Thursday, December 13, 2012

Using UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights

The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), the Centre for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA) and Cividep-India have released a guide for civil society organisations entitled ‘How to use the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in company research and advocacy.’ The guide details the contents of the Guiding Principles and offers concrete guidance on how civil society organisations can  use them to ensure businesses are respecting human rights. 

From the description, “these Guiding Principles can be utilised to address the responsibility of business to respect human rights and thereby support local communities, workers and other rights holders to ensure fulfilment of their human rights. The guide provides a method for CSOs to use the Guiding Principles in company research and advocacy, and helps them to hold companies accountable for their corporate responsibility to respect internationally recognised human rights.” 

The guide can be found online here or downloaded here. The guide is the second of a series of guides produced by SOMO. The first guide, on Multi Stakeholder Initiatives, can be accessed here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Law, Environment and Design Workshop - Bangalore

Natural Justice and the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology co-hosted a workshop entitled “Engendering Dialogue among Law, Environment and Design” at Srishti's campus in Bangalore, India on 7 December, 2012. The workshop sought to share the visions of participants, discuss ways of working together, and explore possible intersections between law, environment and design. The workshop also saw the launch of the website of Natural Justice and Srishti’s exciting new joint project, the Law, Environment and Design (LED) Lab (opening January, 2013). Representatives from the Global Environments Summer Academy, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development and the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment also participated in the workshop. 

While the LED website is not yet fully populated, it can be accessed here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Panel on COP 18 and Indigenous Peoples' Rights

Via the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), a recent panel offered representatives from Indigenous rights organisations a platform to share their analysis of the climate change negotiations on 4 December 2012 in Doha, Qatar, during the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 18th conference of parties (COP 18). The panel was organised by Tebtebba and the Indigenous Peoples’ Partnership on Climate Change and Forests and panelists included Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Tebtebba), Dennis Mairena (Centro para la Autonomia y Desarollo de los Pueblos Indigenas - Nicaragua), and Stanley Kimaren (Indigenous Livelihoods Enhancement Partners - Kenya). 

The panelists analysed texts from the Subsidiary Body on Implementation and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice and noted the extremely slow pace in negotiations in the Long Term Cooperative Action and Kyoto Protocol working groups. They also discussed the importance in protecting gains made by Indigenous peoples in the next climate change agreement, including the recognition of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, recognition of the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples, and the requirements for full and effective participation in climate change programmes. On the Green Climate Fund, the panelists called for full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples, with separate representation from civil society.

Also relevant to climate change negotiations, Simone Lovera (Global Forest Coalition) recently drafted an article, posted on REDD-Monitor, on how the form of Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) systems being developed to track the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) programme may be a ‘trojan horse’ for carbon markets that have yet to demonstrate results. 

Video from the panel can be accessed here. Simone Lovera’s article can be found here.

Kukula Healers Review 2012 & Plan for 2013

On 6-7 December 2012, Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) attended a meeting of the Kukula Traditional Health Practitioners Association in Thulamahashe, South Africa. The Kukula Traditional Health Practitioners, a group of over 300 traditional health practitioners who developed a biocultural community protocol (BCP) in 2009, were meeting to discuss and evaluate their activities completed in 2012 as well as highlighting their aims for 2013. 

Accomplishments from 2012 included: registering as a NPO in South Africa; drafting a code of ethics for all members of the Kukula Association; creating a traditional knowledge common pool where individual knowledge is shared amongst members and with a local cosmetics company interested in the research and development of the knowledge; and collaborating with  Kruger National Park in its anti-rhino poaching efforts. In 2013, Kukula members plan to update their BCP to reflect legal developments and new priorities, to continue to develop their relationship with the cosmetics company towards and access and benefit sharing agreement, to continue to work for formal recognition as traditional health practitioners, to distribute copies of the code of ethics to all members, and to continue to support anti-poaching efforts.  The Kukula Association are also members of the African BCP Initiative and will continue to to seek the protection and growth of their knowledge, culture and the conservation of biodiversity in their area. 

Download the Kukula BCP here

Monday, December 10, 2012

BIOPAMA Regional Workshop - Eastern & Southern Africa

From 4-6 December, 2012, Gino Cocchiaro of Natural Justice attended the regional workshop for southern and eastern Africa on the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme in Johannesburg, South Africa. The workshop provided a forum for participants and stakeholders from protected areas, governments and civil society to support the planning of BIOPAMA, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the European Commission Joint Research Centre, and the Access and Benefit Sharing Capacity Development Initiative (ABS Initiative). 

