October 2009

It is urgent to invest in cultural diversity and dialogue, according to a new UNESCO report
UNESCO press release, 20 October 2009

PARIS, FRANCE: Launched by UNESCO, this World Report aims to become a reference tool for cultural diversity. It puts forward ten recommendations about ways to invest in cultural diversity, including creating a World Observatory on Cultural Diversity to monitor the impacts of globalization, setting up a national mechanism for monitoring public policies as they relate to cultural diversity, and implementing national language policies with a view to both safeguarding linguistic diversity and promoting multilingual competencies. The report also puts forward new strategies to facilitate intercultural dialogue. Read the press release … Download the full report [pdf] … Download the executive summary [pdf] …


UN expert raises concern over policies marginalizing traditional seed varieties
UN news release, 21 October 2009

NEW YORK, USA: Government policies in many developing countries which promote the planting of a narrow base of agricultural crops may hurt farmers in the long run, warned Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food. Presenting his report on seed policies and the right to food to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur noted that there is increasing pressure on farmers to use more uniform, commercial seed varieties, while traditional varieties are being sidelined, leading to loss of agrobiodiversity. He recommended that States: do more to implement farmers’ rights under Article 9 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which would provide for protection of traditional resources and for farmers’ participation in decision-making processes; provide funds necessary to support the flourishing of farmers’ seed systems; re-examine their seed regulations to make them more hospitable to traditional farmers’ rights; and develop local seed exchanges. Read the UN news release … Read an IPS article on the issue … Read the report of the Special Rapporter to the General Assembly (doc A/64/170) …

United Nations Development Group Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues
Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues, 22 October 2009

The UN Development Group’s Guidelines on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues, available in English, Spanish and French, were prepared by a task team of the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues, a group composed of 31 UN agencies, funds and programmes and other intergovernmental organizations. The purpose of the Guidelines is to assist the UN system to mainstream and integrate indigenous peoples’ issues in processes for operational activities and programmes at the country level. The document includes guiding principles on: traditional knowledge, intellectual property, intangible heritage and cultural expressions; environmental issues including traditional ecological knowledge; health and social security, including traditional medicine or ways of healing; and education, among others. Download the Guidelines [pdf] …

Perpetual Protection of Traditional Knowledge “Not On Table” at WIPO
IP Watch, 22 October 2009

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Protection of traditional knowledge under intellectual property rights may have a time limit, though determining duration of protection measures will be more difficult than it is with Western scientific innovation, World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry said. “I think perpetual protection is not on the table,” Gurry told journalists on 21 October. There is a conceptual difference in duration of protection, he said. In Western science there is a moment of discovery, a date at from which protection can proceed, whereas traditional knowledge tends to be communal, collective, and passed on from generation to generation, he added. The IGC received its strongest mandate yet at the WIPO assemblies earlier this month, and is now tasked with undertaking text-based negotiations towards an “international legal instrument” for the effective protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions. Read the article …

Indigenous Women’s Fund – Who Can Apply?
International Indigenous Women’s Forum, October 2009

The International Indigenous Women’s Forum is opening the first Indigenous Women’s Fund Call for Proposals from 15 October 2009 to 15 January 2010. The following guidelines will be used: applicants must promote the rights of Indigenous women; they must address the particular perspectives and challenges that Indigenous women face in their communities and promote women’s rights; and applicants must be Indigenous women’s organizations working in the Fund’s grantmaking areas of economic empowerment and community development, environment and sustainable development, information and community technology, or Indigenous women’s health and education. Groups that submit proposals may work at the local, national, or international level. Proposals may be presented by a single organization or as a collaboration among several groups. Read the grantmaking guidelines, including links to application guide and format, and budget format …

Enhancing innovation between scientific and indigenous knowledge: pioneer NGOs in India
Maria Costanza Torri and Julie Laplante, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2009, 5:29, doi: 10.1186/1746-4269-5-29

This paper focuses on how local communities, in a network of supportive partnerships, draw knowledge from others, combine it with their own knowledge and then innovate in their local practices. Innovation, as discussed in this article, is the capacity of local stakeholders to play an active role in innovative knowledge creation in order to enhance local health practices and further environmental conservation. The case study analyzed highlights examples of innovation systems in a developmental context. They demonstrate that networks comprised of several actors from different levels can synergistically forge linkages between local knowledge and formal sciences and generate positive and negative impacts. The positive impact is the revitalization of perceived traditions while the negative impacts pertain to the transformation of these traditions into health commodities controlled by new elites, due to unequal power relations. Read the article …

James Anaya: Laws of Ugra in indigenous peoples support sphere can be an example for other countries
Indigenous Portal, 19 October 2009

UGRA, RUSSIAN FEDERATION: James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, visited the Khanty-Mansi autonomous area, where Vasiliy Sondykov, speaker of the autonomous area’s duma, presented on the Indigenous Peoples Assembly, unique in Russia, and ten Ugra nominal laws that regulate the protection of indigenous peoples’ lives, activities and environment. Anaya said he was deeply impressed by the number of laws to protect indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North, noting they could become an example for other countries. He took special interest in the questions of nature conservation territories development and traditional nature use, as well the arrangement of agreements between oil companies and heads of the families of ancestral lands, with the area’s administration acting as a third party always on behalf of the latter. Read the article …

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