In consonance with continuing efforts to expand the country’s protected area system, the Philippine ICCA Project spearheaded a National Stakeholders’ Consultation on its proposed policies that aim to institutionalize Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Conserved Areas and Territories (ICCAs) in the Philippines.
The consultation took place at the B Hotel in Quezon City on October 17-19, 2018, drawing more than a hundred participants from indigenous people (IP) groups, concerned national and regional government agencies, and civil society organizations.
There were four proposed policies deliberated during the three-day event: first, a policy guideline addressing gaps and inconsistencies towards ICCA recognition; second, a set of guidelines interfacing the ICCAs into the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) and the Community Development Plan (CDP); third, a guideline on ICCAs overlapping with protected areas; and fourth, the National ICCA Registry and Policy, which was envisioned to be a centralized information management system on ICCAs.
Falling under the category of Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Methods (OECMs), ICCAs offer government agencies an alternative outlook for biodiversity conservation.
According to Mr. Samson Pedragosa, Project Manager of the Philippine ICCA Project, it is estimated that 75% of areas with remaining forest cover are within ancestral domains, which indicates that governance by IP communities has been instrumental in conserving what little natural forest cover is left in the Philippines.
Ms. Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez, Director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), emphasized the need to promulgate government policies on ICCAs, saying, “The recognition of ICCAs is in line with the country’s commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Aichi targets and the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP). Passage of the ICCA policies will ensure that we will hit these targets.”
Mr. Titon Mitra, Country Director of United Nations Development Programme Philippines, also noted ICCA’s role in reducing inequality alongside boosting safeguards to the environment.
“With the huge overlaps between the country’s protected areas, key biodiversity areas, and ancestral domains, there is great value in supporting IPs’ conservation efforts, thereby producing multiple benefits such as protecting their rights to ancestral lands, reducing poverty, and enhancing ecosystem resilience,” he said. (Philippine ICCA Project/ Garie Rigor)