Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kinabalu Biocultural Law Project

On the 20th of December, Natural Justice and Borneo Conservancy entered into a Memorandum of Understanding relating to the Kinabalu Biocultural Law Project. The project will be undertaken in partnership with the Sabah Biodiversity Centre and will explore with a number of Dusun communities living around Kinabalu Park (Sabah, Malaysia) innovative ways of engaging with laws towards protecting their biological and cultural diversity. The project will build on the work undertaken by partners to the Projek Etnobotani Kinabalu (Kinabalu Ethnobotany Project) and a recent study on traditional ecological knowledge and Indigenous peoples' and community conserved areas (some outputs of which are available online). The project will also benefit from input from Dr. Agnes Lee Agama (South East Asia Coordinator of the Global Diversity Foundation) acting in her personal capacity. Natural Justice looks forward to working with the communities and team on the project.

L-R in the photo: Dorothy Lim, Lanash Thanda, Alice Mathew, and Daniel Doughty (Borneo Conservancy); Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Report: Land Rights and the Rush for Land

The International Land Coalition (ILC), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) have released a new report entitled, "Land Rights and the Rush for Land: Findings of the Global Commercial Pressures on Land Research Project". Authored by Ward Anseeuw, Liz Alden Wily, Lorenzo Cotula, and Michael Taylor, the report is the culmination of a three-year research project that brought together 40 ILC members and partners to examine the characteristics, drivers, impacts, and trends of rapidly increasing commercial pressures on land.

According to the online synopsis, the report "strongly urges models of investment that do not involve large-scale land acquisitions, but rather work together with local land users, respecting their land rights and the ability of small-scale farmers themselves to play a key role in investing to meet the food and resource demands of the future. The conclusions of the report are based on case studies that provide indicative evidence of local and national realities, and on the ongoing global monitoring of large-scale land deals for which data are subject to a continuous process of verification." Although research and monitoring will continue, the report draws some conclusions and policy implications from the evidence already gathered.

The full report and executive summaries in English, French, and Spanish are available online.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Save Lamu Nominated for Human Rights Award

Save Lamu, a coalition of Indigenous communities of Lamu, Kenya, has been working with Natural Justice to develop a biocultural community protocol (BCP) to call for transparency and participation in the development of a mega-port on their traditional lands and waters from the Kenyan Government. For its outstanding efforts to ensure fairness and dignity for the people of Lamu and Kenya, Save Lamu has been nominated to receive a Pwani Human Rights Award. The annual Pwani Human Rights Award, organized by Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), aims at recognizing individuals and organizations who are at the forefront of promoting and protecting civil liberties and fundamental freedoms in Kenya. 

Congratulations to all representatives of Save Lamu for this well-deserved nomination! To support the efforts of Save Lamu please contact info@savelamu.org

Friday, December 9, 2011

Submission to UN WG on Human Rights and TNCs

On 8 December, Natural Justice and the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) made a joint submission on ‘Large-Scale, Industrial Methods of Extraction, Production, and Development and their Impacts on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ to the UN Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises.

The submission documents the varied and significant negative impacts of industrial extraction of natural resources, large‐scale energy and infrastructure development projects, and industrial production systems such as agriculture and fishing on Indigenous peoples and local communities. These impacts include, among others, the violation of human rights, environmental destruction, disempowerment, poverty, displacement, and adverse effects on health, local development, cultures, and tradition.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Conference on the Nagoya Protocol

Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) attended a conference at the University of Edinburgh from 2-3 of December focusing on the Nagoya Protocol. Many of the attendees were integral to the negotiation of the protocol and included presentations from: Valerie Normand (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity); Maria Julia Oliva (Union for Ethical Biotrade), Alphonse Kambu (UNEP); Charlotte Salpin (UNDOALOS); Claudio Chiarolla (IDDRI); and Tomme Young. Harry presented a paper he is co-authoring with Peter Munyi on the opportunities and challenges relating to the implementation of Articles 6, 7, 12 and 21 of the Nagoya protocol with reference to the San-Hoodia case and the ongoing experiences of the Traditional Healers of Bushbuckridge. The conference papers will be published in a forthcoming book edited by Elisa Morgera, Matthias Buck and Elsa Tsiomani. There was also a session reviewing a forthcoming commentary on the Nagoya Protocol, which will augment the book. Harry thanks Elisa Morgera and her team for the kind invitation.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Presenting BCPs in the Mau Forest

With a long history of exclusion from their traditional homes and increasing pressures on land tenure from politically connected outsiders, the Ogiek community is engaging in domestic and international legal action to protect their rights. The Ogiek Peoples' Development Program (OPDP), a key organisation in this process, suggested that Natural Justice could assist in supporting the Ogiek to establish their rights over their lands and resources. OPDP and Natural Justice agreed that one mechanism to help consolidate community sentiment around land and conservation and supplement the pending court cases could be a Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP).

On 2nd December, Natural Justice travelled to meet with over 50 elders and other representatives of the Ogiek community of the Mau Forest, near Nakuru, Kenya, to explain the principles of BCPs and ascertain if the community was interested in pursuing a BCP. At the meeting Natural Justice presented on the process of developing a BCP, focusing on the importance of engaging the broadest possible section of the community through all stages of the BCP development.

