Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New TWN Book on Nagoya Protocol Negotiations

The Third World Network (TWN) has released the second edition of "The Road to an Anti-Biopiracy Agreement: The Negotiations Under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity". Comprised of a series of reports and articles, the book provides detailed descriptions and analyses of the 14 sets of negotiations since 2004 that led to the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing in 2010. It also provides initial analysis of the potential of the Nagoya Protocol to stop and prevent biopiracy of biological resources and traditional knowledge and to contribute to the fair and equitable sharing of benefits and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

UNFCCC Meetings & Event on REDD Safeguards

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recently held parallel meetings in Bonn, Germany. The 34th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) took place from 6-16 June. The second part of the fourteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the second part of the sixteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) took place from 7-17 June.

On 7 June, Ecuador and the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD) held a joint side event about some of the key concepts and tools being developed to address safeguards in REDD+ implementation. An press release on the side event states, "The Agreement on REDD+ now recognizes the need to 'promote and support' safeguards and requests parties to develop a 'system for providing information on how safeguards are being addressed and respected'. Safeguards include critical issues such as forest governance, respect for the knowledge and rights of Indigenous Peoples and members of local communities and actions that are consistent with conservation of natural forests and biological diversity." Presentations at the side event included the UN-REDD Programme on its approaches and various sets of guidelines; the Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) on its Social and Environmental Standards Initiative; TEBTEBBA on the importance of addressing Indigenous peoples' land tenure; and Ecuador and Vietnam on their experiences with addressing safeguards in their respective national contexts.

More information about the side event and its presentations can be accessed here. Daily reports and analysis of the UNFCCC negotations are provided by IISD Reporting Services.

Friday, June 24, 2011

New Publication on Development & Customary Law

The International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) recently released an issue of "Indigenous Affairs". Edited by Jens Dahl and Geneviève Rose, it includes a range of articles on different aspects of customary law, self-determination, and development among Indigenous peoples in Kenya, Sabah (Malaysia), India, Bolivia, and Russia. The editorial explores the importance of customary law for Indigenous peoples' self-determined development, self-governance, control and management of their territories, and addressing internal challenges such as conflict resolution and women’s rights. The full issue can be downloaded here.

Thanks to Elsa from the TK Bulletin for the link!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

CBD Meeting on Sustainable Use Held in Montreal

The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) hosted a meeting from 31 May to 3 June in Montreal on the sustainable use of biological diversity, with particular focus on customary sustainable use (i.e. Article 10(c)). Participants agreed on recommendations regarding elements of a strategy to integrate Article 10(c) as a cross-cutting issue into the CBD work programmes and thematic areas, beginning with the programme of work on protected areas, as well as recommendations on: developing further guidance on sustainable use and related incentive measures for Indigenous peoples and local communities; and considering measures to increase the engagement of Indigenous peoples and local communities and governments at the national and local levels in the implementation of Article 10 and the ecosystem approach. They also focused on how to operationalize the three indicators adopted for traditional knowledge: status and trends of linguistic diversity and numbers of speakers of Indigenous languages; status and trends in land-use change and land tenure in the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples and local communities; and status and trends in the practice of traditional occupations. The advice and recommendations developed at the meeting will be submitted to the seventh meeting of the CBD Working Group on Article 8(j) this November, as well as to the 11th Conference of the Parties (October 2012).

Meeting documents, including the agenda and information on indicators, can be found here. More information about the meeting can be viewed on the Traditional Knowledge Information Portal. Thanks to Elsa from the TK Bulletin for the links and description!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Viewing People and Parks through a New Lens

From 18-19 June, Natural Justice attended a seminar on biocultural diversity and conservation in Sabah, Malaysia. It was the second of three seminars and part of an interactive course designed by the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF) and funded by the Darwin Initiative UK. The first seminar, "Reframing Our Ecology: Concepts and Debates for Research and Advocacy in Human-Environment Relationships", took place in April.

