Volume 65 of Participatory Learning and Action (PLA), published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), has just been released. Entitled "Biodiversity and Culture: Exploring community protocols, rights and consent", the special issue was guest edited by Krystyna Swiderska (IIED), Kanchi Kohli (Kalpavriksh), Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice), Wim Hiemstra, (COMPAS Network for Endogenous Development), and Maria Julia Oliva (Union for Ethical Biotrade).
This special issue of PLA explores two important participatory tools that indigenous peoples and local communities can use to help defend their customary rights to biocultural heritage, natural resources, and lands: community protocols – or charters of rules and responsibilities – in which communities set out their customary rights to natural resources and land, as recognised in customary, national and international laws; and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) processes, in which communities decide whether or not to allow projects affecting their land or resources to go ahead, and on what terms.
The issue reviews the experiences of communities in Asia, Latin America, and Africa in developing and using these tools in a range of contexts. It also looks at some government experiences of establishing institutional processes for FPIC and benefit-sharing. It identifies practical lessons and guidance based on these experiences and aims to strengthen the capacity of a range of actors to support these rights-based tools effectively in practice. It aims to provide guidance for those implementing the Nagoya Protocol (amongst other international instruments) and other natural resource and development practitioners, and to raise awareness of the importance of community-designed and -controlled participatory processes.
Natural Justice and their partners contributed to 8 of the 17 articles. Five focused on biocultural community protocol processes amongst traditional health practitioners in Bushbuckridge, South Africa; livestock keepers in South Asia; sacred grove custodians in Upper West Region, Ghana; artisanal miners in Alto San Juan, Colombia; and indigenous communities in Ulu Papar, Sabah (Malaysia). Three of the articles explored methodologies and participatory approaches for facilitating biocultural community protocol processes, including in the context of biotrade in Peru and in multi-stakeholder processes in Ghana and Kenya.
The full publication can be downloaded for free here or hard copies are available upon request. Thanks to the Shuttleworth Foundation for supporting us as co-editors.