Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Open and Collaborative Science in Development 2017 Workshop

OCSDNet Workshop
(Photo Credit: OCSDNet)
The Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network (OCSDNet) goal is to nurture an interactive community of Open Science practitioners and leaders in the Global South to learn together and contribute towards a pool of open knowledge on how networked collaboration could address local and global development challenges. The network is composed of twelve researcher-practitioner teams, and Natural Justice’s Dr. Cath Traynor manages the project team focused on South Africa and the ‘Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge Systems related to Climate Change and Intellectual Property Rights’ Project. Dr. Traynor and project partner Dr. Laura Foster (Indiana University) participated in the OCSDNet 2017 Workshop, in Limassol, Cyprus 2-5 June, 2017.

During the workshop the network launched the ‘Open and Collaborative Science Manifesto’, this was developed through a participatory consultative process with the network members from 26 countries to understand what are the values at the core of open science in development. Discussions revealed that there is not one way to do open science, but that it requires constant negotiation, reflection and the process will differ according to context. The network identified seven values and principles at the core of our vision for a more inclusive open science in development. These principles include, amongst others:
  • Recognizing cognitive justice and the need for diverse understandings of knowledge making to co-exist in science production;
  • That open science practices situated openness by addressing the ways in which context, power and inequality condition scientific research;
  • Every individual’s right to research and enables different forms of participation at all stages of the research process;
  • Equitable collaboration between scientists and social actors and cultivates co-creation and social innovation in society; and that,
  • Open and collaborative science strives to use knowledge as a pathway to sustainable development, equipping every individual to improve well-being of our society and planet.

The Manifesto is available in English, Afrikaans, French and Spanish, there is a short video explaining the concepts, and a suggested reading list for those keen to find out more.

Workshop participants also joined a series of panel discussions around four themes and chapters in the forthcoming ‘Situating and Contextualising Openness’ book which the network team is currently producing and finalizing. Each project within the network has produced an evidence-based chapter for the book, in which they explore the different issues around open and collaborative science. The official project time frame of OCSDNet is drawing to a close, and thus the issue of ‘field building’ was discussed with the aim to understand what a situated understanding of OCS tells us about the conditions necessary to build a common field and its potential development outcomes and impacts. Issues included who can do science? Who can produce science and write about science? The current power structure of global scientific production and dissemination is hierarchical and market-driven – can open science challenge this and create the potentials for new spaces of collaboration and co-creation of science? The workshop closed with participants thinking to the future regards policy implications and future research questions. The Storify from the conference is available here if you missed the tweets from the workshop.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Capturing Community Images - Ethics and Ownership

Photo credit: Cath Traynor/Natural Justice
Natural Justice has been engaging with the Indigenous Nama community in Khuboes, Richtersveld, South Africa on a suite of issues related to climate change, indigenous knowledge, intellectual property rights and academic research processes. Cath Traynor and international intern, Andrew Williamson visited Kuboes together with a professional photographer. Our objective was to work together with community representatives to capture images that will illustrate the issues we have been exploring together.

Inspired by on-going work with our research partners on ethics and socially-just research processes, we applied the learnings to inform our engagement on issues related to capturing images of the landscape and community.  The idea had arisen through discussions with youth, we developed the concept, produced individual consent forms specifically for photographs that would include community members, and sought community-level consent from the traditional leader. We then worked with a community elder who advised on us locations and imagery and joined us for the duration. The framing is that the final photographs will be owned by the community and we request licence to use the images for specific purposes related to our joint areas of work. 

The activity surfaced issues related to ethics, consent processes, ownership and use of images, different generational perspectives around photographs and privacy particularly in light of the ubiquity of cell phone cameras and use of social media platforms, and the possible burden of consent processes and practicalities. Through purposely engaging on these issues we are developing insights regards what implementation means in practice.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Indigenous Peoples and Conservation: A Call to Action

The United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has made a series of recommendations to promote the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of conservation activities. The Permanent Forum met in New York, and, as part of the proceedings, heard from Milka Chepkorir, a Sengwer woman from Kenya, who presented a joint statement on behalf of Forest Peoples Programme, Natural Justice and 20 other organisations. The statement highlighted the lack of implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of conservation policies and practices.

