Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Capacity building of Forest Rights Committees, Kutch, Gujarat

Natural Justice India has been working with pastoralists in Kutch, Gujarat and collaborating with a local organization, Sahjeevan. At present, the pastoral communities are facing a range of issues especially with access to resources. The different objectives and priorities for the stakeholders involved, in particular the Forest Department and increasingly the emerging industries in the Kutch region pose a threat to the communities and their traditional livelihoods. In the face of such issues, Natural Justice has been working to secure land rights and traditional grazing routes through the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2008.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Natural Justice Showcases the Heroes Project

L-R: Delme Cupido, Lesle Jansen, Abhishek Choudhury,
& Kabir Bavikatte
Natural Justice, in collaboration with LEDLAB and Srishti School for Arts, Design and Technology (India) participated in the Open Book Festival at the Fugard Theatre on Saturday, 20 September 2013.  The Open Book Festival is an annual literary festival that features top international and South African writers of today. It aims to showcase the best of South African writing.  It also aims to make a contribution to ensuring the youth of Cape Town has a love of reading and books.

The Hoerikwaggo Chronicles: The Return to the Kalahari, along with some other items, based on the novel, was featured at this festival’s market stalls.  Many South Africans had the opportunity to engage this novel.  It is a 5-part series being developed by the illustrator Abhishek Choudhury and Kabir Bavikatte as the script writer. The Chronicles are based on Joseph Campbell's idea of the Hero's Journey and Carl Jung's archetypes of the king, warrior, trickster and lover. It seeks to tell the story of four young people growing up in the Cape Flats. The Chronicles unfold as a conversation between the material reality of their everyday lives and the mythical world of Khoi-San myths and legends.  While the Chronicles began as a way for the Heroes Project to assist youth in the Cape Flats and townships in the Northern Cape to engage with their Khoi-San heritage, the anticipated audience for the Chronicles are young adults in both South Africa and beyond.

The day ended with participation in a panel discussion featuring this graphic novel. The panel consisted of Delme Cupido from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa as the discussant; Lesle Jansen, Kabir Bavikatte and Abhishek Choudhury.  The name of the panel discussion was: The Khoisan experience: Healing historical trauma through Storytelling and Creative Action.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Beluran District

cc Harry Jonas
Harry Jonas joined a delegation that visited communities in the Beluran District of Sabah (Malaysia) to discuss the linkages between community-based tourism and conservation. 

While each community was different in terms of ethnicity, and social and ecological characteristics, all spoke about common themes, which included their sense that fish catches were falling, that greater controls on fish catch and upstream activities were required, and that community-based tourism could be one means to incentivise such approaches while also delivering financial support. The next steps will be supported by Forever Sabah, among other groups and agencies.

Legal Remedies for Resources Equity – BCPs as a community-driven and consensus building process

On 15 September Natural Justice participated in a day-long workshop on Legal Remedies for Resources Equity co-organized by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, UfU and eLaw in Berlin, Germany. The workshop brought together more than 200 lawyers from 38 countries involved in public interest litigation and support around equitable and sustainable natural resources management.

The second session of the day focused on “Public participation: Challenges and opportunities for local populations” and involved short presentations from practitioners on different national campaigns and cases on enforcing the right to information, public participation and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).

Indigenous Peoples on the frontline of biggest ever People's Climate March

More than 400,000 people marched peacefully on Sunday 21st September in New York City in anticipation of the upcoming Climate Summit, taking place on 23rd September 2014 during this year's UN General Assembly. Indigenous Peoples jointly with other affected communities were at the forefront of the march that stretched across Manhattan. It was the biggest ever climate march in history and a celebration of different cultures and communities joining forcing in calling governments to action in addressing global climate change. 

Indigenous peoples were particularly well-represented due to the first-ever World Conference on Indigenous Peoples  (WCIP) at the UN, taking place on 22nd and 23rd of September. The conference, which saw the adoption of the Outcome Document by country delegations attending the UN General Assembly, constitutes the highest level commitment to indigenous peoples' rights since the adoption of the United Nations Declarationon Indigenous Peoples

Monday, September 22, 2014

Natural Justice at the African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights

From the 16th - 18th of September 2014, Natural Justice’s Shalom Ndiku attended the African Regional Forum on Business and Human Rights. The Conference was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and hosted by the United Nations Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises (the Working Group) at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

The Forum was held with the objective of promoting multi-stakeholder dialogue and cooperation on business and human rights (B&HR). Moreover, the Forum was an opportune moment for these diverse parties to discuss the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (the GPs) within Africa.  The Forum’s goals included advancing the B&HR agenda in Africa; identifying regional implementation practices, challenges and opportunities; and promoting capacity building initiatives on the GPs.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New RRI Report on Recognizing Community Land Rights

Rights and Resources Initiative has announced the release of their latest report Recognizing Indigenous and Community Land Rights: Priority Steps to Advance Development and Mitigate Climate Change. This report demonstrates how recognising community land rights is a cost-effective way to address a host of social, environmental, and development challenges.

