The Journal of the IUCN
Commission on Environmental, Economic & Social Policy (CEESP)
Call for Contributions & Submission Guidelines for Policy Matters No. 18:
Rights-based Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation:
Ensuring the Local Integrity of Environmental Law & Policy
Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Background on Policy Matters
Policy Matters (PM) is a periodic publication of the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Commission on
Environmental, Economic, and Social Policy (CEESP). PM has an international distribution of 1,000-2,000,
including worldwide CEESP members, IUCN staff, and participants in IUCN-sponsored workshops,
conferences, and events. The journal is addressed to the growing network of community activists,
policymakers, academics, and others engaged in improving policy and practice at the intersections of the
environmental, economic, and social arenas.
PM issues are typically comprised of diverse articles centred around a unifying theme, in addition to updates
on the activities of CEESP themes and working groups. Past issues include Climate Change, Energy Change,
and Conservation (PM 16), Conservation and Human Rights (PM 15), Poverty, Wealth and Conservation
(PM 14), History, Culture and Conservation (PM 13), Community Empowerment for Conservation (PM 12),
Trade, Investment and Environment (PM 11), Co-management of Natural Resources and Sustainable
Livelihoods (PM 10), and Environment and Security (PM 9). Many of these issues were produced for
international events, including the 2004 World Conservation Congress (PM 13), the 2003 Vth World Parks
Congress, Durban (PM 12), and the 2003 WTO meeting in Cancun (PM 11). All past issues of PM can be
downloaded at: http://www.iucn.org/about/union/commissions/ceesp/ceesp_publications/pm
Issue No. 18: “Rights-based Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation: Ensuring the
Local Integrity of Environmental Law and Policy” (working title)
The PM 18 core editing team consists of Holly Shrumm, Barbara Lassen, and Jessica Campese. There is also
an extended team of peer reviewers and co-editors, including Harry Jonas, Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend,
Nonette Royo, Gary Martin, Suneetha Subramanian, Wim Hiemstra, and Elisa Morgera. The editorial team
invites interested parties to submit contributions addressing a broad range of issues related to rights-based
approaches to biodiversity conservation and the local realization of environmental law and policy.
Background on Theme
The conservation of biodiversity is critical not only to the viability of local livelihoods, but also to the
security and survival of our planet. The recent Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity revealed that global
targets to significantly reduce rates of biodiversity loss by 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, are
not even close to being met. As the exploitation of natural resources for economic gain intensifies,
biodiversity and the subsequent resilience of life-supporting systems are increasingly threatened. Past
approaches to conservation have repeatedly failed to achieve their goals, often because they have
exacerbated the very underlying inequalities that drive the degradation of biodiversity.1
The 20th-century approach to conservation consisted largely of government-sponsored protected areas that
actively excluded their original stewards and perpetuated unfounded notions of terra nullius. This overly
simplistic protectionist approach neglected to acknowledge the millennia of human interaction with nature
and has resulted in the widespread dispossession, marginalization, and impoverishment of indigenous
peoples and local communities2. Most government-related conservation initiatives continue to be met with
deep suspicion among communities for further deepening the chasms of inequality along which they were
The current face of conservation is an increasingly complex and nuanced interplay of economic, political,
and social-cultural factors, but is still overshadowed by an economics-driven approach that arguably upholds
the antiquated status quo of the marginalization of the world’s 370 million indigenous peoples3. The
structural inequality of this approach is evident in the promulgation of international environmental
agreements and policies such as the incumbent International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS)
under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that claim to establish standards and
rules of engagement for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, but instead undermine, rather
than uphold, the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities and enable the further appropriation and
exploitation of biodiversity4. Such policies largely fail to recognize and respect the integral relationships
between cultural and biological diversity and between indigenous peoples’ and local communities’
customary ways of life (including traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices) and the conservation
and sustainable use of biodiversity.
With a deepening understanding of the intricacies of biodiversity systems and interactions with social
systems, conservationists are beginning to integrate elements of complexity and multiple forms of valuation
into their work. Building on theoretical and practical advances in conservation and social science, the 2002
Malawi Principles on the Ecosystem Approach5 indicate international legal recognition of a fundamental
shift away from the protectionist paradigm and towards a more realistic and socially responsive approach. It
is now standard policy to encourage the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in
conservation programs and to foster the strengthening of local institutions for natural resource management.
