Saturday, October 30, 2010

Introducing the Aichi Nagoya Protocol on ABS

The plenary of COP10.
After 6 years of intensive and politically fraught negotiations, the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) finally adopted the Aichi Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing at 2:00 AM on the morning of October 30th, 2010. The last couple of hours before its adoption were extremely tense with the European Union insisting that the Protocol be adopted as a package deal with the resolution on the Strategic Plan and the Financial Mechanism. On the other side were Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Uruguay expressing grave reservations about the Protocol as another attempt by developed countries to legitimize biopiracy and commodify Nature. These countries also insisted that the Protocol not be adopted as a package deal but rather that the Protocol be adopted first and then the Strategic Plan and the Financial Mechanism.

Friday, October 29, 2010

U.S. Says Genes Should Not Be Eligible For Patents

Reversing a longstanding policy, the U.S. federal government has said that human and other genes should not be eligible for patents because they are part of nature. The new position could have a huge impact on medicine and on the biotechnology industry. The new position was declared in a friend of the court brief filed by the Department of Justice late Friday in a case involving two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer and published in the New York Times on October 29. “We acknowledge that this conclusion is contrary to the longstanding practice of the Patent and Trademark Office, as well as the practice of the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies that have in the past sought and obtained patents for isolated genomic DNA,” the brief said. For more on the issue, see the article here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Demystifying Community Protocols

In the evening of October 26, Natural Justice hosted a side event on biocultural community protocols and the links with endogenous development and wellbeing. Other hosting organizations included COMPAS, UNU-IAS, UNEP, and UNDP. Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) provided an overview of the different approaches in reference to community-level pressures and the rights to self-determination and to provide free, prior and informed consent.

Alejandro Argumedo (Asociacion ANDES, Peru) spoke about Indigenous territories as complex, adaptive biocultural systems that serve as an alternative to the current neo-liberal capitalist and conservation paradigms. He described the Potato Park inter-community benefit-sharing agreement, which is based on customary Quechua principles of reciprocity, equilibrium, and duality, as an articulation of how Indigenous peoples conserve and sustainably use biodiversity, protection against biopiracy, securing of rights to traditional knowledge and natural resources, and a process of community empowerment, maintenance of culture and introduction, and collective thinking about new issues emerging from legal frameworks.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Indigenous Knowledge Systems & Health

Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) attended the AIDS Foundation of South Africa's (AFSA) biennial Learning and Sharing Conference in Durban, South Africa, on Tuesday, October 26th. One of the goals of the 3-day conference, which was attended by approximately 200 representatives of Indigenous peoples, community-based organizations, and non-governmental organizations, was to share experiences and information on the role that cultural beliefs, practices and Indigenous knowledge play in shaping community and individual perceptions of health and illness.

Gino was invited to speak to participants about Indigenous knowledge systems and the role that they have played and continue to play in achieving well-being and health of communities. In his presentation, Gino also discussed the traditional healers of Bushbuckridge (South Africa), who have used their bio-cultural community protocol to address their shared concerns and engage with stakeholders, including the Government of South Africa, with the aim of working towards the well-being of their community. Other speakers at the conference discussed how cultural benefits and practices can impact health-seeking behaviour and how gender relations impact health promotion and the risk of HIV. The conference will continue over the next 2 days.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sacred Natural Sites

Felipe Gomez of the Maja people of Guatemala.
On October 26, Bas Verschuuren moderated a side event hosted by the COMPAS Network for Endogenous Development and the IUCN Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA). Jeffrey McNeely (Senior Science Advisor, IUCN) launched the new book entitled “Sacred Natural Sites: Conserving Nature and Culture”, which was co-edited by Verschuuren, Robert Wild, McNeely, and Gonzalo Oviedo (available here from Earthscan). Oviedo (Senior Social Policy Advisor, IUCN) spoke about the linkages of sacred sites recognition and support within the IUCN community, including through the CSVPA and various publications such as the Sacred Natural Sites Guidelines for Protected Area Managers. Nigel Crawhall (IPACC and IUCN-TILCEPA) shared two stories of Indigenous peoples’ interpretations of sacred sites in South Africa and India. Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) described how biocultural community protocols can enable communities to assert their rights to access and serve as custodians over sacred sites. Colleen Corrigan (UNEP-WCMC) shared information about the ICCA Registry as a tool that can be used to increase awareness and support for sacred sites.

