Importance of indigenous resource rights & knowledge

In 1996, WWF became the first major conservation organization to formally recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. More specifically, we recognized their rights to their traditional “lands, territories and resources” and endorsed the key principle of “free, prior informed consent.”
As a conservation organization, WWF is concerned about the loss of biodiversity and the degrading quality of the world's environment.

But we are also increasingly concerned about loss of cultures and knowledge.

Traditional peoples have accumulated vast amounts of ecological knowledge in their long history of managing the environment – knowledge that could be beneficial for nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources worldwide.

WWF supports indigenous and traditional peoples to sustainably manage their resources, and to maintain, use, and strengthen their traditional ecological knowledge.

In doing so, WWF fully respects indigenous and traditional peoples' human and development rights, and recognizes the importance of the conservation of their cultures. 

This is a difficult and complex challenge in times of globalization and expanding economic and market forces; a task that requires cooperation and partnerships.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Pygmy of the BaAka tribe performing a dance celebration. The villagers manage their own hunting zones where they continue their subsistence hunting.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
WWF appreciates the enormous contributions that indigenous peoples have made to the maintenance of many of the Earth's most fragile ecosystems. 

We also recognize the importance of indigenous resource rights and knowledge for the conservation of these areas in the future.

WWF Statement of Principles on Indigenous Peoples and Conservation

WWF's Statement of Principles on Indigenous Peoples and Conservation was developed in 1996 and updated in early 2008.  In 2008, WWF also produced updated guidelines for implementing these principles.

Indigenous and Traditional Peoples and Protected Areas

WWF also worked with IUCN-The Conservation Union to develop a set of Principles and Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas.
WWF seeks over time to learn from its experience and share lessons with broader audiences.  The publication Indigenous Peoples and Conservation Organizations: Experiences in Collaboration provides case studies of field initiatives.  In 2007, WWF completed a review and recommendations on Strengthening Partnerships with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, including a reaffirmation of WWF's Statement of Principles and identification of actions to strengthen its implementation and monitoring.

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