Monday, October 29, 2012

Recognising Sacred Sites Could Double Conserved Area

As attendees of the 11th Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) discussed how conserved areas can be increased from 12 to 17 percent of the earth's land to meet target 11 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets by the 2020 deadline, some representatives argued that recognising lands sacred to indigenous communities could double the amount of protected land worldwide. Granting this status to areas conserved by indigenous communities would not only improve the conservation of land with immense biodiversity, it will also strengthen communities and help to keep them intact according to a recent blog post by the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). 

The blog post cites the director of Natural Justice partner MELCA, Million Belay, who also feels that this recognition will strengthen and legitimise traditional knowledge. Bas Vershuuren, co-chair of the IUCN specialist group on cultural and spiritual values of protected areas and also a Natural Justice partner, said that through the recognition of sacred sites, conservation can be decentralised as opposed to the way it is currently practiced. 

Read the full blog post here

Thursday, October 25, 2012

UNGA Report on Status of Indigenous Children's Rights

The UN Secretary-General has submitted a report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted in 1989 and has been ratified or acceded to by 193 states, to the  UN General Assembly. The report focuses on the rights of indigenous children, and finds that indigenous children suffer extreme forms of exclusion and discrimination, stating that "children of indigenous background often suffer within schools and communities from various forms of abuse rooted in discrimination and discriminatory attitudes."

It also finds, encouragingly, that "the creation and strengthening of indigenous peoples’ organizations, and the establishment of United Nations bodies and structures such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and the various special procedures of the Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as progressive developments in the jurisprudence of the Inter-American system of human rights, are offering unique opportunities to bring issues affecting indigenous children to the forefront of national, regional and global agendas."

The report concludes with recommendations for the way forward, including adopting measures to prevent and eliminate all forms of discrimination against indigenous children; facilitating the active participation of indigenous peoples in all stages of development planning affecting them; undertaking special measures towards the realization of the right to education of indigenous children, particularly girls; and taking special measures to promote the highest attainable standard of health and health-care services for indigenous children.

The report can be found here

Major Conference on Land Grabbing

As international investors continue to buy large swathes of land in 'developing' nations, the Cornell University Department of Sociology and the Land Deal Politics Initiative hosted "Global Land Grabbing II: An International Conference on Large-Scale Land Deals" from 17-19 October, 2012. The conference built on the Global Land Grabbing conference held at the University of Sussex in 2011 and included papers and presentations on land grabbing from across the 'developing world.'

One paper considered land tenure security amongst the Boni community of Lamu County, Kenya, a community participating the Lamu biocultural community protocol process that Natural Justice is supporting. The paper was presented by Abdirizak Arale Nunow and is entitled "The Displacement and Dispossession of the Aweer (Boni) Community: The Kenya Government dilemma on the new Port of Lamu." The paper is based on "on-going research that is aimed at establishing and documenting the extent of displacement of Lamu communities, particularly the minority Boni, by the development of the new Port of Lamu with a view to recommending policy measures that may contribute towards the amelioration of the problem."

Download the paper on the displacement of the Boni here. Find all of the papers from the Global Land Grabbing conference here. Learn more about the conference here

Monday, October 22, 2012

Overview of Key CBD COP11 Outcomes

Kabir Bavikatte (left) and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice)
discussing key issues in the negotiations towards a plan
of action on customary sustainable use. Photo via IISD-RS.
Natural Justice was recently in India for the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which took place from 8-19 October in Hyderabad. In addition to a range of events and meetings, we actively participated in the negotiations, with particular emphasis on the draft decisions on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions, Sustainable Use of Biodiversity, and Protected Areas. Other key agenda items for which we provided technical guidance and coordination assistance through the CBD Alliance and ICCA Consortium included: Monitoring Progress on the Implementation of the Strategic Plan and Aichi Biodiversity Targets; Review of the Programme of Work on Island Biodiversity; Ecosystem Restoration; Marine and Coastal Biodiversity; Biodiversity and Climate Change; Biodiversity for Poverty Eradication and Development; Biological Diversity of Inland Water Ecosystems; Forest Biodiversity; and Agricultural Biodiversity.

The overriding emphasis of the negotiations was on setting the foundations for resource mobilisation and policy alignment for implementation of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan and Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Amongst the 33 decisions adopted, there were many provisions of direct relevance to the work of Natural Justice and our partners.

