Monday, February 28, 2011

Workshops to Support Bushbuckridge Traditional Health Practitioners

From February 22-23, Kabir Bavikatte, Laureen Manuel, and Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) travelled to Bushbuckridge, South Africa, to hold workshops with members of the Bushbuckridge Traditional Health Practitioners Association. The workshops were organized with the support of the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Management Committee and the Department for Environmental Affairs.

The first day of the workshop was held with the Executive Committee of the Bushbuckridge Traditional Healers Association and second day included over 120 members of the Association to discuss: the possible establishment of a traditional medicine plant nursery and carbon offset programme co-ordinated by the traditional health practitioners; to obtain input on draft guidelines for the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Regulations that are currently being developed by Natural Justice and the University on Cape Town on behalf of the Department of Environmental Affairs; and to discuss the terms of a non-disclosure agreement between the traditional healers and a local business, Silk Collections, regarding the use of the healers' traditional knowledge. The Association members agreed to enter into the non-disclosure agreement with Silk Collections, which will allow testing to be conducted on some of the Healers' traditional knowledge with the aim of developing various cosmetics. The non-disclosure agreement prohibits Silk Collections to pass on the traditional knowledge to third parties and ensures that should a cosmetic product be found to be viable, a benefit sharing agreement between the local business and the traditional healers must be entered into. Natural Justice has been assisting the Bushbuckridge Traditional Healers Association and Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Management Committee in their discussions with Silk Collections to date.

In 2009, the Traditional Health Practitioners of Bushbuckridge developed a biocultural community protocol outlining some of their challenges, among other things, which since that time they have been working to address. Natural Justice will continue to work with the Traditional Health Practitioners of Bushbuckridge and the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Management Committee as part of its nascent African Biocultural Rights Programme.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Journal Explores Agriculture and Community Conserved Areas

The latest issue of the International Journal on Management of Environmental Quality, guest edited by Natural Justice colleagues Ashish Kothari (Kalpavriksh) and Jessica Brown (New England Biolabs Foundation), explores the topic of traditional agricultural landscapes and community conserved areas. It includes articles such as "Social-ecological indicators of resilience in agrarian and natural landscapes" (van Oudenhoven et al.), "Rethinking resource identification and utilization: The reconstruction of indigenous ethnoecological knowledge in Fata'an Wetland, Taiwan" (Chiang), and "Indigenous and community conserved areas in Oaxaca, Mexico" (Martin et al.).

Monday, February 21, 2011

ABS Experts Meeting in Chennai, India

Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) participated in a consultation with negotiators and experts who were involved in the processes leading up to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing. The consultation was held from February 13-15 in Chennai, India, and was organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Indian Ministry of Environment. Among other things, the consultation also looked at the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities in relation to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge in the context of the Nagoya Protocol. The participants included representatives of key negotiating blocks who attended in their personal capacity. The outcomes of this consultation, collated into a report, will be the first step towards collating different views on the interpretation of the Nagoya Protocol and in the longer-term, aim to contribute to a guide to the Protocol.

Monday, February 14, 2011

World Social Forum Wraps Up in Dakar

The 2011 World Social Forum (WSF), took place in Dakar, Senegal, from February 6-11. The bi-annual forum, which was attended by approximately 75,000 people from social movements, networks, NGOs, and other civil society organizations, was host to a range of discussions on social, environmental, political, and economic issues. Though the WSF was troubled by logistical difficulties throughout, participants were able to share experiences, network, and plan actions for the coming years.

The Rio+20 discussions at the WSF brought together a range of individuals and organizations to discuss strategies for co-operation and unity leading up to the 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Durban in December and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as the Rio+20 Earth Summit) to be held in May 2012. The participants also developed a Declaration of the Social Movements Assembly.

