Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kukula Healers on German Prime Time News

Natural Justice partners and members of the African Biocultural Community Protocol Initiative Kukula Traditional Health Practitioners Association of Bushbuckridge, South Africa, were recently featured on ARD, Germany's largest public television broadcaster. Kukula’s chairperson was interviewed by reporters from the prime time Tagesthemen news programme. He shared how traditional healers in South Africa hold a wealth of traditional knowledge and are organising themselves to prevent the illegal use of their knowledge. They will share their knowledge, but only under the right conditions with meaningful access and benefit sharing. 

The interview can be found here and runs from 25:33-28:21.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FPIC and REDD in the DRC

Gino Cocchiaro of Natural Justice took part in meetings on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hosted by The Forest Dialogue and Forest Peoples Programme from 21-25 May. The meeting consisted of a visit to Luki Biosphere Reserve in the far west of the country to meet with members of the communities of Kiobo and Kifulu who will likely be involved in REDD projects. Participants also dialogued with members of the Ministry of Environment and representatives of industry, civil society and indigenous and local communities. During the dialogue representatives were able to make recommendations and collaboratively plan the implementation of FPIC in REDD to ensure the participation of forest communities in the country’s projects. 

Holding the second largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon, 58% of DRC is covered by tropical rainforest. However, it is expected that deforestation will increase substantially to support DRC’s growing infrastructure, farming and mining developments. REDD has now become a major strategic issue in the country with approximately 500 million USD expected to flow into the country. Only a small amount of this amount has been dedicated towards consultation and participation of communities living in and utilizing the forests.

The Forest Dialogue's background paper on FPIC and REDD+ in the DRC can be downloaded here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Workshop on BCPs, UNDRIP and MEAs

On 24 May during the 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE), Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) contributed to a full-day workshop on biocultural community protocols (BCPs), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and multilateral environmental agreements. The workshop was hosted by the ISE Global Coalition for Biocultural Diversity as part of the Congress' Indigenous Forum. Organized by the Global Coalition's Co-Chairs, Alejandro Argumedo (Asociación ANDES) and Krystyna Swiderska (International Institute for Environment and Development, IIED), the day included a range of speakers, including: Viviana Figueres (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity), Pierre du Plessis (Centre for Research-Information-Action for Development in Africa, CRIAA), Maui Solomon (Hokotehi Moriori Trust), Ilse Kohler-Rollefson (League for Pastoral Peoples), and Brendan Tobin (Irish Centre of Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway). Natural Justice presented on the community protocols website and toolkit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Remembering Darrell Posey: Traditional Resource Rights Today

Darrell Posey with Kayapo children in the late 1970s
(Courtesy: University of Oxford)
On 21 May in Montpellier, France, Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) hosted a session at the 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology entitled “Remembering Darrell Posey: Traditional Resource Rights Today”. Posey helped organize the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples on Territory, Environment and Development in parallel to the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, making the 20th anniversary of that meeting an opportune moment to reconsider the issues. Posey then went on to develop traditional resource rights, which he described as an integrated rights concept that recognizes the “inextricable link between cultural and biological diversity and sees no contradiction between the human rights of Indigenous and local communities, including the right to development and environmental conservation".

UEBT Publication on Biocultural Dialogues

The Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT) has released a new publication documenting UEBT’s experience with biocultural dialogues in access and benefit sharing. The publication is based on experiences from three case studies in Madagascar, Brazil and Peru where local communities and member companies of UEBT were supported in engaging in biocultural dialogues by Natural Justice, UEBT and GIZ

The publication highlights the importance of community reflection in grounding biocultural dialogues. It then articulates how communities, local suppliers, international companies and other actors can be engaged in the dialogues. UEBT is considering how biocultural dialogues can be used by communities and companies engaging in ethical biotrade and is developing a training manual to guide further biocultural dialogues by members. 

