Right Based Conservation with Recognition of Customary Institutions and Traditional Governance

Lead Implementer

Center for Indigenous Peoples' Research and Development (CIPRED), Nepal

Project Description

This project seeks to empower Nepal’s Indigenous communities to effectively exercise their customary laws, practices and land tenure rights through the legal recognition of their customary institutions and self-governance systems in the conservation area and national parks. This would contribute to sustaining traditional livelihoods, and maintaining traditional knowledge, skills and cultural values, which are all needed for the sustainable management of the natural resources, ecosystem and biodiversity. This would allow Indigenous communities to live with respect and dignity in their ancestral lands.

This project has the potential to create positive impacts on the livelihoods, cultural values, and sustainable management of natural resources for Indigenous communities in Nepal. It will utilize a multi-faceted approach involving strengthening of Indigenous communities, engagement with government actors, implementation in different types of conservation areas, and utilization of approaches and tools developed by CIPRED. Its approach includes the following strategies:

  • Strengthening communities: The project will work with Indigenous communities to build their awareness of their rights and provide them with the skills and capacities to engage with other stakeholders, including those who should be supporting them in realizing their rights. The project will facilitate the sharing and learning of experiences among different Indigenous communities, particularly community leaders, women, and young people, to build solidarity across communities. The project will also support Indigenous communities in continuing their traditional livelihoods and cultural practices through modest support.
  • Engaging with government actors: The project will engage with key government actors, particularly forest and park bureaucracies, to promote openness to finding innovative and lasting solutions to conservation challenges in Nepal. The project will work with elected officials and government bureaucrats who are sympathetic to the situation of Indigenous Peoples' communities and recognize their contributions to conservation initiatives. Elected officials will be encouraged to share their experiences of enacting and implementing local laws that recognize customary institutions and practices, while other sympathetic government bureaucrats will be encouraged to strengthen emerging good practices. Traditional and social media outlets will also be utilized to put pressure on forest and park bureaucrats when appropriate and celebrate progress made over time.
This project has the potential to create positive impacts on the livelihoods, cultural values, and sustainable management of natural resources for Indigenous communities in Nepal.
  • Implementing in various types of conservation areas: The project will be implemented in three categories of national parks in Nepal, including government-run conservation areas with heavy military presence, semi-government managed conservation areas, and community-led conservation areas. This strategic sample will allow tailoring of the project strategy to the specific conditions in each conservation area, providing opportunities for learning by Indigenous communities through reflections on their experiences.
  • Utilizing approaches and tools Developed by CIPRED: These include a  ommunity Based Monitoring and Information System (CBMIS), which aligns with the principles of Indigenous Peoples' Sustainable Self-Determined Development. The CBMIS tool will be reviewed and adjusted to best serve the project purposes, and Indigenous youth, women, and elders will be involved in its implementation to ensure community engagement and ownership. CBMIS will provide baselines for identifying priorities in each community and will be used to track progress throughout the project in a community-based manner.
  • Establish a reference group to advise on the project’s implementation. This group will be comprised of representatives from municipal and provincial governments, the Ministry of Forest and Environment, civil society organizations and the Indigenous Nationalities Commission. It will also include three lawyers to represent Indigenous Peoples and local communities and provide them with technical and legal support.