The Implementation Module shows how to integrate the Principles and Safeguards into the day-to-day activities of a project, strategy or policy initiative. After TNC staff and the IPLCIndigenous Peoples and Local Communities have finished a collaborative process and reached an agreement on how to work together, this module will be useful, particularly for newer IPLC relationships and for initiatives TNC is leading. Staff should review the Learning & Early Discussions, FPIC and Conflict Resolution Modules.

Principles and Safeguards

The Introduction includes a discussion of all the Principles and Safeguards that apply to working with IPLCs. Five are particularly important for implementation:

Implementation Principles and Safeguards

Free Choice and Self-Determination:
Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination isn’t established once and then forgotten. It must be continuously upheld from design through implementation.

Informed Decision-Making:
IPLCs bring generations of leadership in ecological and cultural knowledge and practice. To support their decision-making, they may request scientific, legal, policy, or other information to supplement their knowledge.

Equity & Inclusion:
True partnership with IPLCs means continually assessing and addressing the power dynamics of the partnership, supporting IPLC leadership in decisions about their lands and resources, and ensuring the inclusion of groups that might otherwise be marginalized.

Accountability requires good communication, a shared vision, regular check-ins on progress toward agreed-upon plans, and taking action on adjustments as needed.

Overarching Good Faith:
Initiatives implemented in the spirit of honesty, integrity and service strengthen all the other principles. This is one of the most important foundations in achieving sustainable outcomes for people and nature.


Step One: Update and Extend Plans

TNC staff should have a foundation of engagement and consultation materials to work with as TNC and the IPLC move into implementation. No need to reinvent the wheel: the first step is to revisit the modules on Learning & Early Discussions, FPIC, and Conflict Resolution.

For Teams that Have Gone Through the Earlier Modules of This Guide:

If teams have developed an Engagement Plan and Consultation Plan by working through this Guide, those plans should be reviewed during implementation. It may become clear that some processes or protocols are a better fit than others. The teams should consider which practices fostered greater engagement and collaboration, and lean on those moving forward.

The initiative scope should now be reassessed to ensure that it’s still aligned with the Principles and Safeguards. If other processes were used, like the Human Rights Impact Assessment, those should be reviewed as well. The priorities identified in the Human Rights Assessment might need extra attention as implementation proceeds.

For example, imagine a conservation project funded in part by a high-volume visitors’ center. In consultation discussions, the community identifies a potential negative impact — the gradual forced cultural assimilation resulting from large numbers of tourists and the development of tourism infrastructure. During implementation, teams should mitigate against that impact through measures like setting daily visitor limits, designing roads and access points that prevent tourists from wandering into community villages, and working with local authorities to regulate tourism growth.

A review of the Conflict Resolution Plan together with the IPLC is also important, as advised in Step 3 of that module, “Continuously Revisit and Adapt the Plan.”

For Teams in the Implementation Phase Who Have Not Gone Through the Earlier Modules of This Guide:

TNC teams may be referencing this Guide for the first time when already in the implementation phase. Teams can review the earlier modules and think creatively about how recommendations around agreements, understandings, and relationship strengthening can be incorporated.

No matter what, the team should apply the FPIC steps moving forward (and retroactively where possible) and work with the IPLC on a Conflict Resolution Plan. The team should also try to anticipate unforeseen impacts. Particularly for those strategies outside the IPLC Portfolio of the Shared Conservation Agenda, it’s a good idea to review the Learning & Early Discussions Module, to ensure a good understanding of possible impacts.

Human Rights Considerations Mapped to the CbD 2.0 “Take Action” Phase

In addition to revisiting the guidance and materials from the previous modules, the following human rights-focused questions related to Conservation by Design 2.0, Phase 4: Take Action,[1] can help in the implementation phase:


Implementation might require new processes for consultation and decision-making. An initial decision to proceed made by a high-level council might be followed by operational decision-making that should include IPLCs if they choose to participate (see Step Two of this module). Operational decision-making might be more informal or delegated to local leadership.

Additional consent affirmations may now be necessary to remain in compliance with FPIC as the initiative changes and progresses. The FPIC Consultation Plan and Process should be reviewed to ensure all potential impacts are being considered as implementation proceeds.


Building and maintaining IPLC capacity may be essential for the long-term sustainability of conservation efforts. At any time, IPLCs may request scientific, legal, financial management, policy or other assistance or expertise.

Staff training in cultural competency, participatory approaches and other relevant skills is an important component of respecting rights and supporting collaborative partnerships with IPLCs. More information is available in the Learning & Early Discussions Module, and in the “Scope of Required Competencies” section of the FPIC Module.

The team should take capacity building for TNC and the IPLC into account when estimating staffing and budget requirements.