This second seminar was facilitated by Dr. Tania Li (Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto) and Dr. Richie Howitt (Department of Geography and Environment, Macquarie University). Drawing on critical academic literature, Dr. Li and Dr. Howitt guided participants through discussions of contemporary issues concerning people and parks (particularly areas of contention), scale and institutions, and intercultural environmental governance. Online discussions of additional readings will continue ahead of the third seminar in October.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Discussing Community Conserved Areas in Sabah

On 16 June, a back-to-back roundtable and panel session on community conservation initiatives was held at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM) in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The roundtable focused on Model Ecologically Sustainable Community Conservation and Tourism (MESCOT), a community-based initiative comprising four villages in Sabah's Lower Kinabatangan Floodplain that includes home stays, a rainforest eco-camp, wildlife tours, lake and forest restoration, and cultural shows. Founded on pioneering agreements with the Sabah Forestry Department and since supported by the NGO LEAP, MESCOT exemplifies the potential for constructive collaboration between communities, government, and civil society. While there are many challenges in working with communities, for example, moving according to local timelines, priorities, and leadership structures, it was noted that ensuring conservation across landscapes necessitates dialogue and collaboration with communities who live in those areas. The roundtable was moderated by Jannie Lasimbang (Malaysian Human Rights Commission) and included Rosli Jukrana (MESCOT), Datuk Sam Mannan (Director of Sabah Forestry Department), Cynthia Ong (LEAP), and Anne Lasimbang (PACOS).

The follow-up panel explored the broader concept of Indigenous Peoples' and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) and their practical role in the conservation of biological and cultural diversity. Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) provided an overview of international protected area policy and trends relating to recognition of and support for community conservation initiatives. Sweta Mishra (Concern WorldWide-India) described the legal recognition of forest-dwelling communities in India’s Forest Rights Act 2006, which, despite barriers to local implementation, represents a significant shift towards community-based management and sustainable use of forests. Justine Vaz presented a recent study about ICCAs’ potential to connect vital protected areas in Sabah through the involvement of local Indigenous communities. The study highlights opportunities within existing legal and policy frameworks to build community capacity to contribute to conservation alongside government, civil society, and the private sector. Gary Martin (Global Diversity Foundation) also discussed examples of ICCAs in Mexico, noting that certain types of recognition and support may actually undermine community conservation initiatives and solidarity.

Thanks to everyone who presented and participated in these sessions, and to Colin Filer (ANU) for supporting our registrations. Congratulations to Fadzilah Majid-Cooke (Universiti Malaysia Sabah) for successfully chairing the symposium.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Publications from RRI and FPP

Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and their partners recently released 6 case studies and a synthesis report on customary sustainable use of biodiversity by Indigenous peoples and local communities. Case studies from Bangladesh, Cameroon, Guyana, Suriname, and Thailand provide insights into the sophistication of local management systems, in particular the customary law systems that guide the wise use of biological resources. The communities also describe the threats that their customary management systems are facing and identify obstacles to effective country-level implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Article 10(c), which states that parties shall protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements.

Owen J. Lynch (Rights and Resources Initiative) also released a new publication entitled, "Mandating Recognition: International Law and Native/Aboriginal Title". It identifies, summarizes, and analyzes leading international and national laws and judicial cases recognizing or otherwise supportive of native/aboriginal title. Native/aboriginal titles are commu­nity-based property rights typically held by Indigenous peoples and other original, long-term-occupant local communities. The paper highlights widespread and growing evidence that international law is moving towards (and arguably already is) mandating legal recognition of native/aboriginal title to Indig­enous territories and ancestral domains. It references decisions of the International Court of Justice, the Inter-American Court, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. This emerging mandate in favor of native/aboriginal title is also apparent in international conventions and declarations, as well as at least fourteen nation states that are already obliged under domestic law, albeit in differing ways, to recognize Indigenous peoples’ and others’ native/aboriginal titles.