Prepared with Tebtebba, the report reveals that US$1.64 billion -- the funds already pledged by three multilateral initiatives to developing the REDD+ carbon market -- would expand the recognition of land rights for local communities and Indigenous Peoples living on 450 million hectares, an area almost half the size of Europe. These cost estimates provide a benchmark for future climate change research and policy work as international negotiations to address greenhouse gas emissions heat up.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Natural Justice Fellowship Program: Call for Applications - India

The Natural Justice Environmental Law Fellowship Program is designed for young lawyers and other committed individuals from different backgrounds to get a chance to engage in the exciting space of environmental law. The Program introduces Fellows to a broad spectrum of issues within environmental law in India through fieldwork and research in several different areas of work. The Fellowship offers an exciting opportunity to lawyers and others who are passionate about learning to use domestic and international environmental law to secure the rights of communities to their lands and resources. The Fellows will be exposed to a range of innovative ways of effectively using environmental law, ranging from community-based legal support and training to written submissions and advocacy. Over the year, the Fellows will also benefit from networks community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, legal practitioners, and others.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Biocultural Community Protocols and the Future of Conservation

On 17 July 2014, the Namibian, a local daily in Namibia, reported a rather momentous event: the development of a biocultural community protocol of the Kxoe community of the Bwabwata National Park — the first of its kind in Namibia.

Around 6,700 Kxoe people reside in Bwabwata National Park in Namibia’s West, and in the Kavango and Zambezi regions; they survive mainly as hunters and gatherers. The Kxoe developed the protocol with assistance from the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Natural Justice. The protocol sought to articulate the Kxoe’s values, priorities, and procedures for decision-making around their resources, as well as set out their rights and responsibilities under customary, state, and international law. The protocol would be used as the basis for engaging with external actors such as the government, companies, academics, and non-governmental organizations, who seek access to the Kxoe lands, and traditional and genetic resources for research and development, commercialization, conservation, and other legal and policy frameworks. Read the full blog post by Kabir Sanjay Bavikatte here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Natural Justice Assists in Drafting Submission to AfDB on its Independent Review Mechanism

Africa is experiencing an economic boom, and the African Development Bank (AfDB) is an important institution financing development on the continent. It is one of the leading institutions in the recently launched Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), which was created to increase intra-regional trade in Africa. The AfDB Group (consisting of the AfDB and the African Development Fund) also provides hundreds of millions of dollars of official development assistance (ODA) to Sub-Saharan African countries each year. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in 2012 the AfDB disbursed USD 1.7 billion in ODA, or approximately 10% of multilateral ODA disbursed that year (link to statistics,  Table 29).

Like the World Bank and all other multilateral development banks, the AfDB has a dispute resolution mechanism to handle disputes involving communities affected by AfDB financed projects. This mechanisms, known as the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) was established in 2004, and undergoes periodic reviews by the AfDB Boards of Directors. In 2014, the AfDB began its second review of the IRM. As part of the process, the AfDB commissioned a report by a consultant to review the performance of the IRM. It then invited comments from civil society on that report between 1 July 2014 to 30 August, 2014.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

International Conference Held on Role of Human Rights in Global Issues

On 5 September 2014, the 3rd UNITAR-Yale Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy was held at Yale University. The conference brought together a wide range of participants, including representatives of UN agencies, NGOs, academics, human rights defenders and others to discuss issues related to "Human Rights, Environmental Sustainability, Post 2015 Development Agenda, and the Future Climate Regime" (the conference theme). The goal of the conference was to develop actions and recommendations for policy makers involved in these issues. Natural Justice attended the conference and also submitted a case study paper on community protocols in Ghana and Kenya.

The conference began with a keynote speech from Professor John Knox, the UN Independent Expert on human rights and the environment. He noted that every regional agreement since 1970 has adopted some form of a right to a healthy environment and that 90 countries now provide for a right to a healthy environment in their constitutions. He also noted several benefits of a human rights based approach to the environment, including the fact that it sets out rules for environmental policy making, such as duties to conduct impact assessments, make information public, and allow for participation in decision making.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Melangkap Community Protocol

cc Harry Jonas, 2014
A group of five Melangkap villages presented their protocol on the 6th of September, 2014 in Sabah, Malaysia. These  communities have developed a one page protocol that requires anyone entering the broader community for any purpose to submit their intentions in writing, and to abide by local customary law. Those laws, customs, practices, their hopes and aspirations have also been documented and are contained in a secondary document.

At the meeting, there were cultural dances, a film highlighting the process produced by the community was shown, and signed copies of the protocol were handed by the traditional chief to the village headmen. In attendance were members of all five Melangkap communities, Sabah Biodiversity Centre, UNDP Small Grants Programme, BC Initiative and Natural Justice, among others. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa - High Ambitions, High Risks

Across the continent, it has been estimated that infrastructure inefficiencies cost billions of dollars annually, stunting African GDP growth. As a response, improving infrastructure across the continent is now regarded as a continental priority.

On 25 and 26 August, Stephanie Booker of Natural Justice attended the launch of the report "Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa - High Ambitions, High Risks".

The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, or PIDA, is the scaling up of infrastructure development across the continent, incorporating the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Infrastructure Master Plan of the African Union (AU) "in a single, inter-regional, and overarching framework for infrastructure development in Africa". PIDA is regarded as a strategic framework until 2040 in order to develop cross-border infrastructure in four key areas (energy, transport, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and trans-boundary water resources. 

1st Africa Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Land Policy Frameworks

On 13 and 14 August, Stephanie Booker and Shalom Ndiku of Natural Justice attended the International Land Coalition's 1st Africa Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Land Policy Frameworks in Nairobi, Kenya. The central theme of the two day meeting was: "Mainstreaming Indigenous Peoples' Right to Land in Land Policy and Legislation Framework in Africa within the Indigenous Peoples Rights Framework". Over 50 people based across the continent attended the meeting to discuss a number of core issues including:

  • Key issues and the state of play of Indigenous Peoples' rights in Africa;
  • Key global and regional trends regarding Indigenous Peoples' land rights;
  • The state of land policy frameworks and land reform in Africa;
  • Mechanisms to address land and resource rights;
  • Good practices in protection and management of indigenous peoples' land, territories and resources; and,
  • Benefit-sharing mechanisms on natural resources.