The First Dodo Award Goes To...

Doris the Dodo presents the Dodo Award to a member of
civil society from the EU. Holly Shrumm accepted the Dodo
Award granted to Canada for their role in stalling CBD
and ABS negotiations at COP 10.
Alongside other members of the CBD Alliance at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) chaired a press conference on October 25 to present the first Dodo Award to Canada and the European Union "for demonstrating a definitive and unmatched failure to evolve". Named after the dodo bird, the quintessential symbol of biodiversity loss, the CBD Alliance presented the award to these two Parties for obstructing and delaying processes "that aim to serve the greater good, for failing to evolve, and for simply behaving badly". Canada and the EU have been particularly obstructive in negotiations towards an international protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS), with Canada being the only Party insisting upon the removal of any reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (see posting from a related press conference here). Runners-up for the Dodo Award were China (for weakening the CBD Strategic Plan) and Brazil (for recklessly promoting biofuels). The CBD Alliance also recognized Parties that are playing a positive role in the negotiations, particularly Norway (on geo-engineering), Bolivia (on financial resources), and the Philippines (for their constant attention to biofuels, synthetic biology, financial resources and agricultural biodiversity).

Joint Programme of Work on Biological & Cultural Diversity

Left to right: Viviana Figueroa, Gonzalo Oviedo, Barbara
Lassen, and John Scott.
On October 25, Natural Justice attended a side event on the joint programme of work on biological and cultural diversity between the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Speakers at the side event included Ana Persic (UNESCO), Viviana Figueroa (CBD), Luis Delgado Hurtado (Yachay Wasi, Peru), Gonzalo Oviedo (IUCN), Barbara Lassen (GTZ), and John Scott (CBD). The joint programme of work was forwarded in a draft decision of the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the CBD and is currently unbracketed in the negotiations. It was based on a conference held in Montreal in June, 2010, by the CBD and UNESCO, which Natural Justice attended. Our blog postings on the conference can be read here (introduction) and here (summary). The conference report  can be accessed here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

ICCA Consortium General Assembly

Ashish Kothari grouping participants' strategic visions.
The Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Areas (ICCA) Consortium held its first official General Assembly and a strategy meeting on October 24 in Nagoya. During the first half of the meeting, Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend (Consortium coordinator) and Ashish Kothari (Kalpavriksh) presented an overview of how the concept of ICCAs has evolved over time in policy and practice, what is the current situation, and what are the main challenges and opportunities. Maurizio Farhan Ferrari (Forest Peoples Programme) illustrated the key provisions for ICCAs in the draft Decisions currently being considered by the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 10).

During the General Assembly, Taghi Farvar (CENESTA, Consortium president), Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend (coordinator), and Stan Stevens (treasurer) presented their respective reports. Participants discussed concerns and suggestions with the statues that had been provisionally adopted when the Consortium was registered as a non-profit association in Switzerland in July. A small team of Consortium members volunteered to propose concrete changes to the Statues to circulate over email to the other members. The whole group then deliberated long-term visions and strategic priorities for the next few years, particularly in light of collaboration with the CBD, UNEP-WCMC, IUCN-WCPA, GEF-SGP, and GTZ. Among other things, Natural Justice is exploring our role in progressing the global ICCA legal review and supporting the future development of guidelines for legal recognition of ICCAs.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Land Day at the Rio Conventions Ecosystem Pavilion

Dr. Kakar (far left) spoke about the concerns of pastoralists
in Pakistan.
Kabir Bavikatte represented Natural Justice at the Land Day 3 at the Rio Conventions Ecosystem Pavilion in Nagoya. The event was organized by GTZ along with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The objective of Land Day was to communicate issues relating to the UNCCD and to link the relevance of sustainable land management in drylands to the aims of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Participants of the land day included the negotiators and participants of the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the CBD. The event discussed how conserving biodiversity in drylands is of particular relevance to poverty reduction and food security and emphasized that if land degradation and species loss in drylands areas are to be arrested, indigenous and local communities must become more involved in decision-making processes.