Overview of Key CBD COP11 Events

Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) launching the study on legal
and institutional aspects of ICCAs. Photo via IISD-RS.
Natural Justice was recently in India for the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which took place from 8-19 October in Hyderabad. With a range of civil society, network, government, and intergovernmental partners, we co-organised, presented at and/or attended the following key meetings and events:
  • 6-7 October: CBD Alliance preparatory meeting;
  • 8 October: side event on the legal weight and implementation of the CBD;
  • 9 October: workshop on Indigenous peoples' and local community conserved territories and areas (ICCAs) in South Asia, organised by Kalpavriksh and others;
  • 9 October: side event to launch the joint study on Legal and Institutional Aspects of Recognising and Supporting Conservation by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (full list of reports available here);
  • 9 October: informal meeting with India-based partners in the Asia Regional Initiative on Biocultural Community Protocols, with particular emphasis on Livestock Keepers' Rights in the context of the 2006 Forest Rights Act;

Saturday, October 20, 2012

High-Level Panel on Implementation of Nagoya Protocol

On 18 October 2012, Laureen Manuel of Natural Justice attended a high-level panel discussion at a side event at the Convention of Biodiversity’s (CBD) 11th Conference of the Parties (COP 11) in Hyderabad, India. The discussion contemplated key questions surrounding the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS). The panel included Bard Vegar Solhjell, Minister of Environment (Norway) (Chair), Sileshi Getahun, Minister of Agriculture (Ethiopia), Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment (European Union), and Dr Pema Gyantsho, Minister of Agriculture (Bhutan). Delegates who attended this gathering included government representatives, civil society organisations and representatives of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. 

India, Japan, Germany and South Africa were among the countries that shared their experiences on ABS. Germany said they had several ABS programmes in place, including the work of the ABS Capacity Development Initiative to assist developing countries with the implementation challenges. South Africa was applauded by the gathering when it announced that it would be ratifying the Protocol next Tuesday, and Norway indicated that they would ratify the Protocol within the next six months. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tana River Delta a Wetland of International Importance - Kenya

Tana River Delta via
The Tana River Delta in Kenya, which includes part of Lamu County, has been officially designated as a Wetland of International Importance by the Kenyan government. According to the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on wetlands, the Delta covers 163,600 hectares, is an Important Bird Area in Coast Province, and is the “second most important estuarine and deltaic ecosystem in Eastern Africa.” The delta comprises a variety of freshwater, floodplain, estuarine and coastal habitats with extensive and diverse mangrove systems, marine brackish and freshwater intertidal areas, pristine beaches and shallow marine areas, forming productive and functionally interconnected ecosystems. Kenya presently has six Ramsar Sites, covering an area of 265,449 hectares.

Read more about the Tana River Delta's new designation here. Learn more about the Ramsar Convention here

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Applications Open for PLAAS Post-Graduate Diploma

The Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), a leading research institute of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town, South Africa, is now accepting applications for a Postgraduate Diploma in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a 60% average in relevant subjects and at least three years of relevant professional experience, with more professional experience required for those without undergraduate degrees. 

Courses will consider structural poverty and marginalised livelihoods in southern African agro-food systems, the political economy of land and agrarian reform in southern Africa, the economics of farming and food systems, and the social and ecological dimensions of ecosystems management. 

Applications are due on 31 October, 2012. Find out more about the programme and how to apply here.

New ABS Partnership Announced at COP 11

In light of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), emerging national ABS frameworks and increasing overall awareness of ABS, a new set of opportunities for communities to benefit from their role as custodians of genetic resources and holders of traditional knowledge (TK) is emerging. To prepare for and respond to these new opportunities and challenges a new partnership was recently established between the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, a multi-donor initiative implemented by GIZ, the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), implemented by UNDP, and Natural Justice. Each partner will contribute its unique expertise and networks. 

This newly established collaboration, which will focus on the design and implementation of a new generation of national and local-level ABS partnerships, was presented at a side-event to the 11th Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on 12 October, 2012. After a short introduction of the respective work of the ABS Initiative, GEF SGP and Natural Justice, a number of SGP grantees presented on past and present projects that fall under the broader umbrella of ABS or biotrade during the side event. These included the work of Pacari (Brazil), the Muliru Farmers Conservation Group (Kenya), Fundación para la Promoción del Conocimiento Indígena (Panama) and Sambandh (India). The national coordinators of SGP Sri Lanka and Bhutan highlighted the role SGP could play in engaging in ABS-related projects at the national level. Finally, Cameroon’s national focal point for ABS discussed the case of Prunus Africana and the related potential value chain leading up to the pharmaceutical market in Europe. 

