Asian Biotechnology and Development Review
Vol. 12 No. 3 (December 2010) | ISSN: 0972-7566

This special issue focuses on the International Year of Biodiversity 2010. Several articles are of relevance to TK, including:

  • Traditional conservation practices, biodiversity conservation and ecosystems, by Yogesh Gokhale: in this article, the author notes that the omnipresent existence of human-nature relationship all over India has been neglected as a tool for conservation management. The sacred groves, patches of forests conserved due to associated religious faith have been described by foresters, travelers, anthropologists, ecologists for more than two hundred years from different parts of the country. The sacred grove institution in the Western Ghats of India which has been nurtured by the local communities has been serving as ecological refugia for a range of species and habitat of the Western Ghats. The sacred groves compete with larger evergreen forest tracts like Kans in terms of relative number of endemic and evergreen species of the Western Ghats. In light of climate change where there could be possible shifts in the geographical boundaries of the species and the related ecosystems, the sacred groves would play an important role in the process of adaptation by possibly providing genetic resources for various purposes. These ecosystems might be important to serve as the refugia in form of conducive habitat for many species.
  • Community Protocols and Access and Benefit Sharing, by Harry Jonas, Kabir Bavikatte and Holly Shrumm: the authors highlight that the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity represents a further milestone on the path towards the self-determination of Indigenous peoples and local communities in international law. It underscores the emergence of biocultural rights as the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities over all aspects of their ways of life that are relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, including respect for the diversity of their ecosystem management practices, customary laws, and traditional authorities. It also highlights the role of multilateral environmental agreements as important terrains of struggle for Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights. Yet despite an increase in the number and scope of rights enshrined at the international and national levels, States’ obligations vis-à-vis communities are often unfulfilled at the local level. For example, potential pitfalls of ABS in the absence of good process can include exacerbating issues of legal disaggregation, definitions of community, and conflict between customary and positive law. Rights-based approaches such as community protocols, which are now referenced in the Nagoya Protocol, can help enable communities to address these challenges proactively and to decide for themselves whether or not to engage with ABS, as well as other legal and policy frameworks, in ways commensurate with their values, local endogenous development aspirations, customary laws, and traditional institutions.
  • International regime on Access and Benefit Sharing: where are we now?, by Reji K.Jospeh: Limitations of the national law in remedying biopiracy led to the negotiations on an international regime on ABS. This paper provides an overview of the positions held by the developed countries, the biotech and pharmaceutical industries and the developing countries during the ABS negotiations and makes an assessment of the provisions of the Nagoya Protocol to see if the developing countries really stand to gain.

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