Report Biodiversity Commission, 29 August 2002 (Rio+10)

1. Situation Analysis

Human beings are an integral part of the community of life on Earth and our well-being derives from and depends on its health community and biodiversity. Diversity - in terms of biological resources, production systems, habitats, languages, cultures, and means of governance - is still eroding rapidly. The ecosystems approach recognizes that conservation, development, human beings, cultural diversity and biodiversity are closely interlinked.

Local communities and Indigenous Peoples are the custodians of biodiversity, and they have the inalienable right and responsibility to continue to manage, save, exchange and further develop the biodiversity under their custody, over and above any commercial interests. The benefits of biological resources should be equitably shared with them and their rights and needs should form the basis of biodiversity conservation initiatives.

The market economy regards nature and biodiversity as commodities to be exploited for profit, thereby undermining the very survival of humanity and the planet. The logic of the market - which is primarily driven by global corporations - has been given much impetus and force with the push for unfettered globalisation, opening up every frontier of the globe for exploitation - from our forests to our genetic resources.

The trade agenda has become the key driving force of our macro economic policy-making through international institutions such as the WTO, IMF, WIPO, the World Bank and commercial agreements like bilateral investment agreements. This has excluded local communities and Indigenous Peoples and alienated them from their resources. These institutions have promoted predatory approaches towards traditional knowledge and genetic resources through promoting privatization and commercialization of all life forms life. They have allowed biopiracy to continue and forced countries to allow patenting of life and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Rich countries have been the main culprits in overexploiting biodiversity in their own and developing countries. Developed countries have betrayed biodiversity by not making the resources available for the implementation of multilateral agreements and by overconsumption of natural resources. This has caused a major ecological debt, which should be recognized and compensated.

2. Priority Issues

• Biodiversity is a crosscutting issue;
• Biodiversity conservation should be community-lead; and
• We need a rights-based approach, including respect for land rights.
Threats include:
• Corporate-led globalization;
• Privatization and commercialization;
• Consumption patterns;
• Common, but differentiated responsibilities;
• WTO, including the TRIPS agreement;
• Other commercial agreements;
• Biopiracy;
• Patenting of life forms; and
• Lack of corporate regulation, including in the field of access and benefit sharing.
3. Specific Recommendations
• Adhere to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities;
• Change unsustainable consumption patterns, especially in industrialized countries;
• Repay ecological debt;
• Shift decision-making power over ecosystem management to the local communities and Indigenous Peoples who depend on these ecosystems for their livelihood and cultural survival;
• Ensure community control over biological resources;
• Respect the land rights and land tenure of communities;
• Recognise that communities have been leaders in biodiversity conservation; do not force them to become “partners” of corporations;
• Implement education and capacity-building programs for both communities and government administrators;
• Implement a legally binding framework to regulate corporations;
• Make access and benefit sharing mechanisms legally binding and not voluntary;
• Do not permit access to biological resources in countries without Access and Benefit Sharing laws;
• Ensure that Access and Benefit Sharing laws protect the customary rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities over biological resources, as well as their rights to direct all development, including in agriculture and aquaculture, towards models that are ecologically and socio-culturally sensitive, and which conserve or enhance biodiversity and biodiversity-based livelihoods;
• Protect traditional living knowledge;
• Implement a global ban on the patenting of life;
• In accordance with the Precautionary Principle, governments must ensure a GE free environment in our countries and in farming systems and must support our efforts to raise awareness amongst farmers and consumers about the real and potential impact of GE to the environment and to human health;
• Governments must implement an immediate ban on the release into the environment of GM crops in centers of origin and diversity of those crops, taking into account the proven risks of genetic contamination;
• Implement the Convention on Biodiversity, and other multilateral agreements effectively, including through setting targets and timelines, and, where necessary, moratoria; and
• Orient all development towards models that are ecologically and socio-culturally sensitive, and which conserve or enhance biodiversity and biodiversity-based livelihoods, taking into account the special role, rights and interests of women.

4. Conclusions

While governments continue talking, local communities and Indigenous Peoples around the world are resisting the destruction of biodiversity through various struggles. We wish to reiterate our support for all the local communities and Indigenous Peoples around the world that are resisting the destruction of biodiversity through various struggles in defense of their lives and nature. For these struggles constitute the last frontiers of our biodiversity.
Instead of forcing these communities to become partners of the companies they fight against, we should recognize them as the true leaders in biodiversity conservation.