Sunday, May 29, 2011

Supporting Livestock Keeper's Rights in Rajasthan

Natural Justice is in Rajasthan, India, working with Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan, Kalpavriksh, and others to focus on the Raika's continuing exclusion from the Kumbalgarh Sanctuary. Read other blog postings for more information about an August 2010 international meeting on livestock keepers' rights; the Raika's July 2010 appeal to the Forest Department; a March 2010 workshop on biocultural community protocols for livestock keepers; and a case study in the IUCN Rights-Based Approach to Conservation Portal. A 2010 book on livestock keepers' rights and biocultural community protocols by Ilse Koehler-Rollefson provides an excellent overview and analysis of the issues.

Subsequently, Natural Justice will visit the Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems in Chennai to discuss their plans to develop a legal empowerment programme, and then meet with colleagues at the Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (I-AIM, formerly the Foundation for the Revitalization of Local Health Traditions) to discuss biocultural community protocols.

Kalpavriksh Newsletter: Focus on Pastoral Communities

The latest issue of Kalpavriksh's newsletter, "People in Conservation: Biodiversity Conservation and Livelihood Security", is a special issue on pastoral communities. It includes news about a village's success, reports from workshops and conferences on the commons, the Forest Rights Act, a Biosphere Reserve, and women pastoralists, and case studies from the Deccan Plateau, Rajasthan, and Balochistan (Pakistan). On page 6, it also includes discussion of the Raika Biocultural Protocol by Hanwant Singh Rathore and Ilse Koehler-Rollefson, which the Raika is using to assert internationally recognized livestock keepers' rights as well as their rights under India's 2006 Forest Rights Act.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Special Rapporteur on the Collective Rights of Indigenous Peoples

James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, gave the keynote speech at the opening of the 18th session of the World Intellectual Property Organization's Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folkore, on May 9 in Geneva. In his speech, he stressed that Indigenous peoples' demands to maintain control over their traditional knowledge and cultural expressions are grounded in widely applicable principles of fundamental human rights. A summary of Anaya's speech is entitled, "The Collective Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Their Conceptual Foundations and Implications".
The WIPO committee is in the process of drafting text for an international legal instrument on traditional knowledge, genetic resources, and traditional cultural expressions. However, the May 9-13 negotiations hit a roadblock regarding issues of disclosure and the participation of Indigenous peoples in particular. Read an analysis of the negotiations in Volume 11, Number 9 of Bridges Trade BioRes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Analyzing the Nagoya Protocol in New York

Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) is currently in New York to take part in the information and preparatory meeting for Indigenous peoples and local communities on access and benefit sharing (ABS) and traditional knowledge entitled, "The Nagoya Protocol and the Way Ahead". The meeting, which took place from May 21-22, is organized and supported by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa, the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee (IPACC), Conservation International, GIZ, and the Equator Initiative of the United Nations Development Programme.

The meeting provided participants with a background to the Nagoya Protocol on ABS and an opportunity for representatives of Indigenous peoples and local communities from North America, Latin America, Africa, and Asia to critically analyze the potential benefits and areas of concern of the Protocol. Participants also discussed and prepared plans of action on how to best utilize the Nagoya Protocol in order to engage their governments on the issues and ensure that they recognize and support the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities over their genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge when implementing national ABS legislation. The information and preparatory meeting coincides with the 10th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which takes place from May 16-27.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Website on Biocultural Heritage Launched

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) has launched a new website on biocultural heritage. Krystyna Swiderska (senior researcher, IIED) describes biocultural heritage as "the interlinked biological and cultural heritage that arises from the interaction between culture, knowledge, biodiversity and landscapes". The new website is intended "to promote understanding of traditional knowledge as biocultural systems, and of the need to protect biocultural systems as a whole, rather than focusing narrowly on rights to traditional knowledge in isolation". Including guidance and resources for grassroots organizations, researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers, the website draws on research by IIED, research partners, and Indigenous peoples in Peru, Panama, Kenya, India, and China to provide:
  • Understanding of the nature and importance of biocultural systems, and the threats they face.
  • Practical tools and strategies for protecting biocultural systems: community biocultural protocols, registers, products and agreements.
  • Emerging biocultural policy and legal frameworks.
Natural Justice congratulates IIED and the partner organizations for developing this excellent resource and we look forward to working together to further address these critical issues in constructive and collaborative ways.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

IDRC and GIZ Project Launches in South Africa

Kabir Bavikatte, Gino Cocchiaro and Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) participated in the launching workshop of the Open AIR (African Innovation Research and Training: Exploring the Role of Intellectual Property in Open Development). The workshop was held in Cape Town from May 17-20 and attracted participants from different parts of Africa and some from beyond the continent. The workshop sought to kick off the 3-year Open AIR project, which is supported by IDRC and GIZ. It seeks to address the questions, "What is the relationship between innovation, development and "openess"? What are the enabling conditions, and how do they interact?

