Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 2 of the African ILC Prep Meeting

The second day of the Pan-African ILC Preparatory Meeting on Access and Benefit Sharing and Traditional Knowledge continued on August 31st. Participants began with a detailed update, provided by John Scott (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity) on the draft decisions arising from the 6th meeting of the Ad-Hoc Open-Ended Inter-Sessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions that will be considered at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the CBD, which will take place in October in Nagoya, Japan. Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) then presented on the draft protocol of the International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), with a focus on the areas concerning traditional knowledge. Over the next 2 days, participants will comment on the draft decisions of the working groups on Article 8(j) and ABS. These comments will be provided to the African Group of negotiators to the CBD in order to guide them during their negotiations in Nagoya, Japan.

Olivier Rukundo (GTZ and Natural Justice Associate) completed the day with an overview of the current negotiations within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Inter-governmental Committee on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) and highlighted the importance of indigenous peoples and local communities being actively involved in these negotiations.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 1 of the African ILC Prep Meeting

Nigel Crawhall (left) from IPACC and IUCN-TILCEPA
and Lucy Mulenkei (right) from IIN.
On August 30, participants representing Indigenous peoples and local communities from about 25 countries in Africa began a busy first day of the Second African ILC Preparatory Meeting on Access and Benefit Sharing and Traditional Knowledge with an overview of the ABS process. The participants heard from John Scott (CBD Secretariat) on the role of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions and Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) on the draft protocol on the International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing (IRABS). Participants then spent the afternoon discussing and exchanging their local experiences with bio-prospecting and bio-piracy. Mathambo Ngakaeaja from the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA) presented an in-depth history and lessons learnt from the San Hoodia case.

The meeting now moves into a detailed analysis of traditional knowledge within the CBD and World Intellecual Property Organization (WIPO) frameworks, including negotiations under the International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing (IRABS) and Inter-Governmental Committee on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), before the participants provide their recommendations to the African Group of Negotiators on the draft protocol on ABS.

Pan-African ILC Prep Meeting Begins Today

The Second African Indigenous and Local Communities (ILC) Preparatory Meeting on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and Traditional Knowledge begins today in Cape Town, South Africa. The 3-day Pan-African meeting, which is supported by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa and hosted by Natural Justice, will be attended by over 40 ILC representatives and representative organizations. The aims of the meeting are to facilitate the exchange of experiences on bio-prospecting and bio-piracy, to brief participants on the status of negotiations on the Convention on Biological Diversity International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing (IRABS) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), with a focus on traditional knowledge (TK), to discuss the relevant draft decisions for the 10th Conference of the Parties of the CBD, and to develop an African ILC perspective on these draft decisions. Natural Justice will provide daily blog updates on the outcomes of the meeting.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Publication: Implementing a TKC

Natural Justice, with the support of the ABS Capacity Initiative for Africa, has released its latest publication on the Traditional Knowledge Commons, following the December 2009 meeting of advocates of indigenous peoples and local communities and experts in intellectual property law and access and benefit sharing that aimed to consider the unique problems presented by non-commercial research related to traditional knowledge. "Implementing a Traditional Knowledge Commons: Opportunities and Challenges" critically analyzes the possibilities of bringing a first set of TK Commons pilot(s) into action, considering how it could be integrated into the broader national and international legal frameworks of traditional knowledge protection as a mechanism capable of facilitating the expanded flow of benefits generated by traditional knowledge-based non-commmercial research while simultaneously increasing recognition of and compliance with sui generis customary law. The digital version of the publication can be downloaded here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

News Article: "Our survival depends on indigenous knowledge"

In an August 20th opinion piece in Indian Country Today, Alvin Manitobpyes, a citizen of the Muskowekwan First Nation, reflects on the first International Roundtable Supporting Ancient Indigenous Knowledge that was held in May in Manitoba, Canada. He shares his thoughts on the sacred process of transmitting traditional knowledge through protocols of learning and sharing. He expresses his understanding of his people and other indigenous nations as having "original" knowledge about how to uphold and live according to natural laws and explores various forms of symbolism that root human actions and values within nature. He closes by stating, "Traditional knowledge is the very strength of our identity as indigenous peoples." The full article can be read here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Strategizing for Livestock Keepers' Rights

An international LIFE Network meeting was held from August 13-15 in Kuttapalayam, India. The meeting was attended by around 60 representatives of communities, community-based organizations, and networks and sought to map the LIFE Network's strategy for a campaign on livestock keepers’ rights over the next few years. The meeting also explored the past, present, and future roles of bio-cultural community protocols in the campaign for livestock keepers rights'. The meeting included members of other livestock and pastoral networks, including the World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Peoples (WAMIP) and the Rainfed Livestock Network (RLN).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reporting on South Asian perspectives on community protocols

The reports from two recent consultation and training-of-trainer workshops in Bangalore, India, and Avissawella, Sri Lanka, can be downloaded on the Natural Justice website. The reports outline the proceedings of the workshops and reflections on outcomes and "next steps" for bio-cultural community protocols and Natural Justice's role in Asia alongside regional partners such as FRLHT and CKS-Asia. The report from the Bangalore workshop can be read here. The report from the Sri Lanka workshop can be read here and photos can be viewed here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Final Countdown

