April 2008

Environmental projects grant funding – APFED Showcase Programme 2008

Asia Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) is a regional group of eminent experts that aims to address critical issues facing Asia and the Pacific region and to propose new models for sustainable development. To promote sustainable development in the region, APFED launched the APFED Showcase Programme as one of the main activities.

The APFED Showcase Programme, grants up to US$ 30,000 to Asia Pacific projects that demonstrate innovative approaches. This year we are pleased to announce another round of proposals selection to be endorsed by the Programme. The examples of innovative activities as defined in the APFED Final Report are:

  • Innovation in relation to policies: To pilot innovative policies that lead to behavioural changes by people in a defined direction, such as integrated transportation planning and establishing special environmental zones for innovative policies;
  • Innovation in relation to technologies: To analyse the feasibility of emerging technologies for prevention, mitigation or adaptation purposes under specific conditions, such as new sources of water, eco-industrial parks, and eco-restoration initiatives;
  • Innovation in the encouragement of social practices for sustainability: To enhance social capacity for sustainable development by encouraging new and creative social practices conducted by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and/or stimulating partnerships between CSOs and other stakeholders, such as rural-based industries with support from the urban community, local eco-currency, participatory composting, joint management of protected areas, and inter-university credit systems.

The Showcase Programme is expected to address implementation barriers such as uncertainty regarding the impacts of innovative actions and resistance from certain stakeholders, and to examine the feasibility of the innovative practices in one country/region and their applicability to other countries/regions that have different political, social, economic or other conditions.

Applications are due on 31 May 2008. Further information including eligibility, how to apply, and proposal format can be obtained from UNEP/ROAP.

Visit the APFED Website…

Symposium on Public Policy Patent Landscaping in the Life Sciences
WIPO in collaboration with FAO
7 April – 8 April 2008 (Geneva, Switzerland)
Adapted from the Intellectual Property Watch article and the WIPO Press Room.

The Life Sciences Symposium on public policy patent landscaping in the life sciences took place within the context of a cooperation program between the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on patent landscaping for policymakers. The Symposium comprised three components:

  • A preliminary technical consultation on patent landscapes commissioned by the FAO and WIPO, for close expert review;
  • A full peer review of the WIPO FAO patent landscapes and review of future directions in using patent information mechanisms for policymakers in relation to plant genetic resources;
  • A comparative review of public policy patent landscaping in other life sciences fields, with a special focus on public health landscaping.

The Symposium draws together two important trends:

  1. Patent information as a tool of public policy: Policymakers who deal with innovation and access in the life sciences – concerned with agriculture and food security; public health and pharmaceuticals; and environmental issues – have increasingly focused on the patent system. They look for clearer, more accessible and geographically more representative information to support key policy processes. They seek a stronger empirical basis for their assessments on the role and impact of the patent system in relation to key areas of life sciences technology.
  2. Improved analytical tools and access to patent information: Rapid growth in the use of the patent system, and in the diversity of users, has led to an explosion of raw data on patenting activities in the life sciences. This data is progressively being turned into useful information. Availability and quality of patent information have increased. Analytical tools and methodologies are better understood and are more widely available. And greater practical experience has been harvested from a range of recent patent landscaping initiatives. This trend opens up enormous practical potential for improved patent information resources for public policymakers addressing the life sciences.

The experts at the meeting concluded that access to quality data in intellectual property policy in the life sciences is as necessary as it is hard to obtain. Patents on life sciences figure into the “key debates of the day,” including agriculture and food security, public health and pharmaceuticals, and environmental protection, said Antony Taubman, head of WIPO’s global IP issues division. Also commenting at the event was Paul Oldham of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, who spoke on biodiversity, biopiracy, and traditional knowledge in the patent system.

Recurrent themes of the event included: the difficulty of finding complete, up-to-date patent data in easily searchable formats and the complexity of an increasingly multilingual and multilateral patent system.