Milka Chepkorir (see photo below) shared with delegates recent human rights infringements from Kenya, where well over 90 Sengwer homes were burned down, allegedly by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), a government body. The incident was not isolated but was one of many forced evictions resulting in the destruction of Sengwer homes since the 1970s: evictions that have intensified since first the World Bank and now the EU began funding KFS. The apparent justification for the human rights violations is that the Sengwer should not be on conserved areas, yet, under international law and according to Kenyan Constitution, the Sengwer have a right to their ancestral lands, lands they have occupied – and indeed have conserved effectively – for generations.

Speaking after the Forum, Milka Chepkorir said: “Too often, indigenous peoples like the Sengwer are evicted from their land in the name of conservation. We Sengwer have lived in harmony with our forests for generations. Evicting us from our land doesn’t protect it; it makes our lands vulnerable to exploitation by others, including those who present themselves as conservationists in order to try to justify evicting us and taking our ancestral lands. We need protection to stop this happening, and to secure our communities, our forests and our future.”

Joji Carino, senior policy advisor at Forest Peoples Programme, added: “This year marks 10 years since the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The conservation community must show greater commitment and action to address the continuing human rights violations inflicted on indigenous peoples, on whose lands and territories, biological diversity is sustainably used and most effectively conserved”.

The Permanent Forum made a number of recommendations for action over the coming year, including undertaking a study to examine Conservation and Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights by two of its expert members: The Forum addressed the specific situation in Kenya, urging the government there to recognise and formally protect the land and resource rights of the Ogiek and Sengwer peoples. The Forum also urged the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to establish a task force on conservation and human rights to work with indigenous peoples’ communities and organisations both to articulate the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of conservation initiatives, and to continue to promote grievance mechanisms and avenues for redress in the context of conservation action, including the Whakatane Mechanism.

The full recommendations will be published in June.

Johanna von Braun, from Natural Justice, noted in response to the challenge faced: “While we certainly have seen over the last 10-15 years improved rhetoric by conservation actors on the need to respect human rights when establishing protected areas, implementation has been poor. It is time to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, not only when we are dealing with more ‘traditional’ land-related conflicts like infrastructure development or the extractive sector, but also in the conservation context.”
FPP and Natural Justice look forward to working together with partners across the world, and with the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in making sure that concrete steps are taken to reduce the gap that persists between policy commitments and conservation practice in some areas.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Too little and too late? Realising the Rights of Indigenous People in Conservation

A side event by Natural Justice and the Forest Peoples Programme during this year’s UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues called “Too little and too late? Realising the Rights of Indigenous People in Conservation” took place on Friday, 28 April, 2017, with the aim of pushing for a renewed focus on the issues surrounding conservation and human rights.  

While over the last few years we have seen an increasing recognition of the crucial role indigenous people play in conservation, highlighting the linkages between community rights to land and resources and biological diversity, the conservation sector continues to be accused of infringing the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. 

From the first denials of access of Native Americans to Yellowstone National Park in the 1860s to the on-going plight of the Sengwer community in Kenya (see photo above), there are many documented cases of indigenous peoples being evicted and subjugated in the name of conservation. A 2016 report on the matter by UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Vicky Tauli-Corpuz (see photo left), states that worldwide, 50% of Protected Areas were established on the territories and lands of Indigenous Peoples. This incidence is as high as 90% in Central America. 

Conservation interventions can impact on indigenous and other local communities in a number of ways, including: denial to the right to self determination, denial of free, prior and informed consent; lack of engagement by outsiders with indigenous institutions; eviction; unjust resettlement; destruction of property and livelihoods; denial of access and use of natural resources; intimidation and physical harm; and exploitative employment.

Recently, increasing attention has been paid to these kinds of infringements, including by the reports by two Special Rapporteurs, namely the aforementioned Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and Professor John Knox, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment.

It should be noted that these injustices have not been ignored by the conservation sector. Indeed, the adoption of the Durban Accord at the World Parks Congress in 2003 marked a shift as the conservation movement adopted a new paradigm of ‘People and Parks’ which recognised the central role of indigenous peoples in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

On top of that the conservation community has adopted some principles and policies recognising its legacy and the on-going human rights violations in many protected areas. These include:

  • IUCN initiated the Whakatane Mechanism in 2011 to enable visits to assess, address and redress injustices carried out in the name of conservation against indigenous peoples and local communities, on the ground.
  • A number of the larger conservation NGOs have established the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights.
  •  Several conservation NGOs have set up indigenous advisory groups or working groups on Human Rights

However, in spite of this improved rhetoric, implementation on the ground continues to be problematic, with on-going cases of human rights violations in the name of conservation.

