Thursday, December 17, 2015

Recognizing the Rights of Communities and Knowledge Holders in Climate Change Adaptation – UNFCCC COP21 Side Event

Ms. Swiderska, Dr. Reid, Mr. Argumendo, Dr. Song, Dr. Castro, Dr. Traynor & Mr. Le Fleur
(Photo courtesy of Matt Wright/IIED)

During the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (30th November – 12th December), the Adaptation Committee released its 2015 Overview Report “Enhancing Coherent Action on Adaptation 2012-2015”, the publication provides information on adaptation to Parties and the broader adaptation community. Within the report the Adaptation Committee recommends that Parties underline the importance of indigenous and traditional knowledge (I&TK), and encourage their integration into National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). They suggest, one way that this integration can be supported is through enhancing the accountability and enforcing implementation of existing laws, rules and procedures dealing with I&TK and practices thus ensuring recognition of the rights of communities and holders of I&TK and practices throughout the adaptation process.

Natural Justice’s Dr. Cath Traynor’s presentation entitled “Indigenous Knowledge in Climate Change Adaptation: Recognition of the Rights of Communities and Knowledge Holders” spoke directly to this issue. Dr. Traynor was part of a panel on the NJ, GTA, IIED co-hosted Side Event “Supporting Poor, Vulnerable, and Indigenous Communities”, 7th December, 2015. Dr. Traynor introduced preliminary findings of the “Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge Systems Related to Climate Change Adaptation and Intellectual Property Rights” OCSDNet project, these included reflections on the university research ethics procedures, which although they seek to ensure the protection of and consent from human subjects, at the same time secures power relations, between ‘expert’ researchers who are seen to produce knowledge and vulnerable subjects who produce mere data. Efforts towards more open and collaborative research needs to understand these complex tensions that shape, and are shaped by, knowledge production and engage critically in the ethics procedures themselves. To ensure that community rights are recognized in adaptation, community-researcher contracts have also been developed, their purpose is to ensure that community intellectual property in adaptation is controlled and protected in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and South African Policies and Laws. Mr. Reino Le Fleur, Indigenous Griqua youth representative and Community Co-Researcher on the OCSDNet project, then shared his experiences and his plans for connecting youth with I&TK of their elders, a linkage which in some communities in South Africa is being lost due to the historical dispossession of lands, and the negative impacts of colonisation, apartheid and globalisation upon traditional livelihoods.

During the Side Event, Ms. Krystyna Swiderska (IIED), Mr. Alejandro Argumento (ANDES) and Dr. Yinching Song (Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Science) discussed the importance of biocultural heritage in adaptation practices and highlighted 5 key actions and the benefits of farmer to farmer seed networks

Dr. Carlos Potiatra Castro (University of Brazillia/GTA) then shared experiences from the development of the Bailique Community Protocol, Brazil. The process entailed integrating customary norms and internal governance structures into the protocol, consideration of national and international legislation as it applies to the communities and public policies that they have a right to access. To date, the process has resulted in land regularisation, and empowerment of the communities to negotiate with external actors. The community protocol approach is highly relevant to landscape scale mitigation and adaptation programmes and projects and could also contribute to REDD+ as a recent Policy Brief illustrates (search for “BCPs” here).

Dr. Hannah Reid (IIED) then summarised a study that aimed to quantify the funding for local adaptation activities against ten principles intended to guide good ‘quality’ funding allocations. Projects scored well in terms of effectiveness, flexibility and sustainability but poorly on transparency, accountability and urgency.

