April 2012


WIPO negotiators further develop text on traditional knowledge
WIPO update, 24 April 2012

GENEVA,SWITZERLAND: The 21st session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) was held from 16-20 April 2012, inGeneva,Switzerland. The session began with an Indigenous Panel which focused specifically on traditional medical knowledge. The meeting continued negotiations on an international instrument/instruments according to the IGC’s mandate, and focused on reviewing draft articles on the protection of traditional knowledge. According to the WIPO Secretariat, delegates made progress in identifying areas of convergence. Following an initial plenary discussion, three facilitators were appointed to revise the text: Nicola Lesieur (Canada), Andrea Bonnet López (Colombia) and Walid Taha (Egypt). Their revised text was then submitted to the plenary for comments and textual amendments. The facilitators then produced a second revised text, which was discussed and noted by the plenary. This document will be transmitted to the WIPO General Assembly in October 2012. In accordance with the IGC’s mandate, the WIPO General Assembly will take stock of and consider the text and progress made, and decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference. The text identifies areas of convergence and issues on which further clarification and discussion are needed. Issues of particular focus during the session were the definition of traditional knowledge and the scope of protection, and identification of the beneficiaries of protection, and exceptions and limitations. The meeting also discussed objectives and general guiding principles for the protection of traditional knowledge, as contained in the text. Following a suggestion by the Indigenous Caucus, the Committee requested the Secretariat to prepare an information document on the practical, procedural and budgetary implications of various proposals for enhanced participation of indigenous peoples, including their possible recognition as a category of participants separate from States and observers.
According to IP Watch, issues of divergence remain sharp particularly on the definition of TK and mandatory disclosure, and some developing countries felt that only limited progress was accomplished while the methodology will have to be reviewed. Read the update … Read the meeting’s decisions … Read the meeting’s documents … Read the IP Watch report of 21 April 2012 …

Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and Community Health
3 May 2012 (Montreal, Canada)

The side event will bring together different perspectives of people and agencies working to promote biological resource use to improve nutritional and health security at the level of rural communities, with an emphasis on using resources and capabilities in the local context in order to achieve broader development and conservation goals. Presenters from UNU-IAS, UNEP and the Equator Initiative, amongst others, will speak on themes involving biodiversity, community health and traditional knowledge; biodiversity and nutrition; health and human rights and community wellbeing. Further information on the event … Visit SBSTTA-16 website … View the calendar of side-events at SBSTTA-16 … Follow SBSTTA-16 daily coverage by IISD Reporting Services …

Local knowledge and a planet under pressure
Climate Frontlines, April 2012

Indigenous peoples and many local communities are on the frontlines of climate change but they are not passive victims. They are holders of sophisticated and diverse knowledge sets that need to be actively considered by scientists and policy-makers in order for local adaptation to succeed. Taking into consideration local and indigenous knowledge complements and strengthens the use scientific modeling and provides for appropriate, effective environmental policy and decision-making. This was the key message at Indigenous knowledge and sustainable futures, a panel held during the March 2012 international conference Planet Under Pressure. Bringing together a small but diverse set of case studies from pastoralists in Chad, a drought-stricken Navajo Nation, remote islands of Vanuatu and the high mountains of Nepal, the panel co-convened by UNESCO and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity highlighted how GIS technologies could be used to reinforce traditional knowledge and how local perspectives complements and contributes to scientific assessment of impacts of drought and disaster. The panel presentations are now available online, and address: Himalayan climate change, alpine vegetation and Tibetan traditional knowledge; supporting and mainstreaming transhumance-agropastoralism in policy and development, an option for climate change adaptation; the observations of Navajo elders and the refining of our understanding of conventional scientific records; local knowledge and environmental fluctuations in the Western Pacific; and linking African pastoralist and scientific knowledge, Mbororo in Chad. Further information …

Indigenous people can show us how to adapt to climate change – experts
AlertNet, 24 April 2012

