September 2008

Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA)
United Nations University – Institute of Advanced Studies Traditional Knowledge Initiative (UNU-IAS TKI) in conjunction with the Association for Nature and Sustainable Development (ANDES)
8 September – 9 September 2008 (Palo Alto, USA)

The planning meeting for the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA) focused on consultation with a wide range of stakeholders about the design and process of the IPCCA. Draft conclusions from the meeting have been released. The assessments will be led and undertaken by indigenous peoples and will benefit the communities where they are undertaken, including by helping them face challenges of climate change.

The aims of the assessment include:

  • Assisting the communities undertaking the assessment;
  • Generating information that can be shared with neighbouring communities or other communities around the world;
  • Influencing policy locally, national and internationally by providing inputs into ongoing climate change negotiating processes that ensure indigenous rights; and
  • Educating and creating awareness among the wider global public in order to reposition issues relating to the value and wisdom of traditional knowledge.

The meeting report includes a site matrix outlining relevant regional assessments, and outlines questions and issues to guide the local assessments. The Interim Steering Committee includes ANDES (Alejandro Argumedo); FPCI (Onel Masardule Arias); ICC (Stephanie Meakin); UNPFII (Vicky Tauli-Corpuz); Snowchange (Tero Mustonen); IPRN (Dennis Martinez) and NAILSMA (Joe Morrison).

Download the report…

Another first for Allahabad: technical institute to set up SAARC digital library
Express India – 23 September 2008

ALLAHABAD, INDIA: For the first time in the history of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), all significant literary, artistic and scientific works of mankind will be digitally preserved and made freely available for every member country. The idea is to promote and exchange science and technology among the SAARC countries. The work has been entrusted to the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (IIIT-A), which is already setting up an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) — India Science and Technology (S&T) digital library. The decision was taken in a high-level meeting attended by senior officers of Ministry of Information Technology, Ministry of External Affairs and HRD ministry meeting on September 18. The proposed SAARC—S&T digital library will be in accordance to the Preamble of SAARC, which advocates educational and cultural exchange among the member countries. “The member countries have already agreed on issues like sharing and safeguarding the expertise and traditional knowledge. The premiers and ministers of the SAARC countries have expressed their willingness for cooperating in this direction,” said sources. Read the article…

Idris Bids WIPO Farewell; Newly Appointed DG Gurry Outlines Initiatives
Intellectual Property Watch – 22 September 2008

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Australian Francis Gurry became the next in a short list of leaders of the World Intellectual Property Organization Monday, and promptly signalled a programme of increased multilateralism and bolstered global and local relevance for the United Nations body. Gurry, who will take office on 1 October until 2014, laid out the makings of a diverse programme with several new initiatives aimed at boosting multilateralism of intellectual property policy, and at putting WIPO at the forefront of its field. He plans to announce his detailed strategy on 20 October, consulting with members until a meeting of the WIPO Programme and Budget Committee approves a new budget in December. Gurry said urgent attention is needed for a number of issues, including lack of protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions (folklore). Download Kamil Idris’s Farewell Address [pdf]… Download Francis Gurry’s Acceptance Speech [pdf]… Read the article…

UNDP brings indigenous issue to attention in Cambodia
UNDP News Room – 18 September 2008

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA: To date, only limited research has been done within Cambodia’s indigenous communities. To address these issues, UNDP, through its Access to Justice Project, has commissioned two studies to find out more about indigenous traditional conflict resolution mechanisms and customary law. Some findings from the studies show that the delivery of public services does not take into account the cultural and language specificity of different indigenous groups. To highlight the challenges facing indigenous communities, UNDP has organised an awareness campaign targeting all relevant stakeholders. Significantly, many participants believed increasing awareness of indigenous communities was important on a national scale because the ancient cultures were a source of national pride and should be protected. Read the article…

A new publication from World Vision:

  • Planet Prepare: Preparing Communities In Asia For Future Catastrophes World Vision International ISBN 1-887983-47-3

