Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Terralingua Publishes Biocultural Diversiy Toolkit

With a view to making the concept and some of the applications of biocultural diversity more widely known to researchers, professionals, policy makers, and the general public, Terralingua has published the Biocultural Diversity Toolkit.

Since 1996, Terralingua has spearheaded research and applied work that have helped forge an integrated biocultural perspective on nature conservation and sustainable development: an approach that respects diversity in both nature and culture, and that recognizes the inextricable link between humans and the natural environment as vital to achieving human development in balance with nature. There are many hopeful signs of growing awareness of the critical importance of biocultural diversity for the vitality and resilience of our planet. Yet, stemming the continued erosion of life systems in both nature and culture requires a decisive effort to communicate, educate, share insights, and promote a new vision for human futures.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Human Rights Website Spotlights Conduct of Over 5600 Companies

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHR) launched its multi-lingual, re-designed website. The site shines a spotlight on the human rights conduct of over 5600 companies globally: it includes advances they are making, allegations of human rights abuse, and how they are responding to concerns.

Key new features include:
  • Full navigation and homepages in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish;
  •  “Big Issue” areas on topics ranging from information technology and human rights, to the UN Guiding Principles and calls for a binding international treaty;
  • A searchable record of over 2000 approaches to companies, inviting them to respond to allegations of human rights abuse (with a global response rate of 70%);
  • Commentary and blog posts by BHR’s global team, and easily-accessible regional and sector-specific briefing papers; and
  • An effective search so users can get quickly to what they need.

A Hard-Fought Victory: Nagoya Protocol Achieves Requisite Numbers for Entry into Force

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization will enter into force on 12 October 2014 following its ratification by 51 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

This is a proud moment for Natural Justice, and other organisations that have worked tirelessly to bring this dream to fruition. Ever since its founding, Natural Justice has been supporting communities in exploring how biocultural community protocols can assist them to engage with Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) according to their values. This is in addition to the technical advice that NJ has constantly availed at all levels, from the sub-national to the international.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Seventh Session of EMRIP Wraps Up in Geneva

Joseph Itongwa, presenting at the NJ-ICCA
Consortium side event on access to justice
The 7th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP-7) took place from 7-11 July 2014 at the UN Headquarters (Palais des Nations) in Geneva. This session included a continuation of last year’s thematic study on access to justice, with a focus on Indigenous women, children, and persons with disabilities, as well as a new thematic study on disaster risk reduction. Natural Justice also co-hosted a lunch-time event with the ICCA Consortium on Monday 7 July. Overall, two key points of particular importance were: a) the multiple references to environmental issues (a notable shift over the past few sessions of EMRIP), and b) a more nuanced look at the special rights and types of marginalisation of groups within Indigenous peoples (women, youth and children, and persons with disabilities).

The Session saw a turnover in the Experts, with a new expert for the Asian region (Mr. Edtami Mansayagan from the Philippines) beginning his three-year term. The zero draft of the outcome document for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples created much discussion, while the continuation of the study on access to justice raised a number of issues concerning Indigenous peoples' lands, territories and resources as well as reconciliatory and transformative justice.

When the draft study on disaster risk reduction was being considered, Natural Justice and the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) made a joint statement, presented by Joseph Itongwa, on on climate change and vulnerability, traditional knowledge systems, customary tenure rights and legal recognition and support for customary natural resource governance, and the role of territory-based systems of natural resource governance and conservation in climate change mitigation and adaptation and prevention of disasters. Several suggestions were taken on board in the revised version of the study and the Expert Mechanism Advice No. 7 contained therein, which is expected to be adopted at the next Human Rights Council session in September 2014.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Food and Climate Justice Research Validation Workshop Held

Natural Justice's Cath Traynor of joined Oxfam and partners at a Research Validation Workshop, on 8th July 2014, Pretoria Johannesburg. During the workshop a number of preliminary research pieces were presented, these included a review of the effects of climate change and adaptation mechanisms on women and small-holder farmers in Africa, a review of SADC level policies and protocols, and investments in agriculture, that affect women small-holder farmers. The preliminary findings were discussed and critiqued by participants. 

Country level research reports from several SADC countries were presented, and the specific climate change impacts, challenges and opportunities facing women small-holder farmers highlighted. A clear picture emerged, that women small-holder farmers, the majority of whom are reliant upon rainfed-agriculture, are particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.  Although there are some supportive policies, the realization of these on the ground is challenging at the national level.  Participants discussed ways to improve and develop the research and brain stormed potential policy products which could be developed and used for advocacy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Natural Justice Engagement in Mutare, Zimbabwe

Natural Justice worked with members of the Marange and Arda Transsau communities from 7-8 July in Manicaland in Zimbabwe, to support the development of the community's biocultural community protocol. All were involved in peer-to-peer learning activities designed to support the collection of materials for the community's biocultural community protocol. Activities included institution and resource mapping, mapping of community and other development activities within the communities, now and historically, development of historical timelines and role play activities.

