Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Contracting Justice Workshop: Exploring socially just research processes

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, February 24, 2017

Roundtable Discussion on the Draft National Adaptation Strategy, South Africa

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 11, 2017

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Appel à candidature: chercheur/chercheuse en République de Guinée

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

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

Que cherchons-nous ?

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

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

Date limite: 05 Mars 2017

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