Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Article on Effectiveness of Community Managed Forests

A new article published in the forthcoming issue of Forestry Ecology & Management assesses the role and conservation effectiveness of protected and community managed forests in the long-term maintenance of forest cover in the tropics. With authors from Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain, the meta-analysis compares land use and land cover change data from peer-reviewed case studies on 40 protected areas and 33 community managed forests. The study found that community managed forests presented lower and less variable annual deforestation rates than protected forests, which backs up other recent challenges to the long-held belief that the best way to conserve forests is to set them aside in strictly protected areas. The authors propose that "a more resilient and robust forest conservation strategy should encompass a regional vision with different land use types in which social and economic needs of local inhabitants, as well as tenure rights and local capacities, are recognized."

Overall, the paper suggests that community-managed forests could be a cost-efficient and effective solution to reducing deforestation and ensuring the sustainable use of forests while benefiting local livelihoods. It also underscores earlier findings by other scientists that show that greater rule-making autonomy at the local level are associated with better forest management and livelihood benefits. The full text of the article can be downloaded here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

UCT Seminar on Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights

Pelargonium. Copyright: African Centre
for Biosafety
On the 26th of August, the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit of the University of Cape Town (UCT) held a seminar on “Traditional knowledge, intellectual property rights power and benefit sharing: case studies/evidence from pelargonium, rooibos and hoodia.” Natural Justice and the African Centre for Biosafety were invited to attend the series and present on their work with African Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) presented on the South African Rooibos–Nestle and San-Hoodia case studies. During his presentation, Gino also highlighted how biocultural community protocols have been used by some communities in Africa, Asia and South America to convey their ways of life, values, and customary laws to third parties and challenge the fragmentary nature of state law and incorporate community integrated perspectives.

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Article on the Convention on Biological Diversity

A new article by Elisa Morgera (University of Edinburgh) and Elsa Tsioumani (International Institute for Sustainable Development) explores the evolution of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its current legal significance, as well as legal issues related to its immediate future. Entitled "Today and Tomorrow: Looking Afresh at the Convention on Biological Diversity", the article assesses progress in the development and implementation of the CBD at the level of both international cooperation and national implementation, focusing on strategic planning, the innovations of the Nagoya Protocol, the relationship between funding and implementation, and compliance. It is part of the University of Edinburgh School of Law Working Paper Series and will be published in the 2011 Yearbook of International Environmental Law. The full text can be freely downloaded here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Briefing on Pastoralism and Climate Change

The latest issue of Joto Afrika, a series of printed briefings and online resources about adapting to climate change in sub- Saharan Africa, focuses on "The Future of Pastoralism in a Changing Climate". Pastoralism, a free-range livestock production system, is practised in all of Africa’s dryland regions, and is the main source of food security and income for many communities. The future of pastoralism is threatened by the many manifestations and effects of climate change, including droughts, floods, more extreme weather events, invasive species and pests, and the failure of introduced exotic livestock breeds. This issue provides case studies of local knowledge in action across Africa, and success stories from research to showcase various ways of climate adaptation by pastoralists.

According to the editorial, key messages include: recognizing the multiple processes and stressors that govern pastoralists' vulnerability to climate change; protecting pastoral land and enhancing the mobility of pastoralists and their livestock; considering index-based livestock insurance schemes as one of the strategies for protecting livestock keepers against climate risks; and investing in building the capacity of livestock keepers to enhance skills and diversify enterprises and resource management.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Recap: Workshop on Biocultural Rights and Community Protocols

A workshop on Biocultural Rights and Biocultural Community protocols was held in Namibia from 18-19 August. The workshop was organized by the San Support Organizations (a forum for all community-based and non-governmental organizations working with the San communities) and the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation, with support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

Natural Justice facilitated sessions on the biocultural rights of Indigenous communities in Namibia to their to material and cultural resources through the development of biocultural community protocols. These presentations, role-plays, and discussions invited community representatives and supporting CBOs and NGOs to consider how they could utilize biocultural rights in their specific contexts. The Integrated Rural Developmentand Nature Conservation (IDRNC) and the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) also highlighted the strategies of the Khwe Community from the Bwabwata National Park and the Hai//om from Etosha National Park in asserting their biocultural rights over their resources and knowledge and the continued conservation of their lands.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Workshop on Biocultural Rights and Community Protocols

