Recognising and Supporting Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) in South Asia and Globally

Final Report, February 2011

Conducted by Kalpavriksh
Sponsored by GEF Small Grants Programme (Global)


Kalpavriksh had undertaken a one year (2009-10) project "Recognising and Supporting Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas in South Asia and Globally". Its main objectives were to:

(a) build on existing ICCA documentation and processes in South Asia with a series of consultations on issues of national recognition, and international databases;

(b) consolidate the ICCA information at a South Asia level;

(c) coordinate a series of legal assessments of national measures for ICCA recognition; and

(d) provide technical inputs to the development of a ICCA registry at the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

e) produce a briefing note on recognition and support to ICCAs (a set of dos and don’ts)

f) facilitate community member participation in CBD SBSTTA

g) preparation of final project report

Part I: Activities from March 2009 to December 2009

1. Activities at regional and national level

1.1 Building on existing information regarding ICCAs in South Asia region

An inventory of ICCAs in South Asia was updated during this project building on previous work by Kalpavriksh and partner organizations in the region, including a 2008-09 project on ICCAs in South Asia funded by Swedbio. As part of the current project, partners in 5 South Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) have been facilitated to update and add to their national inventories and analyses of ICCAs. A full inventory is attached and this will continue to be updated during follow up periods post this project.


See Annexure 1 for details


1.2 Organising a regional workshop on ICCAs for the S. Asia region

South Asia ICCA consultation, Kathmandu, Nepal, 4th-7th August 2009

(Organisers: Forest Action, Nepal and Kalpavriksh, India)

Kalpavriksh in association with Forest Action (Nepal), organized a South Asian regional workshop on ICCAs in August 2009, utilizing funds from the ongoing Swedbio sponsored project (mentioned above) and the current project. The workshop was helpful in consolidating available information and analyses on ICCAs in the region, exchanging experiences of various partners, and building partnerships for future regional work. A report of this workshop is attached.

See Annexure 2 for details

Main Emerging Issues


  • For legal and policy recognition various forms and mechanisms not necessarily legal recognition need to be explored and accepted.
  • Each country needs to evaluate for itself but in consultation with the concerned communities and other relevant actors whether or not CCAs should be considered PAs and incorporate in the PA system?
  • Tenure issues, benefits of legal recognition, kind of structure, spaces for customary law, jurisdiction issues that need to be explored within each country.
  • The manner and processes adopted for formal recognition to CCAs needs to be clearly defined and understood in each country. These processes should not end up becoming tools for dispossession.
  • Differentiating between different community-based natural resource systems which can/cannot be qualified as CCAs is important.
  • The governance structure and the power of being able to decide the form of the governance structures by the concerned communities themselves is critical.
  • Various mechanism for support could include; Legal backing for CCAs; Human resource development; Document and reaffirm cultural dimensions of conservation; Involve indigenous communities in conservation policy and planning in general; Clarify and protect international property rights of local/indigenous communities.
  • It is also important to assess whether or not CCAs are achieving conservation objectives, for example what does it mean for a CCA to have potential to achieve biodiversity conservation? Is there a particular set of criteria or indicators that can be used to assess the same? How do practitioners and advocates deal with uncertainty in CCA biodiversity outcomes, in terms of planning and assessment?
  • South Asia needs to consider trans-boundary landscape-level initiatives that incorporate ICCA concept was articulated. Communities can play a key role in the evolution of larger landscape institutional arrangements.
  • Concerns related to the database; would the database favour communities which are in touch with civil society organisations leading to skewed representation in the database? What would it mean for CCAs trying to seek national recognition? Would it lead to conflicts with the national governments? Would it create conflicts among communities? What would be the process of verification? And so on.
  • More widespread, inclusive and in-depth discussion on the registry is required within South Asia before populating the database. A time bound e-mail discussion (first two weeks of September) with some of the participants and others would help reach first level of agreement which could then be taken to other relevant actors


The Way Forward

  • National workshops to be organized in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
  • Furthering detailed documentation on CCAs at the national level in the countries.
  • Focused e-discussion group on Global database (WDPA) on CCAs
  • Continue the discussion on the key issues that have emerged from the workshop, to improve the understanding and communication of on-ground situations for various countries.

1.3 Facilitating national and sub-national level consultations in the S. Asia region

Five other consultations at national and sub national level were organised in association with partners:

(a) A subregional workshop on ICCAs in North-East India, at Nowgaon, Assam (May 2009)

(b) A national workshop on ICCAs in Nepal, in Kathmandu (August 2009)

(c) A subregional workshop on ICCAs in West India, at Jaipur, Rajasthan (October 2009)

(d) A national workshop on ICCAs in Bangladesh, Dhaka (February 2010)

(e) A national workshop on ICCAs in Sri Lanka, Colombo (June 2010)

 BaikaBeel 1

 Meeting with community members during the field visit to Baika Beel in Bangladesh (Anwarul Islam)

Each of these workshops focused on reviewing and updating the status of knowledge on ICCAs;  sharing experiences of successes and failures, threats and opportunities; and consolidating proposals for future joint action. The Nepal workshop (which was held with additional financial support from GEF SGP Global), also provided a platform for an open review of a national level status report prepared under the previous project that Kalpavriksh coordinated, sponsored by Swedbio (mentioned above).