Thursday, March 27, 2014

Natural Justice attends Community Fracking Meeting in the Karoo

On 26 March 2014, Stephanie Booker of Natural Justice attended a meeting hosted by Southern Cape Land Committee in Jansenville, Eastern Cape. Attended by Southern Cape Land Committee, Groundwork and local community representatives from indigenous peoples and local farming communities across the Karoo, the meeting was an opportunity to discuss fracking developments nationally, the sharing of information on the ground and of various community strategies being pursued.

The meeting was a continuation of community mobilisation discussions with respect to fracking that originated in Steytlerville in May 2013, and continued in October with the launching of a declaration at the fracking dialogue in October 2013.

This Declaration can be found here.

Natural Justice thanks Southern Cape Land Committee for an engaging meeting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Community Rights and REDD+

Recent publications have highlighted the importance of community rights in reducing deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) a mitigation policy under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

A Special Feature in Ecology and Society on Beyond Carbon: enabling justice and equity in REDD+ across levels of governance, examines the complex landscape of justice and equity in REDD+ and the multiple levels of governance in which they play out. The papers illustrate the need for a greater integration of the human rights discourse in REDD+ as a means to improve equity outcomes, and disturbingly none provide evidence of a significant re-distribution of material benefits as a result of REDD+ initiatives. Interestingly, an analysis of Indigenous Peoples engagement in the UNFCCC REDD+ processes demonstrates that some indigenous actors have managed to ‘import power’ from human rights discourse to strengthen their influence over REDD+ decision-making.

2014 SEED South Africa Symposium

Cath Traynor
Cath Traynor of Natural Justice attended the 2014 SEED South Africa Symposium “Advancing the Green Economy: creating jobs and opportunities for green enterprises” held on 19-20 March 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. SEED stands for supporting entrepreneurs for sustainable development. Natural Justice’s Bio-cultural Community Protocols was a 2009 Gold winner in the SEED awards.

Over 150 participants including 40 entrepreneurs from private sector, civil society, academia, media, and government gathered to exchange experience, knowledge and perspectives that could advance the growth of socio-environmental entrepreneurship in South Africa. Sessions included creating green jobs and the impact of social and environmental start-ups, growing enterprises, and barriers, success factors and enablers to support enterprises. Key issues that arose included accessing financing during the initial phases of start-ups, encouraging investors to deal with risks and to understand the human value of initiatives, the limited voice and impact small enterprises have at policy level, the lack of understanding of the potential of SMMEs within the general public, and also insufficient support from government and within the regulatory environment. Discussions focussed upon finding solutions to common problems experienced by small enterprises in South Africa.

Monday, March 24, 2014

BCPs and Fracking: Stakeholder consultations in the Karoo

On March 13, 2014, Stephanie Booker, Marie Wilke and Aino Cantell of Natural Justice participated in a meeting with Board members of Vuyani Development Trust, in the community of Nelspoort. The meeting was hosted by Southern Cape Land Committee and Vuyani Development Trust with the view to discussing Biocultural Community Protocols (BCPs) and shale gas exploration within the community. The town of Nelspoort lies within the local municipality of Beaufort West, from which the community leases their farmland.

The meeting began with a presentation by Stephanie Booker on the role of Natural Justice and BCPs in the context of extractive industries. This was followed by a presentation on the advantages and disadvantages of fracking activities taking place within the community. Community members shared their own experiences on the issues, and articulated some of the community’s needs in light of the proposed activities, such as better information, and education on their rights. With a high unemployment rate, fracking is seen by some in the community as an opportunity to end current levels of poverty. Local organizations such as Southern Cape Land Committee are currently developing their work to provide balanced information to communities across the Karoo.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Indian Women's Rights to Property: Implementation of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005

In India, women’s access and rights of ownership over family property (both moveable and immoveable), in the absence of a will, is governed by succession laws based on religion. Under Hindu law prior to 1937, a woman did not have the right to own any property at all, except what she received from her parents at the time of her wedding. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was a breakthrough in terms of giving Hindu women a full and equal share of their husbands’ property as the children; yet, the male bias persisted. An amendment to this Act in 2005 took the progressive step of making daughters coparceners at par with sons, such that they receive an equal birthright to a share in the natal family’s ancestral property, i.e., parents’ property.

In December 2013, International Land Coalition (ILC) member Landesa Rural Development Institute and UN Women, India, prepared a report on the formal and informal barriers in the implementation of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 in the context of women agricultural producers of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The study is unique in a number of ways, especially given its focus on women as agricultural labourers, an explicit effort to ask women what they want, and an assessment of the overall awareness of all stakeholders on general awareness relating to this law.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

8th Pan-African ABS Workshop, 10-14 March 2014, Cotonou, Benin

Natural Justice’s Gino Cocchiaro and Josh Ogada are attending the Pan-African ABS Workshop, being held from the 10-14 March 2014, in Cotonou, Benin. Organized by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative and now in its 8th iteration, the workshop is being hosted by the Ministère de l'Environnement Chargé de la gestion des changements climatiques, du reboisement et de la protection des ressources naturelles et forestière.

The meeting brings together a range of stakeholders and interested parties including ABS National Focal Points, representatives of competent national authorities for ABS, representatives of relevant regional and international (research) institutions, NGOs, indigenous and local communities, as well as representatives of the private sector involved in bio-trade and bio-prospecting. Natural Justice is a key partner to the Initiative, and this workshop provides a unique opportunity to review and strengthen the partnership, as well as forge stronger linkages with other stakeholders in the area of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fracking in South Africa: A Deeper Look at Hydraulic Fracturing in South Africa

On March 10, Stephanie Booker and Aino Cantell of Natural Justice attended a roundtable discussion in Cape Town hosted by the South African Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office, themed The First Frack is the Deepest: A Deeper Look at Hydraulic Fracturing in South Africa.

The roundtable brought together over 30 participants, including members of civil society, journalists, and Members of Parliament. Speakers included Mr Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG), Dr Julia Schünemann, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), and Mr Niall Kramer from Shell South Africa.

The key objective of the roundtable was to discuss the potential dangers and benefits that fracking may bring to South Africa, given national discussions about exploring what is believed to be the eighth largest reserve of shale gas in the world. Speakers highlighted the country’s current dependency on local coal production for energy (South Africa are one of the largest producers in the world) – with the potential for fracking or renewable energies providing an alternative for excessive coal reliance.