The aim of the side-event was to build momentum towards a new focus on conservation and human rights by linking recent UN reports and recommendations with local experiences and proposals for ways forwards.

Speakers included Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who spoke about the recommendations coming out of her report on the matter; Ms Milka Chepkorir, who spoke about the plight of the Sengwer community in Kenya, which is suffering abuses  at the hands of the Kenya Forest Service; Mr Onel Maserdule, who spoke about conflicts between indigenous peoples and conservation initiatives in Panana; and Ms Tuhi Martukaw, from the Kasavakan Community, who added additional examples of such conflict from Taiwan (ROC).

Before opening up the floor for discussion, Milka Chepkorir also read the recommendations that were included in a formal submission called “Joint Submission on the Lack of implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the context of conservation policies and practices” to the Forum during its first week of deliberations. The submission was endorsed by a range of indigenous peoples organisations and their supporting organisations.

The recommendations are as follows:

We call on the Permanent Forum to:

a)   Take the lead in convening an Expert Group Meeting on Conservation and Human Rights in 2018, in collaboration with the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to further explore options for UN action to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of conservation activities, recognising that conservation science makes very clear that securing indigenous peoples’ collective tenure rights is the surest basis for effective, as well as just, conservation;

b)   Develop an Expert Report on Conservation and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to follow-up the recommendations and reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Special Rapporteur on Environment and Human Rights and to inform the work of relevant UN agencies and conventions;

c)  Pursue its recommendations to key global conservation organisations, with a focus on the members of the Conservation Initiative on Human Rights, and to request CIHR members to report in 2018 to the Forum on the implementation of the Initiative;

d)  Urge the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to establish a joint Task Force on Conservation and Human Rights to work with indigenous peoples' organisations to clearly articulate the rights of indigenous peoples in the context of conservation initiatives, and to continue to promote grievance mechanisms and avenues to redress in the context of conservation action, including the Whakatane Mechanism (in turn, contributing to implementation of IUCN Resolution 6.072)[1];

e)  Urge International Financial Institutions, the European Commission, the Global Environment Facility and other donors to apply the strongest possible safeguards in the financing of conservation programmes and projects, including climate change mitigation and adaptation actions, and to recognise collective tenure as the most effective basis for effective conservation and sustainable use of natural resources;

We also call the attention of the Permanent Forum to the following specific case and associated recommendation:

f)   Recommend to the European Union and the Government of Kenya that financing and planned actions in the Cherangany Hills in western Kenya be contingent on the recognition and formal protection of the rights of the forest indigenous peoples, including the Ogiek and the Sengwer, to their lands, as provided for under the Community Land Act, 2016, and the 2010 Constitution, especially Article 63 (2) d ii.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Contracting Justice Workshop: Exploring socially just research processes

Participants at the Contracting Justice Workshop
(Photo credit: Cath Traynor/Natural Justice)
On the 13th and 14th March Natural Justice hosted a workshop centred on community-research contracts ensuring socially just research processes. This workshop aimed to gain valuable insights from indigenous communities through exploring the development of a ‘community-researcher contract’ between communities and researchers within the context of researching indigenous knowledge related to climate change.

The objectives of the workshop included legally empowering participants on issues related to laws and policies on indigenous knowledge systems, intellectual property rights and research ethics, and exploring the concept of contracts as a tool, and also critically reflecting upon the trail implementation of ‘community-researcher contract’ between two indigenous communities and three institutions conducting research with them.

The first day focused on legal empowerment and internal community discussions with representatives from the Nama, Griqua and Khomani San communities and a legal adviser.  The following day wider stakeholders were invited, including representatives from the University of Cape Town, Indiana University (USA), legal experts, civil society organisations including the Heinrich Boell Stiftung Southern Africa, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, and the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network (OCSDNet). These varied interests and opinions contributed to a productive discussion regards where the tensions lie between the respective parties regards how research with indigenous peoples, both in terms of the frameworks that guide research processes and how in practice research with indigenous communities is conducted. Areas of tensions were identified and the role that community-researcher contracts could play to resolve these discussed.

