May 2010

14th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to the Convention on Biological Diversity
10 May – 21 May 2010 (Nairobi, Kenya)

SBSTTA 14 adopted 18 recommendations to be considered by the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD, which will be held in October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan. TK-related issues are addressed in the recommendations on: mountain biodiversity; Article 10 (sustainable use); protected areas; marine and coastal biodiversity; biodiversity and climate change; agricultural biodiversity; dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity; and post-2010 goals and targets.

On mountain biodiversity, SBSTTA recommends that the COP invite Parties, organizations and indigenous and local communities to disseminate information on mountain-related traditional knowledge and cultural dimensions of mountain biodiversity; and encourage Parties, organizations and indigenous and local communities to address climate change and adaptation and mitigation issues for mountain biodiversity by, among others, developing and implementing policies favourable to the conservation and sustainable use of mountain biological diversity and all its components to reduce the impact of climate change on mountain biodiversity and related traditional knowledge for enhanced resilience.

With regard to the in-depth review of implementation of the programme of work on Article 10 of the Convention (sustainable use of biodiversity) and application of the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines, SBSTTA forwards to the COP the recommendations of the Liaison Group on Bushmeat, including a recommendation on rights and tenure, and traditional knowledge, noting that access, rights and associated accountability, as well as the responsibility to sustainably manage wildlife resources should be transferred whenever possible to local stakeholders. Conservation and sustainable use of wildlife resources would be enhanced through the incorporation of traditional knowledge into management and monitoring systems, as well as by favouring the use of the most ecologically friendly, cost-efficient and humane hunting methods. SBSTTA recommends that the COP welcome the Liaison Group recommendations, and invite Parties to implement them where appropriate, taking into consideration Article 10(c) as related to customary sustainable hunting practices for indigenous and local communities’ livelihoods.

With regard to the in-depth review of the implementation of the programme of work on protected areas, SBSTTA recommends that the COP invites Parties to establish clear mechanisms and processes for equitable cost and benefit-sharing and for full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities related to protected areas, in accordance with national laws and applicable international obligations; recognize the role of indigenous and local community conserved areas; and develop appropriate mechanisms for the recognition and support of indigenous and community conserved areas, respecting the customary governance systems that have maintained such areas over time.

With regard to the in-depth review of the implementation of the programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity, SBSTTA recommends that the COP requests the Executive Secretary to undertake a study, within the context of Article 8(j), to identify specific elements for integrating the traditional, scientific, technical and technological knowledge of indigenous and local communities for the identification of marine areas in need of protection and the establishment and management of marine protected areas. The attached scientific guidance on the identification of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction which meet the scientific criteria for identification of ecologically or biologically significant areas adopted by COP 9 highlights that the application of the criteria should use all available information, including scientific and technical data as well as traditional knowledge and knowledge gained through life-experience of users of the oceans.

On biodiversity and climate change, SBSTTA recommends consideration of traditional knowledge, with the full involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities, in planning and implementing effective climate change mitigation and adaptation activities, including renewable energies. REDD+ projects should ensure benefits for forest-dwelling indigenous and local communities, through, for example, considering land ownership and land tenure; respecting, preserving and maintaining the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; and ensuring space for the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities in relevant policy-making processes.

On agricultural biodiversity, SBSTTA recommends that the COP invites Parties to recognize as appropriate the critical importance of scientific, informal and traditional knowledge systems in the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity.

On dry and sub-humid lands biodiversity, SBSTTA recommends that the COP request the Executive Secretary to publish a peer-reviewed report on the value of dry and sub-humid lands, taking into account the role of pastoralists and other indigenous and local communities in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and their associated traditional knowledge. The COP is to invite Parties to develop and implement drought management plans, seeking to direct biodiversity management for the prevention of desertification, including through the involvement of pastoralists and indigenous and local communities and, as appropriate, in accordance with traditional community-based strategies, particularly through customary use systems.

The general recommendations on outcome-oriented goals and targets for the period beyond 2010 include reference to the work on traditional knowledge indicators of the Working Group on Indicators of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity.

Side-events of relevance included events on: the Satoyama Initiative; implementation of Article 10(c) on customary sustainable use of biodiversity; the conservation achievements of indigenous peoples and local communities; globally important agricultural heritage systems; biocultural community protocols; governance of protected areas; indigenous traditional knowledge and new technologies in conservation; and how indigenous peoples and rural communities are using agrobiodiversity to adapt to climate change.

Visit the meeting webpage … Read the IISD Reporting Services summary and analysis of the meeting …

“Human rights and cultural diversity go hand in hand”, say UN experts
OHCHR release, 20 May 2010

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Cultural diversity can only thrive in an environment that safeguards fundamental freedoms and human rights, said a group of UN independent experts on the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. “Cultural diversity,” the group said in a joint statement, “can be protected and promoted only if human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the freedom of expression, information and communication, the freedom from discrimination of any kind, as well as the ability of individuals to choose cultural expressions, and their right to participate or not to participate in the cultural life of given communities are guaranteed.” At the same time, the experts noted that an environment conducive to cultural diversity will contribute in a significant manner to the full respect of human rights. “However, no one may invoke cultural diversity as an excuse to infringe on human rights or limit their scope,” they said, stressing that cultural diversity should not be used “to support segregation and harmful traditional practices which, in the name of culture, seek to sanctify differences that run counter to the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights.” Read the release … View UNESCO’s webpage on celebrations …

