Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Meeting on Community Protocols Held in Sabah, Malaysia

On 28 March, an informal meeting on biocultural community protocols was organized by Natural Justice and hosted by PACOS in Sabah, Malaysia. Anne Lasimbang (PACOS) provided background on the first community protocols developed in Sabah in 1998. Community researchers from Kampung Buayan presented on the protocol developed by the communities of Ulu Papar over the past two years with support from the Global Diversity Foundation. Natural Justice discussed activities undertaken in the Regional Initiatives on Biocultural Community Protocols and introduced the newly released Biocultural Community Protocols Toolkit for Community Facilitators.

Borneo Conservancy highlighted the potential wider applications of community protocols in the context of different legal frameworks. A representative of LEAP and the Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS) noted the need for such tools that can help amplify communities' voices, particularly in partnerships with government agencies and the private sector. The organizations in attendance agreed to further explore opportunities for coordination and joint strategies around community protocols in Sabah, including to advocate for recognition of customary systems of resource governance (known as tagal).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

African BCP Initiative Meeting - Nairobi

Building on its earlier meeting held in December 2011, African BCP Initiative Kenyan partners met in Nairobi to discuss the experiences of members in developing and implementing BCPs. Member organizations including Natural Justice, ETC Compas, the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), Mainyoito Pastoralists Integrated Development Organization, Save Lamu, Kivulini, Ogiek Peoples Development Programme and Life Network provided updates on the status of their BCPs. They shared valuable information regarding lessons learned during development and implementation of BCPs, and discussed some of the challenges they faced in the process. 

Natural Justice contributed insights on dealing with some of these challenges, and introduced the Biocultural Community Protocols Toolkit, which sets forth tools for community facilitators to support communities in the BCP process. The Toolkit is now available for member comments, with a final version scheduled to be published by the end of 2012. An electronic version is available here. Finally, ETC Compas facilitated a discussion on the relationship between BCPs and multistakeholder partnerships, and addressed the next steps to be taken by the African BCP Initiative. All African partners of the BCP Initiative will be attending a final meeting and planning session in Ghana in June.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Save Lamu Hosts Community Meeting to Discuss BCP

For three days beginning 20 March 2012, at a meeting facilitated by Save Lamu, community members representing stakeholders from around the Lamu region gathered in Lamu Town on Kenya’s coast to continue developing the community’s biocultural community protocol (BCP). Dividing into six groups based on Lamu’s major nature-based livelihoods—fisherfolk, farmers, hunter-gatherers, mangrove cutters, pastoralists, and other-nature-based livelihoods—participants mapped the location and identity of the natural resources used by those livelihoods. Participants provided information regarding their use and conservation of Lamu’s natural resources, discussed the positive and negative impacts of the planned port, and proposed mitigating measures to address potential impacts. 

Other issues addressed included improving communication among community members and dealing with the misconception that Save Lamu is against the port when in fact its major concern is the lack of community participation in the planning of the port. Additionally, participants developed a vision statement encapsulating the community’s goals and aspirations, which will help to guide the development of Lamu’s BCP going forward.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Final Guidelines for Land Tenure Submitted

Photo credit: Roberto Faidutti - FAO
The draft text for the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security was submitted for final approval by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) this past week. While the guidelines will not be binding, Yayi Olaniran, the chair of the CFS, said the inclusive process used to develop the guidelines will help to ensure “they will set the bar for policy makers.” 

The full text of the draft guidelines will be available at the website of the CFS Secretariat here soon. Read more about the guidelines here.

Forever Sabah Stakeholder Meeting

Last week Harry Jonas attended an NGO stakeholder meeting for a bold new project being developed in Malaysia: Forever Sabah. The meeting was convened by LEAP and attended by a range of NGOs including Borneo Conservancy, PACOS, Hutan, WWF, and Global Diversity Foundation. Forever Sabah is a full-scale reintegration of economic, social and environmental issues at the landscape level towards a paradigm shift to a "greener" economic and governance model. Harry provided input on Natural Justice's work on the green economy and green governance, about which more can be read here. More information on Forever Sabah can be found on LEAP's website.

Protest for Community Inclusion in Banni

The Banni Pashu Uchherak Maldhari Sangathan and Maldharis of Banni have organized a public gathering to protest the lack of involvement in the Indian Forest Department's working plan for the Banni grasslands of Gujarat. The community has previously developed a biocultural community protocol which can be accessed here. For more information contact the Banni Breeders Association:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Biocultural Community Protocols Toolkit for Community Facilitators

Natural Justice has just released the first version of "Biocultural Community Protocols: A Toolkit for Community Facilitators". Developed through the Regional Initiatives on Biocultural Community Protocols and with guidance and input from other key partners around the world, the Toolkit is comprised of four parts:
  • Part I: Understanding and Using the Toolkit
  • Part II: Documenting and Developing a Biocultural Community Protocol
  • Part III: Using a Biocultural Community Protocol
  • Part IV: Reflecting, Reporting, and Revising
It is intended primarily for use by Indigenous peoples and local communities with support from long-standing and trusted organizations, where appropriate. The Toolkit is available for download in one document or in smaller components on the dedicated community protocols website, along with a number of additional resources such as e-learning modules on key legal frameworks, publications, and films.

We welcome feedback and suggestions regarding any of the materials ahead of developing a second version of the Toolkit later in 2012. Please contact Holly Shrumm at holly (at) with any questions or inputs.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Maldhari BCP Photostory

As attempts to ban the Maldhari community from grazing their livestock the grasslands they have occupied sustainably for hundreds of years continue, a photostory presentation of the communities biocultural community protocol (BCP) has been prepared to link the document’s text to a visual representation of the Maldhari community’s intimate connection to their land.

