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How to participate


Participation of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) is crucial for developing IPBES assessments and other activities in ways that recognize the role of Indigenous and local knowledge in biodiversity conservation, as well as current challenges faced by IPLCs and ways forward. This allows IPBES assessments and other activities to be of relevance not only to policymakers, but also to IPLCs themselves. 

As agreed at the fifth session of the IPBES plenary, IPBES has been working to develop a “participatory mechanism” – a series of methodologies and pathways to facilitate the participation of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in IPBES assessments and other areas of work. 

How can IPLCs participate in IPBES?

There are different ways in which IPLCs can participate in IPBES, including:

  • The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IIFBES) is open to all members of IPLCs. By joining IIFBES you will receive updates on IPBES activities; 
  • The task force on Indigenous and local knowledge currently has six Indigenous members (you can see the task force members here). The task force membership is renewed every four years (2019 and 2023) through an online call for nominations;
  • IPBES assessments engage a range of methods for IPLC participation (see below); and
  • Other IPBES activities also welcome IPLC participation, for example the capacity building forum

Participation in IPBES assessments

There are different ways in which IPLCs can participate in IPBES assessments (also shown in the diagram below):

  • Participation in scoping for new assessments: IPLCs can participate in the scoping processes for upcoming IPBES assessments. Calls for nominations are sent out prior to the formation of scoping expert groups.
  • Participation as assessment authors: there are several ways that IPLC can participate as authors:
    • Authors on assessment teams: IPLCs can nominate themselves to be on the author teams for the full period of the assessment. These nominations must be supported by a government or organization, so it is important to find a government or organization who will support your nomination. Calls for nominations are sent out prior to the start of assessments.
    • Contributing authors: IPLC can participate as contributing authors, contributing smaller portions of text or materials for an assessment. This can include providing case studies that illustrate key issues or themes of an assessment, or working on portions of text with assessment authors. Contributing authors are usually approached directly by assessment authors.
    • Fellows: Early career IPLC experts can engage in the assessment process through the IPBES fellowship programme. Calls for nominations of fellows are sent out prior to the start of an assessment.
  • Indigenous and local knowledge dialogue workshops: these usually last two or more days, and bring together IPLCs and assessment authors to discuss and share knowledge around an assessment. Participants are selected following nominations during the call for contributions (see below). At least three global dialogue workshops are held during each assessment process:
  1. Framing the methods, key questions and themes for the assessment (soon after the assessment starts);
  2. Reviewing the first drafts of the assessment chapters, assessing strengths, gaps, and providing recommendations for additional sources of information (during the assessment's first external review period);
  3. Reviewing the second drafts of the chapters and the first draft of the summary for policymakers (during the assessment's second external review period).
  • Online call for contributions: An on-line call for contributions is opened for each assessment, giving an opportunity for IPLCs to provide information or case studies, and also to recommend networks, organizations or individuals who could be engaged with during the assessment process. Contributions could include community reports, academic papers, case studies, videos, songs and artworks. The calls are available in English, Spanish and French.
  • Online external review periods: First and second drafts of assessments are available online on the IPBES website during the external review periods, and IPLCs are encouraged to review these documents. Every comment submitted is specifically considered by IPBES author teams.
  • Outreach and follow up after assessments: IPBES organizes a series of activities after assessments are completed, including working with IPLCs to develop materials and webinars specifically for IPLCs (available here).

The following diagram shows the main methods for IPLC participation in a usual IPBES assessment process, following the IPBES approach to Indigenous and local knowledge:

Diagram of the IPBES assessment approach to working with ILK