    Tens of billions of dollars must be spent on protecting millions of people living on the coasts of Asia Pacific if climate change-induced disasters are not to wreak havoc and eradicate decades of development, warns World Vision. The warning follows the release of World Vision reports of ‘Planet Prepare: Preparing Coastal Communities in Asia for Future Catastrophes’. The World Vision report not only looks at the latest research around climate change but also examines how communities from Bangladesh to Papua New Guinea are being severely impacted by storms and sea level rise. The report, by author Johannes Leutz, says billions needs to be spent on strengthening community resilience in villages and cities, educating children to be disaster ready, putting in place disaster-resistant infrastructure and early warning systems, and giving people new job options. Failure to act will leave tens of millions of people at extreme vulnerability and reverse development gains.

    The report recommends making use of traditional knowledge under “Research Priorities, Probabilities & Possibilities”. Professor Poh Poh Wong, Coordinating Lead Author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says “Coastal communities face the inevitable and seem helpless… Some coastal communities know their coasts better than the scientists. They have traditional ecological knowledge of the coastal and marine environment that can be further developed or adapted to a rising sea level. We need to document and identify this valuable information before it is lost … If we think and act positively for the coasts, coastal communities will have a better future.”

    Download the report [pdf]…

Eleventh International Congress of Ethnobiology: Local Livelihoods and Collective Biocultural Heritage
Asociacion ANDES
25 June – 30 June 2008 (Cusco, Peru)

More than five hundred representatives of local communities, indigenous peoples and scholars met in Cusco in June 2008 under the auspices of the International Society of Ethnobiology to review common concerns twenty years after the First International Congress of Ethnobiology and its 1988 Declaration of Belem. The meeting found that biocultural diversity is in a state of deepening crisis, with negative trends including disappearing ecosystems, species extinctions, and cultural disruption and destruction. Despite these interrelated crises, the meeting noted that emergent trends of cultural and biological resilience, resurgence and re-diversification give reason to hope for creative solutions. The need was emphasised for these efforts to be led by Indigenous Peoples, traditional societies and local communities.

The United Nations University – Institute of Advanced Studies Traditional Knowledge Initiative (UNU-IAS TKI) co-chaired a session on Indigenous People, Climate Change and Adaption. This session was held over two days and explored climate change impacts and implications for indigenous and traditional communities, as well as their unique adaption strategies, particularly crop adaptation and adaptation to marginal areas and ecosystem boundaries.

Session topics included:

  • protecting ecosystem buffers that provide livelihoods, sacred spaces and pathways for indigenous peoples and local communities;
  • the role of collective cultural heritage in maintaining and strengthening the resilience of healthy ecosystems;
  • building bridges among indigenous people, scientists and policymakers to develop adaptation strategies; and
  • incorporating biocultural diversity in the international climate change fora.

Read the ICE meeting report…
Download the draft recommendations from Indigenous People, Climate Change and Adaptation session [pdf]…

Indigenous Peoples: Development with Culture and Identity
UNESCO News Room

From 15 to 17 September, UNESCO will host the annual meeting of the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples and welcome the first official visit to UNESCO of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. These events are taking place just one year after the historic adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly (13 September 2007). They will provide an occasion to discuss the theme development with culture and identity and explore opportunities for the UN system to support the rights and aspirations of indigenous peoples, notably through inter-agency collaboration. The thematic round-table discussions will address Development with Culture and Identity in light of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Visit the site…

Landmark Study Reports Breakdown In Biotech Patent System
Medical News Today – 11 September 2008

OTTAWA, CANADA: The world’s intellectual property system is broken. It’s stopping lifesaving technologies from reaching the people who need them most in developed and developing countries, according to the authors of a report released in Ottawa by an international coalition of experts. “We found the same stumbling blocks in the traditional communities of Brazil as we did in the boardroom of a corporation that holds the patent to a gene that can determine the chance a woman will develop breast cancer,” said Richard Gold, professor of intellectual property at McGill University and chair of the International Expert Group that produced the report: Toward a New Era of Intellectual Property: From Confrontation to Negotiation. The report documents a series of failed attempts to expand access to both traditional knowledge and the products of modern biotechnology. Read the article… Download the paper…

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