August 2007

Biodiversity and Poverty Reduction (2007)
Neville Ash and Martin Jenkins, UNEP-WCMC

The UNEP-WCMC Biodiversity and Poverty Reduction report reviews existing scientific knowledge regarding the links between biodiversity and the sustainable provision of ecosystem services, and considers the implications of these links for development policy. The links between biodiversity and ecosystem services presented in the report underpin the relationship between the environment and development, in order to contribute towards an understanding of the most effective national, bilateral, and international efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and towards an improved understanding of the true values of biodiversity.

Section 3.10 of the report deals specifically with cultural services, noting that cultural, amenity and spiritual services provided by ecosystems are highly valued by the poor, and play a key role in medium to long-term sustainable development strategies. It notes that cultural diversity itself has been affected by the distribution of biodiversity. Cultural ecosystem services generally depend on the importance of particular cultural relationships with various features of the landscape, such as particular stands of forests, and with specific components of biodiversity, such as particular revered species. The vast majority of formal religions and belief systems have clear links to the natural world, although the impact of the loss of particular attributes of biodiversity on many cultural services is not clear. Traditional knowledge issues are also addressed in Section 3.8, which discusses the global importance of traditional medical systems.

The full report will be launched in October, as a contribution to the 2007 Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity.

Download the report [pdf file]…

73rd World Library and Information Congress of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
19 August – 23 August 2007 (Durban, South Africa)
Excerpted from an article in American Libraries

The 73rd World Library and Information Congress of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) convened August 19 in Durban, South Africa, with a new emphasis on indigenous knowledge and oral history in relation to “Libraries for the Future,” the conference theme.

Ellen Tise, new president-elect of IFLA and chair of the conference organizing committee, said she was gratified by IFLA’s strengthened emphasis on the value of indigenous knowledge and hoped that it would grow as a platform for the federation so that librarians can understand how important it is to the developing world in a global context. “If you know yourself, if you know where you came from,” she said, “you can understand how you got where you are today.”

ALA President Loriene Roy, the first Native American to hold the elected post, echoed Tise, as she participated in a panel discussion of the questions “What is traditional knowledge? Who owns it?”

Natalie Sunker, deputy director of intellectual property for South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry, announced during a program sponsored by the IFLA Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters that indigenous communities fearing that their traditional knowledge will be misused can look forward to new protection in South Africa under a new bill in parliament, the Intellectual Property Rights Amendment Act of 2007.

Read the full American Libraries article…
Visit the IFLA site…

Going With the Grain
Smithsonian Magazine September 2007

On Minnesota lakes, Native Americans satisfy a growing hunger for “slow food” by harvesting authentically wild rice the old-fashioned way. Ricing is a picturesque tradition, but on the White Earth Indian Reservation, where unemployment approaches 50 percent, it spells survival. Ricing is so central to the Ojibwa it’s part of the tribe’s founding myth—the creator told the tribe to seek out the place where food grows on the water. Each autumn, several hundred Ojibwa harvest more than 50,000 pounds of wild rice, selling most of it to local mills. Unlike commercially grown wild rice—which is crossbred for hardiness, raised in paddies and harvested with combines—the Ojibwa’s grows naturally, in muddy shallows. Called manoomin in Ojibwa, it is the mature seeds of several varieties of the grass species Zizania aquatica.

Read the article…
Watch a video about the history of wild rice and the Ojibwa…

Dear Readers,

Due to technical difficulties experienced by our subscriptions provider yesterday, some readers of the email service and news feed (RSS) may not have received all of yesterday’s news items. We apologise for any inconvenience (and for this double-posting to those of you who received the service normally). A short list of titles from yesterday’s “week in review” is appended for your review, and all articles are archived on the website.

Site link:

Trust Fund on Indigenous Issues relating to the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People

The UNPFII Trust Fund gives priority to projects concerning the main areas of the Second Decade: culture, education, health, human rights, the environment and social and economic development. Indigenous organizations or organizations working for indigenous peoples can apply for small grants from the Fund. It is expected that the Fund will mainly be used for small grants projects with a budget for up to USD $10,000 covering one year’s expenses.

The next round of calls for project proposals is now open and the deadline for applications is 1 November 2007.

A list of the 20 grants awarded in 2007 is available on the UNPFII website.

Download the funding guidelines…
Visit the UNPFII website…

UNPFII Special Rapporteurs’ Reports – call for feedback

At its Fifth Session, the Permanent Forum appointed a number of its Members as Special Rapporteurs, who were requested to submit papers on specific themes to the Forum at its Sixth Session in May 2007. At its Sixth session, the Permanent Forum recommended that further analysis be undertaken on the issues discussed in two the two following reports:

As per the recommendation of the UNPFII, indigenous peoples, relevant private sector bodies, NGOs and United Nations agencies are invited to make comments on these reports.

Comments are due by 15 November 2007.

View the call for comment and download the papers…

Mirame: Situación de la Niña Indígena en Guatemala (UNICEF 2007)
UNICEF and La Defensoria de la Mujer Indigena

Mirame: Situación de la Niña Indígena en Guatemala is a joint effort of UNICEF Guatemala and La Defensoria de la Mujer Indigena (DEMI), a non-governmental organization that promotes the rights of indigenous women and girls.

At the launch of the book, Dora Alonzo, 15, said “Our culture and our language form part of a system of knowledge, ideas, technologies and values that have been constructed and transferred across generations,” before a gathering of people, many of them young girls like her, at the Children’s Museum in Guatemala City. Dora is a member of Guatemala’s vast Mayan indigenous community, which together with the smaller Xinca and Garifuna groups make up over 40 per cent of the country’s population. She is also a member of the Guatemalan Children’s Parliament representing the state of Quiche. The book contains photographs and wide-ranging information on the reality of indigenous girls’ lives in the Central American country.

View the UNICEF Press Release…

Indigenous Wisdom and the Modern World
Indigenous Issues Today 27 August 2007

COLORADO, USA: Recently archaeologists finished mapping Angkor in Cambodia, discovering that it was the biggest pre-industrial city ever founded. According to new archaeological evidence Angkor out grew its own resources. The interesting point, however, is not that the rise and fall of various cultures or cities has taken place over time, but it is how indigenous peoples have kept this knowledge, this intellectual property. Study of indigenous people’s oral traditions often reveals much, despite archaeologists argument that any data from such oral traditions is not empirical and thus not scientifically valid. More…

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