chapter  4
32 Pages

Local voices, international arenas

The case of the Convention on Biological Diversity
WithLouisa Parks

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Earlier chapters presented local case studies of benefit-sharing, and identified common themes arising from them. Chapter 4 shifts the focus to the international level, and the Convention on Biological Diversity in particular. It discusses whether and where there are discursive spaces available for the themes important to local communities in this arena of global environmental governance. The basis for the discussion is a detailed discourse analysis of the decisions taken over the years by the Convention’s Conference of the Parties, including the latest meeting held in 2018. The analysis builds up a discursive map of the CBD over time, showing where spaces for local themes exist, as well as where they are limited. Overall, the analysis shows that the Convention on Biological Diversity does leave some space for local themes, in particular since its seventh Conference of the Parties, and within the cross-cutting issue of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices. Discourses around participation and the recognition of traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use emerge as the broadest discursive bases for local themes. The chapter ends with a brief discussion of preliminary evidence that suggests that the Convention on Biological Diversity has built a unique discourse about indigenous peoples and local communities compared to other actors, notably industry groups.