Day 1 - March 19
Opening Ceremony: Capacity Building for Technology
March 19, 2006
Facilitators: Claire, Leo, Esther, Donato
All participants started by writing their local greetings on the flip chart.
Esther welcomed everyone, and expressed her happiness to be at this event. She emphasized the fact that this meeting will be different from other official meetings, as it is a community space. The goals of the Taba will be to build relationships. The space is designed for sharing and dialogue.
Leo welcomed everyone to the Taba community. He explained where the meaning of the word Taba comes from. It’s a term signifying a hut, a space for a gathering, in the Indian Brazilian language and dialogues. Leo further expressed his wish and hope that during the coming weeks we will form a community.
Donato then blessed the space by chanting a song from his culture of the Kalinga indigenous peoples. He requested a blessing from a higher being for a fruitful meeting and to bless each and every one of us.
Sean then took the time to introduce the different partners and participants. He pointed out that putting together an event like this one is done in collaboration with NGOs, governments, indigenous groups, and many other partners. These partners enable local work to continue in exciting and innovative ways. The large number of partners also means there are a lot of people interested in the work undertaken by communities. Sean then went on to introduce some partners from GTZ, conservation international, ecoagriculture partners, and GROOTS. He further took the time to say special thanks to the translators, and to the large knowledge team. He also wanted to acknowledge the island biodiversity people, mentioning that the huts were built by indigenous people of Parána.
Donato took over from Sean and engaged the community participants in a light physical exercise where each individual introduced themselves and matched various actions with their names and countries of origin.
Esther presented an introduction of what the Equator Initiative is and what the COP is all about. EI is an investment in spaces to bring communities together to share their own practices. She outlined the main objectives of this space: Celebrating success, Informing policies, and Sharing knowledge.
After a 15 minute break, the dialogue resumed with an overview of past community dialogues spaces and experiences.
Community participant Barbara introduced the Community Kraal which took place during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa between August 20th and September 5, 2002. She shared this multifaceted personal and institutional experience. She explained how she met people she could never have imagined meeting, and has maintained contact with them
since. The event has put her association in the global framework, and has given her and her organization the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences.
Community participant Ester shared her experiences in regards to Community Park which took place at the Vth World Park Congress in Durban, South Africa (8-17 September 2003). Ester highlighted that 240 organizations came from all over the world, built on political construction, and influenced decision-making in this congress. She further maintained that although sometimes community members feel isolated from political decisions, other times they can attracts politicians to community spaces.
Donato covered the Community Kampung which took place at the 7th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (5-20 February 2004). He said that the space provided a venue where national leaders and participants from communities could talk with each other. The relationship between the community and national government started from there. Although there are many challenges, community voices can reach the policy-making areas.
Esther talked about the Community Shamba, which took place at the International Ecoagriculture Conference in Nairobi, Kenya (25 September – 1 October 2004). She emphasized the need for a balance; farming that takes into consideration the needs of biodiversity.
Community participant Ester took the floor again to address the Community Mubaan (3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress Bankgok, Thailand 17-25 November 2004). This was a space where community experiences were shared and integrated to the theme of biodiversity. She maintained that the space gave the participants continuity and the opportunity to make partnerships.
A representant from the delegation of the government of Fiji discussed the main topics that arose at the Community Vilaj (in conjunction with the Barbadoes Plan of Action on Small Island Developing States +10 in Port Louis, Mauritius, 6-14 January 2005).
Community participant Vitaliano from Ecuador shared his experiences during the Community Commons (Fordham University, June 15-18, 2005). He explained that he now has a better understanding of the MDGs thanks to the community Commons.
After the introduction of the various past community spaces, the facilitators asked the participants to break up in groups to discuss their expectations in regards to the Community Taba. The main expectations and themes raised in the discussion are as follows:
- learning from each other’s experiences (success and failure)
- access to benefits
- understanding the commonalities in the challenges people are facing
- having a chance to interact with their ministers and national delegates
- learning about the protocols
- seeing how the work on the ground can influence the decision-making process
- learning about the international fight for biodiversity conservation
- learning more about sustainable development
- searching for means to have community input in decisions at the policy level (COP)
- linking community dialogue with COP space
Esther acknowledged all these different expectations, and encouraged the participants to take ownership of the space in order to have these expectation fulfilled. The morning session concluded on these notes, and was followed by the hour long break for lunch.
