Friday, March 26, 2010

Connecting the Seeds

From March 22-23, Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice/University of Cape Town) went to Medellin, Colombia, and met representatives of the Instituto de Investigaciones Ambientales del Pacifico (IIAP) and their associated organization, Corporacion Oro Verde. As a fellow Seed Gold Winner, Corporacion Oro Verde helps traditional gold and platinum mining communities comply with environmental and social criteria in the Choco Bioregion of Colombia's Pacific Coast. Oro Verde primarily works with Afro-descendent communities that have substantial gold resources on their collectively-held land. In its groundbreaking work, the organization has helped create the first sustainable supply chain of gold mining. Environmental research institute IIAP works on many similar issues to Natural Justice, including the relationships between indigenous and local communities, protected areas, and ABS. In light of these commonalities, IIAP, Oro Verde, and Natural Justice agreed to explore options for future collaboration.

While in Medellin, Johanna also met with the Centre para la Investigacion y Desarollo de Productos CIDEPRO (Centre for Research and Development of Products). The Centre, which is part of the University of Antioquia, is a platform for research and product development on tropical diseases with the aim of providing affordable pharmaceuticals for oft-forgotten diseases. Given the Centre's interest in exploring options for collaborating with local indigenous and Afro-descendent communities in the identification of medicinal plants, Natural Justice provided a broad overview of some of the potential issues involved and discussed possible options for future collaboration.

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