For further information on this new partnership, please contact Johanna (at)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

REDD+ Day at COP 11

On 16 October 2012, Laureen Manuel of Natural Justice attended REDD+ Day, hosted by the UN-REDD Programme and other partners at the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The meeting, which was divided into five sessions, included the launch of the Little Forest Finance Book, drafted by the Global Canopy Programme, and the UN-REDD Policy Brief on Multiple Benefits, the third part of the UN-REDD Policy Brief series. 

Each session included a team of panelists who presented on their work and areas of expertise. The event was well attended by various stakeholders including policy makers, academics and forest officers. Among the topics debated were discussions on the importance of safeguards for the implementation of REDD+, best practices in governance and safeguarding biodiversity, REDD+ and the Green Economy, as well as the key findings of the new Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP), an initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF).

Find the Little Forest Finance Book here. Download the UN-REDD Policy Brief on Multiple Benefits here.

Namibian Press Conference at COP-11

On 16 October, 2012, Natural Justice’s Laureen Manuel attended a press conference held by the Namibian Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism at the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP-11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India. In addressing international media and other COP-11 delegates, the Honourable Minister of Environment and Tourism, Ms Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, shared the country’s experiences, challenges and successes in establishing and implementing its Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme. 

She said that the CBNRM programme is a powerful symbol of the potential for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity to alleviate poverty. Through the devolution of rights over wildlife and forest resources, indigenous peoples and local communities are now driving the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity through communal conservancies and community forests. During COP-11, Namibia will be receiving an award for this community-based approach to conservation. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

World Food Day

Today (October 16) is World Food Day, celebrated every year to mark the founding of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in 1945 and to highlight challenges in providing food security. The official theme of this year's World Food Day, announced by FAO, is "Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World." The theme was chosen to highlight the role of cooperatives in improving food security and contributing to the eradication of hunger.

In honour of World Food Day, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Alliance's daily ECO briefing on the CBD's 11th Conference of Parties (COP-11) has focused on the role of agricultural biodiversity and food sovereignty in attaining food security. The briefing includes several insightful articles on the close relationship between rights-based biodiversity conservation and food security. The Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCA) Consortium prepared a contribution for the briefing on "The Interdependence of Food Sovereignty and ICCAs." Other articles consider in situ conservation, the threats to biodiversity posed by genetically modified organisms and synthetic biology, small-scale fisheries, and violations of human rights in India's forests. 

Learn more about World Food Day and how to get involved from FAO here. Find the CBD Alliance's ECO briefing marking World Food Day here

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Publication and Website from UNDP-GEF

The Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has published a major report on the work done since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to support communities and civil society organisations in their efforts to implement environment-cum-development initiatives entitled "20 Years: Community Action for the Global Environment." It has also released a new website,, which showcases biodiversity products produced by partners of the SGP. 

The publication tracks the work of communities and affiliated organisations who have partnered with the GEF SGP to blend conservation and development. It describes itself as "a celebration of two decades of communities and civil society organizations proving themselves capable of the task, of their hard work, of the risks they took together with their partners and supporters, and of all SGP stakeholders demonstrating that sustainable development can be achieved."

The website, which currently features GEF SGP grantees in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, will eventually have global scope. The site defines biodiversity products as any "consumable, useable, artistic, or medicinal remedy created from the wealth of biodiversity." The website offers visitors the opportunity to join an online community focused on biodiversity products and also enables visitors to search for biodiversity products by classification, nation or region. 

Find the GEF SGP summary of "20 Years: Community Action for the Global Environment" here and download it here. The biodiversity products website can be accessed here and products searched for here

Sunday, October 14, 2012

CBD Secretariat Hosts Colloquium on ICCAs and Aichi Targets

Participants of national conference on ICCAs in the 
Philippines, which took place in March 2012. Photo via
According to a notification of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Indigenous peoples’ and local community conserved territories and areas (ICCAs) provide multiple ecological, cultural and biodiversity values, contribute greatly to food and water security and other ecosystem processes, and help achieve the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and Aichi Biodiversity Targets. ICCAs play a critical role in ensuring access and respecting rights to customary sustainable use and facilitating inter-generational communication of traditional environmental knowledge, innovations and practices. The Secretariat continues by noting that ICCAs are increasingly recognised as the living embodiment of both Articles 8(j) and 10(c) of the CBD.

