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Much of biodiversity is in the global south and/or stewarded by Indigenous Peoples and local communities who may not have secure land tenure. How will the risks of land dispossession be managed?

Indigenous Peoples’ territories contain 80% of the world’s remaining biodiversity. Ensuring IPs and LCs (Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities) are engaged in the biodiversity credit market is critical both to the success of the market and the achievement of global targets like those included in the GBF. 

A major advantage of biodiversity credits for IPs and LCs is that this market, if co-designed appropriately with IPs and LCs, could valorise their stewardship of lands and seas as well as their traditional knowledge. At the same time, IPs particularly face many challenges in realizing their rights and risk being dispossessed by nature-related markets. A recent BCA discussion paper argues that it is imperative that investors engage with IPs and LCs in the emerging biodiversity credit market and ensure their rights are fully respected. For example, practitioners suggest that if a community is living in a highly strategic area for biodiversity conservation, but it has no formal land title, a key milestone of a conservation project in this area could be securing long term use rights of that land by communities. Many proponents believe that transparency of both land tenure arrangements and funding flows can give the sort of assurance to investors that has frightened some away from fully embracing the voluntary carbon market.

There are considerable examples of safeguards for working with IPs and LCs and the BCA paper covers how to move from a risk-based approach towards transforming the playing field, ensuring that IPs and LCs are at the forefront of developing biodiversity credit schemes, and are assured of benefiting from them, both in terms of what more can be done currently by investors today and what systematic changes are necessary at scale. Many stakeholders believe that if the market for biodiversity credits is not designed according to this intent, it should not be pursued at all.