The session drew to a close with questions from the audience, which included asking how a community is defined, and the pro’s and con’s of an I&TK database, and a wrap-up from Mr. Delfin Ganapin (UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme). Presentations and related materials can be found on the UNFCCC Side Events webpage, search for the “Natural Justice” adaptation session held at 15:00-16:30 hrs, Monday 07 December, 2015. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Rooibos Traditional Knowledge holders meet with Industry

Rooibos industry
Mr. Cecil Le Fleur, Chairman, National KhoiSan Council
The San and Khoi are the rightful knowledge holders regards traditional knowledge related to the rooibos plant, and they are currently negotiating with the rooibos industry in terms of the South African Access and Benefit Sharing legislation. They are legally supported by Lesle Jansen from Natural Justice and Roger Chennells from Albertyn Chennells Inc.   A basic industry-wide agreement is being sought, based purely upon traditional knowledge in the light of the South African legislation, which will simplify the access and benefit sharing and permitting requirements for the rooibos industry. The traditional rooibos farming communities will be the primary beneficiaries under any agreement reached.  The agreement will have significant benefits not only for the Khoi and San traditional knowledge holders, but also for the rooibos industry.  These stakeholders met on 2nd December 2015 in Clanwilliam to further develop these negotiations.

Harvested rooibos, South Africa

Traditional rooibos farming communities from Wupperthal and surrounding areas, South Africa

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Are We There Yet?: Grievance Mechanisms of DFIs Meet with Civil Society in Paris to Discuss the Grievance System

How can the rights of communities be protected in the face of global development? The answer is complex, but one part of it involves the grievance mechanisms development finance institutions (DFIs). Over 20 years ago, the World Bank created the first of these mechanisms, called the Inspection Panel, in order to provide a venue for communities impacted by Bank funded projects to assert their rights. Today , most of the major DFIs have a grievance mechanism, which are often called independent accountability mechanisms or IAMs.

The IAMs first started meeting annually as a network in 2003, and for the last three years, the meetings have included a day where civil society participates. These meetings provide a space for sharing of information and experiences, and for civil society to advocate for improvements and raise issues related to the IAMs' operations. This year, the meeting was held in Paris on 9 December 2015 on the sidelines of the UN climate conference. The agenda included three main issues. The first panel discussed the status of grievance mechanisms for emerging financing mechanisms to combat global warming, such as the Green Climate Fund. The second panel addressed the launch of a report by Human Rights Watch on reprisals against those who criticize World Bank projects. The last panel provided an opportunity to discuss a new report that several organizations, including Natural Justice, worked on to analyze the effectiveness of IAMs and their associated DFIs from a human rights perspective. This report will be launched in January 2016, and it will mark a new phase of advocacy around and collaboration with IAMs and DFIs to improve the system as a whole.

Representatives of the IAMs congratulated civil society on the report, noting that it was an effort that needed to be undertaken. They recognized the importance of transparency and learning lessons in the accountability process. While they raised some questions around how data in the report was interpreted, overall they agreed with the report's conclusions.

Although there are many critical aspects to meetings such as these, one of the most important is that they take place at all. If you spend enough time in international development conferences, you will often hear lip service paid to the need for civil society keep states and institutions in check, to articulate responsibilities, and to call attention to transgressions. At the same time, civil society is often marginalized, whether directly persecuted in certain countries or by more general efforts to limit participation. However, the meetings with the IAMs do provide an important opportunity to share information, discuss ways of collaborating, and call for overall improvements in the system. In light of the  ambitious infrastructure and other development projects planned in the coming decades, and the increasingly complex methods for financing these projects, the collaboration between the IAMs and civil society will be critical for ensuring that communities' human rights are truly integrated into sustainable development.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Start of a new community protocol process in Boeny, Madagascar