Raising Awareness about the ABS Protocol

Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) participated in a press conference organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity on October 23. The purpose of the press conference was to inform the international media about the concept of access and benefit sharing (ABS) and the importance of the international Protocol on ABS, which is currently in its final stages of negotiation. Kabir spoke to journalists about the lessons from the San Hoodia case, particularly on the importance of 'user country' compliance measures. He explained that it is only through an international Protocol on ABS that user countries can be compelled to put in place strong compliance measures. These compliance measures would ensure that users of genetic resources and traditional knowledge within user country jurisdictions seek prior informed consent from provider countries and Indigenous peoples and local communities for the use of their genetic resources and traditional knowledge. In the San Hoodia case, such user country measures would prevent continued violation of the rights of the San over their traditional knowledge by various companies that are marketing Hoodia products without getting the prior and informed consent of the San community.

Friday, October 22, 2010

PoWPA Implementation Support Consortium

Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend (IUCN-CEESP) called for support
for Indigenous peoples' and community conserved areas
and learning networks in social-ecological regions.
In the evening of October 22, Natural Justice joined colleagues from civil society and IUCN’s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) at the third informal meeting of the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) Implementation Support Consortium. Among others in attendance were Sarat Babu Gidda (Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat), Trevor Sandwith (Head of IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme), Nik Lopoukhine (chair of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, WCPA), Delfin Ganapin (Gobal Manager, GEF Small Grants Programme), Eduard Müller (vice-chair of IUCN-WCPA Mexico, Central America and Hispanic Caribbean), and Rodrigo Fuentes (Executive Director, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity). The meeting reviewed activities and lessons learned from 2006-2010 and discussed suggested approaches and activities for 2011-2012. Many participants noted several needs and suggestions, including: focusing more on qualitative and social-cultural assessments; revising the reporting format, including through considering independent reporters and thematic reporting; ensuring representation of Indigenous peoples and local communities at all levels, including as national focal points; utilizing the support and expertise of networks such as the ICCA Consortium and IUCN-TILCEPA; linking formal (State) and non-State initiatives; focusing on sustained capacity-building initiatives at the local level, including with government and community partners and through existing, in-country training institutions; enhancing the management effectiveness of existing protected areas rather than focusing strictly on establishing new ones; and supporting the development of learning networks in social-ecological regions.

Conservation Initiative on Human Rights

Governance and rights security have significant implications for biodiversity conservation effectiveness and for the livelihoods of people relying on resources within and outside of protected areas. These linkages are recognized in numerous Articles, Programmes of Work, and Guidelines of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Natural Justice attended a side event at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the CBD that explored the potential for the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights to provide concrete guidance to agencies when engaging in activities that have an impact on communities. Speakers included Gonzalo Oviedo (Senior Advisor, Social Policy, IUCN), Kristen Walker Painemilla (Vice President, Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program, Conservation International), Vital Bambanze (President, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee), Fernando Castro (CONAP, Guatemala), Yolanda Terán (Red de Mujeres), and Kristen Hite (Center for International Environmental Law), with Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) providing a commentary at the end.

Civil Society Statement in Plenary

Ramya Rajagopalan (left, ICSF) and Teppei Dohke (Japan
Civil Society Network) read the NGO statement in plenary.
Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) were involved in the drafting group of the NGO statment that was given in plenary on Friday afternoon. Excerpts include: "The CBD is about Social and Environmental Justice. Without a radical new approach in the second week, this COP will fail to achieve its aims. It will be Biodiversity's Copenhagen. Similar to Copenhagen, we feel the main reason this COP is heading for failure is that Northern governments refuse to take on legally binding commitments in line with the third objective of the Convention, (ABS), and to comply with their financial commitment. We call on governments to adopt a legally binding ABS Protocol that has strong enforcement and compliance measures, that stops biopiracy, respects and protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples... Dear delegates, each of you has the moral and legal duty to implement the CBD, by ensuring rights to dignity and well-being, of present and future generations... Mother Earth is not for Sale. No to the greed economy. Yes to equity, justice and biodiversity."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Defining Science-based Targets Beyond 2010