After this presentation community members asked questions about the practical steps needed to establish a BCP. They offered suggestions on how to ensure full participation. The attendees unanimously endorsed OPDP's suggestion that a BCP process should be initiated.

Friday, December 2, 2011

International Law Discussion Group


On 1 December, Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) met with Edinburgh University’s International Law Discussion Group to present on Natural Justice’s work. PhD and Masters students engaged with the local application of international law and considered the complexities, opportunities and challenges of using a variety of legal frameworks to effect social and environmental change. Harry thanks David Rossati and Professor Elisa Morgera for the opportunity.

BCPs, REDD+ and CBD Safeguards at COP17

On 1 December at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa, Natural Justice co-hosted a panel entitled "Biocultural Protocols: Lessons for REDD+ Safeguards from the CBD Experiences". The event was hosted in collaboration with the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA), and the Global Forest Coalition (GFC).

The purpose of the panel was to raise awareness of a number of decisions, tools and guidelines that have been developed under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) during its 20-year history and to highlight their usefulness and cross-leverage rights to mitigate risks associated with Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+).

Thursday, December 1, 2011

BCP Initiative Meeting in Nairobi

On 30th November, Natural Justice hosted participants and partners of the African BCP Initiative in Nairobi. Members of the Initiative presented on their Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) development workplans and implementation and members and partners offered feedback on ensuring meaningful BCPs. Throughout the day the key themes that emerged were the importance of good process in preparing BCPs and ideas for increasing the practical uses of BCPs.

Members represented a wide range of communities. The Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD) described the work of two communities in Ghana who are preparing BCPs to protect the Shea Tree and coastal sacred groves.  Local organizations working with pastoralist communities in Ilkesumeti and Kivulini, Kenya, shared their aims, which primarily address issues of land security, and the process through which they are engaging with their respective communities to ensure community ownership of the BCPs. Save Lamu presented on the BCP they are developing to enable local communities in Lamu to assert their rights as the Kenyan government prepares to build a major port in Lamu without any meaningful community consultation. MELCA Ethiopia illustrated the BCP being prepared with communities in Sheka Forest to consolidate their land rights and assert their traditional practices of conserving the forest. Representatives from the Laikipia Abandoned Lands Project and the USAID SECURE Project shared successes in community protection of land rights and developments in Kenyan law relevant to communities.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BCPs and Livestock Keepers' Rights in Nairobi

With drought and disease showing the potential to devastate livestock breeds developed for concentrated production, traditionally bred livestock are gaining attention from conservationists and commercial interests. In this context, the role of Indigenous peoples in breeding these livestock across generations and in ensuring sustainable grazing is increasingly recognised. This recognition is the foundation of the growing movement for national and international rights for livestock keepers. Biocultural Community Protocols (BCPs), through which communities can articulate their ways of life and practices of livestock breeding and sustainable grazing, are an emerging vehicle for asserting these rights.

In this context, Natural Justice participated in “Biocultural Protocols: An emerging approach to strengthening livestock keeping communities”, a one-day workshop hosted by the League for Pastoral Peoples (LPP) and the LIFE Network on 29th November in Karen, Nairobi, Kenya. Representatives from governments, NGOs, international organisations, and livestock keepers from six countries attended.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Third Biotrade Pilot in Vohimana, Madagascar

From 9-10 November, the last of three pilots linking the use of elements of biocultural community protocols (BCPs) in a Ethical BioTrade context took place in Vohimana, Madagascar. The series of pilots is part of a joined project between the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT), GIZ, and Natural Justice aiming to explore the use of BCPs as a means to support UEBT members to strengthen their relationships with the local communities from whom they source natural ingredients. Vohimana is a 1600-hectare (ha) experimental reserve created by the NGO L'Homme et L'Environment. The area is a biodiversity hotspot and is divided into an 800 ha conservation zone, a reforestation zone, a production zone, and a residential area where several villages are located. In addition to conservation and restoration, the aim of the reserve is to generate sustainable livelihoods through promoting a range of activities that support the local communities to use the area sustainably. The activities include the promotion of a number of small micro-businesses ranging from eco-tourism to the production of essential oils used as ingredients for cosmetics.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Natural Justice Seeking Francophone Lawyer for Africa

Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment is seeking a Francophone lawyer or legal practitioner for its African projects. The lawyer/legal practitioner would primarily be working on the interface between community rights and environmental law, described as bio-cultural rights, and ideally would have a background in these fields. He/she would be required to assist in regional projects advising communities, community based organizations (CBOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and governments on relevant human rights and environmental law and policy, including  the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The individual should be fluent in English and French and be able to communicate technical legal language to a wide range of audiences, ranging from communities to policy makers and international negotiators. The lawyer/legal practitioner would be based out of the Cape Town, South Africa, office and be required to travel frequently. The full call for applications can be read below.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Working Group on Article 8(j) Concludes in Montreal

The 7th Meeting of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8(j)-7) concluded in the evening of 4 November in Montreal. Throughout the week, delegates considered a range of issues, including:
  • Progress report on the Programme of Work on Article 8(j) and related provisions;
  • Mechanisms to promote the effective participation of Indigenous peoples and local communities in matters related to the objectives of Article 8(j) and related provisions of the CBD;
  • Multi-year Programme of Work on the implementation of Article 8(j) and related provisions, with a new major component on Article 10 with a focus on Article 10(c), as well as focus on development of sui generis systems for the protection of traditional knowledge and development of indicators relevant for traditional knowledge and customary use;
  • In-depth dialogue on thematic areas and other cross-cutting issues of ecosystem management, ecosystem services, and protected areas;
  • Recommendations from the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and
  • Adoption of recommendations.
The Secretariat’s meeting report and all of the in-session documents, including L docs with draft recommendations submitted by the Chair, are available online. For more detailed information about the negotiations' outcomes, read the Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary and analysis.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Side Events on BCPs, REDD, ABS, and Protected Areas

