March 2011


Fourth session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
14-18 March 2011 (Bali, Indonesia)

Marked by streamlined processes and a focus on substantive debates, the session was successful in tackling its diverse agenda and adopting significant outcomes. In particular, the Governing Body adopted procedures and mechanisms on compliance, and reached consensus on the long-standing item of the financial rules of the Governing Body. It also adopted resolutions on a number of items, including farmers’ rights, sustainable use and implementation of the Funding Strategy.

In the resolution on farmers’ rights, the Governing Body recalls that farmers’ rights is one of the key components of the ITPGR and, among others: requests the Secretariat to convene regional workshops on farmers’ rights, subject to availability of funding; encourages parties to submit views, experiences and best practices on the implementation of farmers’ rights; invites parties to consider convening national and local consultations on farmers’ rights with the participation of farmers and other stakeholders; requests the Secretariat to collect and submit these views, as well as reports from regional workshops to GB 5; and encourages parties to engage farmers’ organizations and relevant stakeholders in matters related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, through awareness raising and capacity building.

In the resolution on the Funding Strategy, it is noted that the Treaty’s benefit-sharing fund has mobilized US$10 million in the first 18 months, now available for the second round of the project cycle. The thematic focus for the 2010 call for proposals is to help ensure sustainable food security by assisting farmers to adapt to climate change. Project selection is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks by an international committee, using a transparent process and criteria based on quality, relevance and technical merit. The fund has also secured official recognition as an Adaptation Funding Mechanism under the Adaptation Funding Interface of the UNFCCC. Visit the meeting website … Read the IISD Reporting Services summary report of the meeting … Read an ITPGR Secretariat press release: Countries approve in Bali additional funding to support on-farm conservation

Outstanding Issues on Access and Benefit Sharing under the Multilateral System of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
Claudio Chiarolla and Stefan Jungcurt
The Berne Declaration and Development Fund (March 2011)

This study assesses the state of implementation of the Treaty’s Multilateral System for Access and Benefit-sharing (MLS), seven years after the Treaty came into force. The study finds that overall implementation of the MLS has been slow and identifies a need for several measures to allow for an implementation of the MLS in a way that achieves the objectives of the Treaty. The first part of the study assesses the access-part of the MLS and the inclusion of plant genetic resources into the system. Less than one-sixth of the parties have notified which collections they are placing in the MLS and provided the documentation necessary to facilitate access. The second part assesses the state of benefit-sharing under the MLS as well as the extent and nature of voluntary payments. This study finds that voluntary contributions to the benefit-sharing fund do not take into account whether (and the extent to which) such contributions are additional to resources that were previously earmarked for agriculture and development projects in general. With regard to in situ material held by local communities, the study recommends that the Governing Body should: clarify the scope of Article 12.3 and its relation to national and international legislation on access and benefit-sharing, prior informed consent, and rights of indigenous and local communities; explore the use of bio-cultural protocols and other instruments to develop terms and procedures for accessing materials held by local communities; and develop options for realizing benefit-sharing at the community level, in particular through programs of participatory plant breeding and other collaborative projects, including the provision of assistance to communities for accessing funds from the benefit-sharing fund. Download the paper [pdf] …

Sharing a treasure: from Peru to Ethiopia
ITPGR Secretariat (2010)

This video introduces the Peruvian farmers and their array of traditional potato varieties, as well as their traditional farming methods. It also follows a group of Ethiopian farmers visiting the indigenous villages located in the potato park: the two groups realize that they face similar problems and also have some similar attitudes toward dealing with their problems. The video offers an example of the ways that local people are willing and able to tackle challenges such as climate change and the global food crisis. View the video in English … View the video in Spanish …

International Conference Concludes TKDL Can Prevent Misappropriation and Fuel Innovation
WIPO press release, 24 March 2011

NEW DELHI, INDIA: Delegates attending the International Conference on the Utilization of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) as a Model for Protection of Traditional Knowledge widely agreed about the value of the TKDL to protect against misappropriation of traditional knowledge, as well as to enable further innovation. The Conference took place from 22-24 March 2011, in New Delhi, India, co-organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. Participants heard from countries rich in traditional knowledge, such as Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya, Peru, Republic of Korea and Thailand. Speakers agreed on the need to protect traditional knowledge from misappropriation. WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said the TKDL is an excellent example of a technical platform that can work alongside legislative frameworks. Noting that India’s TKDL could be a good model for others, he said WIPO is ready to facilitate international collaboration for countries which were interested in establishing their own TKDLs.