Important aspects concerning policies alongside ethical and legal approaches were raised and considered in detail throughout the session. Issues were voiced surrounding the importance of consent processes, openness of research – but also some of the dangers of making indigenous knowledge open, particularly regards intellectual property issues, and that research process should benefit communities.

A particular notable and worthwhile moment of the workshop was hearing the opinions and viewpoints of the indigenous community’s youth representatives who stressed the importance of transparency, participatory action, capacity for further legal empowerment of the community members and beneficiation. Their involvement in this session was especially valuable for other participants in order to better understand from the community perspective, where and what the key issues were regards the development and implementation of research projects with communities or in their traditional lands.

Looking forward, these discussions will feed into the final analysis of the potential role of ‘community-researcher contracts’ as a tool to protect communities rights and to enable communities to negotiate mutually-beneficial research processes with research institutions. This analysis is being conducted by Natural Justice’s Climate Change Program together with research partners Dr. Laura Foster (Indiana University) and Dr. Tobias Schonwetter (Intellectual Property Unit, University of Cape Town), the Nama community in Khuboes, and the Griqua community in Vredendal.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Roundtable Discussion on the Draft National Adaptation Strategy, South Africa

The Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office, hosted a roundtable discussion on the South African draft National Adaptation Strategy in Cape Town on the 24th February, 2017.

Upon the publication of the National Climate Change Response Policy (NCCPR) White Paper, all provinces and multiple local governmental entities prepared individual adaptation strategies. This is in conjunction with the adaptation strategies that have been developed in the private sector. In order to align the various adaptation strategies, found both regionally and throughout the private sector, South Africa’s Draft National Adaptation Strategy was developed to reflect a more unified, cross-sectoral approach to climate change adaptation.

Assoc. Prof Gina Ziervogel (Adaptation and Vulnerability Specialist, University of Cape Town) provided an assessment of the draft National Adaption Strategy which has been produced by the Department of Environmental Affairs of South Africa. Strategic aspects of the Adaptation Strategy were openly discussed and presented with diverging opinions regarding the overall content from the various parties present. Strengths of the draft included recognition of the broader developmental context within South Africa, the cross-sectoral approach, attention to monitoring and evaluation, recognition for capacity building, on-going stakeholder consultation, and the role of science and academics. Concerns included terminology, for example the term ‘resilience’ covers too many areas, the relevance of the criteria used to assess and map vulnerability, ability to capture data and learning in practice, and the suggested institutional architecture regards where to house climate change within government. The discussion culminated in a round-table discussion with individuals expressing the role their respective organisations are playing in adaptation strategies.

Public consultation on the draft National Adaptation Strategy is sought until the 28th February 2017. This enables stakeholders to contribute comments on the content of the strategy. Emainasfeedback<at>clarityeditorial.co.za for an official evaluation form.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Balancing the Scales - Final Report on Community Protocols and Extractives Published

Are community protocols useful in assisting communities to respond to the challenges posed by extractive industries or large scale infrastructure development? For the last three years, four communities in Argentina, India, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, respectively, have been participating in a project that seeks to answer this question (click here for more information). 

The aim of the research project, implemented by Natural Justice with the support of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and in partnership with organisations and communities in Argentina, India, Kenya and Zimbabwe, was to build a better understanding of the ways in which community protocols can be effective in the context of extractive industries and related infrastructure development. The project, which commenced in 2013, has followed and supported community protocol processes in each of these countries. It has supported the sharing of information about protocols among all of the communities, as well as with the public, and resulted in the creation of a Community Protocols Toolbox that sets forth guidance on what facilitators should consider before and while embarking on a protocol process.

The project recently came to an end with the publication of a report, which provides an overview of what has taken place over the last three years in each of the four community protocol processes. The report also captures lessons that can be applied to future protocol processes, should other communities and civil society actors wish to engage in them. The report can be found here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Appel à candidature: chercheur/chercheuse en République de Guinée

Nous élargissons notre équipe et cherchons un chercheur/une chercheuse sur les impacts des industries extractives basé(e) en Guinée Conakry.

We are expanding out team and looking for a researcher based in Guinea Conakry to work on impacts of extractives and infrastructure projects.

Que cherchons-nous ?

Natural Justice va entreprendre une étude qui examine les stratégies utilisées par les communautés et la société civile pour atténuer les impacts des projets miniers et d'infrastructure et offrir des recours adéquats aux personnes touchées. Ces recherches feront partie d'une étude sur trois pays, comprenant également le Kenya et le Zimbabwe, qui vise à partager et à améliorer les stratégies et programmes appliqués dans différents contextes.