Although there are still many concerns about the efficacy of such approaches, they do aim to increase local
investment and ownership over conservation interventions.6
There are increasing calls for sui generis systems to protect communities’ ways of life and collective
knowledge systems and bio-cultural heritage. Customary laws, norms, and values not only provide the basis
for systems of natural resource management, but also to do so on the basis of social equity, endogenous
development, self-governance, and self-determination.7 The key principles of reciprocity, duality, and
equilibrium that tend to underpin community interactions with biological and cultural diversity should also
form the basis of sui generis systems at the local, national, and international levels.8 Recognition and support
Brechin, Steven R., et al., 2002. “Beyond the Square Wheel: Toward a More Comprehensive Understanding of
Biodiversity Conservation as Social and Political Process”. Society and Natural Resources. 15:41-64.
United Nations, 2009. “State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples”. United Nations, New York.
Supra no. 2.
Rights and Resources Initiative, 2009. “The End of the Hinterland: Forests, Conflict and Climate Change”. Rights and
Resources Initiative, Washington D.C.
UNEP/CBD/COP/4/Inf.9, 1998. Last accessed February 10, 2010, at: http://www.cbd.int/doc/meetings/cop/cop-
Timmer, Vanessa, and Calestous Juma, 2005. “Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Reduction Come Together in the
Tropics: Lessons Learned from the Equator Initiative”. Environment. 47(4):24-44.
Swiderska, Krystyna, 2005. “Protecting Traditional Knowledge: A Framework Based on Customary Laws and Bio-
cultural Heritage”. International Institute for Environment and Development, United Kingdom.
Supra no. 7.
of such systems will become increasingly critical to the capacity of communities to mitigate and adapt to the
effects of climate change. Biological and cultural diversity serve as buffers against the effects of
unpredictable events such as natural disasters and invasive species. However, if this diversity is not
maintained according to the customary laws, norms, and values that elicit it in the first place, then the entire
system due to diminished capacity to cope with change.
Governments and conservation agencies are increasingly recognizing that conservation initiatives must be
undertaken together with the protection of communities' customary use of natural resources. Laws that aim to
protect biodiversity must be implemented in ways that support the rights of communities who use natural
resources to sustain their ways of life. A rights-based approach to conservation recognizes that communities
are not merely stakeholders whose views may be taken into account by governmental and conservation
agencies simply in order to fulfill donor requirements. Communities are rights holders and have entitlements
under international, national, and customary law that others are obliged to respect. The recognition and
realization of indigenous peoples' and local communities' substantive and procedural rights, particularly
rights to secure land tenure and to practise customary ways of life, are fundamentally critical to the
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
As the CBD's 10th Conference of Parties approaches, these issues continue to be discussed and deliberated
and negotiators and policy-makers are becoming increasingly aware of calls for rights-based approaches.
However, the discourse is still lacking in concrete examples and comprehensive analyses of the local
realization of environmental laws and policies.
Call for Contributions
Building upon PM 15, this issue aims to:
discuss recent developments in rights-based approaches to conservation in relation to environmental
law and policy;
constructively critique current environmental laws and policies (e.g. the International Regime on
ABS under the CBD, the Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest
Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) under the Framework Convention on Climate
Change) from a rights-based perspective;
illustrate and analyse innovative sui generis systems and processes that recognize and uphold
indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights (e.g. ICCAs, conversatorios, bio-cultural
community protocols); and
propose practical ways forward to ensure the local integrity of environmental law and policy.
You are invited to submit contributions based on one or more of these aims and within various contexts such
as bio-cultural heritage, ICCAs, protected areas, plant, animal, and marine genetic resources, desertification,
climate change adaptation, ABS, and REDD, among others.
You may also wish to explore one or more of the following questions:
What are the fundamental aims and elements of rights-based approaches to conservation? How can
they be fulfilled in practise?
How can/do rights-based approaches to conservation succeed where other approaches have failed?
What are some of the challenges associated with rights-based approaches and how can they be
How can legal instruments such as the Convention on Biological Diversity's Articles 8(j) and 10(c)
be implemented to ensure recognition of indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights? What
are some of the challenges in implementation at the local level and how can they be overcome?
What are the duties, obligations, rights, and/or responsibilities of outside interest groups (e.g.
researchers, extractive industries, international conservation organizations, government agencies)
when engaging with indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to the conservation,
sustainable use, and sharing of benefits of biodiversity?
What are the duties, obligations, rights, and/or responsibilities of indigenous peoples and local
communities in relation to the conservation, sustainable use, and sharing of benefits of biodiversity?
What methodologies and sui generis systems are used to uphold the substantive and procedural
rights of indigenous peoples and local communities (e.g. safe and healthy environment, freedom to
practice culture and traditional ways of life, self-determination, full and effective participation,
access to information, access to justice)?
