July 2012

New Information Briefs and Booklet on TK
WIPO, 19 July 2012

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has launched a series of new publications on intellectual property and traditional knowledge, including a booklet entitled “Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expressions – an Introduction” and background briefs on:

Download the booklet [pdf] … Download the brief on traditional knowledge and intellectual property [pdf] … Download the brief on the IGC [pdf] … Download the brief on developing a national strategy [pdf] … Download the brief on arts festivals [pdf] …

Procedural Sparring Slows WIPO Traditional Cultural Expressions Talks
ICTSD Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, 18 July 2012

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: In this article, ICTSD comments that WIPO IGC negotiations on traditional cultural expressions, held from 9-13 July 2012, saw little progress, with the first days of the meeting being plagued with disagreements over the agenda. Ultimately the IGC will forward a draft text with some areas of convergence to WIPO’s General Assembly, though substantial differences remain on several issues. Read the article …

Brazil fines 35 firms US$44 million for biopiracy
SciDev.Net, 20 July 2012

SAO PAOLO, BRAZIL: A Brazilian government agency responsible for natural resources has fined 35 companies for not sharing benefits from exploitation of the country’s biodiversity. The decision follows official complaints filed by the Genetic Heritage Department of the Brazilian Ministry of Environment to the agency in charge, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama). Ibama announced earlier this month that 35 different companies were responsible of 220 violations of the national law on biodiversity, totaling 88 million Brazilian reals (around US$44 millions) in fines. Most of the fined companies are Brazil-based cosmetic and pharmaceutical multinationals. This is the first time Ibama has fined companies on such a large scale, and there is an option of writing off up to 90 per cent of the fine if the companies agree to better regulate their benefit-sharing policies. Read the article …

Smartphones promoted as a tool for indigenous forest protection
Mongabay.com, 23 July 2012

CALIFORNIA, USA: Representatives of indigenous communities and their supporters have advocated that international policies like REDD be increasingly managed by the communities themselves. A new strategy in this effort is to train local residents to use smart phone “apps” to collect geographic data and photographs, allowing them to monitor the health of forests essential to their livelihoods, according to a report by the Global Canopy Program. Local data can then be incorporated into national databases so they become linked with remote sensing data. The Global Canopy Program argues that the technique will create a more collaborative and transparent monitoring system while bolstering community forest management practices. Such efforts are seen as a way of empowering indigenous people to utilize their local knowledge in forest management. However, the use of sophisticated technology such as Android smartphones raises significant questions about different knowledge systems and the integration of local knowledge with more universalized scientific information. Read the article …

Leaders say climate is changing Native way of life
NBC News, 20 July 2012

WASHINGTON DC, USA: Native American and Alaska Native leaders told of their villages being under water because of coastal erosion, droughts and more during a US Senate hearing intended to draw attention to how climate change is affecting tribal communities. While it was acknowledged that environmental changes are widespread, native communities are disproportionately impacted because they depend on nature for traditional food, sacred sites, and for cultural ceremonies. Several tribes already are coming up with plans to adapt to the changes and federal agencies are assisting with resources. Mike Williams, chief of the Yupit Nation in Akiak, Alaska, said Congress needs to come up with a strategic plan to address the impact to help ensure Alaska Natives and American Indian tribes continue to exist. He said in coming up with the plan, Congress should consider Native practices and traditional knowledge. Read the article …

Climate Change First Responders: Native Americans
Discovery news, 17 July 2012

WASHINGTON, USA: Native American tribes are teaming up with climate scientists to monitor environmental changes along the coast, changes that are disrupting indigenous ways of life that tribes say are key to their survival. Tribal leaders say their understanding of natural ecosystems such as long-term weather patterns or wildlife migrations can be just as important as CO2 measurements or satellite data. “The long term perspective of our people has scientific value,” said Micah McCarty, chairman of the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay, Washington. “We can establish a more holistic baseline of the big picture of things. Some scientists may be more narrowly focused and have an excellent perspective, but we have a broader perspective to draw from. That’s a value.” Read the article …

Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore of the World Intellectual Property Organization, 22nd session
9-13 July 2012 (Geneva, Switzerland)

The WIPO IGC continued negotiations on the latest draft text of an international legal instrument on the protection of traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). According to the WIPO Secretariat, good progress was achieved on the definition of protectable TCEs, the identification of the beneficiaries, and exceptions and limitations to the scope of protection. The IGC established an informal expert group that worked to reduce the number of options in the text, which comprised around 36 experts, with up to five experts per region nominated by the States, as well as an indigenous expert nominated by indigenous peoples participating in the session.The IGC decided that the text will be transmitted to the WIPO General Assembly, which will meet from 1-9 October 2012, as “work in progress.” 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 WIPO General Assembly will also consider the need for additional IGC meetings. The IGC has similarly decided to transmit texts on genetic resources and traditional knowledge to the General Assembly in February 2012 and April 2012 respectively.

According to IP Watch, there is still no decision on whether there should be three separate instruments for each topic area (genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions) or one combined instrument. In addition, disagreement remains on the nature of the future instrument/instruments (legally binding or not), on whether the diplomatic conference should take place, or on what should be negotiated there.

The IGC also discussed observers’ participation, and heard a report from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The session began with an Indigenous Panel which focused specifically on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the protection of TCEs. Many delegates welcomed the Panel, particularly because of the high caliber of the panelists and because they addressed the issues under negotiation at the session. According to IP Watch, indigenous groups attending the meeting continued to try to gain a higher status than ordinary WIPO observers, so that they could have more say in the proceedings. They were given a greater ability to speak during plenary sessions but were not successful in changing WIPO rules nor obtaining textual language they sought, and issued a strongly worded closing statement.

Read an update by the WIPO Secretariat … Read the meeting’s decisions … Read the IP Watch article of 13 July …

Forest communities provide a new perspective on climate change in Papua
CIFOR Forest News, 11 July 2012

MONTPELLIER, FRANCE: Recognizing the need to better understand local communities’ perceptions of climate change, researchers at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) have explored the role of local knowledge in analyzing land-use change. Understanding local people’s perceptions of changes in climate and the perceived impacts on their landscapes and livelihoods could help researchers address the gaps in climate science. This could lead to better strategies aimed at protecting the most vulnerable communities. The researchers conducted interviews in six villages in Papua, Indonesia. While communities did not perceive much variation in temperatures and rainfall, they did notice the increased frequency of extreme events. “Local knowledge can be used to fill information gaps to give a more complete picture of what is changing in people’s territories, either climatic or other changes,” said CIFOR-CIRAD researcher Manuel Boissière, presenting new unpublished findings at a recent conference in Montpellier, France. Villagers overwhelmingly did not think climatic events were key drivers of changes in their livelihoods and landscape, instead identifying infrastructure development, economic activities and new settlements as the main drivers. According to researchers, these findings help understand what policies can be developed in terms of land use planning, natural resource management and adaptation. The study is part of a broader research goal to understand how to integrate local priorities into land use plans, and how local people can play a role in decision-making. Read the release …

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