The two day workshop was an incredibly rich opportunity to engage in endogenous development and participatory action research methodologies by Natural Justice and community members alike.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New Report Published on the Impacts of Mining in Uganda

Focusing on Uganda’s Bunyoro region,  the report reveals how mining is significantly threatening ecosystems and communities.  It advocates for the recognition and protection of watersheds, food sovereignty areas, and Sacred Natural Sites and Territories as No Go Areas for mining and extractive activities.

Mining and extractive activities are growing rapidly in Uganda and across Africa. The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in Uganda estimates there are 3.5 billion barrels of oil and gas deposits in Uganda’s Albertine region alone.  The impacts of mining are of grave concern to communities and civil society organisations across Uganda and beyond.

The Origins of the Khoekhoen in Southern Africa

Prof Smith addressing participants
Natural Justice met with Professor Andrew B. Smith, emeritus professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town, Cecil le Fleur, the Chairperson of the National Khoi & San Council also attended the meeting.

Prof Smith has specialized in the origins and development of herding societies of Africa, he has excavated key sites and worked with Khoekhoen (Khoi) descents in South Africa. Prof Smith introduced the Khoekhoen, who were aboriginal herders in the Western and Southern Cape, South Africa and Namibia. The Khoekhoen were similar to other transhumant pastoralists, their livelihoods were based on stock and they moved with their herds on a seasonal basis. 

Prof. Smith pieced together evidence from archaeological excavation sites, including animal bones, pottery shards, and stone tools, which together with an examination of the linguistic origins of the very diverse Khoekhoen language, and genetic DNA analysis of Khoi descendants, indicates that the Khoekhoen herders are linked to East Africa. The various evidence suggests that the Khoekhoen arrived in the Western Cape approximately 2200 years before present, and that they had migrated with their herds, which were predominately sheep, from the North, probably East Africa.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Natural Justice and ICCA Consortium Host Event at EMRIP-7

On Monday 7 July, Natural Justice and the ICCA Consortium co-hosted a lunch-time event at the 7th Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP-7) on access to justice, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and Indigenous peoples' and community conserved areas (ICCAs).

Holly Jonas (Natural Justice and ICCA Consortium International Policy Assistant) provided an introduction to ICCAs and access to justice. Emma Courtine (ICCA Consortium Programme Assistant) and Golshan Chahian (Cenesta, pictured at right) presented on a process for implementing rights-based approaches with the Indigenous nomadic tribes of Iran, which includes ICCA recognition, biodiversity conservation, sustainable livelihoods, and re-empowerment. On the latter in particular, Cenesta has a legal work group that aims to achieve nomad-friendly national laws and consists of four main bodies: tribal elders with knowledge of customary laws as legal advisors, lawyers, advocacy, and barefoot lawyers. Through this process, for the first time in national legislation history, Indigenous peoples and local communities in Iran provided suggestions for review and revisions of key national laws, which led to the inclusion of a new chapter on peoples’ participation and rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Developing FPIC Guidance for Oil Palm Companies

Indigenous community representative from West Malaysia.
Though not without its critics, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is an important forum for developing voluntary certification standards and has the potential to tip the balance of the industry in favour of a more viable path for conservation and people, alongside economic development.

In 2008, Forest Peoples Programme published a guide to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for RSPO member companies. With the recent revision of the RSPO's Principles and Criteria, Forest Peoples Programme is accordingly updating the FPIC guidance in collaboration with Natural Justice and other members of the new Human Rights Working Group. As part of this process, the first of two stakeholder consultation workshops was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 30 June to 1 July. The objectives of the meeting were:
  • To listen to the views of all parties on what constitutes a successful process for recognising the right of indigenous peoples, local communities and other users to give or withhold their FPIC to land acquisition for the establishment of oil palm plantings;
  • To learn lessons from communities, companies, auditors and NGOs and from Social Impact Assessments, complaints and dispute resolution about what has and has not worked;
  • To contribute insights into how the RSPO Guide for Companies on FPIC can be strengthened; and
  • To examine more broadly FPIC in relation to the planning and establishment of oil palm holdings, including the possibility of joint ventures with communities, communities leasing lands, communities as smallholders and other options.
Participants included representatives of Indigenous peoples from West Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak, supporting NGOs, oil palm companies, and RSPO Secretariat staff. Holly Jonas (Natural Justice) presented on FPIC in international law. The outcomes of this and the second workshop in Jakarta (to be held in late July) will be incorporated into the revised guidance, release of which is planned for the next RSPO Roundtable in November. For any questions, please contact holly (at) naturaljustice.org.