March 2009

Shifting Sands of ABS Best Practice: Hoodia from the community perspective

Kabir Bavikatte, Harry Jonas and Johanna von Braun


Following the filing of international patents by the state-owned Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and subsequent claims of biopiracy regarding the San’s traditional knowledge (TK) about the natural appetite suppressant in Hoodia, a benefit-sharing agreement was reached between the CSIR and the San in 2003. The San-Hoodia case is perhaps the most well known case of access and benefit-sharing (ABS) in the world. Having firsthand experience of working with the San, the authors conclude that ABS is a double-edged sword for communities. On the one hand it provided the San an opportunity to generate livelihoods and be rewarded for biodiversity stewardship. On the other, it presented them with conceptual and practical challenges relating to granting access to their TK according to prior informed consent (PIC); difficulties in negotiating the benefit-sharing agreement; and subsequent governance upheaval. The authors propose that by developing bio-cultural protocols communities are better placed to make informed decisions about whether or not to engage with ABS, and when they do, to ensure that their interests are best served. Bio-cultural protocols, the authors argue, provide communities an opportunity to articulate for themselves their understanding of their bio-cultural heritage and views on ABS, and communicate them to outside interests. Read the guest article …

Seventh meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing of the Convention on Biological Diversity

2 April – 8 April 2009 (Paris, France)


The seventh meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will be held from 2-8 April 2009, at the UNESCO Headquarters, in Paris, France. The meeting will continue the negotiation of an international regime on ABS, focusing on operational text on the objective, scope, compliance, fair and equitable sharing, and access. Visit the meeting’s website … Visit the IISD Reporting Services website, including daily reports on the meeting …

5th World Water Forum

16 March – 22 March 2009 (Istanbul, Turkey)


Theme 6 of the World Water Forum on “Education, Knowledge and Capacity Development” included Topic 6.5 on “Water and Culture.” The main focus of this topic was to define the interdependencies between sustainable solutions to water problems and diverse water cultures that are flourished around similar environmental conditions and to discuss the inter-linkages between water and culture, considering the value of culture in creating diverse water cultures, in addressing challenges faced in managing and protecting water resources which meet human and environmental needs. The sessions below made part of the topic.


Panel on traditional water knowledge

UNU-IAS Traditional Knowledge Initiative, 21 March 2009


A panel on “Traditional Water Knowledge and Global Environmental Change: charting sustainable paths for the future” was organized by the UNU-IAS Traditional Knowledge Initiative. Panel presentations outlined the diverse regional experiences in linking traditional knowledge with mainstream water management and highlighted the important role that indigenous peoples can play in helping to develop sustainable water management alternatives. During the panel, an Indigenous Declaration on Water was launched, drafted by a group of indigenous experts during the “Indigenous Water Knowledge, Indigenous Water Interests” meeting, held in August 2008, in Australia. Read the UNU-IAS TKI news release … Download the Indigenous Declaration on Water [pdf] …


Session on socio-cultural perspectives in water sciences and management

Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, 20 March 2009


The panel on “Fostering Socio-cultural Perspectives in Water Sciences and Management: identifying bridges and barriers” highlighted the role of the Forum in building bridges across the natural and social sciences and called for water to be viewed as a human as well as a cultural right. Read IISD Reporting Services’ World Water Forum Bulletin …

Seventh Annual Conference of the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples

3 April – 5 April 2009 (Santa Fe, US)


The IFIP 7th Annual Conference “Fostering Local to Global Partnerships: setting the agenda for the future of indigenous philanthropy” will include sessions under three main tracks: climate change and water issues; indigenous rights, sovereignty and self determination; and strengthening indigenous philanthropy. Download the conference agenda [pdf] …

UN to link indigenous peoples worldwide, 24 March 2009


MANILA, PHILIPPINES:  Eighty five indigenous peoples’ representatives from Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Europe and Russia, Arctic, Latin and North America, as well as experts, gathered in Manila for the International Conference on Indigenous Peoples and Extractive Industries, held from 23-25 March 2009. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said there is a need to unite indigenous peoples in a global network to strengthen their responses to the problems they face. Indigenous peoples’ representatives said their cultural territories continue to shrink because of massive encroachment by mining companies. Read the article … Visit the conference website … Read the conference’s final declaration …

When the wheel stops

Deccan Herald, 29 March 2009


BANGALORE, INDIA: From Kashmir to Orissa to Karnataka, India boasts of a rich legacy of traditional crafts. But the tragic story of most folk arts and crafts is once a generation decides to let go, the art is lost to the family and hence to the larger community forever. Read the article …

Traditional practices contribute to conservation of medicinal plants, 23 March 2009


CALIFORNIA, USA: Traditional practices contribute to conservation of medicinal plants in West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, report Tuli S. Msuya and Jafari R. Kideghesho in the March issue of the open access journal Tropical Conservation Science. The authors conclude by underscoring the role of traditional management practices in enhancing conservation of biodiversity and as a tool for ensuring primary health care in rural communities. Read the article …

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