HANOI, VIETNAM: Indigenous communities around the world are highly vulnerable to climate change but instead of seeing them as victims, policy-makers should tap into their centuries-old knowledge of adapting to extreme weather patterns, aid workers say. In Iran, which has some 700 nomadic tribes, pastoralists have been successfully adapting to climate fluctuations for 12,000 years, development expert Catherine Razavi told an international conference on climate change. In recent years they have adjusted their migration patterns and switched to more drought resistant strains of livestock, said Razavi who is executive director of Iran’s Center for Sustainable Development. The story of Iran’s nomads was highlighted during the sixth International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA6), held from 16-22 April 2012, in Hanoi, Vietnam. The conference focused on communicating how communities are adapting to climate change, and addressed the following themes: scaling-up community-based adaptation; water resources; biodiversity and forests; coastal zones; health; disaster risk reduction; and vulnerable communities, including indigenous people. Read the article … Visit the CBA6 website …

OAS Meeting on Rights of Indigenous Peoples Urges General Assembly to Adopt Resolution on the Issue
OAS press release, 21 April 2012

WASHINGTON DC, USA: The XIV meeting of negotiations in the quest for points of consensus on a draft American declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples closed at the Organization of American States (OAS) with an urge for Member States to agree on a further path to follow at the upcoming OAS General Assembly, to be held in June 2012, in Cochabamba, Bolivia. “At the Assembly in June the Member States should adopt a resolution that will show us the path to follow, in addition to determining the continuity of the work that remains before we can adopt an American Declaration on the rights of our indigenous peoples,” said Secretary of External Relations Alfonso Quiñonez. The OAS official noted that the meeting had dealt with some of the most complex issues in the draft declaration and complimented the group on its technical expertise, as well as the “solid basis of the positions expressed, and the possibility of using as a reference the Declaration of the United Nations, that may be very useful in reaching agreements.” Read the release …

Traditional Knowledge Goes Global: Northern communities contributing to international Polar research
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada release, 20 April 2012

MONTREAL, CANADA: Held from 22-27 April 2012, the International Polar Year 2012 conference draws attention to the Polar regions, global change, and related environmental, social and economic issues. The Canadian Arctic hosts dozens of projects initiated under the International Polar Year (IPY) focusing on everything from ozone depletion, to mapping changes to sea ice and oceans, to finding solutions to climate change challenges and ensuring healthy diets for Inuit people whose traditional lifestyles have evolved dramatically. Aboriginal Elders and hunters from communities across the North have been at the heart of the action. One project led by researchers from Carleton University investigated the nature of sea ice use and occupancy, and how this has changed over time. The integration of traditional knowledge of sea ice was central to this research, according to the Carleton team, “learning through first-hand experiences in northern communities has taught us the value of local expertise, flexibility, and many new perspectives on complex issues.” In addition, the Circumpolar Flaw Lead Study – the largest Canadian project with over 400 participants from 27 countries – also included community-based monitoring that incorporated Aboriginal experiences and perspectives. It examined the importance of changing climate processes in the Northern hemisphere and the effect these changes have on the marine ecosystem, the transportation of contaminants, carbon dioxide levels and greenhouse gases. All told, 33 of 45 Canadian IPY scientific projects included traditional knowledge in the research. Read the release … Visit the IPY 2012 website …

Eliminate GDP and “Economic Growth” to Create the Real Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples Say
National Geographic NewsWatch, 17 April 2012

WASHINGTON DC, USA: Green economy will be one of the main ideas under discussion at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20, to be held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The idea is to make a transition to an economic system that maximizes human well-being while operating within the planet’s environmental limits. Exactly how this could be accomplished has yet to be defined. The current economic system rewards those who exploit and destroy nature, said Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Executive Director, Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education). It hinders and even blocks Indigenous peoples from practicing their traditional ways of living that actually represent “a real green economy” that can be sustainable, achieve well being and are climate-friendly, she said. Unless countries are going to eliminate GDP (gross domestic product) and economic growth and begin to work holistically then they will not be solving anything. Respecting human rights, and the legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples tops the list of what’s needed. Read the article …

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