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7 October 2015


Ninth meeting

Montreal, Canada, 4-7 November 2015

Item 3 of the provisional agenda*

COMPILATION OF VIEWS and information received concerning information and data on status and trends in traditional occupations

Note by the Executive Secretary


  1. As requested by the Conference of the Parties in paragraph 13 of decision XII/12 A, the Executive Secretary is circulating herewith, for the consideration of participants in the ninth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Inter-Sessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions, a compilation of views and comments submitted to the Secretariat regarding status and trends in traditional occupations, to assist the Working Group in its discussions.

  2. Submissions have been reproduced in the form and languages in which they were provided to the Secretariat. Submissions were received from: Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Ecuador, Finland, Honduras, India, Norway, Peru, Sweden, Assembly of First Nations, Fundación para la Investigación y Desarrollo Social (FIDES), Rede Pacari de Plantas Medicinais, Redcam, and the Sami Parliament.


  1. Submission from Parties



The wellbeing of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (Indigenous peoples) is linked to many different factors, including culture, community, health and employment.1,2 There is a considerable gap between the labour force outcomes of Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Australians, with overall Indigenous employment statistics declining since 2008 (the baseline year established by the Council of Australian Governments).3 It is also evident that labour force participation for Indigenous peoples declines as remoteness increases (there are generally less employment opportunities further from cities and towns). 4

A number of the Australian Government’s land and sea management programmes and policies provide a foundation that enables Indigenous peoples to enrich their social, cultural and economic wellbeing.5 These programmes recognise the intrinsic relationships and bonds between Indigenous peoples and their country, improving prospects for sustainable employment in traditional occupationsError: Reference source not found, particularly in remote areas. The Indigenous environmental services sector that these programmes support builds on unique Indigenous assets, including traditional knowledge and community networksError: Reference source not found. The environmental services sector does not employ a large proportion of Indigenous peoples, in comparison to some other industries. However, there are multiple social, economic, environmental and cultural co-benefits, which are widely regarded as being significant and having flow on effects to people beyond those directly employed.6, 7

Indigenous land and sea management programmes of the Australian Government include:

  • Working on Country;

  • Indigenous Protected Areas and joint-managed land;

  • Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreements (TUMRAs);

  • Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan; and

  • Caring for our Country.

Working on Country

The Working on Country programme is a highly successful, cross-cultural programme that commenced in 2007 and works in close collaboration with the Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) programme. Working on Country supports the aspirations of many Indigenous peoples to care for land and sea country and provides opportunities for Indigenous peoples to deliver environmental services that protect and sustainably manage Australia’s natural and cultural assets. This programme provides meaningful employment, training and career pathways for Indigenous peoples and facilitates a partnership approach between Indigenous peoples and local communities. Activities undertaken via the programme include fire management, threatened species recovery projects, invasive animal control and management of marine debris.

“Working on Country” projects are led by the local community and are underpinned by community ownership and participation. Traditional owners and local communities are involved in the design, development, implementation and leadership of projects to ensure they align with the needs and interests of the community, whilst benefitting the environment.

Through the programme, over 759 Indigenous rangers are currently employed, which is above the target of 730 rangers by June 2015 (see Figure 1). Over 80 per cent of Working on Country projects contribute to the protection of threatened species and over 75 per cent involve the transfer of traditional knowledgeError: Reference source not found. Approximately 80 per cent of those employed by the programme are in remote areas.

Figure 1: Number of indigenous rangers employed under the Working on Country Programme from the 2007-08 financial year to the present. Source: Australian Government Environment Portfolio Annual Reports.

Indigenous Protected Areas

Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) are one of Australia’s most successful integrated conservation and indigenous community development initiatives. IPAs can be declared on Native Title areas (landscapes owned and managed by Indigenous peoples). IPAs protect culture and country and promote sustainable economic development and provide employment opportunities. IPAs are not a statutory instrument and multi-tenure IPAs require voluntary, formal agreements with key stakeholders to implement cooperative management arrangements. Each IPA has a Management Plan that describes how the Indigenous landowners will manage the landscape, using a combination of traditional knowledge and contemporary western science. These plans identify an International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) protected area category, to ensure that management is in line with international standards. Indicators show that gainful employment (generally in traditional occupations) through the IPA programme contributes to many aspects of social cohesion, knowledge transfer and engagement of young people.8

Figure 2: Number of declared Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) from 2008 to 2014. The first IPA was declared in 1998. Source: Australian Government Environment and Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio Annual Reports.

