November 2008

Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education), UNU-IAS Traditional Knowledge Initiative, UN REDD Programme and CBD Secretariat

12 November – 14 November 2008 (Baguio City, Philippines)


Participants to the Global Indigenous Peoples Consultation on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) adopted an Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ Global Strategy on REDD. The strategy makes reference to a number of overarching principles, including a human-rights approach to all REDD activities on the basis of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and International Labour Organization Convention no. 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, and the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples in REDD activities. It also stresses the need to distinguish between reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as a goal that interests all climate change stakeholders including indigenous peoples (redd) and the use of term REDD to signify possible future policies and instruments designed to achieve this goal.


With regard to international processes and organizations, recommendations address:

  • coordinating and sharing information with the UN agencies, specialized bodies and initiatives that are considered relevant for implementing action on climate change and indigenous peoples;
  • recognizing the close links between traditional knowledge, biodiversity and climate change, and ensuring close cooperation and more synergy between the CBD and UNFCCC on traditional knowledge and climate change, supporting the establishment of a working group on local-level adaptation with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples; and
  • establishing a working group/expert body on traditional knowledge and climate change under the joint liaison group of the CBD/UNFCCC/UNCCD.

It is also recommended that UN-REDD programme and other funders develop compliance guidelines, as well as a grievance and recourse mechanism to ensure that indigenous peoples’ rights are observed at the national and international levels.


Other recommendations include:

  • engaging indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities in all UN processes relevant to tackling climate change;
  • strengthening the existing indigenous organizations and networks to address REDD issues;
  • undertaking case studies, field research and developing information packages to influence discussions on REDD;
  • establishing an indigenous peoples global coordinating body on climate change;
  • developing a legal framework and consultation mechanisms for indigenous peoples at the national level;
  • requiring each REDD pilot country to report on the legal situation of indigenous territories, lands and resources and rights of forest-dependent communities;
  • empowering indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities by raising awareness on REDD issues;
  • promoting subnational processes that decentralize REDD; and
  • subjecting all REDD and climate change mitigation activities to environmental impact assessments and social/cultural impact assessments.

Download the report [pdf] …

Workshop on Sectoral Linkages and Lessons Learnt on Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS): Moving the ABS Agenda Forward

28 November 2008 (United Nations University, Aoyama, Tokyo)


Co-organized by Japan Bioindustry Association and UNU-IAS, this workshop will address the links between ABS and sectoral issues, by gathering experiences from other related processes such as the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. It will explore how ex situ collections are dealing with ABS issues and will discuss the way forward on the negotiation process on an international ABS regime. The outcomes are intended to facilitate future discussions and negotiations on ABS. Visit the workshop’s website …  

Push for TRIPS Changes Reaches Highest Level at WTO as Meetings Intensify

IP Watch, 21 November 2008


GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Proponents of amending the World Trade Organization intellectual property agreement to increase protection for biodiversity and for geographically-specific products are insisting Director General Pascal Lamy himself lead the process for resolving the issues. Meetings on intellectual property issues have been held periodically throughout the week, including Friday, and will continue next week, according to sources. A procedural decision on three intellectual property (IP) issues is expected next week, one source said. The IP amendments relate to the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, and include a proposal to amend TRIPS to include mandatory disclosure of origin on genetic resources used in patent applications (and, possibly, a guarantee of prior informed consent of communities who own the resources) – referred to as the TRIPS/CBD amendment as it is inspired by provisions in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). They also include a proposal to extend high-level protection of geographical indications – or products associated with a particular place and characteristics – on wines and spirits to other goods, an initiative referred to as “GI extension.”


Approximately 110 of the WTO’s 153 members have demanded that the biodiversity and GI extension issues be included in current trade negotiations, though not all proponents favor both issues. A group representing the coalition of 110 proponents met with Lamy on Monday to stress the importance to them of the two issues, and to request a process involving dedicated consultations on the issues, sources told Intellectual Property Watch. The request for Lamy’s direct involvement is based, the proponents say, on a declaration from the high-level ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in 2005. Article 39 of the Hong Kong declaration calls for the director general to “without prejudice to the positions of members… intensify his consultative process on all outstanding implementation issues” as listed in the declaration from the Doha ministerial in 2001, “if need be by appointing chairpersons of concerned WTO bodies as his friends and/or by holding dedicated consultations.”


