June 2013


Global Indigenous Preparatory Conference for the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples
10-12 June 2013 (Alta, Norway)

Representatives of indigenous peoples from around the world meeting in Alta, Norway, issued a common position for the high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly, also known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, to be held from 22-23 September 2014, at the UN Headquarters in New York. The Alta Outcome Document includes a set of recommendations around four overarching themes. On indigenous peoples’ lands, territories, resources, oceans and waters, it is recommended, among others, that States establish effective mechanisms through agreements reached with the indigenous peoples concerned to effectively implement indigenous peoples’ rights to self-determination and permanent sovereignty over lands, waters and resources; that States affirm and recognize the right to the protection, preservation and restitution of sacred places, sites and cultural landscapes; and that States implement a comprehensive human rights and ecosystem-based approach into all climate change measures and initiatives recognizing and valuing indigenous world views, including knowledge systems and customary institutions. Regarding UN action for the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, the creation of a new UN body is recommended, with a mandate to promote, protect, monitor, review and report on the implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples, to be established with the full, equal and effective participation of indigenous peoples. The World Heritage Committee, UNESCO and States are called to revise the World Heritage Convention operational guidelines to ensure the rights and territories of indigenous peoples are respected. Regarding implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights, it is recommended that States develop processes to ensure that laws and policies at all levels comply with the Declaration and other international human rights standards, indigenous peoples’ institutions, conflict resolution processes and juridical systems are respected, and national human rights institutions develop specific programmes that focus upon implementation of the Declaration. Regarding indigenous peoples’ priorities for development, including the right to free, prior and informed consent, it is recommended that rights, culture and spiritual values be integrated into strategies that relate to development, including sustainable development goals and the post-2015 UN development agenda; and that States support indigenous peoples’ programmes to strengthen the capacity of indigenous youth, including on the transmission of traditional knowledge and languages. Read the UN press release … Download the Alta Outcome Document [pdf] …

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International Forum on Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)
29 May – 1 June 2013 (Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan)

Organized by FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan and the government of Ishikawa Prefecture, the three-day forum served as a platform for representatives of governments, international organizations and academia to share their views, experiences and lessons learned about agricultural heritage and its contribution to a sustainable future. During the forum, six new locations were designated as GIAHS: three in Japan (Aso Grasslands of Kumamoto Prefecture, Chagusaba of Shizuoka Prefecture, Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita Prefecture), two sites in China (Ancient Chinese Torreya of Kuaijishan, Urban agricultural heritage – Xuanhua grape gardens) and one in India, Kuttanad below sea level farming. A high-level session held during the forum resulted in the adoption of the Noto Communiqué, which outlines the goals of the GIAHS Initiative and emphasizes the need to twin the GIAHS sites in developed and developing countries. Read the GIAHS news release … Visit the forum’s website, including links to presentations and outcomes …

Chengdu International Conference on Intangible Cultural Heritage
14-16 June 2013 (Chengdu, China)

The Chengdu International Conference on Intangible Cultural Heritage in Celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage gathered more than 300 experts, who came together for wide-ranging debates on the achievements and challenges of the first decade of the Convention and on its opportunities and perspectives for coming decades. The meeting adopted the Chengdu Recommendations, in which participants call upon the international community to renew its commitment to the Convention’s fundamental premise that intangible cultural heritage is a guarantee of sustainable development; endorse the declaration of the Hangzhou International Congress held in May 2013 on the theme of “Culture: Key to Sustainable Development,” that inclusive economic development should be achieved through activities focused on sustainably protecting, safeguarding and promoting heritage; call on educators, institutions and policy makers to recognize that intangible heritage has a central place in educational curricula and education systems; recall the countless systems of conflict avoidance and dispute resolution that are part of the intangible heritage of communities worldwide and the contribution they can bring to building and maintaining peace; recall the central role that intangible cultural heritage plays in helping communities to prevent or mitigate natural disasters and recover from such events; acknowledge the central role that knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe play in maintaining sustainable ecosystems and biodiversity and in helping communities to ensure food security and health; and encourage establishing sound and effective safeguarding mechanisms driven by and responsive to communities’ needs and aspirations, and addressing appropriately the relationships between transmission and innovation and between safeguarding and commercial use. Download the Recommendations [pdf] … Read the UNESCO release of 17 June … Read the UNESCO release of 15 June …