Thanks to Elsa from the TK Bulletin for the links and descriptions!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Substantive and Procedural Injustices of the Nagoya Protocol

A Joint Submission of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), endorsed by 73 organizations globally (and counting), comprehensively details the substantive and procedural injustices of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing in relation to Indigenous peoples' human rights. The executive summary and full text of Joint Submission are available online. Some of the injustices detailed include, among others:
  • lack of full respect for international standards such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP);
  • excessive reliance on national legislation;
  • focus only on "established" rights under national legislation, which could lead to widespread dispossession and discrimination; and
  • lack of full respect for Indigenous peoples' procedural right to full and effective participation throughout the negotiations and in the final text of the Nagoya Protocol.
The executive summary of the Joint Submission closes by saying, "In relation to Indigenous peoples and local communities, the Protocol must be consistent with the principles of justice, democracy, equality, non-discrimination, respect for human rights and rule of law. The rights, security and well-being of present and future generations must be ensured." The Joint Submission has been sent to the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity and to the 10th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, among others.

The Joint Submission is very well-researched and -written, raising important questions about the procedures of the United Nations systems at large and about the Nagoya Protocol specifically. It particularly emphasizes barriers to the realization of Indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights to full and effective participation in decisions made on their behalf and that will impact their lives. These are of critical importance to the global and localized movements to secure communities' rights to self-determination and others enshrined in UNDRIP. However, we also acknowledge that the Nagoya Protocol is a negotiated text that arose within the confines of a United Nations system (not without its own critiques). Certain gains were arguably made in the Nagoya Protocol and we hope to work towards cross-leveraging these gains with those made over time in various other international law- and policy-making fora to ensure that the highest standards of rights and responsibilities are upheld at all levels, and particularly at the local level where communities are impacted most directly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Latest Edition of CBD Civil Society Newsletter

The fifth issue of [square brackets], the newsletter for civil society involved in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), was recently released. This issue focuses on implementation of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan as well as reaching the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Other articles address biofuels, the new focus in the CBD on customary sustainable use, and the green economy. Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) served on the editorial board along with colleagues from the CBD Alliance, Forest Peoples Programme, Japan Civil Society Network, African Indigenous Women's Network, and CBD Secretariat.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Publication: Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe

Michel Pimbert (International Institute for Environment and Development) has written a new publication entitled, "Participatory Research and On-farm Management of Agricultural Biodiversity in Europe". He summarizes the publication (available for download) as follows: "Drawing on experience in Europe and the wider literature, this paper offers some critical reflections on how— and under what conditions— the European Union might support the development of innovative participatory approaches for the management of agricultural biodiversity in Europe. Recommendations for the European Union and its citizens are offered on how to address three challenges in particular:
  1. Transforming knowledge and ways of knowing for the local adaptive management of agricultural biodiversity and resilience in the face of climate change and uncertainty;
  2. Scaling up and institutionalising participatory research and innovation in plant breeding, varietal selection, and agroecological research; and
  3. Policy reversals for the participatory management of agricultural biodiversity.
This EU-wide transformation is all the more necessary now given that resilience, mitigation and adaptation to climate change directly depend on supporting innovative participatory approaches for managing agricultural biodiversity at the farm and landscape levels. The construction of a new modernity for food and farming in Europe also depends on such a transformation."

A related news article ("Europe Sowing the Seeds of Hunger" by Stephen Leahy) provides a narrative of the key issues in Pimbert's publication.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Legislative Review of South Africa's IP Amendment Bill

On 8 and 10 June, Johanna von Braun and Laureen Manuel (Natural Justice) participated as experts at the Portfolio Committee for Trade and Industry in South Africa's Parliament to give input into further amendments proposed to the Intellectual Property Amendment Bill. The Bill (B8-2010), which has been discussed within South Africa's government for more than a year, seeks to amend four national intellectual property frameworks, namely the Performers' Protection Act (1967), the Copyright Act (1978), the Trade Marks Act (1993) and the Designs Act (1993). Due to a significant level of the Members' skepticism of the benefit of the current drafting of the Bill, the Committee decided to redraft it entirely. During the meetings, Natural Justice highlighted its views on the limitations of protecting traditional knowledge through conventional forms of intellectual property, apart from some forms of defensive protection it may offer. Natural Justice has been invited to accompany the process as the need arises in the coming future.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