Joint-managed Protected Areas

Many protected areas in the National Reserve System are jointly managed with traditional owners. The Commonwealth and most State and Territory Governments of Australia have some jointly managed National Parks including Booderee, Kakadu, Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Nitmuluk, Barmah and Mungo National Parks. Joint management is about Indigenous peoples and communities and government agencies working together, solving problems, sharing decision-making and exchanging knowledge, skills and information.9 Joint management also provides opportunities for richer visitor experiences, social development, sustainable economic development and enhancing connections to country. Joint management arrangements are also in place for protected areas encompassed by other international agreements, such as Ramsar wetlands and parts of World Heritage Areas.

There is no generic model or blueprint for successful joint management and each agreement must be separately negotiated and must be responsive to the needs and aspirations of each local community.10 State and Territory joint-management arrangements are different to joint-management of Commonwealth protected areas, which are underpinned by individual lease arrangements, which are embedded in National Environmental Law, through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Joint-management in the Defence estate

The Australian Department of Defence has a large number of land holdings and actively engages with Indigenous peoples in the management of the environment on these properties. Key mechanisms for Indigenous engagement include access for harvesting and hunting of selected natural resources, Heritage Management and Indigenous Land use Agreements (ILUAs) at three large sites (Bradshaw Field Training Area, parts of Cultana Training Area and Delamere Air Weapons Range). Under the Bradshaw ILUA, local Indigenous peoples are employed to perform land management activities that support biodiversity. Indigenous partners review and approve proposed Defence management of fire and other matters affecting biodiversity on an annual basis. Defence recognises the potential value of application of traditional knowledge in these activities.

Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreements in the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) empowers traditional owner groups to manage traditional use of sea country through the development and implementation of Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreements (TUMRAs).

The development and implementation process for TUMRAs form a part of contemporary sea country management - recognising and respecting traditional governance and leadership within groups relating to customary use and traditional occupations.

Traditional Owners, through the TUMRA, discuss and make decisions around complex matters such as maritime estates (where lore governs boundaries), protocols and principles, sea country planning, no-take areas, community permits, management of cultural use activities (including the elimination of unauthorised practices such as poaching), cultural heritage management and the identification of economic development opportunities, such as the delivery of ecosystem services and tourism. This process provides better practice decision making and promotes higher order certainty amongst stakeholder groups, including government, as major investors.

Currently, seven formal TUMRAs exist, covering 47,810 square kilometers of sea country and involve multiple traditional owner groups. There has been a steady increase in the accreditation of TUMRAs, with interest in the programme continuing to grow.

Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan

As part of the Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan 2014-2017, $2 million is committed for a specialised Indigenous ranger programme for marine conservation and law enforcement in Queensland and the Torres Strait. This programme will create jobs for eight specialised Indigenous rangers and contribute towards employment pathways in environmental services or other sectors.11

Caring for Our Country

Indigenous peoples have significant and unique knowledge, skills and land and sea management responsibilities that contribute to achieving cultural and natural resource management outcomes under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Indigenous participation in the Caring for our Country Programme was highly valued by Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders and provides wide-ranging community skills, knowledge and engagement outcomes for Indigenous individuals, Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations and groups, and the wider-community.

Figure 3: Number of TUMRAs accredited from 2008 to 2014. Source: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).

Partnerships and private sector employment

In addition to the Australian Government’s Indigenous environmental service programmes, the Government strives to broker partnerships with private sector and not-for-profit organisations, to assist individuals and communities realise commercial opportunities on-country and foster economic development.12

Through the Jobs, Land and Economy Programme of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, the Government is investing significant funds to  connect working age Indigenous Australians with real and sustainable jobs, foster Indigenous business and assist Indigenous people to generate economic and social benefits from economic assets, including Indigenous-owned land.  The Government also supports two statutory bodies, Indigenous Business Australia and the Indigenous Land Corporation.

Indigenous Business Australia supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to build wealth through engagement and participation in business and commercial activities.  The Indigenous Land Corporation acquires and manages land for the economic, environmental, social or cultural benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. These bodies can assist Indigenous landowners to maximise economic outcomes from their land and Native Title rightsError: Reference source not found.

Combined, these strategies create employment opportunities within Natural Resource Management, pastoral and primary industries, eco-tourism, traditional knowledge (consulting), carbon farming (traditional burning practices) and sustainable use of biodiversity.



El Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia, está llevando a cabo la aplicación del programa de trabajo sobre el articulo 8j), con el desarrollo de protocolos comunitarios cuyo objetivo es que las comunidades puedan contar con normas comunitarias claras que se conviertan en instrumentos para precautelar los componentes de los Sistemas de Vida de la Madre Tierra. En ese sentido, se ha venido trabajando a nivel local conjuntamente con las comunidades de los Municipios de Carapari que se encuentran en el departamento de Tarija en el desarrollo de los protocolos comunitarios, los mismos se presentan como herramientas que describen los intereses, expectativas, deseos y aspiraciones de los pueblos indígenas y comunidades locales en relación a la gestión de sus territorios, tierras y recursos naturales.

Asimismo, en dichos protocolos se tienen reflejados los planteamientos sobre las condiciones de acceso para el uso comunal sobre sus recursos naturales (incluyendo la biodiversidad y conocimientos tradicionales) que se encuentran en sus tierras y territorios, permitiendo tomar acciones cuando existe interés de acceder a un recurso genético de los pueblos indígenas o comunidades locales.

Para el desarrollo del protocolo comunitario a nivel local se consideró la Ley Nº 341 de Participación y Control Social del 5 de febrero de 2013, donde establece el reconocimiento de los Actores Comunitarios, que tienen su propia organización, cuyas atribuciones son las siguientes:

  1. Denunciar actos irregulares que se identifiquen a partir de actividades de investigación, bioprospección, relacionamiento social y otros trabajos relacionados a los conocimientos tradicionales, respecto a terceras personas que no pertenezcan a las comunidades y organizaciones, o que sean consideradas ajenas o extranjeras.

  2. Exigir el cumplimiento de la legalidad de las actividades de investigación, bioprospección, relacionamiento social y otras.

  3. Hacer prevalecer la consulta a la Comunidad.

  4. Promover y difundir los derechos de los pueblos indígena originario campesino sobre los conocimientos tradicionales y saberes ancestrales.

  5. Coadyuvar a las autoridades competentes en los procesos administrativos y judiciales, por hechos que afecten a los derechos de los pueblos indígenas sobre sus conocimientos tradicionales y saberes ancestrales.

  6. Identificar y denunciar hechos que afecten a los derechos de los pueblos indígenas sobre sus conocimientos tradicionales y saberes ancestrales, la falta de transparencia respecto a las actividades públicas y/o privadas.

  7. Promover la transparencia sobre actividades relacionadas con el acceso, uso y aprovechamiento de los conocimientos tradicionales y saberes ancestrales asociados a los recursos genéticos y la biodiversidad.

De esta manera, las comunidades vienen utilizando generación tras generación los conocimientos y saberes ancestrales, por consiguiente el mismo se convierte en un indicador cualitativo sobre su uso; en ese sentido, y con este trabajo se logró revalorizar a los niveles (comunal, departamental, nacional) la importancia de los conocimientos y saberes ancestrales en la gestión, cuidado y manejo de la biodiversidad.



Decision X11/12 A, paragraph 13 invites information to contribute to an indicator on Target 18, element 2, which states, “[by] 2020, traditional knowledge, innovations and practices are fully integrated and reflected in implementation of the Convention.”

On February 9, 2015, Canada announced national biodiversity goals and targets for 2020. These goals and targets were developed collaboratively by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments and benefitted from input provided by Aboriginal organizations and stakeholders. Furthermore, they support the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The following Canadian target is consistent with CBD Target 18, element 2: “[by] 2020, Aboriginal traditional knowledge is respected, promoted and, where made available by Aboriginal peoples, regularly, meaningfully and effectively informing biodiversity conservation and management decision-making.”

Currently, a number of mechanisms exist to promote and consider traditional knowledge in biodiversity related work, such as species assessment and recovery (e.g. the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, and the National Aboriginal Council on Species at Risk), protected area and park planning and management, research and capacity-building, and impact assessment. Individual initiatives, such as the Boreal Caribou Recovery Strategy, provide examples in which traditional knowledge has informed decision-making. Protected areas agencies such as Environment Canada and Parks Canada are bringing traditional knowledge into management and decision-making through, for example, Area Co-Management Committees for National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries in Nunavut Territory. Another example includes the New Brunswick First Nations Advisory Committee, which ensures the interests of local Aboriginal communities are considered in the management of national parks and national historic sites, and through interpretation such as the Medicinal Plants Trail project, which is collaboration between Fort Folly First Nation and Fundy National Park.

Four indicators will be used to report on this Canadian target.

