December 16, 2009


A crucial principle embedded in the Convention on Biological Diversity is expressed in article 8(j):
"Subject to its national legislation, respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices.”
This makes it clear that indigenous and local communities have knowledge and practices that can make a major contribution to ensuring the resilience of ecosystems and the protection of biodiversity. This includes agricultural biodiversity – the selection, breeding and conservation of biodiversity that underpins human wellbeing. However, the replacement of natural ecosystems with plantations and industrial monocultures has already had very serous impacts on Indigenous People’s and local communities, displacing them, destroying the ecosystems they have often helped to enrich and maintain and above all, undermining their own resilience.

A fundamental aspect of the interaction between indigenous peoples, local communities and biodiverse ecosystems is of course agriculture, which at his level consists of many different cultures that in a sense codify the inter-relations between communities and the ecosystems they inhabit and interact with. Agriculture has so far been neglected in the climate discussions. It is now in serous danger of entering them in the wrong spirit, as the basis for trade and offsets, particularly in the case of soils.
This must not be allowed to happen. Instead we need to apply the principles outlined above and ensure that the small farmers of the world are properly respected for their crucial role, not just in feeding many of us, but in maintaining the resilience of the ecosystems on whose integrity we all depend if we are literaly to weather the storms of climate change.
To translate this into negotiation text would mean at minimum:
- keeping agriculture and soils out of market mechanism, and
- adding in compliance with the CBD to the shared vision.

Further Information:
1. Agriculture and climate change: real problems, false solutions. EcoNexus, Biofuelwatch, Grupo de Reflexion Rural, NOAH-Friends of the Earth Denmark, and The Development Fund Norway, Copenhagen, December 2009.
2. Small Farmers can cool the planet: A way out of the mayhem caused by the industrial food system, November 2009 by GRAIN.
3. Small Scale Sustainable Farmers are Cooling Down the Earth, December 2009 via Campesina.
4. Earth Matters – Tackling the Climate Crisis from the Ground Up, October 2009 by GRAIN.
5. The International Food System and the Climate Crisis, October 2009 by GRAIN.
Courtesy: Convention on Biological Diversity Alliance (


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