October 2011

Indigenous Peoples in Route to the Rio+20 Conference: Global Preparatory Meeting of Indigenous Peoples on Rio+20 and Kari-Oca 2
22-24 August 2011 (Manaus, Amazonia, Brazil)

The participants of the preparatory meeting established a steering committee, a global committee of coordination and a secretariat to coordinate indigenous peoples’ input to and participation in Rio+20, and organize Kari-Oca 2, a global conference where indigenous peoples will share efforts to implement development with identity and culture and will endeavor to reach a consensus on Rio+20 themes and issues. Kari-Oca 2 is scheduled to be held from 31 May to 2 June 2012, and focus on: the right to land and jurisdictional security; the impact of extractive industries on the welfare of indigenous peoples; and food sovereignty and the right to food. The meeting adopted a series of conclusions and recommendations, as well as the Manaus declaration, calling on the UN to ensure the full, formal and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all processes and activities of the Rio+20 Conference, and its preparatory and follow-up mechanisms, in accordance with the UNDRIP and the principle of free, prior and informed consent, and highlighting the need for a holistic framework for sustainable development, including integration of the human-rights based approach, ecosystem approach and culturally-sensitive and knowledge-based approaches. Download the meeting’s agreements moving towards Rio+20 [doc] … Download the meeting’s conclusions and recommendations [doc] … Download the Manaus declaration [doc] …

UNDP Equator Prize 2012: Call for Nominations
Equator Initiative, October 2011

The call for nominations for the Equator Prize 2012 closes on 31 October 2011. The Equator Initiative, a UNDP-led partnership, will award the Equator Prize 2012 to 25 outstanding local initiatives that are working to advance sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. Winning initiatives will each receive US$5,000, with 10 selected for special recognition and a total of US$20,000. Representatives of winning communities will also be invited to participate in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), to be held inBrazil in June 2012. The Equator Prize is awarded for community-based innovation in sustainable livelihoods, natural resource management and environmental conservation. The eligibility and selection criteria for this cycle of the prize have been broadened significantly to accommodate a wider range of community-based initiatives, fields of work, and countries of operation. Eligibility has been expanded to all countries receiving support from UNDP. The Equator Prize 2012 also includes “special recognition” categories in areas such as community-based adaptation to climate change, sustainable forest management, food security, sustainable energy, water management, and more. For questions and for more information on the Equator Prize 2012 process, please contact Joseph Corcoran at joseph.corcoran@undp.org. Read the release, including links to eligibility requirements, selection criteria and nomination forms …

UPOV Sprouts a New Public Face – As Farmers Protest
IP Watch, 20 October 2011

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is trying to dispel its image as a non-transparent organisation and is working on a new user-friendly website with public access to a number of formerly reserved documents. Meanwhile, for the first time farmers protested outside the UPOV building in Geneva, as they seek to preserve the ancient practice of saving seeds from their harvests to use the next year. Read the article …

Navajo Memory Complements Science in Study of Climate Change
USGS news release, 21 October 2011

ARIZONA, USA: The sand dunes among which Navajos have eked out austere livings for generations are growing fast and becoming mobile as the climate changes, says U.S. Geological Survey geologist Dr. Margaret Hiza Redsteer, whose interviews with elders and historical research augment her decade-long research on Navajo Nation land. Dune mobility can threaten roads and buildings, as well as the livestock raising vital to the Navajo economy and indispensable to its culture. It is one of many signs of the region’s increased aridity. Redsteer and the USGS Navajo Land Use Planning Project, under license to and in collaboration with the Navajo Nation, are mapping the area’s geology and documenting its changes to help Navajo leaders plan for the challenge. In addition to using ground-based lidar measurements, meteorological monitoring, GPS and aerial and satellite imaging, Redsteer drew on more than 70 elders living in the southwestern Navajo Nation to record observed changes in land use practices, as well as weather, vegetation, location of water sources and the frequency of wind and dust storms. The interviews helped corroborate USGS science. Read the release … Download USGS fact sheet Monitoring and Analysis of Sand Dune Movement and Growth on the Navajo Nation [pdf] …

Venezuela university seeks to pass on traditional ways
BBC News, 23 October 2011

CARACAS, VENEZUELA: In Venezuela’s Indigenous University, students receive lessons in indigenous rights, language and mythology and in the afternoons they get the chance to put practical skills to the test, herding buffalo and tending vegetable plots. The university has been constructed by and for indigenous communities. Several different communities are represented, and living on campus is a chance for students from different ethnic groups to mix for the first time. Instead of reading subjects like medicine or engineering, students concentrate on deepening their knowledge and understanding of their own cultures. They are given homework during holiday periods – tasks including interviewing their village elders about mythology and record their answers for posterity. Read the article …

Harmonized Perspectives: Study for the harmonization of knowledge and experience from the indigenous/local, technical and scientific spheres for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change (CC) programming
Julián Burgos, Rosenda Camey, Enma Díaz Lara, Andrés Molina, Irma Otzoy, Álvaro Ponce, Tialda Veldman, PSO and CARE Nederland, May 2011

This study explores how the ancestral knowledge of indigenous peoples of Central America can be used to address DRR and climate change adaptation. The authors argue that the mutual strengthening and recognition as complementary of the different types of knowledge is vital, in order to achieve a multidimensional and integrated approach to dealing with risk, disaster and climate change. Download the study [pdf] …

Farmers’ Networks Urge Government Action Against Land Grabbing
IPS, 11 October 2011

ROME,ITALY: Civil society organizations and global farmers’ networks are gathered in Rome this week to ask governments to stop the “disastrous practice of land grabbing”, as the FAO Committee on World Food Security (CFS), meeting from 17-22 October 2011, addresses land governance. After six years of negotiations involving governments, international organizations and civil society groups, this session is expected to adopt voluntary guidelines on responsible governance of land and other natural resources. These guidelines would protect and strengthen access to land, fisheries and forests for indigenous peoples and small-scale producers.

On the occasion, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter stressed that “land rights are the first building block on the road to achieving food security, and without international consensus on how land should be governed, the interests of vulnerable land users will continue to be swept aside.” While the guidelines would be voluntary, the reporting on their implementation should be binding, Mr. De Schutter said, noting that they could provide much needed guidance to States about how conflicts over land use should be addressed. “If countries do not face international monitoring and are not encouraged to report to their national civil societies about the progress achieved, much of the added value of the voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests will be lost,” he stressed.

It should be recalled that in October 2010, Special Rapporteur De Schutter submitted his report on Access to Land and the Right to Food to the 65th session of the UN General Assembly. In the report, he explores the threats posed by the increasing pressures on land and on land users including indigenous peoples, smallholders and special groups such as herders, pastoralists and fisherfolk, as well as how States and the international community could better fulfil the right to food by giving increased recognition to land as a human right. The report argues that, while security of tenure is indeed crucial, individual titling and the creation of a market for land rights may not be the most appropriate means to achieve it. Instead, the report suggests, the strengthening of customary land tenure systems and the reinforcement of tenancy laws could significantly improve the protection of land users. Drawing on the lessons learned from decades of agrarian reform, the report emphasizes the importance of land redistribution for the realization of the right to food. It also argues that development models that do not lead to evictions, disruptive shifts in land rights and increased land concentration should be prioritized.

Read the article … Read a UN press release on De Schutter’s statement … Download De Schutter’s report on Access to Land and the Right to Food [pdf] … Visit the CFS 37 website … More on the negotiations on the voluntary guidelines on responsible governance of land tenure …

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