From April 25th to the 29th, 1999, elders, women and young indigenous peoples gathered together at the Autonomic Multiiethnic Regions Office of Chiapas, Mexico, to discuss the strategies about Biodiversity Conservation and traditional knowledge and implementation of article 8 (j) of the biological Diversity Convention (CBD). This workshop was organized by the Indigenous Knowledge Program (IKP) and indigenous representatives from 12 countries and nations were reprsented. Invoking the fundamental Human Rights Principles as articulated by International Right and Customary Law as a background for our participation on conservation processes, we DECLARE as a fundamental condition to achieve real and effective participation in the conservation, and sustainable wise use of wetland ecosystems and their populations and genetic diversity, that indigenous peoples' rights to self determination must be recognized. Up from this statement, the Regional Workshop participants on to the implementing of article 8 (j) of the biological Diversity Convention (CBD), CONSIDERE that:
- Wetlands provide many benefits for Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples, such as water sources, stream regulation, flood attenuation and control, food resources, combustibles, building materials, transportation means, recreation and tourism, among others.
- The Ramsar Convention (Iran, 1971), was born as an international agreement focused on wetlands protection to preserve aquatic birdlife. Over the years, the Convention has evolved from a focus on bird species protection to the preservation of the ecosystems and the important functions they provide to people dependent upon them, particularly indigenous peoples and local communities. However, at the moment this tie has not been realized, and the mechanisms for effective participation to ensure our communities are invormed, involved and give prior consent in wetlands conservation projects do not exist. In particular, there are no mechanisms that guarantee the incorporation of our vision and proposals.
- Considering the importance of wetlands for indigenous peoples and local communities, and the Ramsar Convention interest to promote their conservation, and also perceiving that in 1996, at Bribane, Australia, the Convention 6.3 about "local and indigenous communities participation in Ramsar wetland sites management", we want to state our deep frustration about the process, which has been conducted with lack of our participation. We are also very worried about the possibility of this Convention 6.3 to be approved during COP7, the so-called Resolution 8 Project "Lines to establish participatiory process in order to engage local communities and indigenous peoples in directing wetlands management", which was developed without our people's participation.
- We want to note that the implementation process of Article 8 (j) and its annexes articles from CBD, particularly to establish an "ad hoc" working group about traditional knowledge, created at the CBD Parties Conference as a decision IV/9 from COP4 at Bratislava, Slovakia, May, 1.998, has generated a space that ensures the direct participation of these indigenous peoples in the design of political lines and conservation actions and the sustainable use of biodiversity in different ecosystems, including wetlands.
- Considering that Indigenous peoples and local communities' participation in the design and contents of Resolution N.8, to be approved during this Ramsar COP7, has been minimal, and also that this resolution is directly related to our rights, the Regional Indigenous Workshop at Chiapas participants call for:
- The necessity to establish a closer tie between the Ramsar Convention and the Biodiversity Convention, particularly with regard to indigenous people and local communities participation in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and application of our knowledge and associated practices associated with biodiversity, in order to ensure that our people can continue to use and conserve wetlands and their ecosystems in an integral way.
- That Resolution N.8 not be approved until there has been an extensive debate by the indigenous people participating on the work group on traditional knowledge, in the Biodiversity Convention frame, and also, until our points of view are included in the text of the document.
We agreed that the Resolution N.8 Project must be sent to the CBD for its inclusion on the agenda of the Indigenous Knowledge working group at CBD first meeting, to be celebrated on January, 2.000. The Resolution Project discussion at CBD would guarantee a wide consultation process, and also would include our peoples participation on conservation programs under the previous and informed agreement as require Ar.8 (j) from CBD.
The compliment of the obligations that stipulate the art. 8.j is not only for the signatures parties of the CBD but also for the parties of the RAMSAR countries, which are the same countries. Collaboration between CBD and Ramsar in this matter will be very useful to reinforce the synergies between CBD and Ramsar to benefit wetlands conservation all around the world.
- We, the indigenous people have an integral view of the world that is a big living circle that integrates the surface, space and subsoil and center that joins everything together in balance. In our cosmovision it is in this balance point where wetlands are found. The wetland are the most fragile ecosystems, and for us it is where all life is born. It is in many cases the place of creation of our ancestors and cultures. For our people, wetlands are perpetual streams of life, where we spiritually, scientifically and artistically realize ourselves. Considering the immense degradation that wetlands have suffered, and negative impacts to our peoples whose existence depends upon wetlands, we propose that:
- All wetlands inhabited by indigenous people are declared as Wetlands of International Importance, and that country states delegate the control of these wetlands to indigenous peoples permanently.
- Womens roles are recognized in caring for water and that to ensure their continued and effective participation at all levels of wetlands conservation. Ramsar Convention has identified women as key participants in this issue, especially indigenous women. We ask for clear decisions in this area.
- Knowledge and traditional practices of indigenous peoples are integrated into the concept of wise use of wetlands in their management, including soil, surface, subsoil and space.
- Governments guarantee that natural water regimes are maintained in wetlands, stopping water resource diversion and extraction.
- International Finance Bodies stop funding water withdrawal and filling in wetlands that adversely impact the natural hydrologic and biologic processes of wetlands.
- Indigenous people continue to have the right to derive and enjoy all products from wetlands.
- Governments and decision makers are educated about management systems that indigenous peoples have in the wetlands that they inhabit, taking into account spiritual and material respect that they give them.
- Governments guarantee the historical sequence of indigenous driving of wetlands, today converted into truly laboratories of cultural creation and learning.
- That Governments, in coordination with indigenous peoples stop every foreign intervention to wetlands and their surrounding territories, that affect indigenous system values of managing of them.
- Biological corridors are guaranteed between wetlands and sea.
- Effective ecological criteria are designed for urban areas surrounding wetlands, and that these corridors guarantee conservation and maintenance of this ecosystems.
Jovel, México 29 de Abril de 1999.
Regiones Autónomas Plurietnicas (Chiapas, México)
Programa de Conocimiento Indígena Mesoamericano
Red de Apoyo a los Pueblos Indígenas /Noruega
Red de Biodiversidad de los Pueblos Indígenas (IPBN), (internacional)
Frente Independiente de Pueblos Indígenas FIPI/México
Asociación Nacional Indígenas Autónomos ANIPA/México
Red de la Cooperación Amazónica/Venezuela
Asociación Ixavacavaa de Desarrollo e Información Indígena/Costa Rica.
Centro Neotropical Entrenamiento Humedales Programa Regional de Manejo en Vida Silvestre, Universidad Nacional,Heredia, Costa Rica.
REMAB-URACACAN BILWI, Puerto Cabezas Nicaragua
Universidad de las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Caribe Nicaraguense (URACCAN)/Nicaragua
Centro Maya Saqbe/Guatemala
Instituto Quechua Jujuymanta /Argentina
Organización de Médicos Indígenas del estado de Chiapas A.C./México
Fundación Sin fronteras, Asociación Civil. Quinta Roo./México