Read the IP Watch article…
Visit the WIPO Meeting Page…

Thousands gather as annual indigenous forum kicks off at UN Headquarters
UN News Centre – 21 April 2008

NEW YORK, USA: The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues meets at “a historic crossroads,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the opening session today as some 3,300 participants from around the world converged on UN Headquarters in New York for the two-week event. Climate change is the special theme of this year’s session of the Forum, a choice applauded by the Secretary-General.

Indigenous peoples live in many of the world’s most biologically diverse areas. As custodians of these lands, they have accumulated deep, first-hand knowledge about the impacts of environmental degradation, including climate change. They know the economic and social consequences, and they can and should play a role in the global response. – Ban Ki-moon

Mr. Ban also welcomed the focus this session on several other issues and challenges, including the Pacific region and the need to protect and promote indigenous languages. “Indigenous languages represent an overwhelming majority of all languages spoken today, with most facing the threat of extinction.”

Read the press release…

International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change
2 April 2008 – 4 April 2008 (Darwin, Australia)

From 2 – 4 April 2008, the United Nations University – Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) in conjunction with the Secretariat of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and the North Australia Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA), convened an International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change in Darwin, Australia.

Relevant themes for the meeting included:

  • Outlining the effects of climate change on indigenous peoples;
  • Adaptation measures to climate change;
  • Carbon projects and carbon trading; and
  • Factors that enable or obstruct indigenous peoples’ participation in the climate change processes.

Discussions under several items made reference to the value of traditional knowledge, including: ways that indigenous peoples could be involved in programs that support community level mitigation and adaptation measures and at the same time recognize the value of traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples that has enabled them to maintain and interact with their environment in a sustainable way; the collective rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional knowledge; and that climate change and climate change response activities may result in an increased respect for and valuing of traditional knowledge.

The Expert Meeting made several recommendations relevant to TK (to be considered at the Seventh Session of the UNPFII), including:

  • that States and other organisations incorporate into education systems traditional knowledge and impacts of climate change on indigenous peoples (Recommendation #8);
  • that States acknowledge the role and value of learning from indigenous knowledge about climate and weather, as recognised in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (2007) (Recommendation #10);
  • that the UNPFII welcome the initiative of UNU-IAS in establishing a centre devoted to Traditional Knowledge and urge the Australian Government to support this initiative (Recommendation #12);
  • noting the report of the International Expert Meeting on Responses to Climate Change for Indigenous and Local Communities and Their Impact on Their Traditional Knowledge Related to Biological Diversity – the Arctic region, facilitated under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Helsinki, 25-28 March 2008, as a useful contribution with broad ranging implications, to discussions concerning indigenous peoples and climate change and that the report be broadly distributed and made available to the 7th session of the UNPFII for its full consideration (Recommendation #13); and
  • that UNPFII urge indigenous academics, scientists and traditional knowledge holders to come together to consolidate their knowledge and experiences in climate change science and bring the results of their processes to the attention of the UNPFII, the IPCC and UNFCCC (Recommendation 15g);

Visit the Expert Group meeting page…
Download the meeting documents…
Download the report… [Word document]
Visit the UNPFII-7 meeting page…

International Public Forum on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: The Tropical Australian Experience
3 April 2008 (Darwin, Australia)

Indigenous peoples have contributed the least to world greenhouse gas emissions and have the smallest ecological footprints on Earth. Although they are currently suffering the worst impacts of climate change, their centuries of traditional knowledge and on-the-ground adaptation to worsening conditions have much to teach the rest of the world about how to deal with the impacts of climate change, according to speakers at a Public Forum held on 3 April in Darwin, Australia, hosted by the United Nations University-Institute of Advanced Studies, Charles Darwin University, the North Australia Indigenous Sea and Land Management Alliance and the Northern Territory Government.

Five expert speakers, combining indigenous and traditional knowledge with more traditional western science, were selected to speak at the Public Forum, to share their experiences in northern Australia with the International Expert Meeting on Climate Change and Indigenous People.