Cinnamosma fragrans
From 25-27 November 2015, representatives of the local communities of the municipality of Mariarano, Madagascar, came together to discuss their aspirations and challenges regarding the valorization of Cinnamosma fragrans, and to exchange views with other actors involved in the value chain. The communities explored the advantages and possible elements of a Community Protocol to clarify conditions for access to their resources and benefit sharing, and to facilitate dialogue with commercial users, researchers and government authorities. The meetings took place in Mahajanga and were organized by the GIZ “Programme d’Appui à laGestion de l’Environnement” (PAGE) with input from Natural Justice. 
Madagascar is currently developing its national framework to implement the Nagoya Protocol on Access to genetic resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS). Cinnamosma fragrans, locally known as "Mandravasarotra" or "Motrobe", is one of the most sought after medicinal plants in the region of Boeny, in North-West Madagascar. It is used traditionally to treat a number of diseases and sold on the national and international market as an essential oil. 
Community representatives discuss the issues
to share with other actors of the Motrobe value chain
In a first internal meeting, the community representatives shared their aspirations and the challenges they are facing with the valorization of Motrobe. The issues include a lack of transparency in the issuing and enforcement of collection permits, the challenge for the communities to negotiate better prices with private operators, and inadequate sharing of benefits for example from collection fees. PAGE introduced ABS and the Nagoya Protocol, and Natural Justice shared information on the development and use of Community Protocols and examples from other communities in the region.
In the second meeting, participants from the local communities, the private sector and government administration exchanged their views on the challenges and possible improvements around the Motrobe value chain. Finally, the community representatives came back together to discuss the way forward. They decided to create a new Union to improve their coordination, agreed on the usefulness of developing a Community Protocol as the basis for their interactions with other actors, and discussed the main elements of such a protocol. Natural Justice and PAGE will be assisting them in 2016 to facilitate the process.

Monday, November 30, 2015

UN Climate Change COP21 Side Event: Monday 7th December 2015


When: Monday 7 December, 15:00 – 16:30 hrs
Where: COP21/CMP11, Parc des Expositions, Le Bourget conference site, side event room - OR 03

This event will share a variety of recent research concerning:

  • Supporting the adaptation practices and traditional knowledge (TK) of Indigenous peoples and local communities, and the importance of biocultural heritage.
  •  The protection of knowledge holders and the sharing of TK in adaptation initiatives.
  •  The role of community protocols as a tool to reach the most vulnerable communities through participation and biodiversity legislation.
  •  The quantity and quality of adaptation finance reaching those most in need.
Who: Dr. Hannah Reid, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

Ms. Krystyna Swiderska, (IIED), Mr. Alejandro Argumedo (ANDES), Peru & Dr. Yiching Song (Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Science)

Dr. Cath Traynor (Natural Justice) & Mr. Reino Le Fleur (Griqua representative)

Ms. Roberta Ramos, Grupo de Trabalho Amazonico (GTA), & Munduruku representative

Dr. Carlos Potiatra Castro, University of Brasilia

Mr. Delfin Ganapin, UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme

You are invited to find out more at this side event. Light snacks will be served at 14.45 hrs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Kukula Traditional Health Practitioners Association Explore Opportunities with Skukuza Indigenous Plant Nursery, Kruger National Park, South Africa

KTHPA  SANParks staff at Nkuhlu
Enclosure (Photo:  Cath Traynor)
KTHPA discussing medicinal plants with
SANParks staff (Photo: Cath Traynor)

The Kukula Traditional Health Practitioners Association (KTHPA) of Bushbuckridge, South Africa visited Kruger National Park’s Skukuza Indigenous Plant Nursery earlier this year. The Kukula were invited by Michele Hofmeyr, the Manager of the nursery after she attended the Kukula’s Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) Revision Workshop. The aim of the visit was to explore areas of mutual interest: South African National Parks (SANParks) is developing a list of medicinal plant species of interest to communities in the bufferzone areas of the park, and KTHPA are interested to access propagules of medicinal plant species that only occur within the park.
Members of the Kukula spent an afternoon in the nursery, looking at the existing stock of medicinal plant species, learning how the different species are propagated, and discussing which species may be suitable for KTHPA to propagate themselves. The following day, Nursery staff joined the Kukula on a walk in the Nkuhlu Enclosure, a 139 ha fenced area consisting of dense woody vegetation thickets along the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers. The KTHPA members identified species of particular interest, and SANParks staff collected specimens so that scientific names could be ascertained.

The nursery kindly donated seedlings and plants to the Kukula, including saplings of the pepper-bark tree (Warburgia salutaris), this is a highly sought-after medicinal plant, which is critically endangered, and one that the nursery is cultivating on a large-scale.