Please note that this issue of PM will NOT address the following issues:
general discussions of environmental laws and policies and the issues they attempt to address (e.g.
general descriptions of indigenous peoples and local communities
Submission Guidelines for Authors
Most PM contributors are active CEESP members, but non-member submissions are also welcome. All
submissions should be addressed to the editors below, in addition to any co-editors who solicited them:
Holly Shrumm (firstname.lastname@example.org);
Barbara Lassen (email@example.com); and
Jessica Campese (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Articles may be sent in Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format.
General Content Guidelines
be clearly and concisely written;
reflect factual information, using clear citations as appropriate;
include at least one illustration for each 1000 words, particularly pictures, but also maps and
diagrams, as appropriate;
include the full name(s) of the author(s) and the e-mail and phone number of at least one author.
Each author should also include a very brief biography; and
fully respect the specifications listed below.
Submission Categories & Deadlines
1. Full Article (maximum 5000 words): Provide a detailed argument related to the theme of PM 18,
relating theoretical and/or legal and policy background to practical examples. Follow the general format
of abstract, introduction, body, and conclusion. Endnotes, tables, and artwork can be included and are
not counted toward word limits. To be considered for the submission of a full article, first provide a
summary or abstract (200-300 words) that reflects the central points of your proposed article. Deadline
for abstracts of proposed articles: March 15. Abstracts will then be reviewed for adherence to the PM 18
theme and submission guidelines and authors of accepted articles will be notified by March 30. Deadline
for full first draft of accepted articles: April 30.
2. Short Piece (500-1000 words): Announce, comment upon, or describe a recent event, policy, and/or
innovative field initiative relevant to PM 18. These are usually information-dense and include a very
brief abstract and references for further reading. A picture related to the topic is recommended. Deadline
for submissions of short pieces: April 30. Please contact Holly Shrumm (email@example.com) if
you would like to submit a short piece related to an event or initiative that will occur after April 30.
3. Book Review (500-1000 words): Describe a recent publication and illustrate its significance for the
conservation community and in relation to PM 18. A scan or digital photo of the publication cover is
recommended. Deadline for submissions of book reviews: April 30. Please contact Holly
(firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to submit a review of a book that will be released after
Submissions may be in English, French, or Spanish. Authors are encouraged to submit abstracts in more than
one of these languages if they are able to do so; if space allows, abstracts will be published in all three
Submit pictures in .jpg format, ideally at a resolution of 300 dpi.
Include a caption and credit information for each picture.
Pictures must be suitable for reproduction in black and white (line) or greyscale (halftone). Please
do not submit photos in black and white unless they were originally produced this way.
Artwork/Other Illustration Requirements
Submit maps and other line illustrations in digital form (.jpg, .tiff, or .bmp) scanned at a minimum
of 300 dpi.
Vector maps or figures are also acceptable and should be supplied in one of the following file
formats: .eps, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or Freehand.
Include a caption and credit information for each figure.
All figures must be suitable for reproduction in black and white (line) or greyscale (halftone).
Please do not submit figures in black and white unless they were originally produced this way.
Notes and Citations
Footnotes should be used for all citations and notes aside from photo or figure captions. To cite a website,
periodical, book, or collected volume, indicate the name of the author and year of publication and include the
full reference in a list at the end of your article. To cite a legal document, indicate the name and year and
under which body, convention, meeting, and decision, if applicable, it was adopted.
References should be listed in alphabetical order at the end of the article, following the example formats
below (note: please do not abbreviate journal names):
2002 Malawi Principles on the Ecosystem Approach. UNEP/CBD/COP/4/Inf.9, 1998.
Montoya, I., 2008. “How to make your editor happy”. Last accessed January 14, 2010, at:
Gee, E. P., 1956. “Learning from community meetings”. Journal of the Bombay History Society,
62 (3): 379-393.
Schaller, G. B., P. Shmucks and F. Friedhof, A Wonderful Caricature, University of Montbatten
Press, Mountbatten (Illinois), 1967.
Collected volumes of papers:
Packard, R. L., “Can princes turn into frogs?”, pages 273-290 in Anderson, S. and J. Knox-Jones
(eds.), Rare Scientific Discoveries, Dracula Press, Bucharest, 1967.
Proofs and Reprints
Printers’ proofs are not returned to authors owing to short deadlines. Queries will be resolved at the
manuscript stage usually via electronic communication. After publication, each contributor receives a
complimentary copy of the relevant PM issue. Please contact CEESP and the main editor
(email@example.com) to arrange to send additional copies to authors for distribution purposes.