30 October 2007
Posted by Kirsty Galloway McLean under Biodiversity
, Climate Change
, Indigenous and local communities
, Intellectual Property
, Traditional knowledge
, UNEP Leave a Comment
Fourth Global Environment Outlook: Environment for development (GEO-4)
United Nations Environment Programme, 25 October 2007
UNEP’s GEO-4 Report assesses the current state of the global atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity, describes the changes since 1987, and identifies priorities for action. GEO-4 is the most comprehensive UN report on the environment, prepared by about 390 experts and reviewed by more than 1 000 others across the world. It says that major threats to the planet such as climate change, the rate of extinction of species, and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the many that remain unresolved, and all of them put humanity at risk.
In the chapter on biodiversity, the report notes that global social and economic change is driving the loss of biodiversity, and disrupting local ways of life by promoting cultural assimilation and homogenization. Cultural change, such as loss of cultural and spiritual values, languages, and traditional knowledge and practices, is a driver that can cause increasing pressures on biodiversity, including overharvesting, widespread land-use conversion, overuse of fertilizers, reliance on monocultures that replace wild foods and traditional cultivars, and the increase and spread of invasive alien species that displace native species. In turn, these pressures impact human well-being. The disruption of cultural integrity also impedes the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Incorporating local and traditional knowledge in policy decisions and on-the-ground action calls for mainstreaming the links between biodiversity and culture into social and sectoral plans and policies. This approach involves developing and strengthening institutions at all scales, so that local knowledge for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity can be successfully transferred to landscape and national scales. It also involves strengthening the retention of traditional knowledge through education, conservation of languages and support for passing on knowledge between generations.
The report also recognizes that TK has proven to be enormously valuable, as, for example, in bioprospecting and biotechnology in recent times. Many modern drugs derive from traditional uses of plants by indigenous groups. In some cases, traditional knowledge has led to what is now recognized as sustainable environmental management. This knowledge is transmitted orally from one generation to the next, but as indigenous groups tend to be marginalized by migration and landuse change, it is being progressively lost.
The GEO-4 “outlook” notes that efforts to increase privatization and trade are accompanied by an increase in measures to put prices on ecosystem services and turn them into commodities. Although this forces people to better recognize the
value of these services, it is not the primary intent of these efforts, which are driven more by ideological aims. The commoditization and economic exchange of goods such as water, genetic material, and traditional knowledge and culture, dramatically increases. With these changes, the size of the “commons,” both globally and locally, shrinks significantly.
Visit the GEO-4 website…
Download the full GEO-4 report [large pdf]…
30 October 2007
WIPO International Seminar on the Strategic Use of Intellectual Property for Economic and Social Development
22 October – 26 October 2007 (Cape Town, South Africa)
Adapted from an article in Buanews
A conference of the World Intellectual Property Organisation on the Strategic Use of Intellectual Property for Economic and Social Development was covened recently in Cape Town, drawing together local and international government officials, regulators, industry players, academics, practitioners and officials.
Most notable about the conference was its focus on the developmental agenda when it comes to protection of intellectual property, and the way indigenous knowledge systems can be harnessed by developing countries to further their mutual development. “What is critical from a developing country perspective is how to use the intellectual property system to promote the availability, the accessibility and the affordability of goods and services that are an invention or creation of the mind, such as patented medicines and copyrighted learning materials,” delegates were told.
Central to this issue in an African context is the need to widen the legislative paradigm of intellectual property ownership beyond that of an individual to a point where entire communities could share the benefits of commercialisation of products that are a result of indigenous knowledge.
