May 2013


Global Land Forum 2013
23-27 April 2013 (Antigua, Guatemala)

Members of the International Land Coalition (ILC) meeting at the Assembly following the Global Land Forum issued the Antigua Declaration, including a series of commitments related to securing tenure for responsible land governance. The declaration recognises the need for land to be looked at not just as a productive asset, but to be valued for the various functions that it plays, including cultural, spiritual and ecological functions; it highlights that land is a means of establishing the dignity and inclusiveness of people. A notion of territorial development that reflects this multiplicity of functions was the first element of consensus of ILC members. Consensus was also achieved concerning the idea that investment in land is indeed needed, but that models of investment should take into consideration the need to mobilize resources directly from smallholder farmers, as they are uniquely positioned to maintain the integrity of the land, taking into account territorial perspectives. Moreover, noting the impact of increased commercial pressures on land, the territories most at risk are those of indigenous peoples. The rights of indigenous peoples to protect their land must be defended, as land is the source of cultural identity. Through the declaration, ILC members have made the commitment to support indigenous peoples more effectively in their struggle for territorial rights and the protection of their environments. Other issues in focus during the forum included strong support for promoting women land rights and gender justice, denouncing all forms of human rights violations, the importance of environmental sustainability for achieving the right to food, and transparency and accountability in dealing with land issues. Read the ILC press release … Read the Antigua Declaration … Read the Global Land Forum Outcome Statement …

Call to mainstream ethnobotany into development
SciDev.Net, 17 May 2013

MISSOURI, USA: A new global programme is needed to mainstream ethnobotany into development and to place local communities’ needs and traditional knowledge at the heart of plant conservation, a meeting of scientists concluded. Held on 1-2 May 2013 at the Missouri Botanical Garden, US, the meeting concluded there is a great urgency to address the vital importance of traditional knowledge about plants, their utility, management and conservation, typically held by indigenous and local communities. In a call to action, the meeting called for: increasing cooperation through cross-cultural and multilevel partnerships; creating a database to catalogue useful plants; and improving capacity building in ethnobotanical science. Efforts should also be made to preserve local ownership of knowledge in culturally sensitive manner; support and encourage biocultural knowledge transmission and custodianship; and include local communities at all levels of conservation, while the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation of the Convention on Biological Diversity could serve as the implementation framework. Read the article … Read the call to action …

The Protection of Traditional Knowledge: Draft Articles (Rev. 2)
WIPO, May 2013

The latest revision of the draft articles on traditional knowledge, as noted at the close of the 24th session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is available online. The document includes changes to the policy objectives and the guiding principles, Articles 1, 2, 3 and 6, according to comments made during IGC 24. Download the draft articles [pdf] …

Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change in Africa: Report on Case Studies of Namibia’s Topnaar and Hai||om Communities
Ute Dieckmann, Willem Odendaal, Jacquie Tarr and Arja Schreij
Land, Environment and Development Project, Legal Assistance Centre, March 2013 | ISBN 978-99945-61-49-0

This report examines the impact of climate change on indigenous peoples in Africa and their strategies for adapting to climate change, including the local and traditional knowledge that informs such strategies. It addresses indigenous peoples of the sub-region, including their history, culture and ethnicity, institutions and social organization, livelihoods and traditional knowledge; climatic hazards and impacts; the governance-related context in Namibia, including recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights and traditional authorities, national climate change policies, and access to land and natural resources; and two case-studies on Namibia’s Topnaar and Hai||om communities, with emphasis on impacts of climate change, and traditional knowledge and adaptation. On the basis of lessons learnt, the report also offers a series of recommendations for both communities. Download the report [pdf] … Read an AllAfrica article on the report …

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court returns customary forests to indigenous peoples
REDD Monitor, 17 May 2013

JAKARTA, INDONESIA: On 16 May, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruled that indigenous peoples’ customary forests should not be classed as “State Forest Areas,” as provided by the country’s 1999 Forestry Law, which stated that “customary forests are state forests located in the areas of custom-based communities.” In accordance with the ruling, state forests in Indonesia no longer include customary forests. This is considered to be a landmark ruling and an important step for the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights in Indonesia. Read the REDD Monitor article … Read a Mongabay article on the issue …

Twelfth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
20-31 May 2013 (UN Headquarters, New York)

This session is marking a review year. The Forum will follow-up on its recommendations regarding health, education and culture; will hold a half-day discussion on the African region; will hold its comprehensive dialogue with UN agencies and funds, as well as with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; will discuss the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples; and will address issues related to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The meeting will address a number of reports of relevance to TK, including: the report of the International Expert Group Meeting on “indigenous youth: identity, challenges and hope”; the report of the Inter-Agency Support Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples; a study on resilience, traditional knowledge and capacity building for pastoralist communities in Africa; a study on engaging indigenous peoples more inclusively in the process of disaster risk reduction by respecting their linguistic and cultural practices; a consolidated report on extractive industries and their impact on indigenous peoples; and a study on how the knowledge, history and contemporary social circumstances of indigenous peoples are embedded in educational curricula. Visit the meeting’s website … View the meeting’s documents … Visit the meeting’s PaperSmart page …

UNESCO to make its publications available free of charge as part of a new Open Access policy
UNESCO release, 14 May 2013

PARIS, FRANCE: Following a decision by its Executive Board, UNESCO has become the first organization of the United Nations to adopt an Open Access policy for its publications. The new policy means that anyone will be able to download, translate, adapt, distribute and re-share UNESCO digital publications free-of-charge. Read the release …

UNESCO supports Burkina Faso for the safeguarding of its intangible heritage
UNESCO release, 13 May 2013

PARIS, FRANCE: Burkina Faso is launching a national project to inventory and promote its intangible cultural heritage, thanks to financial assistance of US$260,000 from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund. From now until 2015, this major project will enable Burkina Faso to create an inventory and database of the intangible cultural heritage present throughout its territory. With the participation of representatives from different communities, civil society organizations and academic institutions, this project will enable the country not only to identify its intangible cultural heritage, but also to evaluate its viability and to plan for appropriate safeguarding measures. A national strategy for intangible cultural heritage will also be elaborated. Read the release …

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