At the 7th meeting of the Working Group on Article 8(j) (WG8(j)) held in Montreal from 31 October to 4 November, Natural Justice participated in four side events hosted by other organizations. The first side event hosted by Asociacion ANDES and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) was entitled, "Customary Norms and Biocultural Protocols in the Potato Park, Peru" and focused on the development of an inter-community agreement for equitable benefit-sharing based on Quechua customary laws, and the role of the agreement in strengthening local economies and knowledge systems. The side event also launched a new publication on the biocultural protocol of the six Quechua communities that established, governed and managed the Potato Park as an in-situ gene bank under their stewardship.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Side Event on Recognizing and Supporting ICCAs

Women in Pa' Upan, Krayan Selatan, Indonesia.
Credit: Cristina Eghenter
On Wednesday, 2 November at the 7th Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8(j)), Natural Justice co-hosted a side event with the Union of Indigenous Nomadic Pastoralist Tribes of Iran and the ICCA Consortium entitled, “Recognizing and Supporting Territories and Areas Conserved by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities”. It included a number of presentations from Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ experiences and lessons learned with the recognition and support of ICCAs in different contexts.

Territories and areas conserved by Indigenous peoples and local communities (also known as ICCAs) are a phenomenon of global significance for the earth's biodiversity and ecosystem functions, cultural and linguistic diversity, and livelihood security. If appropriately recognized and supported, ICCAs could account for the conservation of as much land and natural resources around the world as those currently under government protected areas. Since 2003 and 2004, respectively, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) have stressed the need to better understand and appropriately support ICCAs. CBD Decision X/31 also calls upon Parties to recognize the role of ICCAs in biodiversity conservation, collaborative management, and the diversification of protected area governance types.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roundtable on Indigenous Peoples' Territories at WG8(j)

On Tuesday, 1 November at the 7th Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8(j)), Natural Justice hosted a roundtable on Indigenous peoples’ territories and community conserved areas. Members of Indigenous peoples and local communities from Zimbabwe, Australia, Canada, and Iran shared their experiences with varying types of legal recognition of collective rights to territories, areas, and resources, recognition of customary governance and management systems, and identity as a function of cultural connection to lands and waters.

Inappropriate forms of recognition and support was a common theme, particularly in cases where government or market-based mechanisms either retain ownership or decision-making power or have the potential to significantly undermine that of communities, primarily due to lack of attention to governance issues and inequitable sharing of costs and benefits. Other major barriers and challenges include far-reaching assimilationist policies, lack of full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples and local communities in decision-making processes that affect them, and a “clash of values” between customary and state legal systems and the collective and individual rights that they respectively elicit.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Forest Peoples' Experiences with Implementation of Article 10(c)

On the opening day of the 7th Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8(j)), the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) co-hosted a side event entitled, “Content and Implementation of the New Major Component of Work on Customary Sustainable Use (Article 10(c)) in the Programme of Work on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions”. John Scott (SCBD) stressed the fundamental nature of Article 10(c) to Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ ways of life, highlighted the experts’ meeting on Article 10(c) held in June, and encouraged Parties to take into account the Addis Ababa Guidelines.

Caroline de Jong (FPP) introduced the “10(c) project”, which has been ongoing since 2004 and comprised of documenting customary practices, rules, and laws and their relation to conservation and sustainable use, identifying threats to customary systems, and providing recommendations for more effective implementation of Article 10(c). The remainder of the presentation was given by a group of FPP partners: Kid James (Wapichan people, Guyana); Auchalee Phonklieng and Sakda Saenmi (Karen people, IMPECT, Thailand); and Muhammed Abdul Baten (traditional resource users of the Sundarbans, Unnayan Onneshan, Bangladesh).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

NJ in Montreal for Working Group on Article 8(j)

Kabir Bavikatte and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) are in Montreal, Canada, for the 7th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (WG8(j)). The meeting will take place from 31 October to 4 November and will be preceded by a capacity building workshop on access and benefit sharing from 29-30 October.

Natural Justice will co-host and participate in a range of side events and meetings and will post reports on this blog throughout the week. Daily coverage of the negotiations will be provided by IISD Reporting Services.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Exploring Access and Benefit Sharing in the ASEAN Region

Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) attended an ASEAN regional capacity development workshop on access and benefit sharing (ABS) in Manila, Philippines, from 25-26 October. The workshop was organized by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity and was attended by government officials, international organizations, NGOs, and academics. Over the two days, attendees heard presentations on the history of the Nagoya Protocol and experiences of national implementation from across the region and discussed challenges and opportunities. Natural Justice presented on our work and launched a publication entitled Community Protocols and ABS.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Building Capacity of Conservation Groups on ABS

On 26 October, the ABS Capacity Development Initiative and Conservation International hosted a one-day capacity building event for conservation organisations in the Washington, D.C., area on access and benefit sharing (ABS). Entitled "ABS and Conservation: Opportunities and Challenges for the Future", the event included speakers who have been working in the ABS context for many years, including Pierre du Plessis from CRIAA and Jorge Cabrera from INBio, Costa Rica. Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) also presented on the use of biocultural community protocols for the implementation of ABS at the local level.

