Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities


UPDATE: The Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Declaration

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Biocultural stewardship for healing the planet: Indigenous peoples at Stockholm+50 as powerful agents of change


In the same vein as the 1972 Stockholm Conference, the engagement of civil society and a broad variety of stakeholders was at the heart of Stockholm+50, with a particular focus on meaningful engagement of youth and indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs).

At least a quarter of the world‘s land area is traditionally owned, managed, used or occupied by indigenous peoples and local communities. Although nature in these areas is deteriorating less rapidly than in others, the impact of climate and ecosystem change has a direct impact on local livelihoods. All initiatives directly affecting Indigenous Peoples require their effective participation in decision‐making, planning and implementation, and consent to ensure that such initiatives are in line with their rights, cultures, visions and priorities.

To reduce the unprecedented damage to the world’s ecosystems caused since the 1972 Stockholm Conference that has breached multiple planetary boundaries in this Anthropocene age, alternative ways need to be explored that offer a different understanding of the relationship between people and nature. In this way, new approaches and understanding can be introduced into public discourse and decision-making to begin to evolve a new ethic for human well-being that is anchored in nature.

Indigenous Peoples’ contributions are essential in designing and implementing solutions to climate change for ecosystems restoration, resilient agriculture, food and nutrition security, and improved livelihood for all.

Indigenous Peoples’ participation at all levels of policy and programme development and implementation stages is fundamental in order to achieve sustainable development in a holistic and integrated manner.

Indigenous Peoples are already using their traditional knowledge to address and adapt to climate change at the local level. Their full and effective participation is crucial to the elaboration and implementation of adaptation and mitigation measures.

This knowledge, expertise and understanding can be introduced into public discourse and decision-making to begin to evolve a new ethic for human well-being that is anchored in nature. This may help us rethink the way we produce, consume, live and value nature, and help us find a renewed relationship with nature. To this end, it was important that the indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) - the holders of traditional knowledge, sustainable lifestyles and alternative cosmologies - be fully involved, not as a weak and vulnerable group, but as key players and powerful agents of change.


  • Learn from indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in Stockholm+50 by strongly positioning them to share best practices in sustainable lifestyles and alternative relationships with nature.
  • Raise up, give wide visibility and respect to the rights and experiences of IPLCs around the world in living sustainably.
  • Reaffirm the need to protect, preserve and promote the traditional knowledge, customary sustainable use and expertise of indigenous communities.
  • Ask IPLCs to help table bold messages for decision and action, from which societies around the world can benefit.
  • Promote greater protection for individuals and groups who are defending their environmental rights, and identifies solutions to mitigate the abuse of environmental rights which affects a growing number of people in many parts of the world.
  • Create a physical space at the Stockholm+50 international meeting – through supported participation at the plenary, Leadership Dialogues, and side events – to work with existing IPLC networks and platforms that already have the legitimacy and experience (e.g. through other negotiation forums), as well as foundations and NGOs that support them, to work together for consultations that cut across subject matters and issues such as climate change, biodiversity, natural resource management, etc.

Advisory group members

Lucy Mulenkei | Lucy is an activist on indigenous and women’s rights with extensive experience in championing the interests of marginalized pastoralist and hunter-gatherer communities in her country of origin, Kenya, as well as globally. Lucy is also co-founder and co-chair of the Indigenous Women Biodiversity Network and an active member of the International Forum on Biodiversity and International Forum of Indigenous Women.

Gunn-Britt Retter | Gunn-Britt is born and raised in the coastal Saami community Unjárga-Nesseby by Varangerfjord in the north-eastern Norway. She is a teacher of training from Sámi University College (Guovdageaidnu - Kautokeino, Norway) and holds an MA in Bilingual studies from University of Wales. Since 2001, Retter has worked with Arctic Environmental issues, first at Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat (IPS) (Copenhagen, Denmark) and since 2005 in the present position as Head of Arctic and Environmental Unit of the Saami Council. Gunn-Britt has served as a board member of the Sámi University of Applied Sciences (2011-2019) and has served as Member of Saami Parliament (Norway) for two terms (2005 – 2013). In her position as head of the Arctic and Environmental Unit in the Saami Council, Retter has been involved in issues related to indigenous peoples and indigenous knowledge related to climate change, biodiversity, language, pollution and management of natural resources.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim | Hindou began advocating for Indigenous rights and environmental protection at age 16, founding the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT) to introduce new income revenue activities and collaborative tools such as 3D participatory mapping to build sustainable ecosystems management and reduction of nature-based resource conflicts. She is a member of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change. She serves as a UN Sustainable Development Goal Advocate, Conservation International Senior Fellow and Board Member, Earthshot Prize Council Member and an official Friend of COP26 Presidency.

Joan Carling | Joan is an indigenous activist from the Cordillera with more than 20 years of working on indigenous issues from the grassroots to the international level. Her expertise includes areas like human rights, sustainable development, the environment, climate change, and additionally the application of Free, Prior and Informed Consent. She was the General Secretary of the Asia Indigenous People Pact (AIPP) From September 2008 to December 2016. She was appointed as indigenous expert of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (2014-2016) by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by UN Environment in September 2018. She was awarded the Champions of the Earth; Lifetime time Achievement award by UN Environment.

Francisco Rosado-May | Francisco, of Maya origin, was born in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo, Mexico, several years before the creation of Cancun. In 2007 Francisco became the Founding President of the Intercultural Maya University of Quintana Roo in José María Morelos, with his second term ending in February 2015. Under his tenure, both universities held the highest level in all their academic programs, according to evaluations by national organisms for accreditation. As part of the founding team of the University of Quintana Roo, in 1991, Francisco held positions as Faculty, Dean of the Science and Engineering Division and Vice President. In 2002, he became the 4th President of UQRoo. While holding this position, he envisioned and worked towards the opening of another public university in his home state, with an educational model that would provide training and knowledge similar to UQRoo along with the local Maya language, culture and ways of constructing knowledge.

Darío José Mejía Montalvo | Darío belongs to the indigenous Zenú Peoples of San Andrés Sotavento and is a member of the National Commission for Labor and Coordination of Education of the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia (CONTCEPI). He is the leader of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), and from 2008 to 2012, he served as the ONIC Counsellor of Education. Additionally, he is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Fund for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC), and the Technical Secretary of the Permanent Dialogue Mechanisms between the National Government and the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia. In 2014, Mr. Mejía Montalvo coordinated the adoption of Decree 1953, the indigenous component of the National Development Plan 2014 and the shortened period procedure “Fast Track,” in the framework of the implementation of the Final Peace Accord.

Siham Drissi | Siham is Programme Management Officer in the Biodiversity and Land Management Branch, in the Ecosystems Division at UNEP headquarters. For the past 18 years, her main focus areas of work have been on food security issues and their environmental interlinkages, right to food, food sovereignty, land tenure and rights, integrated landscape approaches, gender in sustainable development, and South-South and triangular Cooperation. Lead officer for the IPLCs’ participation in S+50: [email protected]



1. On the road to Stockholm +50:


2. During Stockholm+50:

  • Produce the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Declaration.
  • IPLCs side events.
  • Support for the participation of IPLCs leaders in the Stockholm+50 meeting, including travel and accommodation.
  • Time slots in the “Action Hub” and the leadership dialogues. 

Existing partnerships with entities with a strong IPLCs’ network are supporting this initiative. These include the Global Landscape Forum, FAO, UNESCO, CBD, UNCCD, UNFCCC, UNPFII, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Ips, SwedBio, CIFOR, the Equator Initiative, Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, WFP, RRI, WWF, IUCN, etc.( a list of all the partners will be provided).