World Heritage Symposium on Post-inscription Management.
- Maun, Botswana. February 2019

The Okavamgo Delta in Botswana’s Ngamiland is home to several aboriginal San peoples – the Bugakhwe, ||Anikhwe and Ju|’hoansi San.
In June 2014, the Okavango Delta was inscribed as the 1000th site on the World Heritage list under natural criteria (vii); (ix) & (x). The Okavango is also a Ramsar wetland site.
Starting in 2013, IPACC worked consistently with member organisation the Trust for Okavango Cultural and Development Initiatives (TOCaDI), to ensure that the San of Ngamiland were involved in the Okavango Delta inscription on the Unesco World Heritage list.
This IPACC/TOCaDI project in the Delta secured the San’s rights as active stakeholders in determining the post-inscription management and governance of this World Heritage Site.

Okavango World Heritage Symposium
In February 2019, IPACC organised a World Heritage Symposium at Maun, in the Okavango, where San delegates worked with experts to evaluate different approaches to post-inscription management and governance of the Delta, in relation to key tools such as State-of-Conservation reporting.
The IPACC Symposium brought San villagers together with traditional authorities, government departments, academics from Botswana’s national university, and representatives of non-governmental organisations, to map the way forward.
The Symposium bolstered the effective engagement of Indigenous San peoples in the management of the Delta and in the equitable sharing of benefits, so stimulating sustainable livelihoods, poverty reduction, and the promotion of intergenerational teaching amongst the San.

43rd Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
- Baku, Azerbaijan, July 2019

The International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on World Heritage (IIPFWH) was created by indigenous delegates, including IPACC delegates, at the 41st session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Krakow, Poland, in July 2017.
IPACC was instrumental in the establishment of this important forum, and has since its inception acted as the IIPFWH secretariat.
The IIPFWH is a standing global body tasked with engaging the World Heritage Committee and the Advisory Bodies, on behalf of Indigenous Peoples.

IPACC at the 43rd Session
During the 43rd session, held in Azerbaijan in July 2019, IPACC supported the IIPFWH in its ongoing work.
IPACC also provided significant input on the Operational Guidelines for the Working Group, to ensure that:

  • Indigenous Peoples’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is negotiated at the earliest stage of a nomination process; and that
  • Indigenous Peoples’ full and effective participation is secured in all processes of the World Heritage Convention, from tentative listing to the implementation of management plans.

The IIPFWH is modelled on similar Indigenous Peoples’ structures at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) and at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Gender rights – IPACC launches Indigenous Women’s Council.
- Kenya, September 2019

IPACC is proud to announce the establishment of the IPACC Indigenous Women’s Council, launched in Kenya in September 2019, following extensive consultations in IPACC’s six African regions.
The Women’s Council comprises IPACC’s six gender representatives, under the leadership of IPACC’s gender representative for Africa.
The Women’s Council is mandated to implement IPACC’s five year strategic plan of action to spearhead indigenous women’s rights across the African continent.
In 2020, IPACC will recruit a gender coordinator to manage fundraising for and the implementation of the strategic plan of action.

And over the next five years, IPACC will work with the Women’s Council to roll out grassroots capacity-building programmes, to develop the skills needed by indigenous women to raise financial resources, run their own organisations, and to become change agents at national and international levels.

12th Session of the Human Rights Council - Expert Mechanism On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples.
- Geneva, Switzerland, July 2019

The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) is a subsidiary body of the Human Rights Council (HRC). EMRIP is one of three UN entities dealing specifically with indigenous issues. The other two are the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (IP) and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The twelfth session was held from 15 to 19 July 2019 in Geneva. IPACC collaborated with partners DOCIP from Geneva and the Rain Forest Foundation from Norway in a side-event panel discussion on the human rights situation of indigenous peoples in Africa’s Great Lakes region. 

Panelists included Zénon Mukongo Ngay, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the UN in Geneva, and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. It was chaired by Belkacem Lounès, the African expert on the rights of indigenous peoples at EMRIP.  The event was exceptionally well–attended, and was a huge success. The active participation of three African Ambassadors (from the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi) clarified the positions of the governments of these three countries on the advances and challenges faced by indigenous peoples at national level.