KTHPA at SANParks Skukuza
Indigenous Plant Nursery
(Photo: Cath Traynor)
Michele Hofmeyer, SANParks
Skukuza Indigenous Plants Nursery 
Manager sharing her knowledge regards
successfully germinating different
plant species (Photo: Cath Traynor)
Natural Justice, together with partners K2C and Wits Rural Facility are supporting the Kukula Traditional Health Practitioners to revise their BCP, and to utilize it to constructively engage with external stakeholders such as SANParks. Running throughout South Africa’s legislation on conservation is the balance between conservation on the one hand and sustainable use for the benefit of communities on the other. Through collaborations such as these KTHPA hope to both conserve biodiversity and to advance the health of their communities through their traditional healing practices.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Workshop on Financing of Infrastructure Held During World Bank's Annual Meetings

(WBG Logo)

On 10 October 2015, during the World Bank's annual meetings in Lima, Peru, several civil society organizations under the leadership of Eurodad and the Center of Concern hosted a Strategy Workshop on "Financing of infrastructure: global and regional trends and impacts on sustainable development and human rights." At the workshop, participants noted several trends regarding the financing of infrastructure, including the growing reliance on private sources to fund large infrastructure projects and the lack of transparency of institutions that provide financing, such as the Brazilian Development Bank. Participants also noted the challenges that communities face when decisions on mega (and even larger) projects are made as part of discussions to which they have no access. Finally, it was noted how difficult it can be to monitor financing for development projects when the money is directed through financial intermediaries. To begin addressing these and other challenges, participants decided on several outcomes, including:

- The need for a mailing list to link different databases on projects, related information and news about legislative changes in order to facilitate responses to infrastructure projects in the region. In this context it was decided to revitalize the "IFIs en la mira" list, which works in Spanish; and

- The formation of a group of volunteers to drive the work on such a list. The group will focus on holding a strategy meeting to take place early next year, developing a methodology for surveying legislative changes to facilitate infrastructure projects and their financing, and building a roadmap for interdisciplinary work on cross-cutting issues emerging in the implementation of megaprojects. Additionally, it will seek to ensure that relevant information is shared among different groups, including those working on the World Bank, the G20, and others.

These outcomes provide a good basis for further collaboration in this field. In particular, Natural Justice and Columbia University, together with the Heinrich Boll Foundation and Center of Concern will hold a workshop in March 2016 that will examine the trends of development finance and the state of accountability in financing large infrastructure projects. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Community conservation initiates: A legitimate solution to climate change and conservation

Fostering Community Conservation Conference Closing Panel: Ms. Vahanen (14th FAO World Forestry Congress), Dr. Campbell (Forest & Farm Facility), Dr. Namirembe (World Agroforestry Centre), Ms. Mulenkei (International Alliance for Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests), Dr. Traynor (Natural Justice), Dr. Palenova (All-Russia Research Institute) & Mr. Seiber (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation). Photo courtesy of  Ronnie Hall/Critical Information Collective
Partner’s Global Forest Coalition have just released a Community Conservation Special Edition of their newsletter ‘Forest Cover’. The editorial highlights that community conservation initiatives are a real legitimate solution to conservation, ecosystem restoration and climate change. Articles include the role of Indigenous and community conservation in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Indicators for the 2030 Vision “Transforming Our World” and Natural Justice’s Cath Traynor contributed a piece summarizing the recent “Fostering Community Conservation Conference” and Relevance for the upcoming meetings of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Two CBD meetings are being held this week in Montreal, Canada; they are the Nineteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body of Scientific and Technical Advice, which will consider strategic scientific and technical issues related to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020; and the Ninth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Article 8(j) of the CBD. This will consider, among others, issues related to Prior, Informed Consent of communities for accessing their knowledge, equitable sharing of benefits, and regional cooperation in the protection and sharing of traditional knowledge. The findings and recommendations from the Fostering Community Conservation Conference as well as the reports from the individual country studies provide clear evidence that community conserved areas are legitimate initiatives that bring about real and consistent results in the interests of conservation and human well-being.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Role and Place of African Customary Law and Traditional Leadership in Constitutional Democracies – Civil Society Perspectives