France Libertés, a French NGO and founding member of Collectif pour une Alternative à la Biopiraterie, working on cases of biopiracy and rights to water, among other things, supported Natural Justice to attend the forum and present its experiences on 2 cases of biopiracy in South Africa, including the Nestle-Rooibos and Honeybush case. Natural Justice also presented on biocultural community protocols as a tool for communities to utilize when engaging with parties that wish to access their resources and/or traditional knowledge. The next World Social Forum will be held in 2013 in Brazil.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Community Protocols Presentation Held at !Khwa ttu

On February 9, Kabir Bavikatte, Laureen Manuel, and Sylva Batshi (Natural Justice) participated in presentations on access and benefit sharing (ABS) agreements at !Khwa ttu, the San Cultural and Education Centre. Human rights lawyer Roger Chennells presented on the San-Hoodia case and his experiences with negotiating that ABS agreement. Kabir discussed biocultural community protocols and their relevance for Indigenous Peoples. The purpose was to inform a group of 30 representatives of the Student Union for the Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo about the South African environmental law on ABS. The presentations triggered interesting questions and a range of key discussion topics amongst the Norwegian students on protocols and the San-Hoodia case.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

First Fair Trade and Fairmined Gold from Oro Verde

Credit: Oro Verde.
The community council of fellow Seed Gold Award winners Corporacion Oro Verde (Green Gold) has been awarded the first ever Fair Trade and Fairmined certificate for Ecological Gold from the Chocó Bioregion of Colombia. According to an article by the Alliance for Responsible Mining, "90 family productive units extract gold using ancestral artisanal mining techniques that ensure a sustainable use of the natural resources of their home" in Chocó. Congratulations to Oro Verde on your significant accomplishments!

New RRI Publication: "Pushback"

Credit: Ilse Köhler-Rollefson.
The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) has just released an excellent new publication, entitled "Pushback: Local Power, Global Realignment". The online abstract reads: "If 2009 was the end of the hinterland and the beginning of a new globalized forest era, 2010 was a year of pushback. Worldwide, the news was full of reports of forest communities and Indigenous Peoples pushing back at land grabs and shaping policy at the national and global levels, and of governments countering and trying to contain community rights. Some governments and private investors accepted or even embraced the new players at the table and began to promote fairer business and conservation models. There was also new soaring rhetoric about the centrality of tenure reform to efforts addressing climate change. Unfortunately, none of this added up to significant global progress in the recognition of local land and resource rights.

As we look ahead to 2011, we see higher risks of climate-driven disaster, food insecurity, and political upheaval, and a world realigning. Yet, at the same time, shifts in markets, technology and policy offer tremendous opportunity, and 2011 offers more potential than ever to advance the rights and livelihoods of forest communities. With multilateral arrangements weak and wobbly, the arena for action has shifted to the national level. Will the rhetoric on rights be matched by recognition on the ground? Now that Indigenous Peoples and forest communities have more seats at the table, will they be allowed to speak and, if they are, will they be listened to? Who will ally with forest communities and help them advance their own aspirations and, more important, who will the forest communities choose as allies?

This report takes stock of the current status of forest rights and tenure globally, assesses the key issues and events of 2010 that shape possibilities to improve local rights and livelihoods, and identifies key questions and challenges that the world will face in 2011."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

UNFF9 Closes with Relative Success

The 9th Session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) took place in New York City from January 24 to February 4. The Forum theme was "Forests for People, Livelihoods and Poverty Eradication"  and it addressed issues such as the International Year of Forests and means of implementation for sustainable forest management. The Forum included adoption of a Ministerial Declaration that acknowledges "the crucial role of local people, including women, and local and indigenous communities, in achieving sustainable forest management", as well as a Resolution on Forests for People, Livelihoods and Poverty Eradication.

Reflecting on the Forum, a February 7 article in the Inter-Press Service also highlights the need for securing the land rights of forest peoples, recognizing customary tenure, and stopping the granting of mining and plantation licenses on community lands. Please visit IISD-Reporting Services for daily highlights and a summary and analysis of the negotiations.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Natural Justice-Produced ICCA Workshop Report Available Online

From October 28-30, Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) attended this workshop on Indigenous peoples' and community conserved areas (ICCAs) at the Shirakawa-Go Eco Institute in Japan, in conjunction with the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The workshop, entitled "Building Capacities and Generating Support for the Sustainable Future of ICCAs", consisted of 55 participants, including representatives of Indigenous peoples and local communities, NGOs, the ICCA Consortium, governments, cooperation agencies, and international organizations.

