Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sui Generis Seminar, Sabah, Malaysia

Natural Justice took part in a seminar on ABS, Traditional Knowledge and Sui Generis Systems, organized by the Global Diversity Foundation in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. The one day event is part of a seminar series exploring issues relating to conservation, customary uses of natural resources and legal frameworks, and included presentations from Dr Abdul Fatah (Sabah Biodiversity Centre), Professor Gurdial S. Nijar (Centre for Excellence in Biodiversity Law), Jannie Lasimbang (PACOS), and Kabir and Harry from Natural Justice. Holly Shrumm and Gino Cocchiaro were also at the event attended by community members, NGOs, researchers, government officials and students, among others. The seminar was intended to provide input to the draft ABS regulations being developed by the Sabah Biodiversity Centre, specifically with regard to how best to balance the promotion of biotechnology research, the conservation of biodiversity, the protection on traditional knowledge and communities' rights to the customary uses of their natural resources. See the Centre's website for more information.

Pan African Responsibilities

Kabir Bavikatte as per the request of the chairperson of the African Group of ABS negotiators developed a briefing document on ABS for African ministers who will be attending the Pan African Ministerial Conference in Windhoek from the 8th to 10th of March 2010. Kabir Bavikatte as the team-leader of the African team of drafters along with Olivier Rukundo an associate of Natural Justice, has helped prepare briefing documents for the African Group of negotiators to aid them in their preparations for the 9th Meeting of the Working Group on ABS to be held in Cali, Colombia from the 22nd to the 28th of March 2010.

African Group Advisory Role

Kabir Bavikatte along with Olivier Rukundo has been chosen to be an advisor to the African delegation to participate in the Co-Chairs Informal Inter-regional Consultation (CIIC) in Cali from the 16th to the 18th of March 2010. The CIIC which has been mandated to consult on preambular text, definitions and provisions relevant to the consolidation of operative text of the International Regime, will identify concrete solutions in order to facilitate and accelerate the negotiations at the 9th meeting of the Working Group on ABS

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Upcoming Issue of Policy Matters on Rights-based Approaches to Conservation

Holly Shrumm, Natural Justice, will be guest-editing an upcoming issue of the journal Policy Matters, which is produced by IUCN's Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy. The issue will focus on innovative rights-based approaches and processes that ensure the local integrity of environmental laws and policies on the conservation of biological and cultural diversity. We will be working with colleagues at GTZ, IUCN, UNU-IAS, GDF, COMPAS, and the University of Edinburgh, among others, to publish the issue in time for the CBD Conference of Parties in October.

Promoting Rights-based Approaches to Conservation in Latin America

Natural Justice recently wrote a briefing note on the use of BCPs in rights-based approaches to conservation. Our partners at GDF-Mesoamerica translated it into Spanish for use at a COMPAS regional Latin American meeting. Both the English and Spanish versions of the briefing note can be found on Natural Justice's publications page.

Forthcoming Book to Put ABS and REDD Under Microscope

Natural Justice is writing a book for release at the 9th Meeting of the Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharing called Rights-based Approaches to ABS and REDD: The Foundation of their Social and Environmental Integrity. The book argues that both ABS and REDD run the risk of further undermining the ways of life of communities whose knowledge, innovations and practices conserve and sustainably use natural resources and demonstrates that empowered communities can counter this tendency by adopting rights based approaches to either framework. It provides legislative updates on both incumbent laws and uses the example of the Bushbuckridge Traditional Healers' bio-cultural community protocol (BCP) to illustrate the way communities can use BCPs to engage the law to secure conservation and customary use of natural resources. For more information, see our Publications page.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Natural Justice is contributing two case studies to an IUCN Rights Based Approaches portal. A recent IUCN publication called Conservation with Justice focuses on rights-based approaches to conservation and sets out a "stepwise approach." With reference to the stepwise approach, we will detail how the capacity building work with the K2C's Bushbuckridge Traditional Healers and the development of a bio-cultural community protocol increased the healers' organization, governance and participation in community decision-making, and will illustrate how the Raika community protocol is helping the community to challenge their exclusion from the Kumbalgargh Forest.