“The disclosure requirement would redefine who would benefit from IPRs while also addressing the issues of biopiracy,” a proponent nation official said. “Therefore there is resistance from some developed countries. There is a fundamental flaw in TRIPS that it recognises individual property while ignoring community property rights. Read the article …  

UN process in reaching a new climate change deal excludes those most affected

MRG press release, 20 November 2008


LONDON, UK: A new climate change deal will be seriously compromised if countries continue to shut out the voices of those most affected by global warming, an international human rights group warns in a new report. With just ten days to go before the start of crucial UN climate change negotiations in Poznan, Poland, Minority Rights Group International says the UN process is flawed as communities that have first-hand experience of dealing with climate change are not allowed to participate. “It is incomprehensible how governments believe they can discuss the effects of climate change and agree targets without the input of those who already face the impacts of climate change,” says Mark Lattimer, MRG’s Executive Director. Targets to be decided by states include those related to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), but forest-dwelling communities who are mostly indigenous people are not being effectively included in the discussions. “Indigenous peoples have for centuries adapted to changing environments and would be able to contribute substantially to adaptation strategies the UN is trying to include in a new climate change treaty,” he says.


The impact of climate change hits indigenous and minority communities the hardest because they live in ecologically diverse areas and their livelihoods are dependent on the environment, says the new MRG briefing launched today. Inuits in the arctic are seeing people fall through melting ice, long droughts in east Africa are resulting in food shortages for pastoralists and Khmer Krom rice farmers in the Mekong delta in South Vietnam are seeing their crop yields fall. Minorities are often amongst the poorest and most marginalised communities and are most likely to face discrimination when climate-related disasters occur, as is the experience of lower-caste Dalits in India.


“There has been a lot of attention paid to the damage climate change is doing to the environment and the loss of certain plant or animal species, but we aren’t sufficiently recognizing the impact on people,” says Farah Mihlar, the author of the report. “There are entire communities that could be lost. Cultures, traditions and languages could be wiped off the earth,” she adds. In a series of testimonies gathered for the briefing, community representatives from across the world express deep frustration at their exclusion from the international negotiations and the paper calls on the UN to set up a mechanism, similar to that of CBD, to enable communities to be included in the negotiations. Read the press release … Download the report Voices that must be heard: minorities and indigenous people combating climate change

International Expert Group Meeting on the Implementation of Article 42 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
14 November – 16 January 2009 (New York, USA)

This Expert Group Meeting is being organized following a recommendation of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, approved by ECOSOC decision 2008/249, which authorized a three-day international expert group meeting on the implementation of Article 42 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and requested that the results of the meeting be reported to the Permanent Forum at its eighth session. The workshop will discuss the way in which the UNPFII should address its mandate under Article 42 of the Declaration, which states that “the United Nations, its bodies, including the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and specialized agencies, including at the country-level, and States shall promote respect for and full application of the provisions of this Declaration and follow up the effectiveness of this Declaration.” The expert group meeting will be attended by indigenous experts and UNPFII members as well as interested Member States, UN agencies and Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations. Interested parties should contact the Secretariat about participating as observers. Visit the meeting’s website …

Tibetan Alpine Ethnobotany and Climate Change

Agrobiodiversity platform, 17 November 2008


ROME, ITALY: Posted as an input to a web discussion to identify gaps and needs in agrobiodiversity and climate change research, this project focuses on the Tibetan community who perceive, adapt by becoming wine producers and mitigate the effects of climate change by practicing traditional conservation methods and managing land so to enhance organic matter in the soil. Read the post … Download a presentation on the project [pdf] …

Botanist on mission to save rare Indian herbal remedies

The Hindu, 23 November 2008


LUCKNOW, INDIA: Ethno-botanist Deepak Acharya has spent eight years in the Satpura mountains in Madhya Pradesh, parts of which lie cut off from civilisation, driven by a single goal – documenting and salvaging India’s traditional herbal remedies before they are lost to the world. Dubbed as a “modern day herb hunter,” 32-year-old Acharya has been painstakingly tracking traditional healers, called Bhagats in Dang (Sahyadri ranges) and Bhumkas in Patalkot (Satpura) in central India whose repertoire of remedies is known to cure some of the most unyielding human ailments. Prompted by concerns that the priceless heritage of tribal medicine residing within the ageing generation of healers would be gone with them, he made up his mind to help preserve the pool of knowledge, nurtured by oral tradition. The young botanist’s quest paid off years later. He painstakingly built up a catalogue of hundreds of medicinal plants and tribal treatments. Acharya proposed that the knowledge of traditional healers should be protected under intellectual property rights (IPR), as a way of making them economically independent and self-reliant, fully integrated with the mainstream. Read the article …

Next Page »