The Guardian has launched a new campaign to compile the top 100 specific tasks that G20 governments should do to halt the loss of biodiversity. Posted on August 13th, the article slams the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity for failing to meet the 2010 biodiversity targets that they agreed upon in 2002 and argues that the upcoming Conference of the Parties in Nagoya in October is "on course to make the farcical climate talks in Copenhagen look like a roaring success". The suggested actions should make a major contribution to protecting a particular species or ecosystem, be widely supported by published scientific evidence, and be politically costly or opposed by special interest groups. Help pressure the G20 governments to do their part by submitting a contribution to the Biodiversity100 list here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

News Article: Legal Ruling Sets Precedent for Inuit and 'Arctic Serengeti'

In an article published in The Globe and Mail on August 8th, Justice Sue Cooper ruled in favour of the underdogs by halting a joint German-Canadian project set to conduct seismic testing in Lancaster Sound, Nunavut, which is referred to as the ''Arctic Serengeti'' for hosting the migration routes of several marine species such as narwhal, beluga whale, and polar bear. The Inuit communities that have lived in the area for generations have had negative experiences with seismic testing in the past, claiming that it has caused death and deafness among seals and has disrupted the migration routes of whales for decades. The testing is also feared to be a thinly veiled exploration for much sought-after oil and gas reserves in the Arctic. Judge Cooper wrote, “If the testing proceeds as planned and marine mammals are impacted as Inuit say they will be, the harm to Inuit in the affected communities will be significant and irreversible. The loss extends not just to the loss of a food source, but to loss of a culture. No amount of money can compensate...” Okalik Eegeesiak, president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, echoed these sentiments after the ruling by reiterating that ''Economic development is good, but not at the price of our livelihoods.'' David Crocker, the lawyer who represented the Inuit, said that the significant ruling set a precedent for requiring companies and researchers to consult with and involve local communities in pre-research and pre-development phases. The full article can be read here and a follow-up article from August 13 can be read here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

International Day of the World's Indigenous People(s)

On August 9th, the International Day of the World's Indigenous People will be observed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Focusing on indigenous film-making, the observance is organized by the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in cooperation with the NGO Committee on the International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lamu, Kenya, Port Development: Economic Boom, Cultural and Environmental Bust

Johanna Von Braun and Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) recently spent 3 days in Lamu, Kenya, with local community-based organization Lamu Environmental Protection and Conservation Group (LEPAC) and other stakeholders to discuss the potential development of a bio-cultural community protocol in response to the proposed construction of a deep sea port within the Lamu District. The 16 billion dollar development would include a deep sea port, railway, oil refinery, international airport, resort city, and major highway.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Presenting the Opitsaht Declaration

In May, 2010, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and the Global Diversity Foundation co-hosted a workshop on Community Conservation in Practise (see our May 11 post for more information). After two months of discussions with the workshop participants, the Opitsaht Declaration has been finalized and can be read here. The Declaration addresses founding principles, concerns, and recommendations concerning indigenous and community conserved areas, sacred natural sites, and bio-cultural landscapes. Other declarations and statements from indigenous communities about issues related to biodiversity, climate change, and sacred sites can be found on Natural Justice's website.

The Cultivation of Gender Roles in Kenya

Gino Cocchiaro and Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) are currently in Kenya as part of a UNDP research project on the role of intellectual property rights and the introduction of new seed varieties on the role of women in agricultural communities. As part of this research, Gino and Johanna engaged in consultations with small-scale farming communities in the district of Machakos, facilitated through the kind support of INADES Kenya. The research study seeks to analyze to what extent women's traditional role both within households and as managers of all aspects of subsistence farming may be affected by the introduction of seeds that are protected either as plant varieties and/or patents. The report will be released soon.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Natural Justice joins CKS-Asia

The CKS-Asia board has invited Natural Justice to become a partner of its network. CKS-Asia is a network of non-profit organizations that collaborate under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme. Its mission is to enable its members to develop innovative ways of developing, sharing and managing ecosystem-specific knowledge, skills and practices within and across grassroots communities. At the meeting held in Avissawella, Sri Lanka, the board reconfigured its thematic areas and asked Natural Justice to assist it to further develop rights-based approaches to protecting biodiversity and culture with its member organizations.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Barefoot Philosophers

After the consultation on bio-cultural community protocols, Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) were hosted by Piyasoma Bentota and Upali Rajapakse in Gurugoda, Sri Lanka, at the Rush and Reed Conservation and Diversification Programme. The programme supports women from local communities to make woven items such as bags and mats as a means to generate livelihoods and conserve the local wetlands. Bentota and Upali have dedicated their entire lives to social and environmental justice and continue to support communities' sustainable livelihoods through cultural revitalization and organic agriculture. Holly and Harry are very grateful to them for their generous hospitality and inspiring words.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reporting Back from Sri Lanka

Natural Justice partnered with CKS-Sri Lanka and the COMPAS Network to facilitate a three-day consultation workshop on bio-cultural community protocols. Over the three days, participants from Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and the Philippines heard presentations about the background to the right to self-determination under international and national human rights and environmental law and policy and discussed case studies on community protocols. They focused on the challenges that communities face in engaging with government and other stakeholders such as researchers and developed mock protocols based on forest-dependent and rice-farming community scenarios. Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas thank the participants and organizers, especially Sujeewa Jasinghe, and look forward to further collaboration. The final workshop report can be read here and photos can be viewed here.