Monday, October 20, 2014

UN calls for Human Rights to be promoted in Climate Change Negotiations

A Group of Experts has written an open letter to all Governments involved in the current round of climate negotiations, asserting that climate change interferes with the enjoyment of human rights recognised and protected by international law. The calls came ahead of the meeting in Bonn (20-25 October) of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, to discuss the application of the Climate Change Convention principles, as well as measures for mitigation of, and adaptation to the impacts of climate change. The experts have underscored the need for urgency in addressing this topic due to the approaching deadlines for the climate negotiations to reach a concrete solution. Following the ADP meeting in Bonn, the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC meets this December in Lima (COP 20), with the goal of adopting a new legal instrument at its next meeting, in Paris in December 2015 (COP 21).

Two Meetings on Biocultural Community Protocols held in Mexico

From September 29 to October 3, 2014, Johanna von Braun and Barbara Lassen from Natural Justice contributed to two meetings on BCPs in Mexico. The meetings were organized by GIZ (German Development Cooperation) under the project “Governance of Biodiversity” and CONABIO , Mexico’s National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity.The first meeting brought together representatives from indigenous peoples and local communities from different parts of Mexico. The second meeting informed representatives of government agencies, research institutions and NGOs.

Natural Justice presented on lessons learned from BCP processes and on examples of protocols in Africa. Regional examples were presented from the Potato Park in Cusco, Peru; the Guna peoples in Panama; and from Alto San Juan in the Colombian Chocó (Natural Justice supported IIAP and ASOCASAN in developing this BCP in 2010). Mexican communities from all over the country presented on existing processes towards the recognition of their customary norms and rights to land and resources.  These local processes include internal regulations for ‘ejidos’ and rural communities, as well as autonomy processes of indigenous communities.

Participants exchanged on the experiences in and outside of Mexico and debated the merits of BCPs in the Mexican legal context. In some cases the existing processes already fill the function of a BCP, in others local processes could be strengthened by a stronger focus on community rights under national and international law. In a number of communities, local norms and regulations need to be made more visible and a BCP could support the dialogue of communities with government agencies and other actors.

Friday, October 17, 2014

BCP Training with County Government and Community Members of Isiolo, Kenya

Anab Kassim – Chairlady – Young Mothers Isiolo
On October 8, 2014 Natural Justice partner, Kivulini Trust, held a meeting on the application of bio-cultural community protocols (BCP). The workshop brought together representatives from County Government of Isiolo and Community members developing BCPs.

County Government representatives and community members are increasingly concerned that the Lamu Port – Southern Sudan- Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor will exacerbate the existing economic and cultural marginalization, persistent state of insecurity and lack of secure land tenure.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nagoya Protocol Enters into Force

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization will entered into force on October 12, 2014, providing the world with a mechanism to ensure that access to and the sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources, and associated traditional knowledge, happen in a context of transparency and with equity.

Natural Justice, and other organisations that have worked tirelessly to bring this dream to fruition.  In July, the requisite number of ratifications was attained, and the stage set for its entry into force. Ever since its founding, Natural Justice has been supporting communities in exploring how biocultural community protocols can assist them to engage with Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) according to their values. This is in addition to the technical advice that NJ has constantly availed at all levels, from the sub-national to the international.

Monday, October 13, 2014

UN Climate Summit: A New Approach for Agriculture and Forests? New BENELEX Blog

As global carbon dioxide emissions reportedly reached new highs, representatives from hundreds of national and subnational governments, companies, and civil society organizations gathered in New York for the Climate Summit convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 23 September 2014. The summit was intended to raise political momentum towards the adoption of a new climate agreement in 2015 and seemingly managed to infuse climate diplomacy with fresh energy.

Several States announced national actions to address climate change, as well as increased contributions to climate finance, most notably China and the European Union. The summit furthermore saw a host of multilateral and multi-stakeholder announcements on actions to address climate change clustered around eight themes: agriculture; cities; energy; financing; forests; industry; resilience; and transportation. For the purposes of BENELEX, the most interesting developments were the adoption of the New York Declaration on Forests and the launch of the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture. Read complete blog post by Annalisa Savaresi from the BENELEX Project of the University of Edinburgh here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

WCIP Concludes in New York with Adoption of Outcome Document

After nearly four years of negotiations marked by incredible efforts and occasional drama, the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) was finally held on 22-23 September 2014 at United Nations headquarters in New York. Although it ended with more of a sigh than a shout, it was a sigh of hope for better things to come.