The full publication can be downloaded here. A report on the review meeting of the biocultural dialogue partnership between UEBT, Natural Justice and GIZ can be found here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Workshop for Emerging Ethnobiologists

From 17-20 May, Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) attended the 2nd Workshop for Emerging Ethnobiologists in Gites-de-Briandes, France, which took place ahead of the 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology. As part of the 3-day workshop, they presented on a number of legal and policy frameworks relevant to ethnobiology and facilitated a group role play that explored the relationships and dynamics between communities and researchers. In the discussion, participants largely agreed that there is a lack of knowledge among researchers about the laws and voluntary codes that regulate research, as well as about appropriate ways to engage communities according to their values, customary laws, and priorities. After the role play, it was felt that community protocols may be one useful method to improve the dialogue and help ensure that research is conducted and used in fair and equitable ways. For more information, please see:

Thanks to the Shuttleworth Foundation for their support to attend the Congress.

Monday, May 21, 2012

REDD+ Side Event at Bonn Climate Talks

Natural Justice partner the Global Forest Coalition participated in a side event to the Bonn Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, on 17 May, focused on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+). The event, titled “Contradictions in the Bioeconomy: REDD+, bioenergy and alternative biocultural approaches,” included panellists from Biofuelwatch, Econexus, and the Secretariat to the Environment, Paraguay.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

African Indigenous Peoples Declaration on Rio +20

A gathering of indigenous African communities adopted the Declaration of Indigenous Peoples of Africa on Sustainable Development and Rio +20 in Arusha, Tanzania on 19 April 2012. The gathering was convened by Mainyoto Pastoralist Integrated Development Organisation (MPIDO), a Natural Justice partner in the Africa Biocultural Protocol Initiative

The declaration focuses on two themes; the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development and governance. The declaration emphasises the significant contributions that indigenous peoples in Africa and beyond can contribute to finding sustainable solutions through ‘reflecting traditional knowledge and ways of living.’ 

A summary of the declaration can be found here. The full declaration can be found here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Seeking ICT Support: May-July, 2012

Natural Justice is seeking a Cape Town-based service provider to support our organisation in maintaining, updating and occasionally developing further Natural Justice’s internet presence. Successful applicants should demonstrate their capacity to achieve the following - 

1. SEO: 

• Previous experience in optimising websites to maximise hits via search engines, especially Google 

2. Update and efficiently and precisely as requested by Natural Justice. This will require: 

• Previous experience in developing using the Wordpress platform 
• Previous experience with Filezilla 
• Experience developing and maintaining professional websites 

 3. Flexibility: 

• Ability to work irregular hours with different amounts of work required from week to week and month to month. Hours required will likely range from 0-5 hours in a week 
• Willingness to complete Natural Justice tasks quickly and efficiently as need arises 

4. Social media: 

• Experience integrating traditional websites with social media plug-ins 
• Attention to detail and aesthetics 
• Creative ideas for future developments 

5. Professionalism: 

• Ability to understand and complete tasks quickly 
• Capacity to provide accurate estimates of the amount of time required for tasks assigned and to bill accurately for services rendered. 

To apply for the position, please send a cover letter and CV to Johan Lorenzen ( and Holly Shrumm (

New IUCN-CEESP Newsletter

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy’s (IUCN-CEESP) latest newsletter was released in May. The newsletter reports on the activities of IUCN-CEESP’s members and partners from around the world and also includes policy articles and reports.

The comments from the Chairperson, Aroha Te Pareake Mead, focus on preparations for the upcoming Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The newsletter also spotlights events ICUN-CEESP is hosting during the conference. Updates include preparations for the World Conservation Congress and the International Indigenous Development Research Conference and a report back from the Planet Under Pressure conference. Articles consider possible indicators for REDD+ impact on indigenous and local communities, the beneficiaries of international land deals, and case studies on participatory environmental governance. The newsletter also highlights Natural Justice’s ‘Biocultural Community Protocols: Toolkit for Community Facilitators.’ 

The full newsletter can be found here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Community Meeting in Bwabata Park, Namibia

Through its African Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) Initiative, Natural Justice travelled to the Bwabwata National Park in West Kaprivi, Namibia during the week of 7th May to meet with residents. Proclaimed a national park in 2007, Bwabwata is the largest of the five protected areas in northeastern Namibia and is bordered to the north by Angola and the south by Botswana. Bwabwata consists of high number of large mammals that are both rare and of important economic value. The grasslands provide habitat for roan, sable and tsessebe along with an important bird habitat. Bwabwata has three core areas designated for special protection and controlled tourism. It also has a large multiple use area zoned for community-based tourism, trophy hunting, human settlement and development by the residents of the community. The Bwabawata resident community is 80% Kwhe. The Kwhe are generally allowed to live sustainably with the environment and natural resources within the park. 