The purpose of the workshop was to provide a focused opportunity for assessing the current state of ICCAs as well as relevant initiatives and resources that could build collective capacity for securing ICCAs’ future. It was anticipated that this gathering could generate a long-term process and actions necessary to support ICCAs and build capacities to respond to specific needs, especially with regards to decisions made at COP10. The workshop brought up a range of key discussion topics, including the challenges and opportunities that need to be met for ICCAs and a framework for a collective ICCA vision. Harry and Holly compiled the workshop report, which can now be downloaded in medium resolution or in low resolution. We look forward to continuing the discussions and furthering the work plan with like-minded colleagues around the world.

Monday, February 7, 2011

World Social Forum Kicks Off in Dakar

Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) is in Dakar, Senegal, this week to attend the World Social Forum (WSF). The WSF is described by its Secretariat as "an open meeting place where social movements, networks, NGOs and other civil society organizations opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, formulate proposals, share their experiences freely, and network for effective action." The Forum's Charter of Principles were drawn together following the first WSF in 2001 in Brazil.

Gino will be taking part in a side event on biopiracy, organized and supported by Collectif pour une alternative à la Biopiraterie, and focusing on the San-Hoodia and Nestle-Rooibos/Honeybush cases from South Africa. For more about Natural Justice's work on the Nestle case, please visit our Campaigns page.

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Journal Article by Natural Justice Published

Natural Justice wrote an article entitled, "Community Protocols and Access and Benefit Sharing" for the latest issue of the Asian Biotechnology and Development Review. The article discusses the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol a landmark event in the history of the Convention on Biological Diversity and examines the promises and potentials of the Protocol for indigenous peoples and local communities in light of previous experiences with Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS). It explores community protocols as instruments that can help communities in engaging with ABS through legal empowerment. The full article can be read from pages 49-76.

5th Pan-African Stakeholder ABS Workshop in Morocco

Credit: European Forest Institute.
This week, Kabir Bavikatte, Sabine Zajderman, and Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) have been attending the 5th Pan-African Stakeholder Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Workshop organized by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa. This is the first stakeholder meeting after the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the CBD in October. With the Protocol in place, the key objectives of this meeting are to identify challenges that African States face with respect to implementing the Protocol at the domestic level. Participants explored national and regional concerns, knowledge gaps, and key priorities for the Protocol's implementation, and discussed relevant capacity development needs. Participants also spent a day exploring in great detail a national bioprospecting case study relating to Morocco's famous Argan tree (pictured), which is used for its nutritious oil both for food and skin care.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

UN Declares International Year of Forests

Following in the footsteps of 2010's International Year of Biodiversity, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011 the International Year of Forests. The year of events, as well as interactive web tools and resources, are intended to raise awareness about the sustainable management, conservation, and sustainable development of all types of forests. It will be overseen by the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF).

Over the past decade, 5.2 million hectares of forest cover have disappeared. In addition, deforestation creates more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector. There are strong and scientifically-based criticisms of the current and emerging international forest governance system, especially regarding the prevalent focus on market-based mechanisms that narrowly view forests as carbon sinks and ignore forests' contributions to agriculture, energy, medicine, and the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people on our planet. The awareness that will be raised by global initiatives such as the International Year of Forests is clearly needed, but they must be complemented by the full and effective participation of those who are affected most by such governance systems to ensure social and environmental justice for all.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New IIED Report on Land Deals in Africa

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has released a new report, authored by Lorenzo Cotula and entitled, "Land Deals in Africa: What is in the Contracts?". The description reads: "Over the past few years, agribusiness, investment funds and government agencies have been acquiring long-term rights over large areas of land in Africa. Together with applicable national and international law, contracts define the terms of an investment project, and the way risks, costs and benefits are distributed. Who has the authority to sign the contract and through what process greatly influences the extent to which people can have their voices heard. Yet very little is known about the exact terms of the land deals. Drawing on the legal analysis of twelve land deals from different parts of Africa, this report discusses the contractual issues for which public scrutiny is most needed, and aims to promote informed public debate about them."

"Community Conservation in Practice" Workshop Report Available

The report from the Community Conservation in Practice workshop, held May 6-8, 2010, in Tofino, is now available online. The workshop, which Natural Justice attended, provided an opportunity for people from Indigenous peoples and local communities, non-governmental organizations, academia, and funding institutions from around the world to come together to discuss the current strengths of and threats to Indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCAs), sacred natural sites, and biocultural landscapes. The workshop was facilitated by the Global Diversity Foundation in collaboration with IUCN Commission for Environmental, Economic, and Social Policy (CEESP) and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).