From April 2-4, Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) were in Digana, Sri Lanka, for the inception meeting of the Asia Regional Initiative on Biocultural Community Protocols. Other Initiative partners and colleagues in attendance represented the COMPAS Network for Endogenous Development, the League for Pastoral Peoples (LPP), Society of Animal, Veterinary and Environmental Scientists (SAVES, Pakistan), Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems (CIKS, Tamil Nadu), Future in Our Hands (FIOH, Sri Lanka), Human and Environment Development Organization (HEDO, Sri Lanka), and Centre for Eco-Cultural Studies (CES, Sri Lanka).
On the first day of the meeting, we discussed the "history" of biocultural community protocols (including several examples from India and Pakistan), issues of standardization vs. ensuring quality and diversity of community protocols, and how to best consolidate lessons learned and develop appropriate guidance. On the second day, we met with representatives of a nearby community that has engaged in a participatory mapping, planning, and management process over the past 5 years to ensure sustainable use of forest products and conservation of watersheds and other ecosystem functions. Check out photos from the community visit on our Flickr page. On the third day of the meeting, among other things, we further explored the linkages between endogenous development, legal empowerment, and policy advocacy, discussed how to use community-driven processes such as protocols to support group learning and broader movements of livestock keepers' rights and farmers' rights, and contemplated issues surrounding the development of local supply chains to ensure in situ conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and landscapes. The report of the meeting is available for download on the Natural Justice website. We are hugely grateful to ETC-Compas for supporting the meeting and to Kaha for coordinating the logistics!