Anantha Kumar Duraiappah (IHDP) spoke about the need
to ensure 2020 targets are interdependent and based on a
coupled social-ecological systems approach.
In the evening of October 21, Natural Justice attended a side event hosted by DIVERSITAS and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) entitled “Beyond 2010: Defining Science-based Targets for Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services, and Human Wellbeing”. Speakers noted the many issues to address within the setting of biodiversity targets, including functional diversity, temporal and spatial scale, interdependence of multiple ecosystem services, and uncertainty. Recommendations included establishing priorities among the targets, using a systems approach to developing new targets, considering coherence between targets and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements and the Millennium Development Goals, and working with the future Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Canada Undermines Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Obstructs ABS Protocol

Ellen Gabriel (left) and Larry McDermott (right).
On October 21, Natural Justice attended a press conference held by the Native American and First Nations members of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB). Armand Mackenzie (lawyer, Innu Nation), Ellen Gabriel (president, Quebec Native Women’s Association), Larry McDermott (Algonquin councillor, Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation), and Paul Joffe (human rights lawyer) discussed the current obstructive position of the Canadian government in the negotiations towards an international protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS). They argued that Canada’s call to remove all references to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) undermines fundamental human rights and jeopardizes the entire negotiation process under the Convention on Biological Diversity. This position contradicts the Canadian Prime Minister’s 2010 Speech from the Throne and 2008 federal apology for residential schools, impedes international relations and progress to protect human rights and the environment, tarnishes Canada’s reputation globally, and casts doubt on Canada’s alleged intention to explore adopting UNDRIP. Four key elements of concern with the ABS protocol, which the speakers argued present huge challenges for Indigenous peoples, include: excessive interest in strengthening state sovereignty; no indication of intent to truly collaborate or consult with Indigenous peoples; generally, states are not willing to recognize that Indigenous peoples have rights to genetic resources; and the consensus rule backfires when it’s at the expense of the aims of the Protocol itself and of internationally recognized human rights.

Social Aspects of Marine Protected Areas

Antonio Garcia Allut (far right) calls for marine protected
areas that integrally involve local communities.
In the afternoon of October 21, Natural Justice attended a side event entitled “Getting it Right: Incorporating social aspects into marine protected area planning and implementation”, which was hosted by the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) and the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF). Chandrika Sharma (ICSF) explained how the livelihoods of fishing communities depend on healthy ecosystems and how small-scale fishing communities have been struggling and campaigning for decades to reconcile the conservation and management frameworks to more effectively manage coastal and marine habitats and resources and protect against destructive developments and fishing practices. Jorge Varela shared experiences from Honduras, stressing that despite local communities successfully mobilizing to designate the Gulf of Fonseca as a Ramsar Site in 1999, wetlands are increasing degraded by industrial expansion of shrimp farms, which undermines food sovereignty and accelerates biodiversity loss and poverty. Antonio Garcia Allut (Fundaçion Lonxanet para la Pesca Sostenible, Spain) discussed the significant decline of fish resources and artisanal fisheries in Galicia due to centralized management and destructive industrial fishing practices. Lonxanet was involved in the gazetting of Ox Miñarzos, the first marine protected area that involved local fishing communities from the beginning.

Common Pool Resources and ABS

Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) presented on common pools of traditional knowledge at a side event on October 21 that was organized by the University of Bremen. The side event discussed the challenge of distributive justice in bilateral access and benefit sharing (ABS) exchanges between providers and users under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), especially when knowledge and genetic resources are collectively held. Speakers emphasized on a reading of the CBD as enabling voluntary multilateral solutions that could include common pools of genetic material and traditional knowledge. Overall, the side event presented on preliminary empirical and legal analysis of the typology of common pools and sought to explain the emergence of common pools. Presentations also highlighted the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) as a best practice multilateral common pool practice that needs to be replicated.