The event provided participants with a general overview of ABS, the Nagoya Protocol and a number of case studies, and raised question in terms of the overlaps between ABS and conservation and how ABS should function as an incentive for conservation. A number of participants particularly highlighted the importance of linking questions related to resource governance to conservation and ABS and the importance of connecting questions regarding resource rights to establishing successful ABS incentive schemes that lead to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The day ended with a fruitful discussion and brainstorming session on the particular role that conservation groups such Conservation International can play in making ABS work in practice.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Publication on Community Protocols in Peru

Asociacion ANDESthe Quechua communities of the Potato Park, and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) have released a new publication entitled, "Community Biocultural Protocols: Building Mechanisms for Access and Benefit-sharing Among the Communities of the Potato Park based on Quechua Customary Norms".

The description is as follows: "The Potato Park communities in Peru are deeply committed to the conservation of biocultural resources, associated knowledge, and indigenous rights, and undertook this research to further investigate the role of customary norms and institutions in the protection of traditional knowledge (TK) and resources. The development of a Biocultural Protocol, in the form of the Inter-community Agreement for Equitable Access and Benefit Sharing, is the result of their efforts. In addition to providing a valuable example of effective community-based protection of TK and genetic or biological resources in praxis, this initiative is also one of only a handful of examples worldwide of working models that stem directly from customary laws and norms.

Given the present international paucity of models that adequately value and protect indigenous and local community rights, biodiversity and customary norms and practices in relation to benefit sharing and access to resources and knowledge – the present initiative may further serve as an example of best practice in relation to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol. Spanish translation is forthcoming." More information is available on the IIED website on biocultural heritage.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

ABS Initiative Workshop in Malawi

Kabir Bavikatte and Sabine Zajderman (Natural Justice) attended the Fourth Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Workshop for Eastern and Southern Africa in Malawi from 17-22 October. The workshop, organized by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa (ABS Initiative) and hosted by the Environmental Affairs Department of Malawi, was the first in the sub-region since the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In light of this development, African countries are now discussing and identifying relevant ABS strategies at national, sub-regional, and regional levels to address the challenge of implementing the Nagoya Protocol. This meeting also echoed the Fourth ABS Sub-Regional Workshop for West Africa and the Maghreb, which was coordinated and facilitated by the ABS Initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Sanitation of Mali and held in Bamako, Mali, from 26 September to 1 October.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

ABS Training Course in Nairobi

Sabine Zajderman and Laureen Manuel (Natural Justice) attended a 5-day training course on access and benefit sharing (ABS) in Nairobi, Kenya, from 10-14 October. The course was aimed at addressing the capacity constraints faced by African countries in implementing ABS at the national and regional levels. About 30 delegates working in the field of ABS from East and Southern Africa attended the course, which was hosted by the Strathmore Executive Legal Education Programme (SELEP) in collaboration with the ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa. The course contents, designed by the Environmental Evaluation Unit of the University of Cape Town, included presentations on the key provisions of the Nagoya Protocol, traditional knowledge issues, and intellectual property rights, as well as case studies of actual experiences with ABS in Africa.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

First Symposium on ICCAs in Indonesia

Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) attended the first-ever national symposium on the status, prospects, options, and opportunities for Indigenous peoples' conserved territories and areas conserved by Indigenous peoples and local communities (ICCAs) in Indonesia, organized by the People's Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA), the Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme for South and South-east Asia (NTFP-EP), Forest Peoples Programme, the ICCA Consortium, and WWF-Indonesia. The symposium took place from 13-14 October at the CIFOR campus in Bogor with support from The Christensen Fund, UNDP, GIZ, and WWF-Indonesia.

The two days comprised a number of presentations on diverse community experiences with conserved territories and areas across Indonesia, as well as a select few from other countries such as Iran, Panama, and the Philippines. The legal framework, including challenges and opportunities for official recognition of ICCAs, was elaborated by local legal NGO HuMa. Working groups discussed a range of questions, including the extent and local expressions and types of ICCAs in Indonesia; barriers to appropriate recognition and support; and future steps to promote the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities, livelihoods, and conservation. Many thanks to Crissy Guerrero and the rest of the organizing committee for hosting us in Bogor!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

ICCA Consortium General Assembly in Bogor

Natural Justice participated in the 4th General Assembly of the ICCA Consortium on 12 October in Bogor, Indonesia, at the CIFOR campus. It was attended by 31 people, including representatives of Member organizations, Honorary Members, and the new regional co-coordinators. The Assembly included reports from the President (Taghi Farvar), Coordinator (Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend), Treasurer (Stan Stevens), Auditor of Accounts (Maurizio Farhan Ferrari), Chair of the Statutes Committee (Harry Jonas), regional coordinators, and Global Communications Officer (Vanessa Reid). The Assembly resulted in the adoption of the 2012 budget, revised Statutes, draft Procedural Guidelines and Membership Policy, and Global Communication Plan.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ICCA Consortium Retreat in Indonesia

Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) participated in a retreat of the ICCA Consortium from 6-11 October in Prana Dewi, Bali, Indonesia. The 6-day agenda brought together the new regional co-coordinators, the Consortium Secretariat, and some Member organizations and Honorary Members for the first time to discuss and plan a range of issues and initiatives.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Upcoming ICCA Consortium Events in Indonesia

Harry Jonas and Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) will be joining other members of the ICCA Consortium from 5-15 October in Indonesia for a series of events. At a retreat from 6-11 October, the Consortium Steering Committee and Regional Coordinators will tackle a number of issues ranging from the action plan, 2020 Vision, and ongoing initiatives and partnerships to a global legal review and strategic inputs to international policy fora.

