International Union for the Conservation of Nature gives nod to indigenous peoples membership
"A victory for the world’s indigenous cultures and for our unique knowledge of the natural world"
A motion co-sponsored by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami to establish an Indigenous Peoples’ Organization membership and voting category in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature was overwhelmingly approved by IUCN members Sept. 14 at the 5th World Conservation Congress on the South Korean island of Jeju.
“The passage of this motion is an important step in acknowledging the role indigenous peoples play in conservation. This is a victory for the world’s Indigenous cultures and for our unique knowledge of the natural world,” said ITK president Terry Audla in a Sept. 14 news release. “For Inuit, it could mean a significant shift in the way conservation organizations view our relationship with Arctic species, which will help in the wider recognition of our knowledge about wildlife and the environment.”
The motion, co-sponsored by the Inuit Circumpolar Council and a contingent of South American and African organizations, calls on the IUCN to establish a working group to consider how indigenous organizations could be better represented within the structure of IUCN, including the option of creating a distinct membership and voting category.
“Indigenous peoples have historically been grossly underrepresented in world forums such as these, and have had limited ability to exercise any influence, said Vernon Amos, of Sachs Harbour, who, along with fellow Inuvialuk Larry Carpenter, represented ICC at the congress. “Those days have come and gone. Governments and conservation groups now have to make room for us at the table, and in this new climate of inclusion, we have to rethink our relationships with governments and other management bodies, as they will have to readjust the nature of their interactions with us.”
IUCN is the world’s largest environmental network. The World Conservation Congress, held every four years, is its highest decision-making body.