In an effort to support implementation of these Articles and several past CBD decisions, on 13 October at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP11), the CBD Secretariat co-hosted a one-day colloquium on the role of ICCAs in achieving the 2011-2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, along with the governments of Brazil, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Senegal, and South Africa, the ICCA Consortium, the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity, and Conservation International.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

In-Depth Article on Tana River Massacre

After the tragic loss of more than 50 Kenyans on 22 August in Riketa, a village in Kenya's Tana River Delta, numerous commentators identified long-standing conflict between the agricultural Orma community and the pastoralist Pokomo. Paul Goldsmith, a researcher who has worked with Natural Justice in Lamu, has drafted an in-depth article for the East African that challenges some of these assumptions. He notes that "nothing in the literature alludes to a long-standing state of conflict between herders and farmers in this area," and argues rather that "symbiotic relations between mobile producers of animal protein and carbohydrate producing agriculturalists was a basic prerequisite for the emergence of the mono-cultural pastoralism practised by the Orma and their Somali counterparts." He concludes that rather than drawing from timeless animosity, "recent Orma-Pokomo conflict stems from the expansion of riverine farms that block herders’ access to the river," a development which took place in the early 2000s. 

The full East African article can be accessed here

Friday, October 12, 2012

Workshop on National Federations and Coalitions of ICCAs

Jorge Nahuel (Mapuche Tribe, Argentina) speaking about a
tri-national coalition of Indigenous peoples. Photo credit: 
Aurelie Neumann / ICCA Consortium.
On 11 October at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP11), the ICCA Consortium, Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP), and many local partners co-hosted a 3-hour workshop entitled “National ICCA Federations and Coalitions Ready to Take Conservation Authority and Responsibilities Towards Fulfilling the Aichi Biodiversity Targets”. The workshop shared experiences of a range of federations and coalitions of Indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas (ICCAs) from around the world, including the Philippines, Madagascar, Nepal, India, Iran, and Argentina. Additional reflections were provided by representatives from GEF-SGP, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Philippines.

Particular emphasis was placed on how federations, coalitions and related social movements are being mobilised at all levels to secure Indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights, customary territories, and ways of life. Delfin Ganapin (GEF-SGP) reminded workshop participants that because federations have the potential to challenge the political status quo, the stronger the social movements become, the more resistance they will likely face from governments and industries in power. In the words of Dave de Vera (Philippine Association for Intercultural Development), despite significant legal and policy gains, "There is still so much to be done; the struggle will always continue."

More information about the ICCA Consortium's engagement in CBD COP11 is available here.

Two New Biodiversity Resources from UNDP

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has released a significant new publication and an innovative database developed by the Equator Initiative. Both are developed from the lessons learned from a decade of the Equator Prize, which has been awarded to 127 outstanding local and indigenous community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity around the world. Natural Justice's Johanna von Braun was a reviewer for the publication. 

The publication, entitled "The Power of Local Action: Lessons from 10 Years of the Equator Prize,"undertakes a comprehensive analysis of the commonalities, trends and lessons across a pool of Equator Prize winners. The analysis focuses on twelve key lessons with the greatest relevance for understanding and catalyzing effective ecosystem-based action at the local level and provides targeted policy guidance for relevant stakeholders.

The Equator Initiative Case Study Database contains detailed case studies from all 127 Equator Prize communities. Each case study documents project catalysts, the genesis of winning ideas, institutional frameworks and governance systems, key activities and innovations, biodiversity impacts (species, habitats and ecosystems conserved), socio-economic impacts (changes in household income, community infrastructure, health, education and empowerment), policy impacts, financial and social sustainability, successes and challenges with replication, and the role of partnerships.

Those attending the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) 11th Conference of Parties (COP-11) can attend a presentation on the Equator Initiative Case Study Database at 18:15 on 16 October in HITEX 1, Side Event Room 1. "The Power of Local Action" can be downloaded here. The database can be accessed here

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New CBD Newsletter - Achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the CBD Alliance have released a new edition of Square Brackets, the newsletter they publish jointly. This edition’s focus is on Achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and includes interviews with six heads of agencies of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets Task Force. Natural Justice’s Holly Shrumm served on the editorial board for the publication. 

