The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the international agreement on conservation. It aims to reverse the decline in biodiversity - including habitat, species and genetic diversity - and to maintain the benefits that biodiversity brings to people. This has clear implications for communities that live in and/or depend directly upon forests, which contain a significant proportion of the world’s species.

The CBD acknowledges the dependence of many such communities on biological resources, as well as the value of protecting and sharing traditional knowledge and practices that can help conserve biodiversity. The CBD recognises the rights of indigenous and local peoples, and their current and potential future contribution to biodiversity conservation. Subsequent decisions under the CBD have developed these principles further, as well as attempting to address questions raised by local and indigenous groups concerned primarily about their access to biological resources, and about how the benefits of conservation will be shared.

Community-based or participatory monitoring can play an important role in implementing and reporting on the CBD, as described below, and many of the resources here on Forest COMPASS can help. Our case studies and documents in our resource library can be filtered by searching for those most relevant to the CBD (and other international agendas).

examining birds
Examining birds, DR Congo - Ollivier Girard, CIFOR

The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets

In 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, the Conference of the Parties to the CBD adopted a revised Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, including the Aichi Targets, for the 2011-2020 period. These provide an overarching framework on biodiversity, not only for the CBD and other biodiversity-related conventions (such as the Convention on Migratory Species), but for the entire United Nations system and all other partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development.

The Aichi Targets are a set of 20, time-bound, measureable targets that are now being translated into revised National Biodviersity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) by the 193 parties to the CBD. Under the targets, as well as in the text of the original Convention, the CBD aims to reduce the loss of habitats, including forests, and promote sustainable management of natural resources. Achievement of the targets would contribute to reducing, and eventually halting, the loss of biodiversity at a global level by the middle of the twenty-first century.

The targets particularly relevant to community-based forest monitoring are:

Target 5: By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.

Target 7: By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity.

Target 14: By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.

Target 18: By 2020, the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their customary use of biological resources, are respected, subject to national legislation and relevant international obligations, and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, at all relevant levels.


Implementing and monitoring the CBD and Aichi Targets

Signatory countries work towards the CBD’s goals through National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs). Monitoring is essential for countries to be able to assess and demonstrate progress, and to gauge the effectiveness of their policies and programmes. However, developing ways to monitor the state of, and trends in, biodiversity has been challenging. Multiple data points need to be established over time in order to observe change, but most elements of biodiversity have not yet been surveyed once. It has also taken considerable time for parties to the CBD to develop specific, measurable targets, and indicators by which to track progress towards them. After countries failed in 2010 to reach the initial set of targets, which had been criticised for being difficult to measure, they were significantly revised, and greater effort has been made to ensure that the Aichi Targets are more measurable and and that national action towards these targets is reported in NBSAPs.

Embedded in the CBD’s principles is the idea of acknowledging and promoting the authority of local groups to carry out biodiversity conservation, with management ‘decentralised to the lowest appropriate level’. Key to this is the need to involve local stakeholders in defining what to manage, what to monitor, how to implement participatory monitoring, and how to address biodiversity loss across the world’s diverse landscapes.


Selected decisions and mechanisms under the CBD relating to monitoring by traditional and indigenous people

Article 8(j) of the CBD, on Traditional Knowledge, Innovations and Practices provides the umbrella for much of the work carried out by the CBD relating to indigenous and traditional peoples. This states:

"Each contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate: Subject to national legislation, respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge innovations and practices."

The CBD website has a section dedicated to explaining Article 8(j) in depth, its implementation and relevant decisions by the CBD Parties.

The mechanisms to implement Article 8(j) and related provisions include a Programme of Work; a Plan of Action for the retention of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices embodying lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; and an Ad Hoc Working Group. Indigenous and local community representatives who attend meetings held under the CBD form a caucus which is referred to as the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB).

Information to support implementation of Article 8(j) is included in the Traditional Knowledge Information Portal, developed to promote awareness and enhance access by indigenous and local communities to information on traditional knowledge, innovations and practices relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. CBD Technical Series No. 64 provides a global overview and national case studies of Recognizing and Supporting Territories and Areas Conserved by Indigenous and Local Communities.

Participatory monitoring is a cross-cutting these that is relevant to all of the mechanisms and decisions described above. For example:

  • In 2013, the Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions discussed progress towards indicators relevant for traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use. The meeting note discusses this topic in depth, relating it to Aichi Target 18 and providing many example of the the use of community-based monitoring and information systems that use innovative methodologies based on both traditional knowledge and new tools such as digital mapping, in ways that are particular for each community.


  • Under first phase of the Programme of Work on Article 8(j), Element 6 on Monitoring Elements committed the CBD to develop guidelines and recommendations to ensure the participation of indigenous and local communities in the assessment and review of any development on indigenous land. The guidelines were published and adopted as The Akwé: Kon Voluntary Guidelines for the Conduct of Cultural, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment regarding Developments Proposed to take place on, or which are Likely to Impact on, Sacred Sites and on Lands and Waters Traditionally Occupied or Used by Indigenous and Local Communities.


  • Under the second phase of the Programme of Work on Article 8(j), Element 3 on Traditional cultural practices for conservation and sustainable use calls for the Ad Hoc Working Group to develop a set of guiding principles and standards to strengthen the use of traditional knowledge and other forms of knowledge for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking into account the role that traditional knowledge can play with respect to the ecosystem approach, in situ conservation, taxonomy, biodiversity monitoring and environmental impact assessments in all biodiversity sectors.