“As you start walking, the way finds you”, this was the quote which opened the recent workshop on ‘The Role and Place of African Customary Law and Traditional Leadership in Constitutional Democracies – Civil Society Perspectives’. The objectives were to learn from African regional system and experiences about African Customary institutions and leadership, and to understand civil society perspectives including those of women, youth, elders, rural communities, and activists  around the relevance and place of culture, its institutions, and leadership in post-apartheid South Africa then to explore strengthening the ‘Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill, 2015’. The South African Parliament has enacted the Bill which will provide for the recognition of traditional and Khoi-San communities, leadership positions and for the withdrawal of such recognition. The workshop was organised and hosted by Natural Justice with the support from OSISA and the Heinrich Boell Foundation.

Dr. Albert Barume & Mr. Stan Henkeman
The workshop began with a framing by Natural Justice’s Lesle Jansen, followed by a session setting out the issues around the Bill by Dr. Ademole Jegede, University of Venda. A keynote address on ‘Indigenous Peoples and local communities and their customary institutions within the African regional system’ was then presented by Dr. Albert Barume, United Nations Expert Mechanism on Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Expert Member of the African Commissions’ Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Dr. Barume outlined how Africa is currently “re-booting” itself, and shifting from the decades long perspective of building culturally homogenous nation states to recognizing and respecting cultural diversity and allowing it to flourish within a democratic system. He outlined how traditional values and institutions are beginning to be realized with the legal and policy frameworks of the African Union, and that the AU’s ‘Agenda 2063 – the Future we want for Africa’ highlights the importance of African culture and traditions for development. Mr. John Nakuta, Director Human Rights Documentation Centre, Namibia then discussed experiences from post-independent Namibia regarding traditional authorities, their constitutional and statutory recognition, power, duties, functions, government support and challenges. He outlined the importance that traditional authorities be apolitical, must be consistent with all human rights and guard against tribalism.

Panel Discussion: Mr. Zenzile Khoisan, Ms. Constance Mogale, Mr. Henk Smit, Mr. Ivan Vaalboi & moderator Mr. Delme Cupido (OSISA)

During the second day of the workshop civil society perspectives on culture and traditional leadership were shared through a series of panel discussions, these included youth, women, elders, a traditional healer, and activists. Issues that surfaced included recognition for the Khoi and San, restitution and restoration, land, whether the bill undermines or promotes culture and custom, political objectives of the bill, that the bill may reinforce apartheid boundaries, and concerns around elite capture. The bill provides for the long overdue recognition of Khoi and San people, and the bill has currently been passed from government to Parliament. There will shortly be public consultations on the bill and the discussions from the workshop will be further developed into a policy brief for submission.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Increased pledges for climate financing highlight the need for responsive accountability mechanisms

Recently at the Annual Meeting of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Lima, several institutions indicated that the amount of climate financing would need to be scaled up dramatically in the near future. The Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), requested that the Paris Agreement scale up the Financial Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and she also highlighted the need for further funds. The GCF is the operating entity of the UNFCCC Financial Mechanism and the largest climate fund. At the same meeting the World Bank Group revealed that it plans to increase its climate financing to potentially amount to US$ 29 billion per year, thus by 2020 the Bank Group could be allocating more than a quarter of its funds towards climate financing. Currently, the World Bank is the interim Trustee for the GCF. Other institutions followed suit, for example the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced that it foresees climate financing accounting for 40% (or US$ 5 billion annually) of its total investments by 2020.

Climate finance is a key element of the draft text for the UNFCCC agreement, released on 5 October 2015, which contains the basis for the negotiation of the Paris Agreement. To ensure climate financing is transparent and accountable there should be participatory decision-making, implementation and monitoring processes. Lessons from other multilateral financing initiatives has shown that civil society engagement is fundamental to ensuring accountability. The options for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to help ensure a robust, well-functioning, and responsive accountability mechanism within the GCF were explored in a Briefing Paper, commissioned by Transparency International (TI), and authored by Both ENDS with contributions from Natural Justice earlier this year. The Briefing Paper was submitted to the GFC Board ahead of its 10th meeting in July, and the findings also contributed to a submission by TI in response to the GCF’s Call for Public Inputs on the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework.