Specifically, the workshop attempted to bring together individuals and institutions from across Africa working on questions such as the role of intellectual property in supporting or hindering openness and innovation and how shifting economic, technological, and environmental driving forces impact the development of African intellectual property law and policy. The workshop discussed a variety of case studies ranging from traditional knowledge commons to innovations in the informal sector. The case studies generated interesting discussions on openess, the nature of property, and markets. One of the objectives of the Open AIR project is to work with researchers in South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Nigeria to look at the concept of traditional knowledge commons, specifically in the context of how traditional knowledge is used and shared by communities in Africa, and whether existing intellectual property systems or sui generis systems adequately respond to the concerns of these communities.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

UEBT Meetings on ABS and Biodiversity

From May 4-5 in Paris, the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) hosted a back-to-back experts meeting on access and benefit sharing (ABS) and biotrade and a conference on "The Strategic Importance of Biodiversity: The Beauty of Sourcing with Respect". Participants in the experts meeting included, among others, Natural Justice associate Dan Robinson (University of New South Wales), Claudio Chiarolla (Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations), Sonia Pena Moreno (IUCN Global Policy Unit), and Pierre du Plessis (CRIAA, Namibia). They explored the links between ABS and biotrade, particularly cross-cutting issues such as traditional knowledge, fair trade, and corporate social responsibility.

The conference on May 5 was directed primarily towards companies engaged in "ethical biotrade practices" and included some discussion of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS. UEBT also launched the latest version of its "Biodiversity Barometer", which helps track awareness of biodiversity issues among consumers and the business sector. More information is available in the conference report and on the UEBT website.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

ABS Capacity Development with Lusophone Countries

From 3-6 May, Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) co-facilitated the first Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Capacity Development Workshop for African lusophone countries in Maputo, Mozambique. The workshop was hosted by the Ministério para a Coordenação da Acção Ambiental (Mozambique's Ministry for the Coordination of Environmental Action) as well as the ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa (ABS Initiative). Approximately 35 participants from Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, and Mozambique included the ABS focal points of each country and other government officials, as well as representatives from the scientific community, civil society organizations, traditional healers, NGOs, and the private sector. During the course of the workshop, participants went through a range of presentations and group discussions on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the recently adopted Nagoya Protocol, and the challenges of implementing the Protocol in an effective manner. Presentations were given by international experts from the Brazilian government (Juliana Santilli and Krishna Barros Bonavides), from the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway (Morten Tvedt), and from Natural Justice (Johanna von Braun). Overall, the workshop provided for ample space to exchange a wealth of experiences and knowledge from participants from the region.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Joint CBD Submission on REDD+ Safeguards

Together with the Centre for International Environmental Law, the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests, Kenya Young Greens, the Rainforest Foundation Norway, and BirdLife International, Natural Justice developed a submission on REDD+ safeguards for the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Natural Justice stressed that "In the discussion of biodiversity and social safeguards relating to REDD, ... Articles 8j and 10c suggest that the most fundamental 'biocultural safeguard' is the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC)." View the full submission and find out more about Natural Justice's involvement in the REDD+ biodiversity and social safeguards process.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bhutan: The Policy and Practice of Happiness

The National Biodiversity Center of Bhutan recently hosted a multistakeholder workshop on access and benefit sharing (ABS), which was facilitated by Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) and Morten Tvedt (Fridtjof Nansen Institute). The outcomes of the workshop resulted in extensive discussions with the members of the National Biodiversity Center and eventually a working draft of a national ABS policy that is aligned with Bhutan's current law, policy and vision. The working draft ABS policy will be further scrutinized within the Ministry for Agriculture and Forests and discussed with the different government departments. The working draft will also be debated at 4 regional community consultations over the next two months, after which it will be assessed by the Commission on Gross National Happiness to analyze whether it meets the standards set by the Gross National Happiness Indicators. At the end of this process, the draft ABS policy will be critically reflected upon by Bhutan's cabinet and the final outcome of this reflection will be adopted. Based on this policy, the Royal Government of Bhutan intends to then commence developing its ABS legislation and regulations.