In the absence of current legislation formally recognizing the rights of park residents, the Namibian government does recognize the Karamachan Association as the ‘appropriate representative body for the community of residents of the Bwabwata within the context of tourism development and natural resource management involving the community’. 

In collaboration with locally based NGO Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) and the Karamachan Association, Natural Justice held consultations over two days with community members in which representation in the park, loss of culture and traditional knowledge, possible livelihood projects including access and benefit sharing, and the community’s vision for the future were all discussed. Natural Justice will continue to work with the community, Karamachan Association and IRDNC to assist in the development of a Bwabwata National Park residents BCP, which they hope to use to address some of their concerns and support their vision for the future.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wapichan Map 1.4 Million Hectares

Photo from
In a bid to protect over 1.4 million hectares of community land, the Wapichan community of Guyana have produced a digital map of their territories. The mapping project, carried out over the past ten years using GPS technology to plot key community sites, covers a diverse array of ecosystems and will support the community to establish the community’s rights to its land. 

Kid James described the aim of the mapping, “once ownership rights are secured there is potential for economic benefit as there are some development actions, such as ecotourism and non-timber extractive reserves, identified for different parts of the area.” The map was finalised through multiple validation meetings with community members and communities who neighbour the Wapichan over five years. 

Read more about the mapping process through Alert Net here and through the Forest Peoples Programme here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Natural Justice Prepares for the Ashoka Globalizer

As part of the Ashoka Globalizer, Harry Jonas (Natural Justice) met with Rizwan Tayabali (pictured) for two days to further develop Natural Justice's scaling strategy. The Ashoka Globalizer is focusing on Rural Innovation and Farming in 2012, and brings together a range of Ashoka Fellows at the Summit in June to discuss respective scaling strategies and to expose Fellows to leading social entrepreneurs for one-on-one advice sessions. The programme is intended to enable Ashoka Fellows to leverage a range of opportunities to scale their associated ideas and organizations. Rizwan Tayabali is a business and management consultant who spent two years working with a range of social enterprises across the world and is now providing advice to, among others, Natural Justice. Harry thanks Rizwan and his wife Angelina for their hospitality while in Kuala Lumpur.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Indigenous Peoples Conservation Spotlighted in Jakarta Globe

A recent article in the Jakarta Globe documented the incredible conservation that the Indigenous Peoples of Indonesia engage in through their way of being. Rizal Mahfud described his Ngata Toro community of Central Sulawesi as having “had our own ways to protect the forests for hundreds of years...we don’t need any government programs. We just need to develop [our own].” 

The article also notes the work of the Iban Dayak community who have maintained a quota system for logging in their area since 1819 and mapped their forest zones. The article emphasises that what communities need is increased recognition of their rights to inhabit and conserve their traditional areas over funding. 

Read the full article here.

Training Session on Nagoya Protocol and BCPs for Tribal Link's Project Access

In preparation for the 11th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), Tribal Link organised a training session for Indigenous Peoples from all over the world from 2-4 May. This year's training included a daylong session on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Article 8(j) of the Convention, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization, and biocultural community protocols. The third day of the training was organised by John Scott (CBD Secretariat), assisted by Lucy Mulenkei (Indigenous Information Network and the Indigenous Women's Biodiversity Network, IWBN), Florina Lopez (Kuna Yalaas and IWBN) and Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice).

Many of the discussions related to comparing strategies of engagement between the UNPFII and the CBD with respect to indigenous issues. The 11th Session of the UNPFII is affected, similar to previous years, by severe spacial challenges due to ongoing constructions at the UN Secretariat in New York. While 1600 participants have been registered from all over the world, the meeting venue can only hold 400 people.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Case Study on Forest Use and Management in Vietnam

As Vietnam prepares for the implementation of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), a challenge has been the limited information on how customary land rights and institutions support the preservation of Vietnam’s forests. While the government is increasingly open to partnering with local communities in conservation, there is very limited research documenting the successes and challenges of this approach in the country. 