The 4th General Assembly will be held on 12 October at the CIFOR Campus in Bogor. From 13-14 October, the first ever national symposium on ICCAs will take place in Bogor. It will explore the concept, practice, limitations, and opportunities of ICCAs in Indonesia and, if appropriate, provide initial stimulus and support to a broad alliance of organizations and people willing to engage in appropriate follow-up activities.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Indigenous Declaration on Climate Change and Traditional Knowledge

As the next round of negotiations under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) opened in Panama, a gathering in Finland of Indigenous leaders from around the world has called upon the international community to remove scientific bias against Indigenous knowledge from climate change science and policy. The meeting adopted the Sevettijärvi Declaration, which calls upon the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to make all efforts necessary to include Indigenous knowledge and local perspectives in its assessment processes.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

African Regional CBD Consultations on REDD+

Kabir Bavikatte and Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) participated in the African regional consultation and capacity building workshop on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries (REDD)-plus and biodiversity safeguards. The consultation/workshop was held in Cape Town from 20-23 September and is one of three regional workshops that the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat was requested to implement by Decision X/33 at the latest CBD Conference of the Parties. Natural Justice also attended the Asia regional consultation held in Singapore in March 2011.

At the workshop, different African countries presented on the status of their World Bank-supported Forest Carbon Partnership Facility  (
FCPF) REDD readiness preparation process. The participants were then divided into working groups that were required to provide recommendations on: a) d
eveloping advice on the application of relevant REDD-plus safeguards for biodiversity and Indigenous peoples and local communities; and b) identifying indicators to assess the contribution of REDD-plus to achieving the objectives of the CBD.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Radio Show on Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples

Conversations with the Earth has released an installment of a weekly radio show on climate change and Indigenous peoples. The description reads: "Global climate change is here. And only now, as our nation is ravaged by hurricanes, floods and droughts, is this new reality becoming all too obvious. But indigenous people in isolated communities around the world have been sounding the alarm for decades. This week we’ll meet indigenous messengers from Alaska and Peru who say it’s not too late to use traditional knowledge to reconnect with Mother Earth. And we’ll learn about a powerful new exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian launched to amplify their message to the world." Guest on the show include Tim Johnson (Mohawk and Associate Director for Museum Programs, National Museum of the American Indian), Sarah James (Gwich’in tribal leader, Arctic Village, Alaska, and winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize), Maja Tillman (Senior Associate, InsightShare), Irma Luz Poma Canchumani (Quechua traditional gourd-carver), Nico Villaume (freelance photographer), and Brian Keane (Director, Land is Life).

The radio show, which is supported by The Christensen Fund, can be downloaded online. The exhibition on Indigenous Voices on Climate Change is being held at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., from 22 July, 2011, to 2 January, 2012.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Protests in Lamu Over Proposed Port

The communities of Lamu, Kenya, who are currently developing a biocultural community protocol in relation to a mega port to be built in their District, recently held a protest to demand information on the port and consultation in the process. The protest was held after the community learnt from the media that the government of Kenya is planning to begin the construction of the port prior to making any efforts for consulting the local communities. The group started protesting from the National Environmental Management Authority up to the Kenya Ports Authority and Town Square. During their protests, Save Lamu carried with them the letters of appeal that have been sent to government officials, non-governmental organizations, and individuals nationally and internationally as well as copies of the Save Lamu petition to the government of Kenya calling for involvement in the port process that will have dire affects on their livelihoods and environment. Information on the communities' effort can be found at www.savelamu.org.

Monday, September 19, 2011

NJ Attends Wild Law Conference in Brisbane

Participants Alessandro Pelizzon (left) and Maria Zotti.
From 16-18 September, Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia) hosted Australia’s 3rd Wild Law Conference, entitled “Earth Jurisprudence 2011: Building Theory and Practice”. Earth Jurisprudence is an emerging theory of law that proposes that we rethink our legal and political systems to make sure they support, rather than undermine, the integrity and health of the earth. Over three days, the participants heard presentations from a number of important thinkers and practitioners, including Aboriginal leader Michael Anderson, Cormac Cullinan (EnAct International, South Africa), Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe (Griffith University), Peter Burdon (Australia Wild Law Alliance), Professor Klaus Bosselmann (University of Auckland), Brendan Mackey (Australia National University), Chief Justice Preston (New South Wales), Senator Larissa Waters, Alessandro Pelizzon (Southern Cross University), Judith Koons (Centre for Earth Jurisprudence), Maria Zotti (South Australian Department Environment), and filmmaker Ellie Gilbert.