Perspectives on Community Protocols

Natural Justice facilitated a meeting of partners to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of current uses of biocultural community protocols at the COP in Nagoya. Thirteen participants, including representatives of the LIFE Network, Anthra, UNU-IAS, COMPAS Network, and Natural Justice, met to discuss and share experiences on biocultural community protocols. Participants stressed a number of points, including: ensuring intra-community participation and inter-community communication; using a range of community-level methodologies; ensuring that the process is conducted by community members and at a pace set by themselves; local NGOs can provide useful assistance; best-practice guidance and resources would be useful; community-to-community experience sharing is important; and community protocols should be reviewed over time and considered continuous processes. Natural Justice thanks all the participants and Suneetha Subramanian (UNU) for the use of UNU's tent.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Questioning REDD

Natural Justice hosted a side event entitled “REDD: Whose Rights, Who's Wronged” on October 20 to explore the deeper issues inherent in the debate about whether climate finance is reconcilable with biocultural conservation. Camila Moreno (Friends of the Earth-Brazil), Simone Lovera (Global Forest Coalition), Alejandro Argumedo (Asociación ANDES), Tom Goldtooth (Indigenous Environmental Network), and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) presented at the event. Speakers questioned whether the Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) was an inevitability and criticized the exclusion of Indigenous peoples and local communities from being fully and effectively evolved in the debate about its international development and national implementation. They raised the tragic irony evident in lack of commitment by Annex I (developed) countries to commit to legally binding emission reductions, whist at the same time promoting REDD as a means to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Moreno warned against being convinced by the “the dictatorship of the alternative”, meaning that REDD is being presented as being the best of a number of bad options, when real and tangible alternatives exist. The side event ended with Jonas suggesting that participants “keep asking questions”.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

IUCN Implementation of PoWPA

Nigel Crawhall (right), chair of IUCN-TILCEPA.
On October 19, Natural Justice attended a side event on implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA), hosted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). The facilitators were Trevor Sandwith (head of IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme) and Nik Lopoukhine (chair of IUCN-WCPA). Nigel Crawhall (chair of IUCN-TILCEPA) called for more recognition and support for Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) and sacred natural sites. Jennifer Koinante Yiaku Ntorobo (vice-president of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee) noted the need to better represent and support traditional knowledge and customary laws in protected areas.

Biopiracy and Lessons for ABS Protocol

Kabir Bavikatte (Credit: IISD/Earth
Negotiations Bulletin)
On October 19, Natural Justice, the Berne Declaration, EED, Third World Network, and the African Centre for Biosafety organized a side event entitled "Ongoing Biopiracy and Lessons for an ABS Protocol". The side event focused on examples of biopiracy and lessons for developing the Protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS). Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) presented on the Nestle Rooibos biopiracy case, focusing on the background of the case, the work of the Berne Declaration and Natural Justice in challenging the biopiracy, limitations of South African law, and the lessons for the prospective protocol on ABS.

Intellectual Property, Trade, and Biodiversity Conservation

Olivier Rukundo (far right), Natural Justice associate.
Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) presented at a lunch-time side event organized by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in cooperation with GTZ on Tuesday, October 19 at the the CBD COP10 in Nagoya. The side event was titled "Intellectual Property, Trade and Biodiversity Conservation: A South-South Exchange".

The side event sought to build on lessons learnt from African and Latin American initiatives on access and benefit sharing (ABS), intellectual property rights (IPRs), biodiversity, and sustainable use. The side event had different regional experts who highlighted domestic and regional experiences with implementing ABS legislation. Kabir spoke on the South African ABS legislation and challenges with its implementation, using the example of the recent Nestle Rooibos biopiracy challenge in which Natural Justice was involved. The side event was well-attended and was also an opportunity to present the recent publication by Natural Justice and the ABS Initiative for Africa on "Implementing a Traditional Knowledge Commons". The side event also launched a new GTZ publication on "Triggering Synergies between IPRs and Biodiversity", for which Natural Justice had also written a chapter. The Intellectual Property Watch also produced an article about the issues discussed in the side event, which can be read here.