Visit the WIPO meeting page…
Read the BuaNews article…
30 October 2007
In managing water resources, local knowledge counts much
IPP Media – 29 October 2007
DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA: Alphonce Mdeka, a peasant farmer of Lulanzi village in Kilolo, stood defiantly before the environmental experts, having disagreed completely with the new theory propounded by the experts that bamboo trees are water guzzlers and in the face of the water crisis that people in every corner of the world are facing, they should be uprooted. Many communities are against the move as it defies tradition and indigenous knowledge, in which bamboos play an important role in conserving the environment as they strengthen the soil combat erosion, the leaves provide soil cover and increase fertility and they generally prevent evaporation from soil or nearby water bodies. Read the article…
30 October 2007
Launch of Intellectual Property Guide for Maori
Scoop.nz – 26 October 2997
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND: The Hon. Judith Tizard today launched Te Mana Taumaru Mātauranga. This guide is for Maori individuals, organisations and communities to learn more about the Intellectual Property system, and what it can do for their cultural taonga, both contemporary and long standing. It constitutes a significant milestone in the Government’s Traditional Knowledge Work Programme in that it makes clear what IP is and how it differs from traditional knowledge. Read the article…
30 October 2007
Global warming, increasing exploitation of natural resources, dispossessing indigenous peoples of ancestral lands
UN General Assembly – 22 October 2007
NEW YORK, USA: Despite recent progress, as seen in new norms and institutions as well as policies at all levels addressing the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples, there was still an “implementation gap” between those norms and practice, and a number of negative trends vis-à-vis that marginalized population, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) heard today as it held its discussion on the rights of indigenous peoples. “Extractive activities, large commercial plantations and non-sustainable consumption patterns have led to widespread pollution and environmental degradation,” Rodolfo Stavenhagen, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, told the Committee today as he presented the findings of his recent studies. The end result, he said, was that indigenous peoples, whose lives were closely linked to their lands, were dramatically affected by such trends, which had in turn led to their forced displacements. Read the article…
30 October 2007
International plant gene pool becomes operational
FAO Newsroom – 20 October 2007
ROME, ITALY: A new multilateral system for the fair and equitable sharing of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture has become operational, FAO announced today. Over the past seven months, the system has accelerated the exchange of genetic material, with more than 90 000 transfers of plant genetic material within the system. The Multilateral System is part of the legally-binding International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture that entered into force in 2004 and has been ratified by 115 countries. Through the International Treaty, countries have agreed to make their genetic diversity and related information about the crops stored in their gene banks available to all who comply with the standardized access and benefit-sharing agreements. Read the article…
30 October 2007
Supreme Court of Belize, on October 18, quoted the Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples to justify its decision upholding 2 Mayan villages rights to their traditional lands
University of Arizona Communications – 18 October 2007
BELMOPAN, BELIZE: The chief justice of the Supreme Court of Belize has voted to uphold rights to the land traditionally held by indigenous groups. The Maya communities of Conejo and Santa Cruz in April had filed cases – which were heard jointly in June – alleging that two government entities did not acknowledge their customary land rights. The case affects nearly 40 Maya villages in southern Belize. The villages argued that the attorney general of Belize and the minister of Natural Resources and Environment violated their rights by approving logging and oil exploration on traditional Maya lands. Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh delivered his decision Thursday, affirming that Belize is obligated by the constitution, international treaty and customary law – including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – to both respect and protect Maya customary lands. In fact, it is the first judgment applied specifically to the United Nations’ declaration, which was adopted Sept. 13 by the U.N. General Assembly. Read the article…
23 October 2007
Fifth meeting of the Working Group on Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS WG 5)
Fifth meeting of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions (Article 8(j) WG 5)
8 October – 19 October 2007 (Montreal, Canada)
Adapted from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin review
The fifth meeting of the ABS Working Group represented the first half of a single session that will be completed at the Working Group’s sixth session to be held from 21-25 January 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland. ABS WG 5 considered substantive elements of an international ABS regime including: access to genetic resources; fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their use; measures to support compliance with prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms; an internationally recognized certificate of origin/source/legal provenance of genetic resources; traditional knowledge and genetic resources in the context of ABS; capacity building; and indicators for ABS. ABS WG 5 adopted a report stating that the Co-Chairs’ notes on proposals made by delegates during the meeting will be circulated as information documents together with further submissions by parties and stakeholders prior to ABS WG 6.
Article 8(j) WG 5 adopted recommendations on: the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; indicators for traditional knowledge (TK); the progress report on implementation of the Article 8(j) work programme; the composite report on the status and trends of TK; the TK action plan; elements for the development of sui generis systems for TK protection; and an ethical code of conduct. Delegates did not reach agreement on a recommendation on inputs by the Article 8(j) WG to the negotiation of an international ABS regime.
On TK and genetic resources…
Delegates stressed the need to define links between ABS and the protection of TK and to develop measures to prevent users from circumventing provider countries’ national access legislation. Some delegates called for measures to prevent biopiracy and for special protection for indigenous peoples rather than obliging them to prove misappropriation.
On the TK Action Plan…
Deliberations on a plan of action for the retention of TK measure,s and mechanisms to address the underlying causes for the decline of TK, focused on: TK databases; toolkits of measures and mechanisms to address the causes of TK decline; indigenous prior informed consent (PIC); interactions between conservation, sustainable use and TK; and reporting on measures to retain TK.
In the recommendation adopted, the Article 8(j) WG recommended that COP 9:
- note the advancement of the elements of the plan of action and decides that future work should focus on capacity building;
- urge parties and governments to develop toolkits of measures and mechanisms to address the underlying causes of TK decline, with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, and report on experiences, emphasizing positive measures, through the national reporting process, the Clearing-House Mechanism and the TK information portal;
- invite the financial mechanism of the Convention and other donors to fund the development of national action plans; and
- invite parties and governments with the input of indigenous and local communities to report on positive measures for the retention of TK in areas relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity such as those contained, but not limited, to an annex.
Mechanisms for participation…
Deliberations on mechanisms for participation included discussions on web-based, community-based and alternative forms of communication.