The conference was also host to the launching of Australian Wild Law Alliance and the Earth Laws Research Network, as well as to the second edition of Wild Law (Cullinan) and Exploring Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence (Burdon, ed.). Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) presented on Biocultural Rights and Responsibilities: Political Ecology, Jurisprudence, Resistance and Engagement to illustrate the theoretical foundations of Natural Justice's work. Natural Justice thanks Michelle Maloney and her team for a great conference.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

NJ Article on BCPs and Biocultural Rights

Mikey Salter and Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) recently wrote an article entitled "Biocultural Community Protocols: Bridging the Gap Between Customary, National and International Law" for the latest issue of the Effectius Newsletter. It begins by saying, "Over the last two decades as a result of the Indigenous peoples’ rights movement, a new cluster of rights has emerged that falls under the broad category of group or collective rights, but makes a specific link to conservation and the sustainable use of biological diversity. These are referred to as biocultural rights, and they acknowledge the relationship between communities, resources and culture in areas where communities have historically been stewards of common lands because of their reliance on the ecosystem that surrounds them..."

Effectius is a non-profit organization based in Belgium that is dedicated to identifying and promoting effective justice solutions worldwide.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

International Workshop on Common Pools

On the 15th and 16th of September, Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) attended the "International Workshop on Common Pools of Genetic Resources: improving effectiveness, justice and public research in access and benefit sharing (ABS)" in Bremen, Germany, organized by the University of Bremen. The workshop was attended by various experts in the areas of genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and benefit sharing. Over the 2 days, participants presented on a range of subjects on common pools, including exploring legal spaces for common pools in the Nagoya Protocol; case studies on existing common pools at the local level in South Africa, Brazil, Peru and China; the World Health Organization (WHO) frameworks for sharing vaccines; the multilateral system of the International Treaty on Plant and Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA); and data banks for genetic information and marine organisms. The presentations and discussions provided participants relevant feedback and information about how existing common pools systems are functioning and could be improved to ensure greater equity and fairness.

Natural Justice was asked to present on the traditional knowledge common pool of the traditional health practitioners of Bushbuckridge, South Africa, and the development of a common pool of traditional knowledge. The healers are utilizing their common pool to provide information to a local cosmetics company, with any benefits from research and possible development to flow back into the collective pool. The presenters at the workshop will also be contributing chapters to a book on common pools to be published by the University of Bremen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Special Rapporteur Report: Effects of Extractive Industries

UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, recently presented his annual report to the UN General Assembly. The report provides a summary of activities carried out during his third year in the mandate, particularly communications with governments concerning 25 cases of specific human rights violations in 15 countries. Some of the case studies include:
  • Costa Rica: Situation of the Térraba people and the hydroelectric project El Diquís
  • Ethiopia: Situation of the Gilgel Gibe III hydroelectric project on the Omo River
  • Guatemala: Situation of social and environmental problems generated by the Marlin mine 
  • Malaysia: Situation of the Long Teran Kanan village and native customary rights in Sarawak
In the second half of the report, Anaya provides a preliminary analysis of the impact of extractive industries operating within or near Indigenous territories, based on a questionnaire on the issue distributed to governments, Indigenous peoples, corporations, and civil society. The full report can be downloaded here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Issue of Global Environmental Politics

The latest issue of the journal Global Environmental Politics focuses on "Climate Bandwagoning: The Impacts of Strategic Linkages for Regime Design, Maintenance and Death". The special issue is co-edited by Sikina Jinnah (American University) and Miquel Muñoz (Boston University's Pardee Centre) and explores issues of climate change and NGOs, biodiversity, desertification, fisheries, forests, security, and human rights. Select articles include, among others:
  • Issue-linkages to Climate Change Measured through NGO Participation in the UNFCCC;
  • Marketing Linkages: Secretariat Governance of the Climate-Biodiversity Interface;
  • Combating Ineffectiveness: Climate Change Bandwagoning and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification; and
  • Jumping on the Human Rights Bandwagon: How Rights-based Linkages Can Refocus Climate Politics
The special issue is available online, but does not have open access. If you would like to access the articles, please contact Miquel at miquel(at)bu.edu.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Expert Meeting on ABS and IPRs

Johanna von Braun and Sabine Zajderman (Natural Justice) attended the Expert Meeting on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) from 5-9 September in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting was organized by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa (ABS Initiative) in cooperation with the Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity Conservation.

This was the first meeting discussing ABS implementation in light of the Nagoya Protocol and its links to IPRs in the African context. The workshop aimed to provide a dialogue platform for representatives from African countries and international IPR experts to explore the challenges of linking ABS and IPRs in a coherent manner when implementing ABS at the national and sub-regional levels. Concrete practical experiences on ABS cases linked to IPRs were presented and formed the basis of intensive discussions.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Peru Approves New Law on Prior Consultation