Civil Society Protests Market-based Conservation

On October 19, representatives of civil society organizations and the CBD Alliance (including Natural Justice) peacefully protested market-based conservation as delegates entered the venue of the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Their messages of "Mother Earth is not for sale", "No to the greed economy", and "Yes to rights, equity, and justice" were well-received by delegates, many of whom stopped to offer support and take photos with the signs. More photos can be viewed here. The CBD Alliance will continue to organize actions and interventions throughout COP 10.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"For the Next 7 Generations"

Three of the Indigenous Grandmothers answered questions
from the audience after the screening.
On October 18, Natural Justice attended a screening of the film “For the Next 7 Generations”. The film illustrates the story, journey, and values of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, who joined together in 2004 to call for world peace and a reanimated consciousness of our relationship with Mother Earth. The Grandmothers’ mission statement is: “We, the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, represent a global alliance of prayer, education and healing for our Mother Earth, all her inhabitants, all the children, and for the next seven generations to come. We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth and the destruction of indigenous ways of life. We believe the teachings of our ancestors will light the way through an uncertain future. We look to further our vision through the realization of projects that protect our diverse cultures: lands, medicines, language and ceremonial ways of prayer and through projects that educate and nurture our children.”

Three of the Grandmothers joined the audience after the screening to take a few questions. Noting that the combined age of the 13 Grandmothers is nearly 900 years, they spoke about the spiritual relationship that Indigenous women in particular have with Earth-based medicines. They described the four elements (Mother Earth, air, fire, and water) are the foundation of all life, underscoring the fact that humans are such a small part of the world and are defined by our relations with others. As Lakota Chief Sitting Bull said, “Let’s put our minds together and see what life we will make for our children.”

Community Experiences with Sustainable Use of Biodiversity and Implementing Article 10(c)

Viviana Figueroa (left) and Joji Carino.
On October 18 at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Natural Justice attended a side event co-hosted by the Forest Peoples Programme and Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity on community experiences with Article 10(c) of the CBD. The event began with a short film on customary uses of forest resources and difficulties with the Forestry Department in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh. Viviana Figueroa (SCBD) noted that there are huge gaps in the implementation of Article 10(c) and that Parties must recognize the relationship between customary law and natural resource management and the centrality of 10(c) to communities’ livelihoods. Joji Carino (Tebtebba and IIFB) explained that at COP 10, “sustainable use” will be dealt with by Working Group I under Agenda point 6.7 on October 19. The Decision under review at COP 10 regards the inclusion of “a new major component on Article 10 with a focus on Article 10(c) on sustainable use and customary sustainable use of biodiversity”. Carino also noted that the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8j) is expected to develop guidelines and a strategy for implementation of Article 10(c) at the national level and that there is a call for an international meeting on Article 10(c) to propose elements for a strategy for its implementation.

Top 10 for COP 10

A number of representatives of NGOs presented the Top 10 for COP 10 at a side event on October 18 organized by the CBD Alliance. Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) presented on Article 8(j) and Access and Benefit Sharing, Simone Lovera (Global Forest Coalition) presented on Biodiversity and Climate Change, Friedrich Wulf (Friends of the Earth - Switzerland) spoke about the Future of the CBD, Helena Paul (EcoNexus) discussed Finance, Sustainable Use and Agriculture, and Jackie Sunde (International Collective in Support of Fishworkers) spoke about Protected Areas. The webcast can be seen here.

Strategizing with Civil Society for COP 10

Drafting the civil society statement
for opening plenary.
From October 16-17, Natural Justice has been working with other members of civil society in Nagoya, Japan, to strategize for the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD Alliance coordinated the two-day planning and strategy meeting along with the Japanese Civil Society Network. The meeting focused on exploring the Top 10 Issues for COP 10 (a series of briefing papers prepared by the CBD Alliance), discussing key items on the agenda with the CBD Secretariat, and drafting the civil society statement for the opening plenary on October 18.

Among many of the complex issues discussed, one of the overarching key points that emerged from the 2-day meeting is that COP 10 is a critical moment to turn the tide of the CBD towards a focus on biodiversity, equity, and sustainability, and away from current trends of market-based mechanisms and the commodification of nature. There is a palpable need for the Parties and Observers to the CBD to re-take ownership over biodiversity as the core issue to survival and sustainability, rather than allowing biodiversity and livelihoods to be undermined by other international mechanisms, Conventions, and UN agencies.

