May 2009

Seventeenth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development
4 May – 15 May 2009 (UN Headquarters, New York, USA)

Focusing on the thematic cluster of agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa, CSD 17 adopted an outcome document including policy recommendations on the basis of a text prepared by Chair Gerda Verburg, as well as a Shared Vision Statement summarizing the results of the High-level Segment and Ministerial Roundtables.

The outcome document includes several references to TK. On agriculture, enhancement of agriculture production is linked to the employment of science-based agricultural approaches and local and indigenous knowledge. On rural development, harmonization of modern technologies with traditional and indigenous knowledge, and protection and sustainable use of traditional knowledge for natural resource management, are suggested as measures to build social capital and resilience in rural communities. On land, a common understanding of community land resource management should be facilitated through partnerships, networks and the participation of all relevant stakeholders, including taking into account community goals and traditional and indigenous knowledge, in land planning and management. On drought, TK should be taken into account in order to strengthen the knowledge base, and promotion of innovative technical solutions should be combined with TK for drought forecasting. On desertification, land resources should be protected through community-based sustainable natural resource management, based on scientific and indigenous knowledge, while appropriate traditional practices and local knowledge concerning land use, water management and agricultural activities should be supported. On Africa, it is noted that climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction should be integrated into agricultural policies and national development plans, on the basis of scientific and traditional knowledge and local experience; and agro-ecological practices, including the promotion of traditional agricultural practices and indigenous knowledge in general should be encouraged, as some of the resources to develop sustainable agricultural production models.

The Shared Vision Statement notes that farmers and rural people are custodians of the land, water and natural resources, yet their TK has been underappreciated and undervalued. A green revolution would need to wed traditional and indigenous knowledge with modern technologies and the latest scientific knowledge about agriculture and the roots of sustainability.

Visit the meeting’s website … Download the outcome document [pdf] … Download the Shared Vision Statement [pdf] … Read the final UN news release … Read the IISD RS summary and analysis of the meeting …

Third session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
1 June – 5 June 2009 (Tunis, Tunisia)

The third session of the ITPGR Governing Body will address, among other issues, implementation of Article 6 on sustainable use of plant genetic resources and implementation of Article 9 on farmers’ rights. The Fridtjof Nansen Institute has prepared an information paper based on the research findings of the Farmers’ Rights Project, which includes a section on farmers’ rights related to the protection of TK. Visit the meeting’s website … Download the Fridtjof Nansen Institute information paper [pdf]  …

Vacancy notice: Forum coordinator
UNESCO, May 2009

UNESCO is seeking a coordinator to ensure the execution, coordination and management of the On the Frontlines of Climate Change Forum. The coordinator will be contracted as a UNESCO consultant for an initial period of six months, with the possibility of renewal for an additional period of up to one year. The application deadline is 20 June 2009. Further information, including application form …

Climate Change Endangers Pastoralists Livelihoods in Kenya
Africa Science News Service, 20 May 2009

NAIROBI, KENYA: Climate change has emerged as a potent threat to livelihoods of Kenya’s pastoral communities and it is taking a toll on both human populations and livestock. These environmental vagaries are threatening the survival of nature-based economic activities that provide income to pastoralists. According to Oxfam’s Brian Otiende, there is need to develop climate change adaptation measures in pastoral areas: these adaptation measures should tap the potential of indigenous knowledge, while strengthening natural resource conservation at the local level. Read the article …

When nature helped two girls find the solution
Daily News and Analysis, 24 May 2009

AHMEDABAD, INDIA: Authored by Anil Gupta, this article tells the story of two girls who developed a system of repelling mosquitoes based on TK, which does not harm human health and the environment. Read the article …

Kutchi weavers, bandhini artisans soon to get their craft patented, 19 May 2009

AHMEDABAD, INDIA: India’s Kutchi weavers, bandhini artisans and Ajrak printing craftsmen will soon join the league of the traditional embroiders of Kutch, who got their traditional craft patented last year. The craftsmen plan to protect their traditional knowledge by patenting them under the Geographical Indication Act (GIA). The GIA patenting protects the misuse and commercialization of the particular form of handicraft by patenting it in the name of the community that holds the traditional wisdom of crafting it. Read the article …

Traditional Knowledge Newsletter of the CBD, Vol.3 Issue 3, May 2009

This issue includes an article on TK and the law in China by Bryan Bachner, an interview with Yolanda Terán on the Article 8(j) negotiations at CBD COP 9, and an article on TK’s contribution in the fight against climate change by Sofia Gutiérrez. Download the issue [pdf] …

Submission of views and proposals for the eighth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing
CBD notification, 11 May 2009

The CBD Secretariat invites governments, international organizations and indigenous and local communities to submit views and proposals, including operational text, for the further elaboration and negotiation of the international regime on access and benefit-sharing (ABS), in preparation for ABS 8, to be held from 9-15 November 2009, in Montreal, Canada. It is recalled that ABS 8 will address TK associated with genetic resources, as well as the nature of the regime, and capacity building. Submissions should be provided to the Secretariat no later than 6 July 2009. Download the notification [pdf] …

Statement by Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD Executive Secretary, on the occasion of the “Indigenous and Local Community, Business and Biodiversity Consultation”
12 May 2009 (UN Headquarters, New York, USA)

In his statement, the CBD Executive Secretary underscored the importance of supporting indigenous knowledge, noting that it is a significant contribution to global knowledge and also the social capital of the poor, their main asset to invest in the struggle for survival, to produce food, to provide for shelter and to achieve control of their own lives. He noted that many indigenous knowledge systems are at risk of becoming extinct because of rapidly changing social and natural environments and a failure to consider to real value of such knowledge. He added that the breadth of this knowledge should not be underestimated, noting that there are tens of thousands of plants used by indigenous peoples and local communities for traditional medicines and other purposes, but perhaps less than 1% of these are known to scientists and used commercially. Read the statement [pdf] …

Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge
WIPO publication no. 920(E), 2009

This booklet gives an overview of WIPO’s work on TK, discusses some key concepts and describes various national approaches to protecting TK against misuse or misappropriation. Highlighting the importance of TK for a sustainable future through specific examples, the booklet outlines key concepts, including definitions, the challenges confronting TK holders and forms of protection for TK; addresses positive protection measures for TK, including use of existing intellectual property laws and sui generis measures and rights; outlines defensive protection possibilities for safeguarding against illegitimate IP rights over TK; and concludes that the WIPO work is framing the core principles that should underpin the protection of TK, offering a potential foundation for international legal development in the form of precise policy and legislative options for enhanced protection of TK through adapted or expanded conventional IP systems or through sui generis systems. Download the booklet [pdf] …

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