Nous recherchons un(e) chercheur/chercheuse à plein temps ou à temps partiel pour entreprendre l'étude en République de Guinée et fournir des conseils techniques aux groupes concernés ou à la société civile, au besoin. Le/la candidat(e) retenu(e) sera basé(e) en Guinée, avec des voyages internationaux occasionnels lorsque nécessaire, et devra commencer à travailler immédiatement.

Date limite: 05 Mars 2017

Pour plus de détails, voyez: http://naturaljustice.org/job/appel-candidature-chercheurchercheuse-en-republique-de-guinee/

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Two Worlds of Nagoya: new publication by Natural Justice and Public Eye

A new report, published by Public Eye and Natural Justice, shows the large discrepancies between the EU ABS framework and emerging provider country laws in how they implement the Nagoya Protocol, and the consequences for access and benefit sharing.  

The study will be presented at a side event during the 13th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Cancún, Mexico on Wednesday 14 December 2016 at 18:15 in Side-event Room 2, Universal building. 

It focuses on three issues:

1.     The “temporal scope”:
The EU Regulation takes the position that benefit sharing obligations are triggered by the physical access to a genetic resource (GR) or associated traditional knowledge (aTK) in the country of origin, and limits the obligations of users of GRs and aTK to uses of resources that have been accessed in provider countries after the Nagoya Protocol has been ratified by both the EU and the country of origin. This is in contrast with the understanding of most, if not all, provider countries, whose legislations consider that benefit sharing should be triggered by the utilization of GR and aTK. This should include any new utilization of GR and aTK after the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol or the national ABS law of the provider country, even if the physical access took place before (as is the case with the majority of GR and aTK held in ex-situ collections, for instance).

2.     Associated Traditional Knowledge:
The EU regulation limits the aTK that falls under its provisions by defining it as “traditional knowledge held by an indigenous or local community that is relevant for the utilisation of genetic resources and that is as such described in the mutually agreed terms applying to the utilisation of genetic resources”. This definition – i.e. including only aTK that is mentioned in MAT - is concerning because it makes it near impossible to track the illegal access and utilisation of aTK, i.e. the utilisation of aTK which has been accessed without PIC (prior informed consent) and MAT.

3.     The “import loophole”:
A significant gap in the EU regulation exists because it requires due diligence only from users of GR and aTK within the EU – not from parties selling or otherwise commercially profiting from products based on GR and aTK which were developed outside of the EU and then imported.
The study argues that these discrepancies between the EU regulation and provider country legislations will lead to legal uncertainty for providers and users alike. This in turn, if solutions are not found, could lead to more restrictive access measures by provider countries. It goes on to propose potential measures that can be taken by various actors to maintain the spirit of the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol, fulfil the rights of provider countries and of indigenous peoples and local communities, and achieve fair and equitable benefit sharing.

For more information 
Barbara Lassen, barbara@naturaljustice.org, Natural Justice
Francois Meienberg, francois.meienberg@publiceye.ch, Public Eye 

Friday, November 11, 2016

CAPE TOWN HUB- SKILL SHARE SESSION: Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Africa; With a Special Focus on Central, Eastern and Southern Africa

Guest Speaker & author
Dr. Albert Kwokwo Barume,
UN Chair to Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

On the 31st of October 2016, the Cape Town hub hosted a Skill and Information Sharing Session with our eminent guest speaker, Dr. Albert Barume.  He is an African lawyer from the DRC region. He is one of the leading experts around land, human rights and related matters affecting indigenous peoples. He played a key role in leading the protection of rights and norms of indigenous peoples in especially the Africa region and internationally. He also led on the process engaging African governments to support the vote in favour of adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during 2007. Which resulted in the development of the Advisory Opinion of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights Commission on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples impacting the adoption of the UNDRIP during September 2007. He also serves as an expert member to the African Commission’s special mechanism called the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa.  For our skill share session he was a discussant to his book called, Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Africa: With a Special Focus on Central, Eastern and Southern Africa.

He touched on important issues ranging from the human rights-based meaning pertaining the conceptualization of indigenous peoples’ rights in Africa. He also discussed the land rights challenges faced by IPs in the region. Highlighting the importance of the preservation and protection of their land use and management systems, as well as their ways of life.