Draft Expert Study on Tasks 7, 10 and 12 of the Program of Work on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions, to Identify how the Implementation of These Tasks Could Best Contribute to Work under the Convention and the Nagoya Protocol
Consultant draft circulated by the CBD Secretariat, June 2013

The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has circulated for peer review a draft study on how tasks 7 (guidelines to ensure equitable benefit-sharing, prior informed consent and identification of obligations of countries of origin and user countries), 10 (standards and guidelines for the reporting and prevention of unlawful appropriation of traditional knowledge and related genetic resources) and 12 (guidelines to assist governments in implementing Article 8(j)(traditional knowledge)) of the revised programme of work on Article 8(j) and related provisions of the Convention could best contribute to work under the Convention and the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing (ABS). It is noted in the draft study that tasks 7 and 10 both call for specific actions that logically fall within the broad scope of task 12, and that related work falls into three main categories that will best contribute to advancing the goals of the Convention and the Nagoya Protocol on ABS: preventing the unlawful appropriation of traditional knowledge and related genetic resources; ensuring that the right of indigenous and local communities to free, prior and informed consent regarding their traditional knowledge is respected; and ensuring that indigenous and local communities equitably share in benefits derived from the use of their traditional knowledge. The study thus focuses on these three goals, setting forth the work that has been done so far in each area and offering a procedural and complementary way forward. The draft study will be accessible until 12 July 2013. Comments and suggestions for additions and amendments should be sent to the CBD Secretariat. Download the CBD notification calling for peer review [pdf] … Download the draft expert study [pdf] …

Access or Utilisation – What Triggers User Obligations? A Comment on the Draft Proposal of the European Commission on the Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing
Natural Justice and Berne Declaration, June 2013

This new opinion piece criticizes the European Commission’s draft EC Regulation 2012/0278 (COD) to implement the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing in the EU. It is noted that in the draft regulation, user obligations would only apply to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge that have been physically accessed in the country of origin after the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol. This implementation would be in sharp contrast to the large majority of existing ABS laws in provider countries. It is argued that, by excluding a significant category of genetic resources from the scope of the regulation, the draft fails to implement the main objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. In addition it will lead to greater legal uncertainty for users, allow for unfair competitive practices and, in the long run, lead provider countries to implement more burdensome access procedures to genetic resources.

It is recalled that the ENVI Committee of the European Parliament will vote on the draft regulation on 4 July, with a final draft expected to be tabled in the European Parliament in October 2013. Download the publication [pdf] … Read the press release …

Maria and the Ukok Princess: Climate change and the fate of the Altai
Gleb Raygorodetsky, OurWorld 2.0, 21 June 2013

ALTAI, RUSSIAN FEDERATION: In this article, Gleb Raygorodetsky describes his travels in the Altai, its landscape, peoples, history and culture, and challenges related to climate change and the preservation of sacred sites. Read the article …

International Expert and Stakeholder Workshop: The Contribution of Indigenous and Local Knowledge Systems to IPBES: building synergies with science
9-11 June 2013 (Tokyo, Japan)

Convened by the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), co-organized by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan and UNESCO, and hosted by UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace, this workshop was part of the ongoing intersessional process leading up to the second session of the IPBES plenary, scheduled for 9-14 December 2013, in Antalya, Turkey. It gathered over 30 academics and experts from around the world, with the aim to: examine and identify procedures and approaches for working with indigenous and local knowledge systems in the framework of IPBES; and review and assess possible conceptual frameworks for the work of IPBES that are based on or accommodate indigenous and local knowledge systems and worldviews.

In his opening remarks, IPBES Chair Professor Zakri highlighted that responding to the biodiversity crisis requires sound leadership and policies, which, in turn, require sound science. He noted that IPBES is designed to reduce the gulf between the wealth of scientific knowledge on declining biodiversity and its services, and knowledge about effective action to reverse these damaging trends, while the workshop’s responsibility is to develop a process that ensures the scientific and policy communities recognize, consider and accommodate indigenous and local knowledge in the framework of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. Highlighting the interaction between scientific and technical authors with indigenous experts on the soon-to-be-released IPCC fifth assessment report on climate change, he noted the exchange of knowledge is truly inspiring, adding that traditional knowledge has a long history of sustainable management practices but also boasts great innovations and solutions to global problems. Further information on the workshop … Download the workshop’s agenda [pdf] … Download Professor Zakri’s opening remarks [doc] … Visit the IPBES website …

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