Themes addressed during the Forum included:

  • Fire management – Dr Jeremy Russell-Smith and Mr Dean Yibarbuk
  • Adaptive capacity of Indigenous peoples – Professor Wendy Brady
  • Health – Professor Bart Currie and Dr Ngiare Brown

Read the Press Release…
Visit the Public Forum site (includes mp3 downloads for all speakers)…

The Fourth Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands: Advancing Ecosystem Management and Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management by 2010 in the Context of Climate Change (GOC 2008)
8 April – 11 April 2008 (Hanoi, Viet Nam)
Excerpted from the ENB coverage

The Fourth Global Conference was organized by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, which was created by an informal World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) coordinating group in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002. Comprised of individuals from governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Global Forum serves as a platform for cross-sectoral information sharing and dialogue on issues affecting oceans, coasts and islands, with the goal of achieving sustainable development in these areas.

During the Conference, participants heard presentations by high-level officials and engaged in topical panels and discussion sessions on three major themes, namely:

  • achieving ecosystem management and integrated coastal and ocean management by 2010;
  • climate, oceans, and security: addressing impacts in vulnerable ecosystems and in vulnerable coastal communities, especially in Small Island Developing States (SIDS); and
  • the governance of marine ecosystems and uses in areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

Outcomes from the Fourth Global Conference include: a Co-Chairs’ report containing a summary of the proceedings from the various panel sessions, discussion sessions and roundtables; summaries of the policy briefs presented; and recommendations. These outcomes will be presented at the ninth session of the UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and Law of the Sea in New York, US, scheduled to take place from 23-27 June 2008. The specific recommendations will be considered at the World Ocean Conference in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, from 11-15 May 2009, organized by the Government of Indonesia in collaboration with the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, and other international partners.

The use of traditional knowledge was raised during the oceans and climate plenary panel, and also the cross-cutting issues panel, where the importance of bringing media attention to traditional knowledge, cultural heritage, and the impacts of climate variability on the oceans and the oceans on the climate.

Read the ENB article…
Visit the GOC 2008 site…
Visit the World Ocean Conference 2009 site…

Further Resolution Needed To Keep IP Issues In WTO Negotiations
Intellectual Property Watch, 18 April 2008

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Intellectual property rights issues on the table in the newly invigorated World Trade Organization negotiations are at risk if remaining deep differences cannot be further narrowed in the coming weeks, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy said Thursday. “I have called for continued consultations between the groups of members concerned to resolve this, so as to try to avoid a big clash during the modalities exercise,” Lamy told the negotiations coordinating body. Modalities are the basic parameters for the negotiations, and are expected to be discussed in the coming weeks. Issues under discussion include a proposed amendment to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that would strengthen the protection of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Many member states, said Lamy, insist “there can be no modalities” without a resolution on the topic of GI (geographical indications) extension and the proposed biodiversity amendment. These members have called for GI extension and the CBD amendment to be a part of the horizontal process. The CBD amendment’s staunchest supporters, such as India and Peru (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 14 March, 2008) would like TRIPS to require disclosure of origin on genetic resources and traditional knowledge, as well as require information ensuring prior informed consent of the original knowledge holders and equitable benefit sharing with the original knowledge holders. Read the article…

Indonesian Cultural Heritage Takes Center Stage at WIPO Supported Event
WIPO Press Room, 17 April 2008

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: As part of its efforts related to the protection of intangible cultural heritage, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has partnered with the Permanent Mission of Indonesia in Geneva, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) to support a performance of the Wayang Shadow Puppet Theatre, an exquisite portrayal of Indonesia’s living heritage. Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, Mr. Francis Gurry, Deputy Director General of WIPO, noted that traditional cultural expressions are part of Indonesia’s intellectual and cultural assets, and directly convey precious cultural diversity. The intellectual property system aims at establishing an environment in which musicians, artists and performers are able to obtain just remuneration and acknowledgement for their efforts while ensuring that the public is able to enjoy and benefit from their artistic genius. As intangible cultural heritage embodies rich and distinctive creativity in constant evolution, suitably balanced intellectual property measures can also contribute to its preservation, promotion and protection. Read the press release…

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