Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First BCP Piloted in BioTrade Context

During the course of the last week, Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) participated in the first of three pilot studies as part of a joint GIZ-funded project between the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) and Natural Justice. The aim of the project is to test the concepts and methodologies of biocultural community protocols (BCPs) as a tool to enhance engagement of local actors in ethical biotrade supply chains.
The pilot was implemented in Puerto Maldonado, a small town in the southern Peruvian Amazon, and focused on the relationship between Candela, a founding UEBT member, and the Asociación Forestal Indígena de Madrede Dios (AFIMAD), an association formed by seven local indigenous communities to promote their forest-based productive activities.  The current commercial relationship between the communities/AFIMAD and Candela is based on the harvesting of brazil nut, whereas both parties are keen to expand their relationship to other products.

The development of the BCP by AFIMAD and the seven communities took place over several meetings and was supported by a local facilitator. It eventually included a broad number of issues the communities wanted to tackle with the protocol, ranging from illegal mining to the invasion of outsiders into their lands. It also included, similar to other BCPs, a section in which the communities explained who they are, how they are organized, what their values are in relation to their local ecosystem and resources, and their overall endogenous development objectives. Furthermore, due to the nature of the case study, a particular section of the BCP focused on how they want to relate to third parties in a commercial relationship, and what they see as their own commitments towards such relationships.
Because the aim of the BCP was to affirm the communities’ relationship to Candela, a second step was added to the usual BCP process, namely, a facilitated dialogue between the communities and the company.  This step entailed parties introducing themselves to each other based on their values, governance, communication and decision making structures.  In the case of Candela, the values presented to the communities were the Ethical BioTrade principles – highlighting that their anticipated relationship was more than a commercial relationship but a partnership towards economic, social and environmental sustainability.  The communities in turn presented themselves to Candela based on the core elements identified in the previously developed BCP, namely those that related to the communities’ values, governance and expectations from companies and their own commitments.
During this dialogue in-depth discussion took place with respect to the concept of Ethical BioTrade and the different elements in the seven BioTrade principles. Both parties discussed internally, and then with each other, how they could contribute towards establishing a good working relationship based on the Ethical BioTrade principles through both general and specific commitments towards each other.  The final part of the dialogue was the identification and 'Agreement of Principles' such as transparency, dialogue, trust, and good faith, as well as a commitment towards further discussion of what to do if these commitments are not met (conflict resolution) and what constitutes a ‘fair price’.  In the end, both parties left the dialogue with a draft Agreement of Principles and Commitments. In addition, the communities also began to draft a BCP in the process, which they aim to develop further in the near future.
After an evaluation session, both AFIMAD and Candela were pleased with the outcome of the process. AFIMAD further valued having developed a BCP that could be applicable more generally. From the Candela and UEBT perspective, it was an interesting opportunity to explore methodologies that, based on the BCP approach, can be used to promote a stronger engagement with communities from which they obtain their natural resources.
Two further pilot studies in Brazil and Madagascar are planned this year in the context of Ethical BioTrade, after which the lessons learnt will be discussed in a review meeting in Cape Town in early 2012.

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