On August 23, the Peruvian Congress approved a new law that guarantees Indigenous peoples' right to prior consultation around legislative and administrative measures as well as plans, programs, and projects that impact them and their rights ("Ley de derecho a la consulta previa a los pueblos indígenas u originarios reconocido en el Convenio No. 169 de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo"). President Ollanta Humala signed the new law, which is the first to be approved by the current Parliament and was passed with no votes against and no abstentions, on 6 September in the province of Bagua. The Law on Prior Consultation is intended to comply with certain commitments set out in the 1989 International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 and the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Amazon Watch reports that AIDESEP, a Peruvian Indigenous Amazonian federation, expressed support for the new law, but also concern about implementation, stating that "until [the government agency] INDEPA, the National Organization for the Development of Andean, Amazonian and Afro Peruvian Peoples truly implements this new law, we will not be caught in false triumphs." James Anaya, the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, congratulated the Congress and also called for adequate implementation. According to a press release, Anaya said, “I hope that this is indicative of a strong commitment by the Peruvian State to respond to the demands of indigenous peoples to be consulted about measures that directly affect them, and in particular about extractive industry projects in and around their territories.” This UK Guardian article explores the broader context within which the law was passed, particularly conflict arising over large-scale development and extraction projects in Indigenous territories.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Article on Effectiveness of Community Managed Forests

A new article published in the forthcoming issue of Forestry Ecology & Management assesses the role and conservation effectiveness of protected and community managed forests in the long-term maintenance of forest cover in the tropics. With authors from Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain, the meta-analysis compares land use and land cover change data from peer-reviewed case studies on 40 protected areas and 33 community managed forests. The study found that community managed forests presented lower and less variable annual deforestation rates than protected forests, which backs up other recent challenges to the long-held belief that the best way to conserve forests is to set them aside in strictly protected areas. The authors propose that "a more resilient and robust forest conservation strategy should encompass a regional vision with different land use types in which social and economic needs of local inhabitants, as well as tenure rights and local capacities, are recognized."

Overall, the paper suggests that community-managed forests could be a cost-efficient and effective solution to reducing deforestation and ensuring the sustainable use of forests while benefiting local livelihoods. It also underscores earlier findings by other scientists that show that greater rule-making autonomy at the local level are associated with better forest management and livelihood benefits. The full text of the article can be downloaded here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

UCT Seminar on Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property Rights

Pelargonium. Copyright: African Centre
for Biosafety
On the 26th of August, the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit of the University of Cape Town (UCT) held a seminar on “Traditional knowledge, intellectual property rights power and benefit sharing: case studies/evidence from pelargonium, rooibos and hoodia.” Natural Justice and the African Centre for Biosafety were invited to attend the series and present on their work with African Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Gino Cocchiaro (Natural Justice) presented on the South African Rooibos–Nestle and San-Hoodia case studies. During his presentation, Gino also highlighted how biocultural community protocols have been used by some communities in Africa, Asia and South America to convey their ways of life, values, and customary laws to third parties and challenge the fragmentary nature of state law and incorporate community integrated perspectives.

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Article on the Convention on Biological Diversity

A new article by Elisa Morgera (University of Edinburgh) and Elsa Tsioumani (International Institute for Sustainable Development) explores the evolution of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its current legal significance, as well as legal issues related to its immediate future. Entitled "Today and Tomorrow: Looking Afresh at the Convention on Biological Diversity", the article assesses progress in the development and implementation of the CBD at the level of both international cooperation and national implementation, focusing on strategic planning, the innovations of the Nagoya Protocol, the relationship between funding and implementation, and compliance. It is part of the University of Edinburgh School of Law Working Paper Series and will be published in the 2011 Yearbook of International Environmental Law. The full text can be freely downloaded here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Briefing on Pastoralism and Climate Change

The latest issue of Joto Afrika, a series of printed briefings and online resources about adapting to climate change in sub- Saharan Africa, focuses on "The Future of Pastoralism in a Changing Climate". Pastoralism, a free-range livestock production system, is practised in all of Africa’s dryland regions, and is the main source of food security and income for many communities. The future of pastoralism is threatened by the many manifestations and effects of climate change, including droughts, floods, more extreme weather events, invasive species and pests, and the failure of introduced exotic livestock breeds. This issue provides case studies of local knowledge in action across Africa, and success stories from research to showcase various ways of climate adaptation by pastoralists.

According to the editorial, key messages include: recognizing the multiple processes and stressors that govern pastoralists' vulnerability to climate change; protecting pastoral land and enhancing the mobility of pastoralists and their livestock; considering index-based livestock insurance schemes as one of the strategies for protecting livestock keepers against climate risks; and investing in building the capacity of livestock keepers to enhance skills and diversify enterprises and resource management.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Recap: Workshop on Biocultural Rights and Community Protocols

A workshop on Biocultural Rights and Biocultural Community protocols was held in Namibia from 18-19 August. The workshop was organized by the San Support Organizations (a forum for all community-based and non-governmental organizations working with the San communities) and the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation, with support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

Natural Justice facilitated sessions on the biocultural rights of Indigenous communities in Namibia to their to material and cultural resources through the development of biocultural community protocols. These presentations, role-plays, and discussions invited community representatives and supporting CBOs and NGOs to consider how they could utilize biocultural rights in their specific contexts. The Integrated Rural Developmentand Nature Conservation (IDRNC) and the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) also highlighted the strategies of the Khwe Community from the Bwabwata National Park and the Hai//om from Etosha National Park in asserting their biocultural rights over their resources and knowledge and the continued conservation of their lands.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Workshop on Biocultural Rights and Community Protocols

From 18-19 August, Natural Justice will be facilitating a workshop on biocultural rights and biocultural community protocols for Namibian San organizations in Windhoek. The workshop is being organized by the San Support Organizations and the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia. The objective of the workshop is to build the capacity of San Support Organizations and San communities to identify and strategically assert their biocultural rights to their material and cultural resources through the development of biocultural community protocols. The workshop will include sharing of experiences from representatives of the Bushbuckridge Traditional Health Practitioners Association, the Khwe from Bwabwata National Park, and the Hai//om from Etosha National Park. The workshop will be supported by the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Recap: Meeting on Green Governance and the Green Economy

From 15-16 August, Natural Justice and the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) co-hosted a meeting of Indigenous African leaders on the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Green Economy Initiative. The first day of the meeting focused on discussing and understanding the content and implications of the UNEP Green Economy Initiative with respect to governance over their territories and stewardship over their resources.