The Learning Network on Capacity Development “aims to promote and facilitate sharing of lessons and learning on capacity development and promote changes for better practice at the global, regional and local levels.” Steering group members include FAO and UNDP.

The Network for Strong Voice, Choice and Action (VCA Network) on TNC’s CONNECT intranet provides opportunities to engage with and learn from peers.


TNC should consider compensating IPLCs for their time and effort spent on all aspects of an initiative. This may include time to attend meetings, travel, translation services and other related costs. Equitable participation may mean holding additional meetings for women or other social identity groups.

If the project is not fully funded, TNC and the IPLC may decide to collaborate on plans for partial or phased implementation — the Plan B approach. If the project is terminated or put on hold due to lack of funds, TNC and the IPLC should agree on expectations and contingency plans, including a no-go cutoff.


The Partners for Dignity & Rights has a page with information and resources on human rights budgeting.

Teams should consider each question above and decide if their agreed-upon engagement and consultation plans are sufficient to keep the collaboration on track. If not, the processes and plans must be revised as needed.

Step Two: Revisit the Principles and Safeguards and Consent Agreement

TNC teams should regularly revisit how they’re applying the Principles and Safeguards. TNC and the IPLC should also continue to review the Consent Agreement, making sure consent conditions still apply. At a minimum, this review should happen whenever there are: 1) major decisions; 2) TNC or IPLC staff changes; or 3) new phases in the initiative.

The format, frequency and documentation of the check-ins should follow the terms of the Consent Agreement.


This is truly an ongoing practice and not a single task. Throughout an initiative, countless procedural decisions, big and small, allocate responsibility to either TNC or the IPLC. The Principles and Safeguards require that the IPLC assumes such responsibilities whenever they further the goal of self-determination.

In implementation, some decision-making may seem obvious to the TNC team, perhaps for legitimate reasons, and flying through such decisions might feel necessary because of time pressure or financial constraints. But adhering to the Principles and Safeguards may require more time for informed decision-making, a robust FPIC process and collaborative relationships based on equity and inclusion. Dedicating time and resources to this effort should not be seen as a burden, but rather an investment in a relationship that will yield long-term results and better outcomes for people and nature.

Step Three: Monitor Key Impacts

The practices of monitoring, continuous learning, adaptation, and identification and resolution of disputes are essential to fulfilling the Principles and Safeguards and maintaining strong relationships with IPLCs. Monitoring should center on the results of a Human Rights Impact Assessment or other identified areas of importance or concern. See Step 3 of the FPIC Module and Step 3 of the Conflict Resolution Module. This topic is also the central focus of the Monitoring, Evaluation & Adaptation Module. Monitoring should not be considered a wrap-up process that comes at the end of an initiative. It should be integrated throughout implementation.

© Mark Godfrey/TNC

4A. Wenland Case Study


The permafrost stabilization initiative is moving forward. FrostLock will implement 25 permafrost stabilization test sites in the far north. The initiative includes funding for Environmental Monitoring Committees to monitor water quality and other potential adverse impacts in towns near the test sites, which are almost exclusively Wen.

Implementation Checklist

Step One: Update and Extend Plans

For TNC teams who have been through the earlier modules: Update Engagement, Consultation and Conflict Resolution Plans to reflect new decisions, roles, responsibilities and consultation processes

For TNC teams in implementation who have not been through the earlier modules:

With the IPLC, agree on tasks, a timeline and the budget of the initiative

Co-create short-term and long-term plans to build IPLC and TNC capacity and fill staffing needs

Step Two: Revisit the Principles and Safeguards and Consent Agreement

  Hold check-ins, trainings and additional consultations throughout implementation, in line with the Principles and Safeguards and Consent Agreement, to ensure requirements are being assessed and integrated continuously

Step Three: Monitor Key Impacts

Throughout implementation, monitor key impacts identified in the Human Rights Impact Assessment or other assessments during the FPIC process (see FPIC Module and Monitoring, Evaluation & Adaptation Module)

Documentation to Save

See Documentation Module for additional context and considerations for documentation

  For teams who have been through the earlier modules: Updated Engagement, Consultation and Conflict Resolution Plans, including:

  • Key decision points to be addressed in implementation
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Consultation and decision-making processes during implementation
  • Tasks and timeline
  • Budget
  • Provisions for capacity building and participatory monitoring

 For teams in implementation that haven’t been through the earlier modules:

  Notes on meetings, discussions and decisions to revisit and integrate the Principles and Safeguards and Consent Agreement requirements throughout implementation, e.g., learning processes, trainings, additional consultation

  Notes on monitoring processes and results, based on issues identified in the Human Rights Impact Assessment or other assessments carried out during the FPIC process (See FPIC Module and Monitoring, Evaluation & Adaptation Module)