According to a related article by IP Watch, WIPO highlighted India’s success in creating a digital library of Indian traditional knowledge to prevent illegitimate patenting of its resources. But whether WIPO found a way to fit the Indian TKDL into the UN agency’s mission to protect and promote intellectual property rights was unclear, the article continues. Read the WIPO press release … Read a release from the UN News Centre … Read the IP Watch article: India, WIPO Connect on Traditional Knowledge Protection, With or Without Patents … Read an Intellectual Property Brief post: India’s Digital Library of Traditional Knowledge – a new tool in protecting indigenous rights

Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge
NISCAIR publications, Vol. 10, No. 1, January 2011

The January 2011 special issue of the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge is focused on traditional knowledge in disaster prediction/forecasting, management and climate change. It includes several articles, including on: traditional way of thinking and prediction of climate change in New Caledonia; senses and traditional weather forecasting knowledge among the Kenyah Badeng farmers of Sarawak, Malaysia; biocultural diversity, climate change and livelihood security of the Adi community in eastern Himalaya; a synthesis of the impacts of climate change on the First Nations and Inuit of Canada; disaster management by indigenous people of Bangladesh; traditional intellect in disaster risk mitigation: Indian Outlook, Rajasthan and Bundelkhand icons; and traditional knowledge of natural disaster mitigation and ethno-medicine practices in Himalaya with special reference to Sikkim. Read the issue [website] …

The first Global Conference of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative
10-11 March 2011 (Aichi, Japan)

The first Global Conference of IPSI consisted of the Assembly, Public Forum and the Steering Committee meeting. The partnership was launched at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and facilitates the implementation of activities identified by the Satoyama Initiative. The approach of the Satoyama Initiative is intended to maintain and rebuild landscapes in which land and natural resources are used and managed in a more sustainable manner by: consolidating wisdom on securing diverse ecosystem services and values; integrating traditional ecological knowledge and modern science to promote innovations; and exploring new forms of co-management systems or evolving frameworks of “commons” while respecting traditional communal land tenure. The IPSI Assembly designated UNU-IAS as the IPSI Secretariat. The steering committee endorsed 10 IPSI collaborative activities, including on: communities and agricultural landscapes in Cuban Man and Biosphere reserves; landscapes for people, food and nature: ecoagriculture conference, knowledge exchange and action planning; and securing customary sustainable use by indigenous peoples and local communities and monitoring progress through relevant indicators. Visit the meeting website …

Report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter
Submitted to the 16th session of the Human Rights Council (28 February – 25 March 2011, Geneva, Switzerland)

This report explores how States can and must achieve a reorientation of their agricultural systems towards modes of production that are highly productive, highly sustainable and that contribute to the progressive realization of the human right to adequate food. Drawing on an extensive review of the scientific literature published in the last five years, the Special Rapporteur identifies agroecology as a mode of agricultural development which not only shows strong conceptual connections with the right to food, but has proven results for fast progress in the concretization of this human right for many vulnerable groups in various countries and environments. Moreover, agroecology delivers advantages that are complementary to better known conventional approaches such as breeding high-yielding varieties. And it strongly contributes to the broader economic development. The report argues that the scaling up of these experiences is the main challenge today. Appropriate public policies can create an enabling environment for such sustainable modes of production. These policies include prioritizing the procurement of public goods in public spending rather than solely providing input subsidies; investing in knowledge by reinvesting in agricultural research and extension services; investing in forms of social organization that encourage partnerships, including farmer field schools and farmers’ movements innovation networks; investing in agricultural research and extension systems; empowering women; and creating a macro-economic enabling environment, including connecting sustainable farms to fair markets.

Agroecology is described as both a science and a set of practices. It was created by the convergence of two scientific disciplines: agronomy and ecology. As a science, agroecology is the “application of ecological science to the study, design and management of sustainable agroecosystems.” As a set of agricultural practices, agroecology seeks ways to enhance agricultural systems by mimicking natural processes, thus creating beneficial biological interactions and synergies among the components of the agroecosystem. The core principles of agroecology include recycling nutrients and energy on the farm, rather than introducing external inputs; integrating crops and livestock; diversifying species and genetic resources in agroecosystems over time and space; and focusing on interactions and productivity across the agricultural system, rather than focusing on individual species. Agroecology is highly knowledge-intensive, based on techniques that are not delivered top-down but developed on the basis of farmers’ knowledge and experimentation. Download the report [pdf] …

Training Kit on Participatory Spatial Information Management and Communication
EU-ACP Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation and IFAD

This Training Kit has been developed with the objective to support the spread of good practice in generating, managing, analyzing and communicating community spatial information. Its use is expected to: ensure that indigenous and marginalized communities participate in documenting, representing and communicating their spatial knowledge and land-related issues, while taking control over the processes involved. This would add value and authority to local knowledge; facilitate intergenerational knowledge exchange; build and support cohesive community identities; and support sustainable planning through collaborative decision making. Use of the Training Kit will also raise awareness about ethics in the PGIS practice and will influence the attitudes and behaviors of the following groups: technology intermediaries assisting vulnerable communities in asserting their rights; researchers performing action research; government officials calling for public inputs into spatial planning exercises; development agencies that are designing development projects. Visit the Training Kit website …

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