During the second day, participants prepared the first draft of a statement of African Indigenous principles to further engage the Green Economy Initiative based on the bio-cultural or stewardship rights of African Indigenous peoples over their territories and resources within international and domestic law and policy. Participants also elaborated an action plan for sharing these principles and views with the African Group of Negotiators in the so-called Rio Conventions (UNCBD, UNFCCC, and UNCCD), with influential policy bodies such as African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), UNEP, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and with the Global Indigenous Peoples' Caucus and IPACC’s members and allies. The meeting was supported by UNEP and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meeting on Green Governance and the Green Economy

From 15-16 August in Cape Town, Natural Justice, in partnership with the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) will be organizing a meeting of representatives of African Indigenous peoples on "The Green Economy Initiative: Green Governance Challenges". The meeting seeks to ensure that Indigenous African leaders understand the content and implications of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Green Economy Initiative with respect to governance over their territories and stewardship over their resources.

As an outcome of the meeting, IPACC and Natural Justice will cooperate to produce a response document that sets out African Indigenous views on the Rio processes, low carbon economics, strengths and weaknesses of the UNEP Initiative, challenges of governance and accountability, identification of opportunities for Indigenous peoples to conserve biocultural diversity and protect traditional knowledge, and traditional knowledge-related innovations and genetic resources. The document will further engage the UNEP Green Economy Report based on the biocultural rights of African Indigenous peoples over their territories and resources within international and domestic law and policy. The meeting will be supported by UNEP and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Regional Dialogue on BCPs in Lima, Peru

On 8-9 August, an informal dialogue was held in Lima, Peru, bringing together a number of Latin American and other organizations to share their respective experiences or thoughts on working with biocultural community protocols. The meeting was hosted by the Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA), ETC Compas, GIZ, and Natural Justice.

In addition to the co-hosts, participants represented different organizations from the region, including the Asociacion Andes, COICA, representatives from the Kuna Kuna tribe in Panama, Kiwchua in Ecuador, Indigenous communities from Madre de Dios, Peru, FARN, IIAP, AGRUCO, and Candela Peru.

During the two days, participants discussed the importance of biocultural heritage, the legal framework in which biocultural community protocols are embedded, and shared their respective experiences on the use of protocols in different parts of Latin America and beyond. It was concluded that while biocultural community protocols are a very useful tool to secure Indigenous peoples' and local communities' rights under, among others, the Nagoya Protocol, more examples are needed in order to draw more precise conclusions about the nature of BCPs and what constitutes the most appropriate processes to develop and use them. Participants agreed to raise further awareness on biocultural community protocols within their respective organizations and to generate further experience on their use in the region. Presentations given during the dialogue can be accessed online.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

The 9th of August marks the 17th International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. An event was held in New York City at the United Nations Headquarters, organized by the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the United Nations Department of Public Information, and the NGO Committee on the Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The theme, "Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting our future," was explored in a panel discussion and a screening of the film "Harmony of Culture and Nature".

Statements were delivered by Ban Ki-moon (UN Secretary-General), H.E. Joseph Deiss (President of the 65th Session of the General Assembly), Sha Zukang (Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and Coordinator of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples), and Mirna Cunningham (Chairperson of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues), among others. The statements and a video recording of the event are available on the UNPFII  website.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New UN Journal Issue on Green Economy

The August 2011 issue of Natural Resources Forum, the United Nations Sustainable Development Journal, was recently released. Focusing on green economy and sustainable development, the special issue includes articles on societal transformations for a sustainable economy; agricultural innovations systems in response to food insecurity and climate change; a regulatory framework for biofuels governance in China; and the sustainability of green funds.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Second Pilot Study on Enhancing Community Dialogue with UEBT

On 26 July, a second pilot testing the use of certain elements of the biocultural community protocol (BCP) process in the context of Ethical BioTrade was implemented in Nazarezinho do Meruú, a community of about 200 families a few hours away by car and boat from Belém, Pará. Within the community, the “Associação de Produtores Rurais de Nazarezinho do Meruú” (Rural Producers’ Association of Nazarezinho do Meruú) represents 60 members/families, 30 of which participate in the process of selling Açaí (Euterpea olarecea) to Beraca, a Brazilian member of the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT).

In comparison with the earlier pilot of Peru, this pilot only included a preliminary dialogue between Beraca and the community, which already proved useful to both in relation to managing expectations. Both parties also provided each other with further background about themselves and how they were organized. After a day of discussions, the need for improved internal organisation was again and again highlighted within the community, above all to bridge the difficult six-month period each year in between the Açaí harvest. It was agreed that the discussion between the two would continue, facilitated by the local NGO Bolsa Amazônia, which would then elaborate to what extent a more BCP-type process would be appropriate and of interest to the community.