Monday, August 25, 2014

Placing the reconstituted NBWL in the Regulatory Framework

There has been a hue and cry over the newly reconstituted National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) as the same has inadequate representation from NGOs, eminent conservationists/ecologists/environmentalists and States from what is stipulated in the law. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (Section 5A of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972) mandates that 10 States (by rotation), 10 ecologists/conservationists/environmentalists and 5 NGOs need to be present in the 47 member body of the NBWL whereas the newly constituted NBWL has representatives only from 5 States, 2 ecologists/conservationists/environmentalists and  1 NGO.  
It is pertinent to note that the role played by the NBWL and the Standing Committee to the NBWL in regulating developmental and other activities in and around protected areas is crucial with the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (hereinafter the WLPA) vesting regulatory, recommendatory, advisory and consultative powers with the NBWL and the Standing Committee to the NBWL. The  Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest on 19th December 2012 on taking up non-forestry activities in wildlife habitats (hereinafter the Guidelines) states that to undertake any non-forestry activities in any wild habitats, the project proponents requires Environmental Clearance, Forest Clearance and NBWL Clearance, making NBWL clearance another clearance process.   

Friday, August 22, 2014

Participation of Indigenous Peoples in REDD+: Workshop Report Published

In September 10-12, 2013, Natural Jusice’s Dr. Cath Traynor attended an international expert workshop entitled: "Practical Approaches to Ensuring the Full and Effective Participation of Indigenous Peoples in REDD+". the workshop was held in Weilburg, Germany, and was co-hosted by BMZ, Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and the UN-REDD Programme.  

The workshop offered space for the analysis of REDD+ participation and consultation standards, explored practical approaches and shed light on unsolved questions evolving around the challenge to provide for legitimate, effective and yet feasible inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in REDD+processes. Dr. Traynor shared with the participants the value of community protocols, and the work that Natural Justice is doing in this area.  This, and other contributions and insights are included in the recently published workshop report.

A People's Dialogue on Fracking

On Thursday, 21 August, Stephanie Booker of Natural Justice attended 'A People's Dialogue on Fracking: Global to Local", hosted by Groundwork and Southern Cape Land Committee in Cape Town.

The dialogue was attended by a number of South African NGOs and community members from the Karoo, in addition to guests Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth, The Netherlands) and Dutch representatives currently resisting fracking in their communities. It gave an opportunity for participants to share their concerns - and their work - on fracking in South Africa.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Stewarding the Earth: Rethinking Property and the Emergence of Biocultural Rights. A New Book by Kabir Bavikatte

The recent Oxford University Press, Stewarding the Earth: Rethinking Property and the Emergence of Biocultural Rights seeks to theorize some of the most significant experiences of Natural Justice since its inception. Written by Kabir Bavikatte, a co-founder and former member of Natural Justice, the book makes a strong case for the right to stewardship of Nature through biocultural rights. 

Weaving a fascinating tapestry of law, economics, anthropology and philosophy, Kabir maps and argues for biocultural rights of communities through compelling examples of environmental agreements, legislation, judicial decisions, and community practices. While most books on environmental jurisprudence tend to be expensive and dense tomes directed at academia, Kabir has made good on his promise of writing a low-cost, engaging book that theorizes the work of Natural Justice and its partners. Informative and stimulating, Stewarding the Earth is bound to have a profound impact on the environmental lawscape.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Reviewing RSPO's Complaints System

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has had a complaints or grievance mechanism for the past several years to allow for social and environmental issues and concerns with the RSPO system itself to be raised and resolved through an institutionalised procedure. This complaints mechanism has been adapted alongside the organisation's Principles and Criteria, but it faces a growing number of critiques from communities, NGOs and companies alike and calls for widespread improvement. Since April 2014, Natural Justice has been undertaking a review of RSPO's complaints system along with BC Initiative Sdn. Bhd. in light of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and other relevant international law and policy, experiences from complaints mechanisms in other sectors, and civil society critiques, among other things. The first interim report was submitted in May 2014 and the research will continue until November.

As part of this review, Natural Justice and the RSPO Secretariat held a workshop from 18-19 August in Bandung, Indonesia, with a range of stakeholders. The purpose of the workshop was to seek their feedback on the first interim report and to further develop the recommendations therein, which are divided into four categories, namely: governance, management, procedural, and substantive issues. The recommendations will continue to be developed and refined in the run-up to the 12th Roundtable in November, where a penultimate version of the review will be presented.

Monday, August 18, 2014

AU Access and Benefit Sharing Policy Frameworks and Guidelines Ready for Adoption

Gino Cocchiaro, Natural Justice, took part in the Validation Workshop on the AU Guidelines  for the Coordinated Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing from the 11th to the 14th of August in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The workshop was attended by African government representatives, experts on access and benefit sharing, indigenous people and local community representatives.

The workshop produced a final policy framework and guidelines on access and benefit sharing, which will both be presented to the The African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) for adoption. Natural Justice provided assistance to the indigenous people and local community representatives attending the meeting to ensure that the text adequately reflected their calls for recognition of their customary laws, community protocols and procedures.

Monday, August 11, 2014

CBD Alliance Publishes an Activists' Guide to the CBD

The CBD Alliance is proud to announce the publishing of the "Activists' Guide to the CBD". The guide describes the work of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), its structures, its protocols, cross cutting issues, among other valuable resources. The  guide is intended to provide a simple and accessible introduction to the Convention on Biological Diversity and current efforts to protect biodiversity. It aims to reflect a range of views held by members of the CBD Alliance, and includes summaries of CBD materials and other resources. The guide is aimed at those new to the CBD processes, as well as anyone wishing to deepen their understanding of the work being undertaken by different parties at an international level.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Seeking Feedback on New Publication: Human Rights Standards for Conservation (Part I)

A Bajau Laut child begging from tourists near Tun Sakaran
Marine Park, Malaysia. (cc Harry Jonas)
Despite increased recognition that conservation initiatives can violate the human rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, addressing 'unjust' conservation remains a contemporary problem. The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Natural Justice are seeking feedback on a series of technical reports that aim to provide clear guidance about the human rights obligations of conservation actors, and specific details of the rights and forms of redress available.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Upcoming Book: Indigenous Peoples, National Parks, and Protected Areas

The University of Arizona Press, is set to release a new book, “Indigenous Peoples, National Parks, and Protected Areas”. This passionate, well-researched book makes a compelling case for a paradigm shift in conservation practice. It explores new policies and practices, which offer alternatives to exclusionary, uninhabited national parks and wilderness areas and make possible new kinds of protected areas that recognize Indigenous peoples’ rights and benefit from their knowledge and conservation contributions. The author, Stan Stevens, has spent more than 30 years working with the Sharwa (Sherpa) people of Nepal, whose homeland is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.  
A vast number of national parks and protected areas throughout the world have been established in the customary territories of Indigenous peoples. In many cases these conservation areas have displaced . This book breaks new ground with its in-depth exploration of changes in conservation policies and practices—and their profound ramifications for Indigenous peoples, protected areas, and social reconciliation.