In the face of the climate crisis and threats to food security, a safe water supply and biodiversity, GLF Bonn 2019 sought to hear the voices of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, women and youth – all of those with the greatest stake in confronting such global challenges. The forum did not avoid identifying hurdles, most of which stem from conflicting rights and interests, that hinder cooperation to rapidly secure the rights to a healthy life for present and future generations. One of the greatest barriers acknowledged is the structural inequalities that have led to a lack of recognition and respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, women and youth, especially in rural areas. Particularly egaregious are gaps in participation in decision-making, customary tenure and traditional knowledge systems; and forces that have criminalized and perpetuated violence against frontline environmental defenders.
The GLF Bonn 2019 served as a platform for spreading novel ideas to support radical cross- sectoral collaboration, behaviour change and paradigm shifts: all of which we will need to inclusively shape our shared futures. The event brought together Indigenous Peoples and local communities that are shaping the agenda and narrative; fostered the emerging dialogue between Indigenous elders and non-Indigenous youth; encouraged new thinking around a knowledge creation process that leverages synergies between traditional knowledge and Western science; and supported the unveiling of innovations in technology and finance to accelerate progress. The event offered space for rights defenders, too often under threat, not only to share their experiences, but also an opportunity to gain meaningful support and a resounding call for urgent action from a global audience. With the solidarity reception filling conference halls with the sounds of beating drums and dancing until the late evening, and with the rituals and prayers offered across the two days, the GLF Bonn embodied the optimism needed to fuel transformation and a new paradigm for development cooperation.
The way forward is clear: as we approach the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration from 2021-2030, the atmosphere of solidarity and optimism this year’s GLF conference cultivated can be carried forward through the release of the ‘gold standard’ for rights-based approaches, set to be publicly launched in the coming months. These guiding principles seek to encourage institutions at all levels to do better and set a race to the top to normalize the true ownership of rights holders over their land, territories and resources.
Download GLF Bonn 2019 Outcome statement here