Read by Malia Nobrega Thank you Madame Chair.
This statement is being made on behalf of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB).
We welcome the draft decisions on Inland Waters Bidiversity and would like to recall important conclusions from of SBSTTA 15 that are particularly important to indigenous peoples and local communities. We strongly feel that the Conference of the Parties should recognize these two key paragraphs in the draft decisions-‐
Conclusion SBSTTA 15-‐
(g) Women are key stakeholders in sustaining family well-‐being, and using thebiodiversity components of water-‐related ecosystem services and their knowledge related to water is a key factor in the implementation of the programme of work on inland waters biodiversity; and
(h) Indigenous and local communities that maintain a very close, holistic, cultural and spiritual relationship with essential elements of biodiversity associated with the water cycle, as demonstrated in many cultural activities, including through indigenous languages, can help to promote sustainable water management based on their traditional knowledge;
We therefore recommend the following paragraph as an addition to the draft decisions:
Recognises that indigenous peoples and local communities, especially women, maintain a very close, holistic, cultural, and spiritual relationship with essential elements of biodiversity associated with the water cycle, as demonstrated in many cultural activities, including through indigenous languages, can help to promote sustainable water management based on their traditional knowledge and Parties shall ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in the programme of work on inland waters biodiversity.
Madame Chair, in my mother tongue, wai is water, waiwai means values or wealth, and kanawai is the law. It is no coincidence that, in an island community like mines, both wealth and the law were and continue to be defined by fresh water. Continuous mauka to makai (from the mountains to the ocean) stream flow provided critical fresh water for drinking, supported traditional agriculture and aquaculture, recharged ground water supplies, and sustained productive estuaries and fisheries by both bringing nutrients from the uplands to the sea and providing a travel corridor so that native stream animals could migrate between the streams and ocean and complete their life cycles. For Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians), appropriately managing fresh water resources was a true kuleana: both a privilege and a responsibility. “Fresh water as a life-‐giver was not to the Hawaiians merely a physical element; it had a spiritual connotation.” Due to this significance, in ancient times, water could not be commodified or reduced to physical ownership. Instead, ali‘i (leaders) managed water as a resource for the benefit of the community as a whole.
Thank you, Madame Chair.