Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

A convention on biological diversity was agreed at the 1992 United Nations Conference on “Environment and Development” held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In this, the key aims of conserving biological diversity, making sustainable use of this biodiversity, and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources were agreed.

The convention has meanwhile been ratified by 178 countries including Germany, the UK and the USA.

Of particular significance to indigenous peoples is Article 8(j) of the convention.

Article 8:

“Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate:
Subject to its national legislation, respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional ways of life relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices”

This obligates the signatories to preserve the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities, and to respect, preserve and maintain sustainable use of biological diversity. Its application should be extended in agreement with and with the participation of the bearers of this knowledge. The indigenous and local communities should be involved in the use of their knowledge in an appropriate manner.

At the fourth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which took place in Bratislava in 1998, an open-ended ad hoc working group was set up to address issues surrounding the implementation of Article 8(j). In the working group, representatives of indigenous peoples can present their positions; the final decisions are reached by the countries however.

COICA actively participates in the ad hoc working group with its own suggestions.