WEBINAR: Why Local Indigenous Voices are Essential to Global Forest Commitments

2020 is the final year to prepare for a number of international commitments on sustainable forest governance. The post-2020 biodiversity agenda and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will accelerate global action on forest conservation, restoration, and sustainable use. Indigenous voices are critical in ensuring that international processes reflect and respect traditional knowledge innovations and practices.

On June 25, the UBC’s Canadian International Resources and Development Institute was pleased to host a virtual discussion “Why Local Indigenous Voices are Essential to Global Forest Commitments”, featuring distinguished experts from the United Nations and the University of British Columbia. The webinar included a panel discussion and a short presentation on the recent CIRDI paper “Indigenous Forest Governance: Challenges, Enabling Conditions, and Factors for Success“ by Dr. Joleen Timko, a social scientist and technical forestry expert.

The panel looked outside the Canadian context to explore how Indigenous voices are contributing to and can accelerate sustainable forest governance. A panel of experts shared their own perspectives and experiences on the process of strengthening Indigenous forest governance rights and recognition. Speakers discussed the value of Indigenous forest governance and introduced existing mechanisms that support its recognition.

The event was moderated by CIRDI’s COO & Director of International Programs, Jaime Revenaz Webbe.


Dr. Musonda Mumba is currently the head of the UN Environment’s Terrestrial Ecosystems Team, with over 20 years’ experience in environmental and conservation issues globally.  She recently became the new Chair of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR).  Her responsibilities include providing leadership on Forests and Climate Change, Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) Approaches, technical expertise to governments globally, developing appropriate policy dialogue and strategic direction around Terrestrial Ecosystems.  She has published widely in various journals, newspapers, articles and contributed to book chapters.  She will also be the UN Environment lead on Terrestrial Ecosystems for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021 – 2030), a UN General Assembly Resolution that was passed on 1st March 2019.

John Scott is an Indigenous descendant from North-Eastern Australia. He is the Senior Programme Officer for the Peoples and Biodiversity Unit and the focal point for Indigenous peoples and local communities at the CBD Secretariat. Mr. Scott has a background in education, social policy, law, Indigenous rights and traditional knowledge. He was an Aboriginal Education Advisor; CEO for Aboriginal Programs; Deputy Director for the School of Indigenous Studies at James Cook University; Manager of the Cultural Unit with National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission; Indigenous Human Rights Officer with the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights, and Social Affairs Officer at the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Mr. Scott has a Diploma in Secondary Teaching, a Graduate Diploma in Aboriginal Education, and a Masters of (Indigenous) Legal Studies – International Indigenous Rights and Constitutional Law Reform.

Helina Jolly is a Ph.D. candidate and National Geographic Explorer (2018) at the Institute for Resources Environment and Sustainability. An ecologist and environmental policy analyst by training, she studies the relationship between forest ecosystems and Kattunayakans, a lesser-known hunter-gatherer Indigenous People of South India. Her doctoral research examines the complexities of human and nature connections in these societies through the conversations on human-wildlife interactions, food security, forest fire and rights- capabilities. As a part of her Ph.D. work, she directed and produced an ethnographic documentary Gidiku Vapathu (2020), on Kattunayaka People to understand how these traditional societies perceive and interact with forest and non-human beings. Helina is also the founder of an international web-based project, ‘The Everyday Nature’ that focuses on documenting the perception of people towards nature. She also leads the Collective for Gender+ in Research at the UBC that seeks to develop a network to articulate methods and tools to engage gender in research. Before joining UBC, Helina worked in India for six years on various environmental projects in South Asia with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), Centre for Science and Environment and Clinton Climate Initiative. She is a Commonwealth Scholar and has an MSc in Environmental Policy and Regulation from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Agni Klintuni Boedhihartono is an Associate Professor, Tropical Landscapes and Livelihoods, at the UBC’s Faculty of Forestry. Intu worked for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) based in Switzerland. Over the course of her career, Intu has devoted much of her time in Africa and SE Asia and spent several years working in the Malinau Research Forest region in North Kalimantan, Indonesia, with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Intu has worked with multidisciplinary teams in remote locations in tropical landscapes and seascapes in Asia, Africa and Latin America. She has focussed on issues with Indigenous people and local communities, particularly on the importance of their traditional knowledge and wise practices in natural resources management and the conservation of their cultural diversity. Intu’s research has sought to enable forest-dependent people, coastal communities and Indigenous groups to achieve a balance between conservation and social, cultural and economic development.

Related resources:


The Ubyssey, June 24, 2020

Custodians of biodiversity: Panel discusses forest preservation in an Indigenous context


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