The first Sharing Power Conference was held in Whakatane, New Zealand, from January 11-15, hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa (a Maori tribal authority), and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi (a Maori tribal university). The Conference was about decentralization of the governance and management of biocultural resources, particularly in relation to Indigenous peoples and local communities, and exploring a new vision for development beyond the current mainstream economic models that have created and continue to perpetuate socio-economic inequities and large-scale environmental damage. Keynote speakers included Ashok Khosla, Elinor Ostrom, Winona La Duke, Professor Sir Sydney Moko Mead, and Julie Marton-Lefevre, and workshop sessions were divided into six streams.
The conference also hosted a high-level dialogue between Indigenous peoples and the chairs of IUCN Commissions and other major environmental organizations. Among other things, the participants agreed to review and advance the implementation of IUCN resolutions related to Indigenous peoples taken at the 4th World Conservation Congress (which, along with the Durban Action Plan and the Programme of Work on Protected Areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity, are often referred to as the “new conservation paradigm”). Key principles agreed upon in this new conservation paradigm include that:
- No new parks should be established without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples;
- Forced resettlement should be strictly eliminated;
- Lands taken without consent should be returned to their traditional owners;
- Indigenous peoples should be involved in the management of protected areas and share in the benefits; and
- Community-based initiatives and processes, such as Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas, should be recognized and supported.
More information about the high-level dialogue and the rest of the conference can be viewed in these press releases by Forest Peoples Programme (FPP). When a conference report is released, it will also be posted on our blog.