TNFD at Davos Highlights Critical Role of Indigenous Communities in Biodiversity Conservation

Lillies on water
At the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos, the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) gave a call to action for the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) in shaping the emerging biodiversity market.

The Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) announced a significant milestone at Davos, with 320 organisations and corporations committing to adopting its guidelines on nature-related financial disclosures within the next two years. These guidelines include provisions to prioritise engagement with IPLCs in describing human rights policies and activities related to nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks, and opportunities.

Elizabeth Mrema, co-chair of the TNFD, emphasised the pivotal role of Indigenous participation in biodiversity project implementation during a WEF session dedicated to biodiversity credits. Their invaluable role as stewards of the land and resources cannot be overlooked, particularly in the nascent biodiversity market.

“Negotiations take place at a high level, but actual implementation is on the ground level. The local communities are only 5% of the world’s population but are safeguarding 80% of the biodiversity. They have the land and the resources.”, Mrema said during a biodiversity credit session at WEF.

While the current voluntary biodiversity credits market stands at approximately $8 million, projections suggest that global demand could surge to $180 billion in the future. However, such expansion necessitates alignment on principles of integrity and equitable participation.

“Communities own or are custodians of the lands, but developers and investors negotiate with the government, and the government signs the contracts. Local communities must be respected from day one as partners”, said Esther Netshivhongweni, chair of the Community Advisory Panel at the Biodiversity Credits Alliance (BCA).

Netshivhongweni emphasised the imperative of respecting local communities as partners from the outset of negotiations. She highlighted the discrepancy between community ownership or custodianship of lands and the governmental and investor negotiations that often sideline their voices.

Mariana Sarmiento, founder and CEO of Terrasos, a Colombian developer, emphasised that IPLCs are not just stewards of nature but also knowledge holders, questioning whether they are adequately equipped to participate in the market.

In a bid to enhance the integrity of biodiversity credit markets, Tim Coles, CEO of RePlanet, proposed two crucial initiatives: a transparent system for recording benefits to families and local communities regularly to ensure accountability; and allocating at least 60% of the final value of biodiversity credits to local communities into a sustainable business livelihood fund.

The discourse at Davos underscores the urgent need to centre IPLCs in biodiversity conservation efforts and market mechanisms, with empowering Indigenous voices and communities a foundational principle for tackling biodiversity loss.


Read more about Nature developments at Davos from our social venture Nature-based Insights here.