Afternoon Session 03/19/06
The purpose of this afternoon’s session was to orient people to the CBD and the opportunities at the Community Taba and COP8 to influence the policy making process, as well as to the opportunities to continue interactions with the policy makers after leaving this international meeting. Two speakers came before the Taba: 1) Esther, who represents an indigenous community in Costa Rica, spoke about her experiences and the experiences of her community in attempting to influence the political process, particularly in regard to traditional knowledge issues, and 2) Sam Johnson of the UN University, who introduced Taba participants to the language and process of the CBD, and explained how community members can engage in the political process at the COP8.
Esther, from Costa Rica, spoke about her experiences in trying to influence government decisions on conceptualization and use of indigenous traditional knowledge. She has attended several international conventions, starting with a 2000 meeting in Chiapas, and including COP3 in Brazil.
Some of the issues confronted by her community in engaging politically were 1) difficulty understanding the terms of political decisions, 2) lack of understanding, on the part of governments, about the proprietorship and concern indigenous people feel for their land, 3) the need to train indigenous youth in how to influence the political process, 4) lack of indigenous rights, 5) the spurious attempts of governments and other parties to speak on behalf of indigenous people, 6) and the tendency of governments to forget or ignore the commitments that they make at conventions such as COP8.
Esther concluded by stating that she and her community have learned a lot through political engagement. Ministers may not always be open to indigenous input. However, at meetings such as the COP8, community members have witnesses to the commitments policy makers make to them, and so can return home and enter into national-level negotiations.
The second speaker of the afternoon was Sam Johnson of United Nations University (UNU). Sam provided a broad overview of the CBD process, the COP8 agenda, and the opportunities Taba participants have to interact with decision makers and influence negotiations. When Sam asked how many people have been at a COP or other international meeting, prior to the Taba/COP8, approximately 4 out of 30 individuals raised their hand. He described many of the definitions & processes governing the CBD, particularly distinguishing between signatories (such as the United States) and parties (187 other governments) to the COP8, only the latter of which are legally bound by the convention.
The ultimate purpose of the CBD is to promote the conservation, sustainable use, and equitable sharing of biodiversity. The most important articles in the convention for indigenous people and local communities are articles 8j, 10c, 17.2, and18.4. As a group, these articles mandate that the knowledge & practice of indigenous local communities be respected, acknowledged, and maintained. Sam introduced the UNU / EI COP training manual, which describes both the specific issues on the COP8 agenda, as well as how lay individuals can become involved in the negotiating process. A hard copy of this manual was made available to all participants in the community taba.
Sam explained that the many meetings and working groups that compose the COP house negotiations over the specifics of CBD decisions. Most of these meetings, with the exception of budgetary meetings, are open to non-governmental parties, such as the Taba participants. At these meetings, all attendees may make interventions, which are proposed opinions on particulars of the decisions under consideration. In order to make interventions effectively, one should observe the following guidelines, which are also detailed in the COP training manual:
- Write your intervention statement, confining it to 300-400 words or 3-4 minutes, before presenting it orally. If possible, deliver it in writing to the secretariat staff before presenting it.
- Be simple, clear, and to the
- Keep your comments focused on the
In general, in interacting with decision makers at the COP, don’t be shy. These parties and policy makers are here to hear others’ viewpoints and experiences. If you have written documentation you would like to distribute, hand it directly to people as you engage them in conversation. Be assertive in interacting with donor agencies; these agencies are here looking for potential implementers of projects that interest them. Finally, pay attention to the colored strip at the base of individual identification badges. Blue identifies individuals associated with the United Nations, green identifies members of government parties (policy makers) blue is for UN and orange identifies observers, such as the Taba participants.
Sam offered his assistance to Taba participants in becoming involved in COP8 and drafting interventions. Claire said that the facilitators have begun to assemble the draft decisions which will be negotiated at COP8. These will be available for participants to view.
At the close of the afternoon session, Claire reminded all participants that they are invited to the Brazilian government reception at the Jardim Botanico this evening at 6:30pm. Chip Barber, also of UNU, informed us that this is a great opportunity for networking and for meeting the delegates from our respective countries.