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

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)

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.