Background

Friends of the Earth International (F0EI) member groups have always taken the position that for our efforts at forest, biodiversity and natural resource conservation to be successful and meaningful, rights of local communities to these resources must first be respected. Without the recognition of rights, justice cannot be accomplished.

Further, since the traditional knowledge of local communities is key for the protection of our natural resources, environmental conservation efforts must therefore be undertaken in respectful and equal partnership with communities. Such an approach will pave the way towards ecological equity, in which social justice and human rights, become an integral component of environmental justice.

Violations of community rights however continue unabated today, indicating the existence of larger systemic flaws and injustices within our political and economic systems. Communities nevertheless continue to resist in defence of their rights and livelihoods and in the process, direct us to real and meaningful solutions to biodiversity loss and environmental degradation.

FoE Asia Pacific (FoE-APAC) together with the conference host, Friends of the Earth Malaysia – Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) hence called for this international conference to provide the space and opportunity for indigenous communities to share the stories on their struggles for ecological equity and the defence of their rights and territories. These will then enable us to assess the effectiveness of our international efforts at biodiversity protection.

Around 100 participants from around the world, including representatives from indigenous communities, will be attending this conference, which is hosted once in every two years by the FoEI Federation in various parts of the world. This conference is indeed timely as it coincides with the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Resources which is now taking place in Nagoya, Japan.

Photo: Conor Ashleigh, http://conorashleigh.com

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