the geo-cultural regions recognized by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).
Highlights of the day include:
- The in-depth dialogue on the role of languages in the intergenerational transmission of traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices, with a panel of experts and delegates highlighting the links between Indigenous languages, traditional knowledge, and biodiversity conservation. Participants welcomed the draft recommendation, offering suggestions for improvement, and stressed, among other things, the need for: an international database for experience exchange; adequate resource mobilization and an effective financing mechanism, including establishing a global fund for the promotion of Indigenous languages; and strengthening IPLCs’ participation in decision making, particularly the role of Indigenous women.
- Discussions on the development of a new programme of work and institutional arrangements related to IPLCs, with many delegates supporting the establishment of a subsidiary body on Article 8(j) and other provisions of the Convention, including its modus operandi, while others suggested further considerations. A contact group was established to facilitate discussions on the issue.
Delegates further deliberated on progress in the implementation of the priority tasks of the multi-year programme of work, and addressed the draft knowledge management strategy of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.