Thursday, June 18, 2015

International Workshop in Guatemala Highlights Importance of Community Protocols in the Context of the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol

From 8-10 June 2015, the Convention on Biological Diversity and several partners, including Natural Justice, hosted an international training workshop in Panajachel, Guatemala on Community-based Monitoring, Indicators on Traditional Knowledge and Customary Sustainable Use and Community Protocols, within the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The first day of the meeting was dedicated to discussing community protocols.

Jael Makagon of Natural Justice gave a presentation providing background on community protocols in the context of the Nagoya Protocol. He explained how community protocols can assist in the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and the CBD. While there is language in the CBD, the Programme of Work on Article 8(j), and the Nagoya Protocol that supports the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, a large implementation gap remains. Community protocols can help fill that gap by allowing communities to articulate local rules for access to their traditional knowledge and resources, helping to define the "community," providing a basis for free, prior and informed consent, and creating transparency and certainty for users, among other things. He also shared examples of community protocols that address ABS issues, as well as some lessons learned in the development of community protocols.

Several other presenters addressed issues relevant to community protocols, including the experience of the Kuna people in Panama and traditional healers in the Cerrado region of Brazil. Two members of national governments--Brazil and Bolivia--also presented on actions their governments are taking regarding community protocols. Brazil passed a law in May 2015 that recognizes community protocols as an instrument that manifests the will of indigenous peoples. The law also provides a definition of community protocols and will provide support for development of protocols from a government-held fund for access and benefit sharing. Control of the fund will be under a board that will have seats for indigenous peoples and local communities. In Bolivia, the government is also developing a law that deals with community protocols, including by setting forth a "model community protocol" that communities can use to develop their own protocols.

The workshop demonstrated that there is a robust practice of development of community protocols at the local level. Additionally, governments are beginning to recognize that supporting and respecting community protocols can be an important element of fulfilling their international and national obligations. As more governments develop legislation relevant to community protocols, however, it will be important to ensure that their policies uphold the fundamental elements of community protocols, including that protocols be driven by communities in a manner that is participatory and with sufficient time given to ensure appropriate processes are undertaken.

The results of this workshop will be fed into the new CBD Subsidiary Body on Implementation, which will hold its first meeting in May 2016.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Global Land Forum 2015

The Global Land Forum 2015 (GLF) facilitated by the International Land Coalition (ILC) and CICODEV took place on the 12th to 16th of May 2015 in Dakar, Senegal.

Panelists representing the governments of Senegal, Cameroun, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Togo make presentations on Africa Day at the GLF on May 12.

Taking place exactly 20 years since the ILC’s creation, members of the coalition – including Natural Justice – from everywhere on the planet gathered to assess and continue charting a path forward towards ensuring that those who live on and from land have their rights and dignity protected.  The theme this year was “Land Governance for Inclusive Development, Justice and Sustainability: Time for Action”. The Forum presented plenty of opportunities for interaction, debate, and mutual learning over a three day period from distinguished speakers, accomplished organizations and innovative individuals.

The first day, May 12th, Africa Day was celebrated at the GLF. Various government officials and other international organizations spoke towards the continental land debate – zeroing in on issues touching on how land is mainstreamed in institutions, women’s land rights, and investments in land. The following day, the theme surrounded inclusive development and justice for communities. The panelists noted a need to ensure that economies all over the world take note of the potential power of small-scale farming systems and urged communities to come together and harness their collective power around this cause in their fight for justice.

Ikal Ang’elei of the Friends of Lake Turkana gives the Keynote Address on Sustainability: Making Land Governance Work for Sustainable Development.

On the final day of the GLF, Ikal An’gelei – from the Friends of Lake Turkana, one of Natural Justice’s key partners in Kenya – gave a presentation on how proper land governance can ensure sustainable development. She highlighted the need to acknowledge various imbalanced and competing needs for land use and ensure that equitability still happens despite this challenge.  The meeting ended with a call for action spurred on by various civil society actors, community members, public officials and international diplomats – particularly identifying key areas of focus, essential takeaways and better ways to strengthen networks and collaborations in the work around land issues globally.

One of Natural Justice’s biggest focus areas is land. We therefore recognize a need to continually maintain relationships through the larger ILC coalition, share the experiences of the work we do in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and learn lessons from all over the world on matters land, all for the benefit of the communities we work and engage with.

2015 SEED South Africa Symposium

SEED works towards a world of flourishing communities where social and environmental entrepreneurship drives sustainable development. The SEED annual awards identify and support the most promising and innovative social and environmental start-up enterprises in developing and emerging economies. Since 2005, 175 SEED Winners have been selected by SEED International, and in 2009 Natural Justice was a Gold Winner for their Biocultural Community Protocols Initiative.

Cath Traynor represented Natural Justice at the 2015 SEED South Africa Symposium: Entrepreneurship: A solution for climate change and green growth, held at the Birchwood Hotel, Johannesburg, 27 May. The symposium focused on two main issues: building bridges for partnerships, especially between entrepreneurs and academia for development and innovation, and adapting the policy and financing landscape to better support the development of social and environmental enterprises.

During the interactive sessions, it was discussed that Social and Environmental enterprises face challenges as they are not recognized as specifically different entities compared to other small and medium enterprises, yet they try to address wider issues and are not solely profit-driven. In terms of science and technology, many entrepreneurs commented that research is often driven by the needs of academia, and they recommended that a closer working relationship could produce research designs and results which could then contribute towards improving products and processes. Furthermore, publicly funded research should be open and accessible to all, so that entrepreneurs could access it and feed into in to their activities. In terms of policy and procurement, participants commented that certification schemes and consumer information could assist to show the value and quality of the products and processes produced by social and environmental enterprises.

During the Symposium SEED launched its Virtual Exhibition and SEED Winners’ Case Studies, which allows one to look into all aspects of SEEDs activities and see how the enabling environment that is being built for social and environmental entrepreneurs.

Side Events at the Bonn Climate Change Conference

Photo: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Natural Justice is co-hosting a Side Event on the ‘Preliminary results of the International Savanna Fire Management Initiative’ together with the Australian Government and the United Nations University-Institute for Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). This Initiative is testing how Northern Australia’s experience of savanna burning projects - combining traditional indigenous approaches and fire management with emissions accounting methodologies - can be used in other counties. The Side Event will take place on Wednesday 3rd June between 18:30-20:00 hrs, Bonn I. Cath Traynor of Natural Justice will present on approaches to realize biocultural rights in this initiative.
Natural Justice has also contributed to a feasibility study on an independent citizen-based complaint review and referral mechanism under the Green Climate Fund. This study forms the basis for a Side Event co-hosted by Both ENDS Foundation and Transparency International, the ‘Environmental and social accountability for results based finance – lessons learnt and way forward’ session takes it’s point of departure that the need for safeguards and accountability mechanisms are widely recognised in international financial institutions (IFIs). This event will discuss how lessons from IFIs can inform the design of appropriate redress mechanisms for the GCF and other private and public climate finance flows. This event will take place on Monday 1st June at 16:45-18:15 in the Kaminzimmer room (113). For more information on the conference see the UNFCCC webpage.