San Ancestral lands : Moremi game reserve in Botswana’s Okavango Delta - Maun, Botswana, November 2019

IPACC conducted a short mission to the Okavango Delta from 11-14 November, 2019 at the request of member organisation ToCADI and the San First Peoples who live in Moremi Game Reserve in the Delta. The San had asked for urgent support from IPACC in the face of moves to declare Moremi as a territory of the Tawana Chieftancy.

Moremi Game Reserve lies at the heart of the Okavango Delta, with an area of roughly 5 000 square kilometres. Named after Chief Moremi III of the BaTawana tribe, the area was declared a game reserve in 1963, and further expanded in 1970. As part of this designation, it was declared that the San/Basarwa groups, who’ve lived there for millennia, could continue to do so.

However, an application was recently lodged with the Tawana Land Board calling for Moremi Game Reserve to be declared as territory of the Tawana chieftancy, causing alarm and uncertainty amongst San communities in Moremi.
Moremi Game Reserve is the only protected area in the Delta, and is one of Botswana’s most popular and lucrative tourist destinations. The tourism industry offers safaris and luxury lodges, promising tourists an idyllic African experience surrounded by a rich diversity of animal and plant life, including iconic large mammals such as elephant, rhinoceros, leopard and hippopotami. 

The Delta’s inscription as a World Heritage Site has elevated the area to one of global significance and provides valuable livelihood opportunities for the indigenous San communities.
The proposal for World Heritage listing was strongly assisted by IPACC and by the indigenous inhabitants (Bugakhwe, //Anikhwe and Ts’exa San) living in and around the Delta, who have conserved the area for millennia. Anthropological research, including oral testimonies from San elders and other ethnic groups in the area, confirm that the earliest inhabitants of the Delta territories are the San peoples, and that Bantu groups such as the Hambukushu, Wayei, Dxeriku and BaTawana settled the region at far later dates than the San.

Tragically, in spite of this widespread recognition, there has been consistent and systematic marginalisation and often violent eviction of various San groups from their ancestral lands in the area. 

Consultation and action
With the support of IPACC, ToCADI is lodging an objection with the Tawana Land Board against the designation of Moremi Game Reserve as Batawana territory.
Consultations were convened with indigenous elders in Maun, Khwai and Gwedigu in order to collect their testimonies, which will be used as evidence in support of objections of by San communities to the designation of Moremi as Batawana territory.

This case raises many important issues for IPACC, its members, and the communities IPACC represents. Fundamentally, the Moremi case is about redress and reparations for historical injustices perpetrated against indigenous peoples, as well as current challenges facing the San.


IPACC held a side event at the tenth session of EMRIP in Geneva, Switzerland 2017.

The side event, organized in coordination with DOCIP, highlighted the Human Rights abuses against Indigenous Peoples in the Great Lakes region.

IPACC participated in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting (41COM) in Krakow, Poland 2017.

To view the associated publications click on the links below:

World Heritage and Indigenous peoples in Botswana (English)

Large-scale landscapes: Governance, Rights and Conservation of African World Heritage Sites (English)

IPACC participated in the Marrakech COP22 UN Climate Change Conference 2016.

We tweeted using the hashtag #IPACC_COP22.

Conference Facebook: COP22

Conference Twitter: COP22

IPACC’s introduction to indigenous knowledge in adaptation

Click here to view the report

IPACC has participated the IUCN World Conservation Congress.

Click to view three case studies on large-scale Landscapes: Governance, Rights and Conservation of African World Heritage Sites (English / French)

Click to view Okavango Delta World Heritage Workshop in Khwai, Botswana (English)

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Indigenous Environment Defenders.

Africa’s hunter-gatherer and nomadic pastoralist peoples have lived symbiotically and sustainably within Africa’s ecosystems for millenia. Their Traditional Knowledge Systems are treasure houses of indigenous knowledge.

Under colonialism, African hunters and nomads suffered land dispossession and cultural oppression. In the post-colonial era, they’ve advocated for their land, cultural and human rights.

Now, in this Age of Climate Change, Africa’s hunter-gatherer and nomadic pastoralist peoples are recognised as frontline guardians and managers of African biodiversity, and provide early warning for climate change trends.

We appeal to African governments to formally recognise the Traditional Knowledge Systems and practices of hunters and nomads.


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