As we head towards a possible agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November/December in Paris, and consequent implementation of the Convention thereafter, accessible grievance mechanisms which fairly and effectively handle grievances related to corruption  and/or violations of social-environmental safeguards will be essential.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Natural Justice contributes towards the OCSD Network 2015 Progress Update

Natural Justice’s “Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge Systems Related to Climate Change and Intellectual Property Rights” project, is one of twelve sub-projects within the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network (OCSDNet).

The network recently released a funder progress report and a summary blog which highlights some emerging results. These include considering ethical issues engrained in processes of openness especially when working with communities that have been traditionally marginalized from mainstream processes of knowledge production – this is a key issue Natural Justice’s project is exploring with indigenous Khoi communities in South Africa.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Community Conservation Resilience Initiative, Ethiopia

“The assessment was a wake-up call, and each of us saw what we had lost”, this was how Adam Haji-jarso, a community member from Dinsho-02 kebele (an administrative unit), in the Ethiopian Highlands described how the results of the Community Conservation Resilience Assessment of which he was a participant, highlighted community conservation issues within his own community.

Mr. Haji-jarso, was referring to the results of a participatory mapping assessment facilitated by Tesfaye Tola, from the Ethiopian NGO MELCA, which was conducted in 3 neighbouring kebeles in the Bale Mountains area, Ethiopia. This assessment aimed to determine the status of Sacred Natural Sites (SNS) in the area. SNS are biologically diverse natural cultural centres where local communities gather to help one another, resolve conflicts, establish common law, and worship. Local communities in the area have stewarded their natural resources through SNS for generations.

The assessment revealed that historically there were 72 SNS within the kebeles, however over the last 50 years, 54 of these had been destroyed and only 18 currently remain. Through participatory processes communities analysed threats to the sites, challenges they currently face, and possible solutions. The assessment process facilitated communities to develop preliminary recommendations, and these included local issues such as creating a local network of SNS custodians, targeted financial and technical support, and advocacy at all levels including with national government.  Each of these could help to strengthen community conservation and resilience in the area.
Natural Justice’s Dr Cath Traynor assisted MELCA to produce the preliminary findings of the assessment, and a flyer is available here. The Ethiopian assessment of one of ten similar community assessments being carried out globally, and the preliminary results were presented at the recent Fostering Community Conservation Conference, earlier this month in Durban, South Africa. Further details of this global initiative are available on Global Forest Coalition’s webpages here. The multi-stakeholder conference produced key recommendations to policy makers which were disseminated at the 14th World Forestry Congress, 7-11 September in Durban.

Participatory Action Research into Traditional Knowledge and Climate Change

Dr. Cath Traynor of Natural Justice travelled to the Namaqualand area of the Northern Cape, South Africa to carry out Participatory Action (PAR) research with pastoralists and stock keepers in the area. She was accompanied by Reino Le Fleur, the project’s Community Co-Researcher from the Griqua community in Vredendal.

The PAR undertaken is part of the ‘Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge Systems  Related to Climate Change and Intellectual Property Rights’ project.  This project aims to assess how climate change is impacting communities, and how communities have produced indigenous knowledge related to addressing climate change and alternative strategies. The researchers interviewed an elder pastoralist and his son who is a stock farmer, and discussed similarities and differences in their livelihoods, and the impact of weather on their approaches and strategies to maintain healthy animals. Other elderly stock keepers were also interviewed and they shared their histories and experiences of stock keeping under changing environmental and socio-political conditions.

This research will contribute towards a process whereby the communities themselves will develop their own protocols regarding how they wish to collaboratively address the challenges of climate change in their own areas. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Adivasi Applied Theatre Workshop

In August, 2015, NJ explored the use of participatory theatre in the efforts to explore participatory ways of engaging with communities. The aim of using participatory theatre was to develop facilitation skills and deeper engagement with community members through tools from Forum theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed. The workshop was facilitated by Evan Hastings, a theatre artist and drama therapist who integrates Theatre of the Oppressed in his work.  Communities we work with in Odisha use forms of song and dance as a medium of expression, and hence it was felt that beginning our exploration in the use of theatre tools would be most appropriate with facilitators of processes in these communities.