In its recommendation, the Article 8(j) WG recommended that the COP:
- welcome the convening of the Latin American and Caribbean Region capacity-building workshop;
- note the work of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) and other organizations promoting understanding of the work of the CBD and indigenous participation;
- note the need for translation of notifications and other information resources into the six official UN languages;
- invite parties and others to donate to the voluntary trust fund for indigenous participation;
- encourage parties and others in collaboration with the Executive Secretary to develop alternative means of communicating public information on TK in community-friendly formats, while supporting the development by indigenous and local communities of their own media tools;
- request the Executive Secretary to: convene further regional workshops; develop electronic communication mechanisms; monitor the use of the CBD website and identify gaps and shortcomings; make available information on funding sources for information dissemination on TK; provide in a timely fashion meeting documentation in the six official UN languages in order to facilitate the consultation process with indigenous and local communities; and intensify efforts to promote the trust fund for indigenous participation; and
- reiterate its request to the Executive Secretary to strive to make documentation for meetings of the Article 8(j) and ABS WG available three months prior to the meeting.
Sui generis systems for TK protection…
Deliberations on sui generis systems for TK protection were based on the existing draft guidelines and focused on: modalities of future work; relevant work of WIPO and consistency with the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Rights (TRIPS); and wording of the draft recommendation in regard to PIC and mutually agreed terms (MAT), linkages between sui generis systems and work on ABS, and misappropriation.
In its recommendation, the Article 8(j) WG recommended that the COP:
- take into account the elements of the sui generis systems for TK protection and recognize that they provide useful elements to consider as parties develop sui generis systems for TK protection;
- invite parties and governments to consider the development of sui generis systems that are local, national and regional in nature, taking into consideration the relevant customary law of the indigenous and local communities concerned and ensure the fair and equitable benefit-sharing;
- invite parties and governments to share their experience in the development of sui generis systems and to submit to the Executive Secretary concise case studies that underpin the elements of sui generis systems. The reference to the effective implementation of PIC and MAT remains bracketed;
- request the Executive Secretary to make case studies available and update the draft guidelines for sui generis systems for TK protection for consideration at Article 8(j) WG 6; and
- note the clear linkage between effective sui generis systems and the implementation of ABS provisions and the need to halt the misuse and misappropriation of knowledge, innovation and practices of indigenous and local communities, as stated in Decision VII/16. This entire paragraph remains bracketed.
Ethical code of conduct…
The WG addressed the revised draft of elements of an ethical code of conduct to ensure respect for the cultural and intellectual heritage of indigenous and local communities.
In the resulting recommendation, the Article 8(j) WG recommended that COP 9:
- take note of the further revised draft elements of a code of ethical conduct as annexed to the recommendation;
- request parties, indigenous and local communities and others to submit written comments to the Executive Secretary on the revised draft elements, at least six months prior to Article 8(j) WG 6;
- request the Executive Secretary to transmit the present decision to UNPFII and seek collaboration in the development of the elements and to compile views and make a compilation available at least three months prior to Article 8(j) WG 6; and
- request the Article 8(j) WG to further develop the draft elements of a code of ethical conduct and submit them to COP 10 for consideration and possible adoption.
The recommendation also contained an annex comprising preambular paragraphs and four sections on: nature and scope, rationale, ethical principles, and methods. The ethical principles are divided into two sections, general ethical principles and specific considerations. The general ethical principles address: respect for existing settlements; intellectual property; non-discrimination; transparency; approval or free prior informed consent of the knowledge holders; respect; collective or individual ownership; fair and equitable sharing of benefits; protection; and the precautionary approach. Matters addressed under specific considerations include: recognition of sacred sites and culturally significant sites; recognition of land and waters traditionally occupied or used by indigenous and local communities; traditional resource rights; restitution and/or compensation and repatriation. All references to PIC, lands and waters traditionally occupied or used by indigenous and local communities and the precautionary approach remain bracketed along with a number of the options contained in the annex.
During consideration of TK indicators for assessing progress towards the 2010 target, debate centered on whether to adopt the indicator list as a basis for future work, or whether to restrict it.
In its recommendation, the Article 8(j) WG recommended that COP 9, inter alia:
- note the importance of both qualitative and quantitative indicators to provide a broad picture of status and trend of TK;
- recommend that a maximum of two additional indicators are included in the framework by the Article 8(j) WG 6 and take note of the proposed indicators contained in Annex I of the report of the International Experts Seminar on Indicators for Indigenous Peoples;
- invite parties, governments and relevant organizations, in consultation with and participation of, indigenous and local communities, to design and, as appropriate, test, indicators at the national level for status and trends of TK in order to assess progress towards the 2010 biodiversity target; and
- request Article 8(j) WG 6 to continue its work on the identification of a limited number of meaningful, practical and measurable indicators.
COP 9 will face a significant challenge in charting the course for the ABS process without causing collateral damage to other instruments and programmes essential for the achievement of the 2010 target. These two meetings have shown that the protection of traditional knowledge is one of those areas in which the linkages to ABS can create unexpected stumbling blocks.
Read the full ENB meeting summary…
Visit the ABS WG 5 meeting page…
Download the report of the ABS WG 5 meeting [doc]…
Visit the Article 8(j) WG 5 meeting page…
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