The Top 10 for COP 10 briefing papers can be read here. Live and recorded webcasts of COP 10 proceedings can be viewed here.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

High Expectations for Adoption of ABS Protocol in Nagoya

The logo of COP10, depicting people, plants, and
animals as origami.
The Working Group on ABS (WGABS) resumed the last round of its 9th meeting through the Inter-Regional Negotiating Group (ING) from October 13-15 in Nagoya, Japan. The WGABS was tasked by the Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to complete negotiating a Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) by the 10th meeting of the CBD COP, which takes place from October 18-29 in Nagoya. Continuing with its intense negotiations from Montreal in September (see closing blog posting here), the WGABS made a considerable amount of headway towards the Protocol on ABS. While there has not been full agreement, significant progress was made on contentious issues such as the definition of "utilization of genetic resources" and provisions relating to compliance with the ABS Protocol. However, despite the progress made, the WGABS was unable to complete its negotiations prior to the 10th CBD COP. On October 16, the WGABS met for the last time to close its 9th session and to report to the 10th meeting of the CBD COP the status of the negotiations and forward the draft text of the Protocol on ABS negotiated thus far. It is anticipated that the COP will set up a contact group made up of Parties who have been negotiating within the WGABS to continue its negotiations of the ABS Protocol through the next two weeks of the 10th CBD COP.

There are high expectations that the 10th CBD COP will adopt a Protocol on ABS before the end of October since all Parties to the CBD are committed to achieving this outcome. Kabir Bavikatte of Natural Justice participated in the ING as the legal advisor to the African Group of countries and will participate in further negotiations towards the Protocol on ABS.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Introducing COP-10

Kabir Bavikatte, Harry Jonas, and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) are in Nagoya, Japan, for the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP-10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which will take place from October 18-29. Over the two weeks, the CBD's 193 Parties and thousands of representatives of civil society, Indigenous peoples and local communities, academia, and the private sector will engage in negotiations, side events, and high-level segments. The three largest and highest stake points on the agenda are the Strategic Plan for 2020 (and the Vision for 2050), the Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), and financial resources. The links between climate change and biodiversity will also be a key point. The COP will tackle issues and draft decisions put forward by the 14th Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-14), the 3rd Working Group on the Review of Implementation (WGRI-3), and the 6th Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8j-6) in two parallel working groups. There will also be an informal group to conclude the ABS Protocol, if necessary, and a group to address the budget for the CBD.

All of the draft decisions under consideration at COP-10 can be viewed here. Daily coverage of the negotiations and side events will be provided by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB); brief updates will be posted on this blog; and civil society views will be posted by the CBD Alliance here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Latest Thinking on ABS

In the latest issue of the Bridges Trade BioRes Review of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), several team members, colleagues, and friends of Natural Justice have written articles on the draft international protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD):
The full pdf of this issue of the Review can be accessed here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ahmed Djoghlaf, Coming Soon to a Computer Near You

On Monday, October 4th, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, will be online from 1-2 pm (GMT) to answer the public's questions on biodiversity. As part of The Guardian's Biodiversity 100 Campaign, Dr. Djoghlaf will answer questions posted on The Guardian's Environment Blog here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Report: Traditional Marine Management Areas & Law and Policy

Taboo fishing area in Mangaliu, Vanuatu. © Erika Techera
A new report has been released by the United Nations University-Institute of Advanced Studies Traditional Knowledge Initiative (UNU-IAS TKI), with the support of The Christensen Fund. Entitled "Traditional Marine Management Areas of the Pacific in the Context of National and International Law and Policy", the report explores the many traditional systems of marine and coastal resource management that illustrate the interlinkages between biodiversity and cultural diversity in the Pacific. The full report can be downloaded here. An article on a similar topic ("Safeguarding Indigenous Bio-cultural Heritage in the South Pacific Small Island States") by Erika Techera is published in the forthcoming IUCN-CEESP journal Policy Matters, Issue 17. It will be available shortly online.