Sunday, June 25, 2017

Seven communities gather to draft the Mariarano community protocol, Madagascar

Drafting group working on the Mariarano community protocol
During the first week of May, Natural Justice and GIZ facilitated a workshop with the local communities of Mariarano, in the Boeny region of Madagascar, to advance on their community protocol concerning the access and use of the Motrobe plant. Motrobe is the local name for Cinnamosma fragrans, a plant used in essential oils in Madagascar and abroad.
The community protocol brings together seven communities who harvest the plant and provide it to local and international biotrade operators. Through their protocol, the communities want to clarify their own decision-making regarding access to the plant, and to hold the operators accountable regarding permits and the fair sharing of benefits from the use of the plant. At the same time, this is the first community protocol process in Madagascar, and the lessons emerging from it are being used to inform the new national framework for Access to genetic resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS).
Role play on the process for obtaining harvesting permits,
during the legal training
The workshop was attended by the members of a local committee that the communities decided to create for the development of the community protocol. The meeting started with a legal training session about the new ABS law in Madagascar and about the general regulatory framework for the access and commercial use of plant resources. In the second half, the community representatives drafted the text of the elements of the community protocol. This draft text will now be edited by the GIZ / Natural Justice team. The result will be discussed and validated in each of the communities, before being officially presented at a stakeholder workshop with representatives of the private sector and government administration.
The Mariarano community protocol will contain the following elements:
  • Local decision-making structures inside and between the seven communities
  • Processes that commercial operators, researchers and others have to follow to access the community’s genetic resources and traditional knowledge
  • Traditional rules and values of the communities
  • Modalities for benefit sharing and conditions for the buying of plant material
  • Processes for conflict resolution
  • Commitments by the community to conserve their natural resources, specifically the Motrobe plant
  • The rights of the local communities to their natural resources under the law

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Open and Collaborative Science in Development 2017 Workshop

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Capturing Community Images - Ethics and Ownership

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

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

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