To address this, the International Work Group on Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) Foundation, and Culture Identity and Resource Use Management (CIRUM) have partnered in a case study documenting the forest resource use and management of the Dzao and Thai people of northwest Vietnam. According to the description, ‘the study documents customary law applied in forest resource use and management among Thai and Dzao communities and concludes with a set of recommendations which can contribute to an improvement of forest related laws and policies.’ 

Read the summary of the case study report here and download the report here.

New Report on Large-Scale Land Acquisitions

Image via
As the scale of large-scale land acquisitions in developing nations continues to grow, Global Witness, the International Land Coalition and the Oakland Institute have produced a report documenting how opening up the process of acquisition would benefit local communities, governments and business. The report is titled ‘Dealing with Disclosure: Improving Transparency in Decision-Making Over Large-Scale Land Acquisitions, Allocations and Investments.’ 

The report begins with a brief illustration of the context of large-scale land acquisition and emphasising the importance of finding methods of encouraging transparency and accountability when such deals are considered. The report then moves on to consider some of the safeguards that have been used to promote transparency including international binding instruments, international voluntary agreements or declarations, voluntary corporate social responsibility commitments, and other mechanisms.

The report then considers a four stage approach for specific projects. The first step is recognising existing land and resource rights, the second is assessing impact, the third is effective monitoring of implementation and the fourth is post-project transparency. Community Protocols, and the role of Natural Justice in pushing of the inclusion of protocols in the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, are spotlighted as a mechanism to assert existing land and resource rights. 

The summary of the report can be found here, the full report can be downloaded here.

New CBD Newsletter

The May [square brackets] newsletter of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been released. The newsletter includes a number of fascinating articles. Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) served on the editorial board alongside colleagues from other NGOs and the CBD Secretariat. 

This edition includes an interview with the CBD Executive Secretary on challenges ahead. Simone Lovera (Global Forest Coalition) and Rashed Al Mahmud Titimu (Unnayan Onneshan) compiled a piece civil society’s views on the scaling up of biodiversity finance. Ashish Kothari (Kalpavriksh) shared his critical reflections on the potential for Rio +20 to push ‘business as usual.’ 

The newsletter can be downloaded here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Learning About Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and Advocacy in Asia-Pacific

From 23 April to 2 May in Sabah, Malaysia, Holly Shrumm (Natural Justice) participated in a training program entitled "Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and Advocacy in Asia-Pacific". It was organized by the Diplomacy Training Program (DTP), which is affiliated with the University of New South Wales Faculty of Law, and hosted by Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS, the Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia), Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS Trust), and the Centre of Malaysian Indigenous Studies (CMIS) at the University of Malaya.

Through an engaging format of presentations, panel discussions, and role play activities, participants from 12 countries learned about a range of topics and practical tools to advocate for Indigenous peoples' rights from some of the leading practitioners in the region.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

First Meeting of the Diversity Liaison Group

On 28 and 29 May, Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) participated in the first meeting of the Diversity Liaison Group (DLG) of the joint programme on biological and cultural diversity which was endorsed by UNESCO’s constituencies and the tenth Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.

This first meeting brought a number of different stakeholders together, ranging from representatives of indigenous communities, academic institutions, funding agencies, other UN agencies and NGOs. The expectation from the DLG, which is an informal group with fluid membership, is to provide technical advice and to assist the Secretariats of the CBD and UNESCO in advancing the Joint Programme, assessments of progress made, and in plotting of future steps. 

In this first meeting participants were asked to comment on the priority focus areas for the joint program of work and its deliverables for COP11, discuss a future online ‘Global Knowledge Platform on the Links between Biological and Cultural Diversity’, identify key messages on the links between biological and cultural diversity, and to coordinate their strategic communication with respect to future events such as Rio+20, the World Conservation Congress and COP 11.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New JUST Conservation Website

Image via
The JUST Conservation network, which seeks to link organisations and individuals seeking conservation achieved with justice, has launched a new website at The new site has enhanced capacity to host discussions and is optimised for viewing on smartphones and tablets. 

According to the description, “The purpose of Just Conservation is to provide a more accessible venue for providing information about these conservation conflicts. It is oriented in particular to conflicts which arise because of human rights abuses. It proposes that those directly affected by conservation should be able to raise issues of concern without the use of intermediaries.” 

Please check the site out and contribute here. Visit them on Facebook here. Give feedback on the site here.