Meeting with people of Cambodian Community (c) NTFP EP Cambodia Kouy Socheat

IUCN NL presents guiding principles for Community-Driven Conservation

Indigenous peoples and local communities play a crucial role in protecting and defending their territories, and have been doing so for generations. But the pressure on their territories is increasing. Therefore, it is crucial that the communities adapt their structures for governing and managing their natural resources. A new report by IUCN NL sets out eight guiding principles for so-called Community-Driven Conservation. Civil society organizations, communities and conservation practitioners can use it as a guide to address the essential issues in their landscapes.

Header photo: NTFP EP Cambodia Kouy Socheat

The report presents eight guiding principles for effective and inclusive Community-Driven Conservation. They are based on publications by Elinor Ostrom and the experiences of IUCN NL’s partner organizations in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Communities in rural areas in these continents often depend on the natural environment for their livelihoods and therefore want to use and manage it in a sustainable manner.

Adapting to changes

Although Indigenous peoples and local communities have been active as both custodians and defenders of their territories for many generations, the world around them is changing. There are external pressures like migration, mining and plantations. Communities themselves are subject to changes like increasing demands for access to education, health services and consumer goods.  As a consequence of this changing world, traditional institutions may need adaptation. The guiding principles for Community-Driven Conservation and the report can be used as a guideline to address governance and rights issues in the local context.

Global movements and trends

The report does not stand alone in its push for the recognition of Community-Driven Conservation. Global mechanisms and networks like Other Effective Conservation Measures (OECMs) and Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) are renowned frameworks that represent the recent trend in indigenous and community-based governance of protected and conserved areas. IUCN NL’s guidelines are connected to all of these existing initiatives.

The guidelines in the report can play an important role in supporting communities to implement effective Community-Driven Conservation. These cases are examples that, in turn, can aid the process towards official government recognition of ICCAs.

SDG 16

The eight guiding principles for Community-Driven Conservation contribute to SDG 16, which calls for the building of, effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels – with a focus on the level closest to the people.

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Evelien van den Broek
Senior Expert Environmental Justice