The interviews with the heads of the task force agencies seek to understand how their agencies are contributing to the objectives of the task force, the challenges in doing so, and how civil society, indigenous peoples, and local community organizations can work with their respective agencies in achieving the Aichi Targets. Each interview offers valuable insight into the task force’s work and areas for partnering with civil society. Other fascinating articles consider the enforcement of the CBD, the importance of input from community voices, a discussion of equitable governance and management in protected areas, and what can be expected from the 11th Conference of Parties of the CBD. 

The full newsletter can be downloaded here.

OPDP Seeking Interns in Kenya

Natural Justice partner the Ogiek Peoples' Development Program (OPDP) is seeking two interns to support their work in their Nakuru, Kenya office. OPDP seeks to "provide a springboard from which Ogiek community," a marginalised indigenous community in western Kenya, "can take a lead role in articulating and advancing their developments, aspirations, priorities and social needs." The positions, one focused on human rights and the other on website design and development, will be for a minimum of eight weeks. The positions are currently unfunded but OPDP can work with prospective interns to source funding support. Accommodation will be provided by OPDP. 

Read more about the positions below. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Major Report on Legal Recognition of ICCAs

The ICCA Consortium, Kalpavriksh and Natural Justice launched a report entitled: Legal and Institutional Aspects of Recognising and Supporting Conservation by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities at a side event at the 11th Conference of Parties (COP-11) of the CBD on 9 October, 2012 in Hyderabad, India. The publication synthesises the outputs of a report on international law and jurisprudence and 15 country-level reports. The speakers were all part of the research team, including: Souleye Ndiaye (Director of Protected Areas, Senegal), Samson Pedragosa (PAFID, the Philippines), Dau-Jye Lu (Tao Foundation, Taiwan), Neema Pathak Broome (Kalpavriksh, India), and Simone Lovera (Global Forest Coalition, Paraguay). Harry Jonas from Natural Justice introduced the report and moderated the session which was covered by Earth Negotiations Bulletin and is available here.

Legal Weight and Implementation of the CBD

Natural Justice hosted a side event at the 11th Conference of Parties (COP-11) of the Convention on Biological Diversity on 8 October, 2012 in Hyderabad, India. The event emerged from a rapid assessment undertaken by Natural Justice for the CBD Alliance. Among other issues raised by the report are a) the fact that there is no clarity about the legal weight of the CBD and b) how civil society could better engage in the implementation of the CBD. In this context, the event brought together the following people to discuss the incumbent issues: Elisa Morgera (Edinburgh University), S. Faizi (India Biodiversity Forum), Gurdial Singh Nijar (Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity Law, University of Malaya), Joji Carino (Tebtebba, pictured), Chee Yoke Ling (Third World Network), Yolanda Saito (International Development Law Organization) and Frederic Perron-Welch (Centre for International Sustainable Development Law). Harry Jonas from Natural Justice introduced the report and moderated the session which was covered by Earth Negotiations Bulletin and is available here

India Urges Adoption of Nagoya Protocol

India has encouraged delegates at the 11th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP-11) in Hyderabad, India, to adopt the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Protocol will  not enter into force until 50 nations ratify it. India, COP-11's chair, is also pushing for member nations to agree on a road map on the issues adopted during COP-10 two years ago in Nagoya, Japan. 

India's Minister of Forests and Environment, Jayanthi Natarajan, appealed to representatives of the 173 nations present, emphasising that future generations will not forgive a failure to preserve the earth's biodiversity. Amina Mohamed, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, called on all parties to "to step up effort for the early ratification of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.” 

Read more here

Monday, October 8, 2012

COP 11 Preparations

Natural Justice's Holly Shrumm, Arpitha Kodiveri and Harry Jonas attended the CBD Alliance's preparatory meeting to develop the civil society's strategic engagement at the CBD's 11th COP. Among other things, the team helped draft the group's opening statement and Arpitha Kodiveri chaired a meeting between the CBD Alliance and the New Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias (pictured). Similarly, Kabir Bavikatte worked with the African Group to prepare for the COP. More information can be found on the CBD website and the CBD Alliance website.