Community Palli

Community Palli - Day 7

ICCA Registry: Updates and Next Steps

Tuesday October 16th, 2012
9:00 – 10:00

Colleen Corrigan of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) presented on the status of the ICCA Registry, a tool created to document community work in conserving spatially defined areas and indigenous territories. The registry serves several purposes: it allows communities to register their indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCAs), including GIS and mapping data; to upload documents and videos sharing their work on biodiversity conservation, among other information; and, in some cases, to lend credibility to community efforts to have their conserved areas recognized by state authorities.

The Registry has also served as a means of sharing successful strategies and tools for demarcating community land and indigenous territories. Colleen cited a case from Australia in which registering their ICCA, including uploading a management plan for the sustainable use of its resources, had helped a community in having its territory recognized by the government. Another example from Ethiopia illustrated the use of participatory mapping, which enabled the community to create large-scale maps detailing different areas of land usage.

Specific tools that have been used include a “cybertracker” – a hand-held device used for monitoring biodiversity and instances of poaching – for patrolling within ICCAs. Other tools include the use of balloons and kites combined with GIS mapping software to monitor within communities’ areas. Boats have also been used in some cases to monitor the condition of coastal resources, including for mangrove reforestation initiatives.

An ICCA Registry Toolkit is in the process of being finalized that will catalogue many of these best practices in establishing and maintaining ICCAs. The toolkit is intended to help build the capacity of communities as they are gaining greater recognition while also facing mounting threats. In conclusion, Colleen highlighted the potential benefits of being a part of the ICCA registry for fund-raising purposes.

Genetic Diversity and Access and Benefit Sharing: Local Contributions to Preserving Global Genetic Diversity
10:00 – 12:00





Local and indigenous communities have a critical role to play in safeguarding the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and of wild relatives. If these efforts are undertaken in a culturally-appropriate manner and are sufficiently supported by policy and legal frameworks, they can achieve win-win results for local wellbeing and global genetic diversity.

After a brief introduction by Theresa to the work of Conservation International (CI) around the world, the session began with Veena Hassan describing the achievements of her initiative – the Genetic Resource, Energy, Ecology and Nutrition (GREEN) Foundation – in the Indian state of Karnataka. The foundation’s work began in 1994, when five women farmers in arid areas of the state began identifying traditional varieties of seeds with the help of village elders, and cataloguing native varieties using seed banks, which are run “by communities, for communities”. In its early stages, this was an effort to combat malnourishment in rural children, whose poor nutrition was blamed in part on the Green Revolution. Veena described how the task carried an emotional attachment for the women – recovering a neglected seed variety was like “bringing home a lost son”. Seed recovery was supplemented by the revival of traditional agricultural, cultural, and spiritual practices, as part of a consciously holistic approach to reclaiming lost heritage. The foundation has created a centralized digital repository of information on seeds to supplement community seed banks; extension officers work with communities to raise awareness of the benefits of conservation, while the initiative has also developed localized agricultural curriculums to transform farmers’ conventional practices. For instance, organic agriculture that limits the use of chemicals is promoted.

GREEN Foundation has produced several publications to share this traditional knowledge, while working with organizations such as Natural Justice on the legal side of gene protection. Safeguarding the genetic material of native seed varieties is paramount: the seeds used by communities are typically a mix of many varieties, cross-bred for the best properties over many centuries, with a focus on their nutritional value.

Food security is also at the heart of the work of the Community Development Centre (CDC) in Sri Lanka. Damayanthi Godamulla, Chairman and CEO, described how the initiative has trained women to grow traditional yam varieties in home gardens as a means of supplementing household diets and preserving local biodiversity. The centre has also established drying centers for use in processing different yam products, introducing twelve new products to the local market to date. Small cooperative groups have been created to support women engaged in yam processing; around 500 poor families are currently engaged in yam cultivation, and the project has reclaimed approximately 62 traditional varieties of yam.

Damayanthi credited the support of the GEF Small Grants Programme, who enabled the creation of a community seed bank. Village schools now benefit from foodstuffs made from yams, which are cultivated without the use of chemicals – where pesticides are used, they are environmentally-friendly and locally produced. Overall, the yam project has increased the social and economic wellbeing of local communities: young and old have been united in a just cause. In the words of Damayanthi, “yams have become an integral part of their lives.” Empowerment of local women has been reinforced through the training of local youth; local communities’ traditional knowledge has been amply shared with Sri Lankan universities, while CDC has also produced three books on traditional yam varieties, as well as the short documentary embedded to the left, “Yams: in search of their roots.”