This workshop is part of the ongoing process in Odisha of developing a community protocol with communities in the context of mining, and building capacity within community members and facilitators of the process to use creative practices to engage the community in critical thinking and reflection about their interests and priorities, to listen to the complexity of multiple viewpoints, and enable dialogue. This training used music, movement and theatre to facilitate meaningful community interactions, while grounding the process in cultural practices that honor traditional ways of knowing.

The three day workshop explored concepts of breaking and unlearning habits, power dynamics, meta-analyses of reactions from activities, and facilitating dialogues to address issues. There was also focus on breaking the ritual was used to give meaning to archetypal conflicts in relation to struggles faced by the community. The participants also created forum scenes in small groups with impossible tasks and the audience (the other participants) worked on resolving what they saw as the issues/problems within the scene.

Sharing from the participants was highly positive, with everyone feeling that there had been a good amount of unlearning and relearning during the workshop. To quote from what one of the participants said, “I learned that the first step is to respect and understand the community. What is my role and responsibility in the context? As NGOs, we suggest solutions – the community has ideas on how to solve problems, we just have to facilitate it.” Many participants were keen on using some of the tools in the community and further building their skills.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Bwabwata National Park BCP – Khwe residents

Natural Justice co-hosted a three day, biocultural community protocol (BCP) focused workshop in partnership with Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC,, and the Khwe Custodian Committee members, supported by the Benelex project (, the Legal Assistance Centre ( and the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET). Over the three days, 4 half-day village meetings were held, facilitated by the Khwe Custodian Committee in their Khwedom language. The meeting was preceded by short presentations by Natural Justice on the BCP as a legal instrument; the Legal Assistance Center on the Namibian legal framework and the Namibian Ministry of Environment & Tourism on the pending Traditional Knowledge Bill and the BCP.  Each half day aimed to validate the aspirations and priorities as set out in the draft BCP framework document. It is also intended to be an accountability measure to ensure the representatives’ account to the villagers and get feedback on the decisions and representations inside the draft BCP framework document.

The evenings around campfire were used to de-brief with the Khwe Custodian committee and the different partners present. The Namibian government officials namely the ABS focal point, Ms. Kauna Schroder, indicated their support for the development of the first BCP in Namibia in line with the Nagoya Protocol, which Namibia ratified during 2014.
The overall feedback from the different villages emphasized the importance of the recognition of their customary institutions; access to their veld food and medicinal plants.  They also strongly voiced the importance of “teaching through doing” with the children inside the core wildlife area.  The challenge therefore is how the biocultural conservation practices that are drafted coincide to a greater measure with the Khwe community’s traditional ways.

The next steps are to invite the Khwe Custodian committee as well as the Kyaramacan Association representatives to come to Cape Town for a weeklong legal training. The Benelex Project in collaboration with Natural Justice and the Namibian government will also be co-hosting a national government stakeholder meeting to discuss the different challenges outlined by the Bwabwata National Park BCP.

Study confirming the Traditional Knowledge associated with Rooibos and Honeybush in South Africa

During 2014 the Department of Environmental Affairs conducted a study to verify the traditional knowledge associated with Rooibos and Honeybush endemic species in South Africa.  
The major conclusions of the study are as follows:
·         There’s no evidence to dispute the communities’ perceptions that traditional knowledge rests with the communities where the species are endemic and/or with the Khoi and San people of South Africa; and
·         Any individual or organization engaging or planning a bioprospecting project involving Rooibos or Honeybush species must engage with the Khoi and San people of South Africa.
The Department of Environmental Affairs informed the affected industries to engage with the National Khoi & San Council (NKC) and the San Council with an intention to negotiate a Benefit Sharing Agreement in the context of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) 2004 and the Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing Regulations, 2008. The NKSC and San Council will now initiate the process with the affected industries.