Environmental governance for all

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Science  10 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6291, pp. 1272-1273
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf5122

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  • Does China have indigenous peoples?
    • Dayuan Xue, Professor, College of Life and Environmental Science, Minzu University of China, Beijing 100081, China
    • Other Contributors:
      • Rosemary Hill, Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Land and Water and 3. Division of Tropical Environments and Societies, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia 4870

    The recent Science perspectives “bridging indigenous and scientific knowledge”(1) and “environmental governance for all” (2) highlight the growing importance of indigenous peoples and local communities to biodiversity and ecosystems globally. The Convention on Biological Diversity [CBD Article 8 (j) and the Nagoya Protocol], the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services [IPBES] (3) have committed support for inclusive approaches to indigenous and local knowledge in assessment, and in sustainable use, governance and management of biodiversity.

    China is a hotspot for both biological (4) and cultural diversity (5), and has a rich traditional knowledge of biodiversity (6). China’s government traditionally has linked the concept of indigenous people to external colonizers, but Chinese experts are now actively debating the issue (7).

    The International Labour Organisations’ (ILO) Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169, internationally recognised as providing the best advice on the identification of indigenous peoples, highlights self-identification as a fundamental criteria. ILO recognises that indigenous peoples include those with their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions, descended from populations who inhabited the country at the time of colonisation OR at the time of the establishment of current nation-state boundaries (8). China has recognised 55 “ethnic minorities”, some of whom identify as indigenous peopl...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.