The International Summit on Indigenous Environmental Philosophy 2010
26 April – 1 May 2010 (Oklahoma, USA)

The International Summit on Indigenous Environmental Philosophy provided a forum for Indigenous thinkers from around the world to gather and discuss how indigenous environmental philosophy is distinct from western environmental philosophy. The summit approved unanimously the Redstone Statement, which highlights, among others, that effective mechanisms necessary for restoring environmental balance include: recognition of the interdependence of all things; protection and preservation of Indigenous traditional knowledge, lifeways and languages, cultures, sacred sites, and folklores/oral traditions; respect for, and protection of, traditional agricultures and genetic resources; and rights of movement, access, participation and communication in the exchange of environmental knowledge and culture. Visit the meeting website … Download the Redstone Statement [pdf] … Read a brief article on the Summit [doc] …

The use of agrobiodiversity by indigenous and traditional agricultural communities in: Adapting to climate change
Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research, May 2010

Released at SBSTTA 14, this synthesis paper draws three general conclusions from the analysis of the different ways in which indigenous and traditional agricultural communities are coping with climate change. Firstly, adapting to climate change has usually involved a range of different actions at all three levels; ecosystem or landscape, farm or agricultural system, and involving both inter- and intra-specific diversity. Secondly, innovation based on both traditional knowledge and new information has been important, and social (e.g. community) cultural and political dimensions have played a key role. Thirdly, use of traditional crop and livestock species and varieties, with new materials where necessary, has been a common feature. From these follow a number of specific conclusions that can provide a basis for action to support adaptation by indigenous and traditional agricultural communities, including that: the need to adapt to climate change has often led to the revival of traditional practices and agricultural systems; and the continuous process of innovation required involves the use of traditional knowledge combined with access to new knowledge. Download the publication [pdf] …

This year’s International Day for Biological Diversity was celebrated on 22 May 2010 under the theme “Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation.” Some releases touched upon issues of relevance to traditional knowledge.

IP Can Support Biodiversity
WIPO press release, 21 May 2010

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: On the occasion of the International Biodiversity Day, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry underlined the Organization’s commitment to ensuring that the intellectual property system plays a positive role in safeguarding biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components and the sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. He highlighted that WIPO’s programme on traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions aims to empower States and indigenous and local communities to negotiate a fair share of benefits derived from the exploitation of biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge. Read the press release … 

Culture Integral to Agriculture
IPS, 21 May 2010

ROME, ITALY: Biodiversity in agriculture is about culture. Traditional knowledge and culture are as important as research and investment, say farmers, researchers and academics gathered in Rome for the International Day for Biodiversity. Read the article …

Farmers conserving biodiversity, aiding development and alleviating poverty
IFAP release, 21 May 2010

PARIS, FRANCE: The International Federation of Agricultural Producers celebrates the efforts are making to conserve biodiversity and attain the Millennium Development Goals. IFAP has developed a series of cases studies that highlight sustainable systems developed by farmers for combating and mitigating climate change, ranging from climate labeling in Sweden and a voluntary offset program to reward farmers for sustainable agricultural practices in the United States to optimizing water use in Palestine and developing crop rotation system and reforestation programs in Madagascar. Read the release, including links to case studies …

Hindu Kush-Himalayan Countries agree to collaborate on access and benefit sharing of biological resources and traditional knowledge
ICIMOD, 18 May 2010

KATHMANDU, NEPAL: During SBSTTA 14, government representatives from Bhutan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan agreed to collaborate on developing regional approaches to access and benefit sharing from genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. The genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge systems in the region have a great potential for reducing poverty among mountain communities, but development of the sector has not supported adequate sharing of benefits with the communities and countries of origin; in many cases resources and knowledge have even been appropriated without these communities and countries knowing. The draft ‘Regional Framework on Access and Benefit Sharing from Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge for the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Countries’ attempts to address ABS-related needs through institutional mechanisms, ABS mechanisms, and showing how common genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge can be shared among the indigenous local communities and the governments of the countries of the region. Read the release …

Herders contribute to conservation in the Altai Mountains in Mongolia
UNDP news release, 20 May 2010

NEW YORK, USA: In the Mongolian part of the Altai Mountains, herders still live a traditional nomadic lifestyle. They live in harsh conditions, with temperatures commonly below the freezing point for most of the year and basic services often not available within a 100km distance. To protect biodiversity in the region, the Mongolian Ministry of Environment with the support of UNDP launched, in 2005, the Altai Sayan Ecoregion Project, which involves herders in conservation of the mountains. Under the project, community groups develop community plans for emergencies; are trained to identify and collect data on endangered animals and plants; and are registered as the sole users of natural resources in their area. Some communities have also ventured into tourism activities. Read the news release …

New prescription needed for medicinal plants
IUCN press release, 18 May 2010

GLAND, SWITZERLAND: Medicinal plants are valuable species: they provide income and healthcare to thousands of people around the world. Greater numbers of people rely on traditional medicine, mostly based on herbs, for their primary healthcare than “conventional” or western medicine. But 15,000 species of medicinal plants are globally threatened from, amongst others, loss of habitat, overexploitation, invasive species and pollution. To conserve this valuable natural resource, IUCN, Plantlife International and TRAFFIC are calling for governments to endorse a revised and updated Global Strategy for Plant Conservation which aims to halt the continuing loss of the world’s plant diversity. Read the press release …

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