From 18-19 August, Natural Justice will be facilitating a workshop on biocultural rights and biocultural community protocols for Namibian San organizations in Windhoek. The workshop is being organized by the San Support Organizations and the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia. The objective of the workshop is to build the capacity of San Support Organizations and San communities to identify and strategically assert their biocultural rights to their material and cultural resources through the development of biocultural community protocols. The workshop will include sharing of experiences from representatives of the Bushbuckridge Traditional Health Practitioners Association, the Khwe from Bwabwata National Park, and the Hai//om from Etosha National Park. The workshop will be supported by the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Recap: Meeting on Green Governance and the Green Economy

From 15-16 August, Natural Justice and the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) co-hosted a meeting of Indigenous African leaders on the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Green Economy Initiative. The first day of the meeting focused on discussing and understanding the content and implications of the UNEP Green Economy Initiative with respect to governance over their territories and stewardship over their resources.

During the second day, participants prepared the first draft of a statement of African Indigenous principles to further engage the Green Economy Initiative based on the bio-cultural or stewardship rights of African Indigenous peoples over their territories and resources within international and domestic law and policy. Participants also elaborated an action plan for sharing these principles and views with the African Group of Negotiators in the so-called Rio Conventions (UNCBD, UNFCCC, and UNCCD), with influential policy bodies such as African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), UNEP, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and with the Global Indigenous Peoples' Caucus and IPACC’s members and allies. The meeting was supported by UNEP and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meeting on Green Governance and the Green Economy

From 15-16 August in Cape Town, Natural Justice, in partnership with the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) will be organizing a meeting of representatives of African Indigenous peoples on "The Green Economy Initiative: Green Governance Challenges". The meeting seeks to ensure that Indigenous African leaders understand the content and implications of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Green Economy Initiative with respect to governance over their territories and stewardship over their resources.

As an outcome of the meeting, IPACC and Natural Justice will cooperate to produce a response document that sets out African Indigenous views on the Rio processes, low carbon economics, strengths and weaknesses of the UNEP Initiative, challenges of governance and accountability, identification of opportunities for Indigenous peoples to conserve biocultural diversity and protect traditional knowledge, and traditional knowledge-related innovations and genetic resources. The document will further engage the UNEP Green Economy Report based on the biocultural rights of African Indigenous peoples over their territories and resources within international and domestic law and policy. The meeting will be supported by UNEP and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Regional Dialogue on BCPs in Lima, Peru

On 8-9 August, an informal dialogue was held in Lima, Peru, bringing together a number of Latin American and other organizations to share their respective experiences or thoughts on working with biocultural community protocols. The meeting was hosted by the Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA), ETC Compas, GIZ, and Natural Justice.

In addition to the co-hosts, participants represented different organizations from the region, including the Asociacion Andes, COICA, representatives from the Kuna Kuna tribe in Panama, Kiwchua in Ecuador, Indigenous communities from Madre de Dios, Peru, FARN, IIAP, AGRUCO, and Candela Peru.

During the two days, participants discussed the importance of biocultural heritage, the legal framework in which biocultural community protocols are embedded, and shared their respective experiences on the use of protocols in different parts of Latin America and beyond. It was concluded that while biocultural community protocols are a very useful tool to secure Indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights under, among others, the Nagoya Protocol, more examples are needed in order to draw more precise conclusions about the nature of BCPs and what constitutes the most appropriate processes to develop and use them. Participants agreed to raise further awareness on biocultural community protocols within their respective organizations and to generate further experience on their use in the region. Presentations given during the dialogue can be accessed online.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

The 9th of August marks the 17th International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. An event was held in New York City at the United Nations Headquarters, organized by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the United Nations Department of Public Information, and the NGO Committee on the Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The theme, "Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our future," was explored in a panel discussion and a screening of the film "Harmony of Culture and Nature".

Statements were delivered by Ban Ki-moon (UN Secretary-General), H.E. Joseph Deiss (President of the 65th Session of the General Assembly), Sha Zukang (Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and Coordinator of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples), and Mirna Cunningham (Chairperson of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues), among others. The statements and a video recording of the event are available on the UNPFII  website.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New UN Journal Issue on Green Economy

The August 2011 issue of Natural Resources Forum, the United Nations Sustainable Development Journal, was recently released. Focusing on green economy and sustainable development, the special issue includes articles on societal transformations for a sustainable economy; agricultural innovations systems in response to food insecurity and climate change; a regulatory framework for biofuels governance in China; and the sustainability of green funds.