August 2008

UNU/UNESCO Globalization Conference Will Focus on Languages
UNU Press Release – 26 August 2008

TOKYO, JAPAN: This year’s UNU/UNESCO international conference (the sixth in an annual series on the effects of globalization) will examine the challenges and opportunities that globalization presents to languages and multilingualism and will identify effective strategies and policies to ensure the continued viability of the world’s languages and the fostering of linguistic diversity in society. During the conference, eminent experts from around the world will discuss the critical role of languages in attaining internationally agreed-upon development goals (such as the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All), promoting cultural diversity, and achieving constructive dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples. Panel discussions will include “Safeguarding Endangered Languages”. Visit the meeting site…

Draft guidelines for sustainable biofuel production focuses on food security
Financial Express – 25 August 2008

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND: The draft guidelines on the ‘Principles for sustainable biofuels‘ has laid stress on food security, conservation of environment and rights of local communities. The draft document released by the Switzerland-based steering committee of the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels contains “international standards for guaranteeing that biofuels originate from environmentally sustainable sources”. The document has outlined principles for sustainable biofuels, including: land rights; consultation, planning and monitoring; and rural and social development. According to ISAAA, the draft will be open for consultation until February 2009. Read the article… Download the draft guidelines [pdf]…

Bear management demands mutual respect: researcher
Nunatsiaq News – 22 August 2008

MONTREAL, CANADA: Inuit and scientists need to develop more respect for each other and their differing views of the world, or they risk undermining Nunavut’s polar bear co-management system, says a researcher who studied Nunavut’s polar bear hunt for more than 30 years. “Each side says: ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ – it’s not a matter of debate,” George Wenzel of McGill University said in a telephone interview from Montreal. Inuit and scientists also need an attitude change, he says. Inuit need to become less rigid about what their traditional knowledge says about polar bears and scientists need to become less rigid about their polar bear data. Scientists need to move away from saying, “climate change threatens polar bears and we have to reduce quotas,” he says, while Inuit should be more open to other points of view besides the attitude that “the only way you can have more animals is to hunt animals.” Wenzel acknowledges Inuit and scientists collect and process information about the environment in different ways, saying traditional knowledge is much more local and specific in focus than science, which collects data from a large number of points and then makes generalizations. Read the article…

Maasai ‘can fight climate change’
BBC News [UK] – 18 August 2008

Africa should make more use of the skills of its nomadic peoples to help combat the challenges of climate change, the aid agency Oxfam says. Pastoral communities such as the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania could pass on survival skills, says a new report. The Maasai have learnt over generations how to farm in deserts and scrublands. Instead of being respected, though, the pastoralists have been marginalised politically, their way of life deemed out-dated and irrelevant, Oxfam says. A new Oxfam report, Survival of the Fittest, describes how East African governments have excluded pastoralist communities, adversely affecting their ability to maintain a sustainable livelihood. Read the article… Download the report [pdf]…

UNDP recuperates a millenary tradition in Peruvian town
UNDP Newsroom – 18 August 2008

LIMA, PERU: A UNDP project on textile recuperation blooms in the weaving community of Matinga, Cusco. The concept underneath this project is to create economic sustainability, while expanding the market demand for the keepers of a tradition dating back over 5,000 years in the Andes. Peruvian weavers inherit one of the world’s most ancient textile traditions. Some researchers even argue Peru has the oldest textile history in the world. Textile making, a craft still cultivated mostly by Andean women, has been associated with communications and deity worshiping. They were symbols of status and authority for Inca rulers and remained a communication channel for the families. The initiative began with the development of a baseline for traditional products usage. Then the challenge was the incorporation of original dyes, derived from thousands of local vegetation from the Andean valleys. The Small Fair showcased a variety of products, including textile samples ready to enter the market, displaying iconography passed on from generations of women within each family since pre-Columbian times. Read the article…

CBD: Request for submissions of information on experiences on the development and application of tools relevant to the sustainable production and use of biofuels
CBD News – 6 August 2008

MONTREAL, CANADA: At the ninth meeting of the the Convention on Biological Diversity earlier this year, governments and relevant stakeholders were asked to share their experiences on the development and application of tools relevant to the sustainable production and use of biofuels, as well as relevant information from research on, and monitoring of, the positive and negative impacts of the production and use of biofuels on biodiversity and related socio-economic aspects, including those related to indigenous and local communities. Comments close on 31 March 2009 and should be sent directly to the CBD Secreatariat. Download the notification [pdf]…

Developing a Sustainability Indicators System to Measure the Well-being of Winnipeg’s First Nations Community
IISD and AMC, July 2008

The International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs have released a preliminary report, Framework Development and the Community Engagement Process, on the joint project to develop a sustainability indicators system for Winnipeg’s First Nations community.

Over the past few months, IISD has been facilitating a series of grassroots forums with the urban First Nation community and their service sector providers, in order to understand the issues and build a culturally-specific indicator system. The indicator system is designed to give First Nation people in Winnipeg an effective and understandable tool that reflects the issues that impact their well-being and measures progress towards their vision for the future. The framework developed for this project is based on the traditional Medicine Wheel. The Medicine Wheel was chosen because there was an identified need to look at the issues in a holistic manner, understanding that everything is connected and issues should not be dealt with in isolation. The Medicine Wheel was ideal as it is a simple model of complex social, cultural, economic and environmental relationships and behaviours that affect the well-being of a community.

The interim report highlights the many issues, identified by the urban community, which have an impact on their well-being. IISD is now working to gather baseline data to help measure the impact of these issues on the community’s well-being. The baseline indicators and findings are expected to be shared with the community and media in the fall, as well as the plan for part two of this project, which currently remains contingent on funding.

Download the preliminary report…

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