Friday, February 5, 2010

SEED Gold Award Winners

On 4 February 2010, Natural Justice was awarded the SEED Gold Award at a ceremony co-hosted by SEED and the Department of Science and Technology at parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. The Gold Award was given to five winners from 1,100 entries from across the globe, and was awarded to Natural Justice as an “exceptional social and environmental start-up enterprise”, in particular for the biocultural community protocols initiative. The ceremony was a great success with representatives from partner organizations displaying interest and offering to support Natural Justice in future endeavours. The award includes skills training and capacity development for Natural Justice, with the goal of enhancing an already successful organization.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa Training

The ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa in collaboration with the University of Cape Town's Environmental Evaluation Unit ran a short course during January 2010 on "Access and Benefit Sharing from Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge". The course was the first of its kind, and was convened in Cape Town, South Africa. It brought together delegates working in areas related to ABS from thirteen African nations to learn about ABS, and to discuss current challenges and ways forward for countries seeking either to implement ABS legislation, or those hoping to maximise legislation currently in place. Two representatives from Natural Justice attended the course, while Kabir Bavikatte of Natural Justice presented a short course on customary law, including biocultural protocols. Those present at the course and the conveners themselves expressed enthusiasm with the way in which the teaching and workshopping was received.

Chatham House Illegal Logging Stakeholders Update

Peter Wood, speaking on behalf of Global Witness, gave a presentation on 21 January 2010 at the Chatham House Illegal Logging Stakeholders Update in London, on “Moving SFM from Exploitation to Restoration Within a Finite Forest.” Wood described the need to rapidly transition away from the industrial model of tropical forestry, based on large-scale logging of intact natural forests, towards community based management that prioritizes the restoration of degraded land. He also challenged the concession-based model of forestry that currently dominates the Congo Basin, noting that relying on logging companies to provide basic health care and education services can undermine a community’s ability to challenge unsustainable rates of harvest.
The presentation can be downloaded here.

The Global Diversity Foundation's Mesoamerican Programme

As a part of Natural Justice's exploration of partnership with the Global Diversity Foundation's Mesoamerican Programme, Harry Jonas presented on rights-based approaches to livelihoods, in situ conservation and the protection of traditional knowledge at the Instituto de Ecologia in Xalapa, Veracruz. The lecture was followed by a seminar with researchers from the Institute to discuss the opportunities and challenges of community empowerment around natural resource use and traditional knowledge. He thanks the Mesoamerican Programme coordinators, Carlos del Campo and Claudia Camacho, for organizing an excellent visit.

Oaxaca, Mexico

In the context of ongoing discussions about coordinating the international development of bio-cultural community protocols between Natural Justice, UNEP, UNU, UNESCO, the Foundation for the Revitalization of Local Health Traditions, the COMPAS Network and the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF), Natural Justice is meeting with the coordinators of the GDF Mesoamerican Programme to explore synergies for future work. Carlos del Campo and Claudia Isabel Camacho are hosting Harry Jonas in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, to discuss rights-based approaches to assist communities living in the Chinantla area of Oaxaca with recent concerns they have about a planned decree to set aside their land as a protected area. For more information on GDF and the Mesoamerican Programme, see: www.globaldiversity.org.uk

Farmer to Pharma

Natural Justice is collaborating with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and its the implementation of the ‘Farmer to Pharma Grand Challenge’ (FTP). According to the DST the aim of the Program is to “…catapult South Africa to a leading position in Biotechnology and pharmaceuticals by harnessing the country’s biodiversity, indigenous knowledge and scientific expertise.” Natural Justice was invited to the First National Bio-prospecting Stakeholders Meeting in July 2009 to present on mechanisms to integrate communities into the design and implementation of bio-prospecting permit applications.

Since this workshop Natural Justice has continued working closely with DST and its Farmer to Pharma program. In October 2009 Natural Justice facilitated a DST delegation visit to Mpumalanga and Limpopo to explore possible pilot regions for the implementation of possible initiatives in this field.

Makuya Co-operative

The Makuya Traditional Healers Worker Primary Co-operative Ltd is a cooperative of traditional healers from the Makuya region of Limpopo.. In 2004 they successfully petitioned Chief Makuya to allocate 200 hectares to the group for the purpose of medicinal plants conservation. Since then they have been building partnerships with key local stakeholders, including the Kruger National Park, the Department of Health and Social Development, the South African Police Service, the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, the Limpopo Business Support Agency. Natural Justice supported the Makuya Traditional Health Workers Primary Cooperative to submit a proposal to the UNDP-GEF Small Grants Program. After two visits to the region a proposal on the “Conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants in the Makuya region of Limpopo to develop healthcare, livelihoods, environmental education, bio-trade and bio-prospecting opportunities and bio-cultural tourism” was submitted. In December 2010 the group was awarded the grant, which is currently in the process of being implemented.

Natural Justice Consults

Next to its regular activities, Natural Justice consults NGOs, local and national governments as well as international organizations on issues that are related to the core of our activities.