The Outcome Document
The main result of the WCIP is the adoption by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) of the Outcome Document, which among other things reaffirms UN member states' support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration). The Outcome Document addresses a variety of issues aimed at facilitating the implementation of the UN Declaration, including with regard to (1) obtaining free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples; (2) increasing their participation in the UN system; and (3) respecting indigenous peoples' role in and right to development. Additionally, the Outcome Document also includes a footnote reference to the Alta Outcome Document, developed by Indigenous Peoples during a preparatory conference held in Alta, Norway from 10-12 June 2013.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Capacity building of Forest Rights Committees, Kutch, Gujarat

Natural Justice India has been working with pastoralists in Kutch, Gujarat and collaborating with a local organization, Sahjeevan. At present, the pastoral communities are facing a range of issues especially with access to resources. The different objectives and priorities for the stakeholders involved, in particular the Forest Department and increasingly the emerging industries in the Kutch region pose a threat to the communities and their traditional livelihoods. In the face of such issues, Natural Justice has been working to secure land rights and traditional grazing routes through the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2008.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Natural Justice Showcases the Heroes Project

L-R: Delme Cupido, Lesle Jansen, Abhishek Choudhury,
& Kabir Bavikatte
Natural Justice, in collaboration with LEDLAB and Srishti School for Arts, Design and Technology (India) participated in the Open Book Festival at the Fugard Theatre on Saturday, 20 September 2013.  The Open Book Festival is an annual literary festival that features top international and South African writers of today. It aims to showcase the best of South African writing.  It also aims to make a contribution to ensuring the youth of Cape Town has a love of reading and books.

The Hoerikwaggo Chronicles: The Return to the Kalahari, along with some other items, based on the novel, was featured at this festival’s market stalls.  Many South Africans had the opportunity to engage this novel.  It is a 5-part series being developed by the illustrator Abhishek Choudhury and Kabir Bavikatte as the script writer. The Chronicles are based on Joseph Campbell's idea of the Hero's Journey and Carl Jung's archetypes of the king, warrior, trickster and lover. It seeks to tell the story of four young people growing up in the Cape Flats. The Chronicles unfold as a conversation between the material reality of their everyday lives and the mythical world of Khoi-San myths and legends.  While the Chronicles began as a way for the Heroes Project to assist youth in the Cape Flats and townships in the Northern Cape to engage with their Khoi-San heritage, the anticipated audience for the Chronicles are young adults in both South Africa and beyond.

The day ended with participation in a panel discussion featuring this graphic novel. The panel consisted of Delme Cupido from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa as the discussant; Lesle Jansen, Kabir Bavikatte and Abhishek Choudhury.  The name of the panel discussion was: The Khoisan experience: Healing historical trauma through Storytelling and Creative Action.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Beluran District

cc Harry Jonas
Harry Jonas joined a delegation that visited communities in the Beluran District of Sabah (Malaysia) to discuss the linkages between community-based tourism and conservation. 

While each community was different in terms of ethnicity, and social and ecological characteristics, all spoke about common themes, which included their sense that fish catches were falling, that greater controls on fish catch and upstream activities were required, and that community-based tourism could be one means to incentivise such approaches while also delivering financial support. The next steps will be supported by Forever Sabah, among other groups and agencies.

Legal Remedies for Resources Equity – BCPs as a community-driven and consensus building process

On 15 September Natural Justice participated in a day-long workshop on Legal Remedies for Resources Equity co-organized by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, UfU and eLaw in Berlin, Germany. The workshop brought together more than 200 lawyers from 38 countries involved in public interest litigation and support around equitable and sustainable natural resources management.

The second session of the day focused on “Public participation: Challenges and opportunities for local populations” and involved short presentations from practitioners on different national campaigns and cases on enforcing the right to information, public participation and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).