In the Philippines, the future of conservation is directly linked to Indigenous peoples. Recent spatial analysis shows that the vast majority of the country’s remaining forests and key biodiversity areas are located within Indigenous peoples’ ancestral domains. From 19-21 February, Koalisyon ng Katutubong Samahan ng Pilipinas (KASAPI, the national Indigenous peoples’ coalition of the Philippines) and the Philippine Association for Inter-cultural Development (PAFID) co-hosted a workshop to establish the foundation for a national consortium on Indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas (ICCAs). This initiative was in direct response to the Manila Declaration, which emphasises Indigenous peoples’ rights to lands and resources and the strengthening of traditional governance systems and sets out guidelines for Indigenous peoples, government and support organisations. The Declaration was agreed at the first national conference on ICCAs, held in March 2012 at the University of the Philippines.
Workshop participants were comprised of Indigenous leaders from the 7 ethnographic regions of the Philippines. Dr. Grazia Borrini-Feyerbend (Global Coordinator, ICCA Consortium), Samson Pedragosa (PAFID and ICCA Consortium Southeast Asia Regional Coordinator), and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice and ICCA Consortium International Policy Assistant) served as resource people on successes, challenges, and lessons learned from ICCAs around the world and in international law and policy. Other speakers included Honourable Teddy Baguilat (Chairman, Committee on National Cultural Communities, House of Representatives of the Philippines), Folay Eleazar (Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources), and Toshihiro Tanaka (Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP).
Many thanks to KASAPI, PAFID and PAWB for their generous hospitality and congratulations to the Indigenous leaders on this exciting initiative!