March 2010

Ninth meeting of the CBD Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing
22 March – 28 March 2010 (Cali, Colombia)

The ninth meeting of the CBD Working Group on ABS continued negotiations on an international regime on ABS, on the basis of a draft protocol tabled by the Co-Chairs. Following three days of productive contact group discussions and significant progress achieved on a number of issues, including benefit-sharing from derivatives and an internationally recognized certificate of compliance, an inter-regional group was established. Due to procedural wrangling, the inter-regional group never managed to enter into text-based negotiations. The Working Group eventually agreed to: suspend ABS 9 and convene a resumed session in the near future; and forward the draft protocol text, as revised during this session, to the resumed session, with the understanding that the draft was not negotiated and is without prejudice to the rights of parties to make further amendments and additions to the text.

With regard to TK, discussions focused on whether it should be addressed as a cross-cutting issue under the draft protocol’s provisions on compliance, benefit-sharing and access; or whether it should be covered solely under draft protocol Article 9. Other issues addressed included: the relationship between ABS activities and TK associated with genetic resources; diversity of national circumstances; recognition of customary law; benefit-sharing from TK utilization; PIC with regard to access to TK; and transboundary issues. The draft protocol to be forwarded to the resumed session addresses benefit-sharing for genetic resource or TK use with the ILCs holding such resources or TK (Article 4); calls upon parties to take appropriate measures with the aim of ensuring that TK associated with genetic resources held by ILCs is accessed with the PIC/approval and involvement of ILCs, and is based on MAT (Article 5bis); requires parties to cooperate, with ILCs’ involvement, with TK is shared by different ILCs (Article 8); and requires parties to give due consideration to ILCs’ community and customary laws, community protocols and procedures, with respect to TK associated with genetic resources and establish mechanisms to inform potential users of TK about their ABS obligations (Article 9). Visit the IISD RS webpage including daily coverage and a summary/analysis of the meeting …

Mexican radio station and Egyptian journalist win UNESCO-IPDC Prize for Rural Communication
UNESCO release, 22 March 2010

PARIS, FRANCE: The first indigenous community radio station in Mexico and an Egyptian journalist will share this year’s prize for rural communication awarded by UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication. The Mexican radio station La voz de campesinos promotes interactive radio communication with communities, encouraging them to share their history, customs and music, and helps reinforce the collective rights of the indigenous populations of the Veracruz region. Programmes are transmitted in three local languages, in addition to Spanish. Read the release …

WIPO Regional Seminar on IP and TK, Genetic Resources and Traditional Cultural Expressions
16 December – 17 December 2009 (Bangkok, Thailand)

This seminar addressed the following topics: the concepts of TK, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions and why they should receive legal protection; latest developments and perspectives on future work of the WIPO IGC; policy, legal and practical measures for the protection of TK, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions; WIPO’s work elements and options for the intellectual property protection of TK, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions; TK databases and other forms of TK and traditional cultural expression documentation – objectives and methodologies for the establishment of databases; overview of protection in the region; and challenges and opportunities for developing legal frameworks for the protection of TK, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions. All the presentations from the seminar are available online. Visit the seminar’s website …

Poor missing out on moringa seeds’ water-purifying powers, 24 March 2010

OUDTSHOORN, SOUTH AFRICA: Seeds from a tree that grows widely across the developing world could play a key role in water purification – but there is lack of awareness about this application despite a long indigenous history, say researchers. The Moringa tree – Moringa oleifera – is native to North India but is also found in Indonesia, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa, and is used in many communities mostly for food and folk medicine. Crushed Moringa seeds to water can cut the time taken for bacteria and solids to settle from a full day to just one hour, and has potential for preventing diarrhoea, according to Michael Lea, who published his research in Current Protocols in Microbiology. Vallantino Emongor, a M. oleifera expert at the University of Botswana, said: “What is exciting is that this tree is drought resistant and is accessible throughout Africa and India. Communities need to learn what the seeds can do.” Read the article … Read the full paper in Current Protocols in Microbiology

Kenya: Climate Change Affects Rainmakers’ Predictions, 25 March 2010

NAIROBI, KENYA: Indigenous people in western Kenya have relied on the mystical abilities of the Nganyi rainmakers to predict the weather for generations. However, the erratic weather caused by climate change has made the signs rainmakers need for their forecast opaque. The Nganyi rainmakers have begun collaborating with meteorologists, combining their indigenous knowledge with modern science, to help them make more accurate weather forecast for the communities that depend on their advice. The Kenya Meteorology Department is adding its scientific knowledge to the traditional knowledge of the Nganyi, in a project lead by the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC). Rainmakers’ predictions only pertain to the immediate community and the meteorologists forecast apply on the national and regional level. ICPAC believes the two groups will compliment each other to better serve parts of Kenya that have been affected by drought and erratic rainfall in recent years. The project uses a system that combines each group’s knowledge. Read the article …

Forests May Depend on Survival of Native People
IPS, 29 March 2010

MONTPELLIER, FRANCE: Hundreds of poor Mexican Zapotec indigenous farmers have become owners of a multi-million-dollar diversified forest industry, offering an important model of a community-based enterprise that supports local people and conserves the natural environment, says David Barton Bray, a professor and associate chair in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University in Miami. The farmers of Ixtlán de Juarez, a forest community in the Sierra Norte mountains of central Mexico, utilize their strong traditional community values and communal ownership of more than 21,000 hectares of pine and oak forest to run a successful business that benefits the entire community. Communal trust, deeply shared values that arise from long experience and knowledge are some of the ingredients of social capital. Read the article …

Environments of Learning: Rarámuri Children’s Plant Knowledge and Experience of Schooling, Family, and Landscapes in the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico
Felice S. Wyndham, Human Ecology vol. 38, no. 1, February 2010, doi: 10.1007/s10745-009-9287-5

This paper investigates social-environmental factors contributing to differential ethnobotanical expertise among children in Rarámuri (Tarahumara) communities in Chihuahua, Mexico, to explore processes of indigenous ecological education and epistemologies of research. One hundred and four children from two schools (one with a Ráramuri knowledge curriculum and one without) were interviewed about their knowledge of 40 useful plants. Overall, children showed less ethnobotanical expertise than expected and a great deal of variability by age, though most shared knowledge of a core set of culturally and ecologically salient plants. The social–environmental factors significant in predicting levels of plant knowledge among children were whether a child attended a Rarámuri or Spanish-instruction school, and, to a lesser extent, age. However, these effects were not strong, and individual variability in expertise is best interpreted using ethnographic knowledge of each child’s family and personal history, leading to a model of ethnobotanical education that foregrounds experiential learning and personal and family interest in useful plants. Though overall plant knowledge may be lower among children today compared to previous generations, a community knowledge structure seems to be reproduced in which a few individuals in each age cohort show great proficiency, and children make the same kinds of mistakes and share specialized names for plants. Read the article …

Earth Rights: Learning the Language of Indigenous Environmentalism
1 April – 2 April 2010 (Montana State University, Bozeman, USA)

Against the backdrop of the global concern over climate change, and a growing international recognition of indigenous peoples’ communal, cultural and ecological rights, this conference provides an opportunity for scholars, students and the public to engage with a wide range of perspectives on issues of environmental and social change through the rhetorical strategies and representational modes of Native Americans and other indigenous peoples. Visit the conference webpage …

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