Gino and Suhel al-Janabi (ABS Initiative) presented on ABS case studies, including a discussion on how the Traditional Health Practitioners of Bushbuckridge are using their biocultural community protocol to work towards a potential ABS agreement with a cosmetics company. Other sessions included presentations and discussion on regional reference information systems, refining and addressing capacity development needs, and the drafting of an action plan for the regional implementation of BIOPAMA including the identification of priority activities, identification of key national and regional stakeholders, and agreed processes for collecting data and information. 

Learn more about BIOPAMA at its website here and through its introductory brochure in English, Spanish and French.

First UN Forum on Business and Human Rights

The first United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights took place in Geneva from 3-5 December 2012, hosting around one thousand participants from around the world to discuss how governments and businesses are addressing the impacts of business activities on human rights. The Forum was prepared under the guidance of the Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises and was mandated to discuss trends and challenges in the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and to promote dialogue and cooperation between actors, including identification of good practices. The Chairperson for the first Forum was Professor John Ruggie, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights

The programme included break out sessions under the banner of “Taking Stock – 1 1/2 years after the endorsement of the Guiding Principles”, reviewing experiences under each of the three Guiding Principles’ pillars. The second day was spent considering the challenges in the implementation of the state duty to protect and business responsibility to respect human rights, as well as the role of civil society and the UN system, and the challenges for business affecting Indigenous peoples and ways forward. Side events were held from 3 December and included “Challenges and Opportunities for the Extractives Industry in integrating human rights into operations”, “The role of the legal profession in promoting implementation of the Guiding Principles”, “Indigenous Peoples and Extractive Industries” and “Impact and remedy of mining on Latin American Indigenous Women”. 

The Forum was attended by participants from 85 countries, including state delegations, business enterprises such as the mining, oil and energy industries and international financial institutions, as well as civil society organisations. A full list of participants can be found here. The full programme for the Forum can be found here. For more information, please see the Forum on Business and Human Rights website here. Natural Justice's recent submission to the Working Group on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises can be found here

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

CBD Alliance Recap of COP 11

The CBD Alliance has launched a special issue of its ECO newsletter focused on the discussions, outcomes and challenges of the 11th Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In a brief overview of COP 11, it notes the near-retirement of the landmark Decision III/11 on Agricultural Biodiversity in the name of efficiency and the successful effort to save the decision. It also expresses optimism that COP 12 will focus primarily on implementing past decisions. 

This overview is followed by several articles on a variety of COP 11 topics. Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas of Natural Justice authored an article entitled “Resilient Peoples for Resilient Ecosystems.” The article highlights two studies which Natural Justice developed in partnership with the Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCA) Consortium and Kalpavriksh on the recognition of ICCAs. The first study, co-published with the CBD Secretariat, considers legal and non-legal forms of recognition and support for ICCAs. The second study offers a more in-depth examination of the legal and institutional aspects of ICCA recognition at the national, regional and international levels. The article then briefly considers the impact of COP 11 decisions on ICCA law and policy.

Other articles consider capacity development for Access and Benefit Sharing in Africa, the next COP and customary sustainable use, business and biodiversity, the tokenism of India’s $50 million pledge to support the cause of biodiversity, youth and COP 11, and biodiversity and livelihoods. 

The newsletter can be downloaded here

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

National Geographic Post on Biocultural Diversity

Gleb Raygorodetsky of Natural Justice-partner the Sacred Sites Initiative has drafted a post at National Geographic on the intensifying erosion of the earth’s biodiversity entitled "Pulsating Heart of Nature: How to Ensure Our Collective Bioculturally Resilient Future." He notes the limits in the capacity of linear, reductionist thinking in seeking solutions to this degradation and encourages integrative fields of inquiry to develop new and more meaningful responses. 

He concludes by emphasising the need for a more holistic worldview based on valuing biocultural diversity, and lays out the following requirements for achieving this transformation: 
 “We must embrace change as an inalienable part of life, rather than trying to avert it at any cost. We must be realistic about the scope and scale of what should be done to correct the course, as well as what each of us is capable of doing him or herself. We must also expand our notion of community from a group of people united by their geographic or genetic proximity, to a broader global community inclusive of other like-minded individuals and groups united by their recognition of the value of biocultural diversity as the very ‘pulsating heart’ of Nature. We must work towards a biologically and culturally rich world not only through our work, but more importantly by changing our own thinking and actions.” 
 The post can be accessed here.