  1. Number of mechanisms in place for Aboriginal traditional knowledge to inform decision-making

  2. Trends in linguistic diversity and number of speakers of Aboriginal languages

  3. Case studies illustrating best practices in promoting Aboriginal traditional knowledge or having it inform decision-making

  4. Case studies assessing effectiveness of established mechanisms for Aboriginal traditional knowledge to inform decision-making

Canada, in its 5th National Report to the CBD (EC, 2014), provided preliminary information in relation to three of the four indicators. Assessments on the effectiveness of established mechanisms have yet to be developed and completed for reporting on the fourth indicator.

Indicator 1 – Number of mechanisms in place for Aboriginal traditional knowledge to inform decision-making

A first but non-exhaustive review revealed that about one hundred mechanisms are in place for Aboriginal traditional knowledge to inform decision-making. A dozen of these are Wildlife Management Boards (WMBs). These institutions have been established under Land Claims Agreements and are the main instruments for wildlife management within their territories. The WMBs and their co-management partners combine the knowledge and understanding of wildlife managers, users, and the public to make decisions concerning the management of wildlife, such as harvest levels. Their mandate is to conserve wildlife through the application of Aboriginal traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge.

Indicator 2 – Trends in linguistic diversity and number of speakers of Aboriginal languages

Linguistic diversity and the number of speakers of Aboriginal languages indicate the retention and use of traditional knowledge, including knowledge of biodiversity. Aboriginal peoples’ environmental knowledge is embedded in their Aboriginal names, oral traditions and taxonomies specific to their homelands. When Canada’s 5th National Report was submitted to the CBD, there were over 60 Aboriginal languages spoken in the country. However, 14 of these Aboriginal languages had 50 or fewer speakers remaining, and another 24 Aboriginal languages had 500 or fewer, mostly elderly fluent speakers remaining (Lewis et al., 2013). According to the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS) (Statistics Canada), 240,815 Aboriginal people, or 17.2% of the population who had an Aboriginal identity, responded that they were able to conduct a conversation in an Aboriginal language. This compares with 21.0% according to the 2006 Census of Population. Between 2006 and 2011, the number of Aboriginal people who reported that they were able to conduct a conversation in an Aboriginal language declined by 2.0%, while the Aboriginal identity population increased by 20.1%.

Indicator 3 – Case studies illustrating best practices in promoting Aboriginal traditional knowledge or having it inform decision-making

Some examples of good practices:

  • Traditional Knowledge Guiding National Park Management – As part of a collaborative clam monitoring and management project with the Coast Salish Nations, Parks Canada undertook a traditional knowledge study with Elders and knowledgeable people to gain more information regarding historic clam abundance levels and traditional management techniques. This study has allowed Parks Canada to better understand contemporary shellfish data and to identify potential techniques to improve restoration and management of clam populations in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve in British Columbia.

Parks Canada continues to work with a broad range of Coast Salish knowledge holders to learn more about traditional resource management techniques such as clam gardens and how they can be used to improve both cultural and ecological integrity. This is part of a broader relationship with Aboriginal peoples where cooperative management allows Aboriginal traditional knowledge to inform all aspects of park planning and operations, including the monitoring and restoration of park ecosystems.

  • Fisheries Management in the Canadian Western Arctic through Documentation of Local and Traditional Knowledge – The management of freshwater and marine fisheries in the Gwich’in Settlement Area (GSA) and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) in the Canadian Western Arctic has largely been successful through the collection and incorporation of local and traditional knowledge (TK). The development and signing of the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) for Dolly Varden char (Salvelinus malma malma) (2011) was a key milestone in the management process. The IFMP included a large TK component which identified Dolly Varden distribution, biology, population size, trends, harvest practices and traditional management. Existing TK documents were also included in the 2010 COSEWIC assessment of Dolly Varden, which identified the populations as being of Special Concern and was the impetus behind the development of the IFMP. The IFMP is implemented largely by two Working Groups (Rat River and West Side) which bring together community members, researchers and decision-makers to review pertinent issues and to make recommendations to co-management partners. This annual adaptive co-management process has shown that community and TK can inform research, planning, and management actions at all stages, leading to greater community involvement and resulting in an improved outlook for the conservation and sustainable use of species.

  • The Porcupine Caribou Management Board (PCMB) is a co-management board responsible for setting recommendations to governments concerning the conservation and sustainable use of the Porcupine Caribou Herd (PCH). Due to the natural high variability of barren-ground caribou herds, the low productivity of the PCH, and concerns in the late 2000’s about the size of the herd, the PCMB developed a Harvest Management Plan for the Porcupine Caribou Herd in Canada in 2010 (HMP). The HMP uses a set of annually updated indicators (based on both scientific and Aboriginal traditional knowledge) to track the condition of the herd to ensure harvest is sustainable.

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