Theresa concluded the session by describing some of the provisions and implications of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, stressing its potential relevance for the work of local communities in preserving and documenting local genetic diversity and its associated traditional uses. Given its probably entry into force by 2020, community work and participation in this process is vital for demonstrating how the protocol can actually work on the ground: for instance, bio-cultural community protocols have been seen to be useful tools in establishing community rights to their biological heritage. This is an issue Conservation International is focusing on in its work with local communities around the world.

A short discussion among groups of participants on traditional knowledge documentation and ABS schemes produced the following recommendations: 1) using scientific processes in packaging and labeling products is important for ensuring their commercial viability; 2) working with governments is crucial to protect biodiversity and document traditional knowledge – one example of this is the development of pharmacopeia formally recognized by government that document medicinal plants within a country; and 3) teachers and healers with knowledge of local plant use should be empowered to share this knowledge with others.

Please watch the video here:

CDC Aranayaka - Yams Part1.flv

CDC Aranayaka - Yams Part2.flv


Launch of Two Publications on Lessons Learned at COP 11





UNDP's experience working in more than 177 countries and territories shows that community-based initiatives often capitalize on the 'biodiversity conservation-poverty reduction' link effectively, bringing social, environmental, and economic benefits in the process. The Equator Initiative and the UNDP-implemented Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) are at the forefront of this work; in 2012, the two initiatives are respectively celebrating a decade and two decades of experience on community-based action for sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity conservation.

On Tuesday 16 October 2012, an evening reception was held in the Community Palli to mark the launch of two lessons learned publications – the Equator Initiative's The Power of Local Action: Lessons from 10 Years of the Equator Prize, and the GEF Small Grants Programme's 20 Years: Community Action for the Global Environment – as well as the Equator Initiative Case Study Database, which features detailed stories of leadership, innovation and resilience from the front lines of sustainable development.

"People want to know what is behind these inspiring groups – this pool of exceptional communities that are managing natural wealth to create pathways out of poverty – and they want to know what UNDP has learned from working with them," said Veerle Vandeweerd, Director of the UNDP Environment and Energy Group, speaking at the event. "Today, we are responding to that call."

The Equator Initiative Case Study Series documents in detail the work of the recipients of the Equator Prize to date, all of which are innovative local responses to the challenges of poverty, environmental degradation and climate change. The Power of Local Action: Lessons from 10 Years of the Equator Prize represents the results of a comprehensive analysis of the commonalities, trends and lessons across the pool of winners. Eileen de Ravin, Manager of the Equator Initiative, presented each of the book's twelve lessons with accompanying examples, highlighting key findings on the potential for environment-based initiatives to deliver on the MDGs, the power of community-based communication efforts, and the contributions of innovation and adaptation to community resilience.

Launched in 1992, the GEF Small Grants Programme has provided more than 14,500 grants in over 125 developing countries worldwide. SGP's cumulative experience and results have demonstrated that supporting communities in their efforts to achieve more sustainable livelihoods is not only possible, but necessary for achieving global environmental benefits. 20 Years: Community Action for the Global Environment provides an overview of two decades of this work. Delfin Ganapin, Global Manager of the Small Grants Programme, highlighted some of the key lessons learned, including the finding that SGP grantees have a sustainability rate of more than 90%. This is attributed to community-led identification of environmental issues, as well as high levels of transparency, accountability, and credibility in grant-delivery. The experience of grantees also illustrates that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and that success is more often than not a result of trial and error: adaptive management and learning-by-doing are critical. Small grant-giving gives local organizations a chance to endure through failure and setbacks, and offers high returns on investment to donors.

The event also featured testimonies from two Equator Prize winners – GREEN Foundationfrom India, and Muliru Farmers' Conservation Group from Kenya (also an SGP recipient) – who spoke to the effects of receiving the prize and support from SGP in their organizations' development. A video on "The Equator Prize in Action: Connecting Policy and Practice in Vietnam" was shown, followed by a brief discussion and reception.

For more information:

Download The Power of Local Action: Lessons from 10 Years of the Equator Prize

Download 20 Years: Community Action for the Global Environment

SGP Website

Eileen de Ravin's Powerpoint presentation

Download UNDP's Policy Brief on Local Action



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