WPC Dialogues: Sydney, Australia 2014
WPC Dialogues: Sydney, Australia 2014: Day 8
WIN Dialogue: Outcomes from the Gathering in the Gully: Pre-conference Workshop
Monday 17 November 2014
The session was a reflection on the consultations during the “Gathering in the Gully”, a pre-conference workshop held in the Blue Mountains. In an open dialogue, participants shared their experiences. Eli Enns from the ICCA Consortium stressed that “reconnecting with ourselves is significant”. Indigenous peoples and local communities are affected by a concept built into the idea of protected areas – the idea of disconnecting humanity from nature. While this is outdated, we do need to change our relationship with the planet: “Conservation is the outcome of a respectful relationship with nature.”
Other participants stressed that the exchange character of the Gathering was crucial to them. Mariama Ashcroft from TRY Oysters in the Gambia said that meeting a large group of local and indigenous community representatives “taught me the value of with our ancestors, and also that we are missing out on a lot.” Jose Ines Loria Palma pointed out that the issue of recognition of indigenous peoples in Mexico remains unresolved. A common vision between the indigenous communities is therefore necessary, to push for better recognition.
John Scott cited Australia as example. Aboriginal people were not recognized until 1969, and despite progress, land rights remain a difficult issue: Indigenous communities only own the first two layers of top soil of their lands; everything below this belongs to the government.
From Global to Local: Linking Local Conservation Objectives and Local Business Potentials Through ABS
This event explored the relevance of the recent entering into force of the Nagoya Protocol on Access on Benefit Sharing (ABS) for local communities and indigenous peoples. Participants shed a light on business potentials for these communities through ABS.
Andreas Drews from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) gave a brief introduction on ABS and highlighted key aspects using a video. ABS enables the sharing of benefits between those people who hold traditional knowledge and those who take benefit from it. The Convention on Biological Diversity stipulates that plants belong to the countries they are originating from. Foreign companies wishing to develop products from plants can’t just collect them without prior informed consent (PIC) on mutually agreed terms (MAT) from the communities holding the traditional knowledge. The Nagoya Protocol has created legal certainty around ABS.
Drews pointed out that key issues on ABS currently are the national implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and the establishment of value chains: “Without anyone investing into traditional knowledge there will be no benefits to be shared.”
Clark Peteru, Legal Adviser at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme presented an early case of ABS from Samoa. Discovered in the 1980s the Makala plant was perceived to have the potential to cure HIV/AIDS. Benefit-sharing arrangements between the community and scientists from the US were made, but it is unclear how successful they were. Doubts remain about whether prior informed consent was established properly, and whether the terms of the benefit sharing arrangements were really mutually agreed.
Using examples from India and from Kenya, Suneetha Subramanian from the United Nations University showed how ABS potential at the community level can either be leveraged through a product that meets an effective demand, or by servicing a larger, more general market segment. She recommended capitalizing on existing rather than new markets, and using a mix of internal and external inputs.
Barbara Lassen from Natural Justice moderated a panel with community representatives reflecting on their experiences with ABS. Lucy Mulenkei stressed the importance of “translating the Nagoya Protocol down to local communities”. Anoop Krishnamma of the Kerala Kani Community Welfare Trust in South India presented the case of his own community. Even though benefit sharing arrangements were in place, the funds generated for the community were not properly managed. He called for capacity building in communities to empower on administration and governance. Alifereti Tawake from Fiji pointed out that the consent of local communities and chiefs is needed. “Otherwise, arrangements are not equitable or inclusive.”
Helcio de Souza, representative of The Nature Conservancy in Brazil, added that in the Brazilian context, companies now are legally required to initiate consultations with indigenous communities before developing business.
In the following discussion, Delfin Ganapin, Global Manager of the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme shared his concerns about the Nagoya Protocol: “My worry with the Protocol is that it might not be required to use community protocols if it’s not the (national) law. My experience is that corporations will play out communities against each other. This is to the detriment of the weak communities especially.”