The Maldhari BCP asserts the community’s traditional practices of grazing in the Banni grasslands of Kutch, Indi, and links those practices to protections and guarantees in national and international law.

The Maldharis are members of the BCP Initiative and their BCP can be accessed here. Read more about the challenges they are facing here

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Introducing Biocultural Dialogues

On the 1st and 2nd of March, Natural Justice, the Union on Ethical Biotrade (UEBT) and GIZ hosted a meeting in Cape Town, South Africa to review a joint project on Biocultural Dialogues in Ethical Biotrade. The project focused on three pilot biotrade case studies of community-private sector dialogues in Madagascar, Peru and Brazil in 2011. The review meeting was led by Maria Julia Oliva (UEBT), Barbara Lassen (GIZ) and Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) who facilitated the process of unearthing the lessons from the case studies for future work on Biocultural Dialogues. Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) and Bern Guri (Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Development) presented further case studies involving dialogues with the private sector by traditional healers of Bushbuckridge (South Africa) and the Shea Nut harvesters of Ghana.

Participants included facilitators from Peru (Gabriela Salinas), Brazil (Luciana Alves) and Madagascar (Rina Razankolona) as well as international experts on biotrade and Access and Benefit Sharing from Brazil, Marcelo Salazar, (Instituto Socioambiental), Pierre du Plessis (CRIAA‐SA DC), Bern Guri (Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Development) and Kabir Bavikatte (Natural Justice). The project aimed to assess the potential role of Biocultural Dialogues as a tool to facilitate and strengthen community engagement with the private sector in ethical sourcing practices. 

The project sought to evaluate and further elaborate on the applicability of Biocultural Community Protocols in the first stage and Biocultural Dialogues in the second stage of biotrade supply chains and potentially Access and Benefit Sharing. The meeting concluded with the sketching of a framework for a Biocultural Dialogue approach as the second step after communities have embarked on the development of their Biocultural Community Protocols and a summary of the next steps for the project as a whole.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Natural Justice Job Vacancy: Staff Lawyer / Legal Expert

Natural Justice (Lawyers for Communities and the Environment) is a pioneering international team of legal practitioners. We do cutting edge work on environmental and human rights law, support communities and provide technical advice to governments to secure environmental and social justice. Natural Justice currently works in Africa, Asia and Latin America and has offices in South Africa and Malaysia. 

Natural Justice has been working with communities, NGOs and the government in India since 2009. Due to increasing demand by Natural Justice’s India partners, we are seeking a lawyer or legal expert to set up the Natural Justice India office and support our work in India. 

Specific tasks will include: providing assistance to communities, CBOs and NGOs, including those working within the framework of the Asian Regional Initiative on Biocultural Community Protocols; supporting elements of a UNDP-GEF project on medicinal plants conservation areas; developing legal empowerment materials; providing technical advice to government agencies; engaging in or supporting litigation if necessary; developing a network of law students to increase the pool of people providing this kind of advice; and organizing related meetings and workshops, particularly in the run up to the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. 

The following attributes and skills are considered beneficial: 

• A keen interest in advancing the rights of tribal and traditional communities to govern their territories, waters and natural resources; 
• Having a law degree or significant qualifications or expertise in human rights, environment and/or land law and related institutional arrangements; 
• Familiarity with the Indian legal system especially environmental and constitutional law; 
• Being registered as an advocate in one of the Indian state bars with the ability to engage in litigation if necessary will be an asset; 
• Experience working with communities and/or civil society organizations on related issues; 
• Analytical skills coupled with an ability to, on the one hand, engage with government agencies and, on the other, organize local meetings and present otherwise complex issues in a simplified yet comprehensive manner; 
• A willingness to travel on a regular basis as well as an ability to work for extended periods with communities and CBOs/NGOs in remote areas; 
• Fluency in English with the ability to engage in research, draft reports and legal documents; and 
• Fluency in Hindi and any other Indian language with an ability to engage in discussions with communities and run workshops where necessary. 

Natural Justice is a close knit and nurturing collective that places a high premium in facilitating opportunities for the professional and personal growth of its members. Natural Justice will offer a good salary that will be commensurate with skill and experience. Besides this, joining Natural Justice will offer the individual a chance to work with a passionate and highly professional global team and gain valuable international experience. 

Interested candidates are invited to send a covering letter and CV to: Harry Jonas at 

Deadline for applications: 26 March 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Report on the Impact of Land Grabbing by Extractive Industries

The Gaia Foundation launched a new report on the impact on the earth of land grabbing by extractive industries on the 29th February. The report, titled 'Opening Pandora's Box: The New Wave of Land Grabbing by Extractive Industries and the Devastating Impact on Earth', seeks to publicise the scope of the expansion on this phenomenon around the world.

The webpage from the report launch states "This report alerts global citizens to the dynamics in the extractive industries as a whole, and shows the alarming scale of this overall trend. Just as in the Greek myth, when Pandora opened the box and let out all the troubles known to mortals, so too this new wave of land grabbing for mining is leading to unimaginable destruction. If hope does remain, we must wake-up and act now. The extent and the scale of the increase in extraction over the last 10 years is staggering. For example, iron ore production is up by 180%; cobalt by 165%; lithium by 125%, and coal by 44%. The increase in prospecting has also grown exponentially, which means this massive acceleration in extraction will continue if concessions are granted as freely as they are now."

Download the full report here or read a summary from the report launch here.