First Meeting of the IGC on the Nagoya Protocol

From 6-10 June in Montreal, Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice) participated in the First Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ICNP-1) under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Kabir was involved in the negotiations of the ICNP in his capacity as the legal advisor to the African Group of Countries. Over the 5 days, the ICNP focused on the modalities of establishing a Clearing House Mechanism for the Nagoya Protocol, issues relating to capacity development and awareness raising, and measures to ensure compliance of parties to the Nagoya Protocol. The ICNP recommended that the Secretariat of the CBD begin the pilot phase of implementation of the Clearing House Mechanism soon and report to the 2nd meeting of the ICNP on the progress that has been made. The ICNP also recommended a meeting of experts on 'compliance procedures' in the intercessional period before the second meeting of the ICNP.

The second meeting of the ICNP will focus on, among other things, agreeing on a compliance mechanism under the Nagoya Protocol to ensure that Parties fulfill their obligations to the Protocol. This meeting will be held in Delhi, India, in April 2012 and the First Meeting of Parties to the Nagoya Protocol will be held in Hyderabad, India, in October 2012.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Side Event on Community Protocols at ICNP-1

At the First Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ICNP-1) in Montreal, a side event was hosted on 6 June on biocultural community protocols. Entitled "Biocultural Community Protocols Under the Nagoya Protocol: Nurturing ABS-TK Implementation and Awareness Raising Approach", it was jointly organized by Seneca International, Asociacion ANDES (Peru), INBRAPI (Brazil), and Chinchansuyo (Ecuador).

Alejandro Argumedo (Asociacion ANDES) provided an outline of biocultural protocols by highlighting their derivation from the concept of biocultural heritage and provides parameters for discussion within and among communities and between communities and other actors. Alejandro noted that the intrinsic elements of a protocol articulate the rights of Mother Earth, reciprocity as the basis of exchanges, and links to ecosystems and landscapes, and recognizes economies based on biodiversity and culture and intercultural practices (linking different cultures/economies under a respect-based process). The extrinsic elements of a protocol links customary laws and positive law systems working together in a reciprocal, complementary and supportive way to achieve “equity” in benefit sharing. Biocultural protocols also help with the effective implementation of Articles 10(c) and 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing and supports an integrated approach to rights (specifically Traditional Resource Rights). Alejandro emphasized that among the objectives of a biocultural protocol are to articulate how Indigenous peoples practice “conservation and sustainable use” of biodiversity, ensure effective participation against biopiracy, constitute a process of community empowerment, improve livelihoods, and support the dynamic and innovative nature of customary law. Alejandro also presented on the Potato Park Biocultural Protocol and mentioned that the Protocol had a ranking system based on points that would identify the role that each of the six potato park communities play in conserving and sustainably using their collective biocultural heritage. Based on the number of points each community would get, the benefits derived from any ABS agreement would be shared proportionally. Finally, he highlighted the work that the Potato Park communities in setting up micro-enterprises based on a concept of 'collective trademarks'.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

OSISA Meeting on Economic Justice

Kabir Bavikatte and Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) attended the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) Economic Justice Partners Meeting from 30-31 May. The meeting was attended by approximately 50 participants from Southern Africa who have been working with OSISA's Economic Justice Division to address various issues facing the region. The meeting heard from a number of participants who shared their experiences and engaged in vibrant discussion on areas such as: economic governance in Southern Africa; poverty and inequality; debt, aid and trade; public participation in aid and budget monitoring; the role of the consumer rights movements in monitoring economic governance in the region; natural resource rights and governance; and climate change, COP 17 and beyond. Natural Justice was invited to present on its work in Africa on community protocols, the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, and the emerging discourse on biocultural rights.