Benefits and considerations

Benefits for ICCA—territories of life custodians

There are some benefits that ICCA custodians have experienced after submitting their ICCAs to the global databases that UNEP-WCMC manage. Although these will not always be felt, going through the ICCA submission process could help you and other ICCA custodians experience some of the following:

  • Discussing and documenting an ICCA can help you appreciate the multiple values of your ICCA, thereby improving your community’s self-appreciation, strengthening solidarity within the community and fostering inter-generational communication and youth engagement.
  • The submission process can trigger new (or enhance current) participatory dynamics, including greater engagement by youth, which can benefit the overall ICCA governance.
  • Aspects of ICCA data and traditional knowledge that may otherwise be threatened can be stored and protected.
  • It is possible that submitting your ICCA data may contribute to increased security, including by providing enhanced visibility and legitimacy, or by enhancing recognition and respect for collective tenure, self-determination, local cultural values and the collective rights of custodians.
  • Potential benefits from tourism due to increased exposure (though these must be weighed against the potential risks posed by excessive tourism).
  • A sense of solidarity with the custodians of other ICCAs.
  • Submission of ICCA data has in some cases led to other kinds of recognition, such as through the UNDP’s Equator Prize programme.
  • Heightened recognition, which could help you in securing funding and support for community actions.

Table 2.1. Examples of ICCAs in the ICCA Registry and their custodians’ motivations for and benefits received from submitting their ICCA information (Corrigan et al 2016).

Benefits for the wider world

Submitting your ICCA data can:

  • Contribute to a growing body of knowledge that can inform policies relating to conservation, rights and other issues, including those relevant to ICCAs.
  • Increase awareness and appreciation of the multiple values of ICCAs, including their contributions to environmental governance and management.
  • Help to build a global network of ICCAs, allowing ICCA custodians to learn from one another, promote common approaches and initiatives and appreciate their collective value as part of the global community. This benefit can be further enhanced through membership of, or engagement with, the ICCA Consortium.
  • A greater understanding of the challenges faced when defending territories and ways of life against diverse threats. This can help allies of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to better support them.
  • Help clarify the contribution of ICCAs towards international conservation and development targets – for example those of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the Sustainable Development Goals, among others - and raise the profile of your ICCA.

Considerations relating to submitting your ICCA data

Although you can apply restrictions to your ICCA data held within the global databases, it is difficult to predict all potential issues that could result from submitting your ICCA data. The following are some things you should consider before deciding whether to submit ICCA data. Not all will apply in every case, but you may wish to refer to this list when discussing any potential downsides to providing data (including during the FPIC process):

  • Unless restrictions are applied, ICCA data submitted to the ICCA Registry and the global databases within the Protected Planet Initiative (the WDPA and WD-OECM), including geographical location and boundaries, can be viewed by anyone. This is also true when you submit a case study to the ICCA Registry.
  • Exposing the location of your ICCA online may open it to unwanted or increased attention, particularly if it has important or vulnerable resources (e.g. economically valuable natural resources, sites of great tourist potential and unique food resources).
  • Submitting data on your ICCA data could be locally controversial and could spark conflicts within the community, with neighbouring communities, or with other stakeholders.
  • Pre-existing conflicts among ICCA custodians could become more serious when collective decisions must be made about whether to provide data, and as custodians become more aware of the multiple values of the ICCA.
  • If conflicts within your community are expected or arise during the process, you may need to strengthen your own relationships before submitting your ICCA data to global databases.
  • If conflicts with national or local government bodies are expected as a result of submitting data, you may wish to work to resolve these potential conflicts before submitting data.


  • UNEP-WCMC cannot assist you in defending your ICCA against threats, such as boundary disputes with other communities or unwanted attention from external groups, but they can alert the ICCA Consortium, which may be able to help.
  • If you choose to submit data to the Protected Planet databases without verification by the relevant national government, UNEP-WCMC cannot guarantee that the government will support the incorporation of the data. If a disagreement occurs, UNEP-WCMC may ask you to work with the government to resolve this.

Please do discuss with UNEP-WCMC if you have any concerns.