July 2008


Elders, scientists talk climate change
Northern News Services, 28 July 2008

IQALUIT, CANADA: With the mercury pushing far past 20 C and into record-breaking territory, the Planning for Climate Change Symposium in Iqaluit took on added significance. The July 20-23 event was held to share how climate change is affecting the North, and for city planners, scientists, elders and politicians to discuss successes and concerns, share stories and build upon initiatives to slow down climate change. Sunday’s keynote speaker Sheila Watt-Cloutier, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, has worked for the last 12 years as an Inuit rights advocate and has linked climate change to human rights. “Our environment and climate are becoming much more unpredictable,” said Watt-Cloutier, adding, because of this, traditional knowledge and skills are becoming more difficult to pass down to young people. “Our hunting culture is tied to the land and that’s why, to us, climate change is very much is an issue of our right and our ability to exist as an indigenous people. Read the article…

An interview with Amasina, a shaman in the Amazon rainforest
MongaBay – 28 July 2008

PARAMARIBO, SURINAME: Deep in the Suriname rainforest, an innovative conservation group is working with indigenous tribes to protect their forest home and culture using traditional knowledge combined with cutting-edge technology. The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) is partnering with the Trio, an Amerindian group that lives in the remote Suriname-Brazil border area of South America, to develop programs to protect their forest home from illegal gold miners and encroachment, improve village health, and strengthen cultural ties between indigenous youths and elders at a time when such cultures are disappearing even faster than rainforests. ACT is providing the Trio with equipment and training so that “indigenous park guards” can map — and thereby someday gain title — to their lands. The Trio use GPS units to document geographic features as well as the location of hunting grounds, places of spiritual significance, and sites rich with medicinal plants and other important resources. Key to the process is bridging the generational gap between indigenous elders and youths: the shamans provide the younger rangers with the historical and cultural information needed to add critical details to the maps. In addition to mapping, the indigenous park guards patrol forest areas for illegal activities, including mining and collection of wildlife for the pet trade. Read the article…

Disaster Managers Issue Call to Action
Pacific Magazine – 27 July 2008

NADI, FIJI: A communique was adopted by the CEOs of Finance and/or Planning and Disaster Management as representatives of the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) member countries at the closing of the “Inaugural Pacific Regional Disaster Risk Management Meeting for CEOs of Finance/Planning and Disaster Management”, held July 24-25, in Nadi, Fiji. The Communiqué also incorporates the outcomes of the 14th Regional Disaster Managers Meeting and the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Pacific Disaster Risk Management Partnership Network held July 21-23. The ‘Call to Action’ recognised that countries still need assistance to build capacity in using tools, technology and information developed for assessing their hazards and vulnerabilities, including development of strategies to increase engagement of communities and incorporate traditional knowledge in disaster risk management. Read the article…

Prospects Dim For TRIPS Issues At WTO Ministerial, October Deadline Possible
Intellectual Property Review – 27 July 2008

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The prospect for an agreement to negotiate on three intellectual property issues at the World Trade Organization have dimmed considerably, with no further meetings with delegations likely on Sunday, according to officials. A possible proposal is circulating to move the deadline on IP issues to October. There is no possibility of a substantial agreement,” said a dejected proponent. “It was kind of dropped this week.” Some 110 WTO members demanded at the outset of the week that three IP issues be considered together in the WTO ministerial that started formally on 21 July. This issues include a proposed amendment to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) that would bring it in line with obligations under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), adding a requirement for disclosure of origin in patent applications and possibly ensuring benefit-sharing with communities to deter biopiracy (“CBD amendment”). But a group of less than 20 members held firmly to the position that the CBD amendment and one other of the issues have no mandate for negotiation – and they refused to give them one. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has not been able to bring the two sides on IP at the WTO closer together, despite consistent and intensive consultations on the IP issues all week. Read the article…

Pacific ministers agree to broaden work on PACER
Radio New Zealand – 24 July 2008

RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS: Pacific Islands Forum Trade Ministers have agreed that the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations, PACER, must be about more than trade. The New Zealand Associate Trade Minister, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, who was at this week’s meeting in Rarotonga, says there is an acceptance that what is called PACER Plus must include development and consider its member countries’ cultural context. She says this may include setting up a regional office to focus on issues of traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights. Read the article…

Early flowers, new fish – late berries, few whales
On The Frontlines of Climate Change Conference – 23 July 2008

PARIS, FRANCE: A growing number of readers from around the globe have submitted to the Forum their observations of environmental shifts attributed to climate change. Highlights from some of these responses include changes in the flowering dates of Guernsey’s (an island in the English Channel) spring flowering wild flowers and changes in the behaviour of migrating birds; and later than usual berries and fish – at least one month behind the time when they usually are ready to eat – in the Queen Charlotte Islands in Canada. Basil Fernandez from Jamaica cautions that we must be careful not to take cyclic weather patterns as climate change. For example, between 2001 and 2007 the Caribbean has been having above average rainfall with increased groundwater storage and stream flow, but this is a cyclic pattern observed for over 100 years. Read the summary…

Pacific Private Sector Group To Hold Annual Talks In Fiji
Pacific Magazine – 20 July 2008

NADI, FIJI: Representatives of the region’s private sector will meet in Nadi, Fiji, for the second Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization (PIPSO) on Monday and Tuesday this week, according to a PIPSO release. The AGM will be followed by a regional workshop on how intellectual property and traditional knowledge can contribute to small business success, from July 23-24. Supported by the European Union through the Pacific Regional Economic Integration Program (PACREIP) and co-organised with PIFS’ Private Sector Development Unit, the workshop provides an opportunity for public-private dialogue on issues pertaining to intellectual properties and traditional knowledge and aims to clarify the role of intellectual properties and traditional knowledge in determining the success of innovative island businesses. Read the article…

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