REPORT OF THE ASIAN REGIONAL MEETING ON THE COMPOSITE REPORT ON TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE (Baguio, 28-3

Summary

 

The Asian Regional Meeting was attended by experts from 3 Member States and experts from 17 indigenous organizations. A total of 29 persons participated. The participants adopted by consensus, 52 recommendations ranging from general, local, national and international in focus, aimed at identifying and addressing obstacles and process to the retention and use of the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (TK) and specifically to identify processes that may threaten traditional knowledge with the view to the identification and assessment of measures and initiatives to protect, promote and facilitate the use of TK.

I. INTRODUCTION

 

 

 

1. In paragraph 4(a) of decision VII/16 of its seventh meeting, the Conference of the Parties, requested the Executive Secretary to continue work on phase one of the composite report on the status and trends regarding the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities in order to produce a revised version of it, taking into account the following elements, inter alia: (a) the organization of regional workshops … An Asia Regional Meeting on status and trends on Traditional Knowledge was held at Camp John Hay Compound, in Baguio City, Philippines on 28-30 April 2005.

 

 

 

2. The regional workshop was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Government of the Netherlands and was organized by the Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity, in cooperation with the Tebtebba Foundation and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact Foundation (AIPP).  The meeting provided the opportunity to both government representatives and indigenous and local community representatives from the Asian region to contribute to the preparation and substantive content of the report on the status and trends of traditional knowledge and of the factors that threaten such knowledge in the Asian region.  

 

 

 

3.   Furthermore, consistent with paragraph 26 of the elements of the Plan of Action for the retention of traditional knowledge relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity contained in Annex E of decision VII/16, the Secretariat of the CBD was a partner in an Asian Capacity-Building Workshop organized by the Tebtebba Foundation and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact Foundation (AIPP), targeted at indigenous peoples, which was held immediately prior to the regional Asian meeting .

 

 

 

4.  The Asia Capacity-Building Workshop was held on 25 – 27 April, after which the CBD Meeting on the Composite Report immediately followed on 28 – 30 April. Both the capacity building workshop and the regional meeting were held at the AIM Training Centre, Camp John Hay Compound, Baguio City, Philippines.

 

 

 

 

 

II. ORGANIZATION OF WORK

 

 

 

A. Attendance

 

 

 

5. The member of the Advisory Group to Article 8j for the Asian region and Secretary General of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Ms. Jannie Lasimbang participated in the workshop and Ms. Victoria Tauli- Corpuz attended as the indigenous member for the Asian region of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and also as an expert from Tebtebba Foundation. Mr. Glen Kelly, the consultant for the Asian Australian Regional report also participated as rapporteur.

 

 

 

6. The Workshop was attended by experts from 3 Member States, and experts from 17 indigenous organizations. A total of 29 persons attended and 15 participants where funded by the CBD. The attendance list is contained in annex III to the present report.

 

 

 

B. Documentation

 

 

 

7. The participants had before them a proposed agenda (UNEP/CBD/WG8J/RW/Asia), a proposed programme of work (UNEP/CBD/WG8J/RW/Asia /Add.1), the Executive Summary of the Report on the first phase of the composite report on the status and trends regarding the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (UNEP/CBD/WG8J/3/4) and the First Phase of the Australia, Asia and the Middle East – Regional Report on the status and trends concerning the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity

 

(UNEP/CBD/WG8J/3/INF/4).

 

 

 

8. Documentation made available for the Workshop is listed in annex II. The documentation is available on the web site of the Convention on Biological Diversity at www.biodiv.org .

 

 

 

C. Opening of the meeting

 

 

 

9. The meeting was opened at 10 a.m. on Thursday 28 April 2005 by Ms. Joji Carino, a representative of the traditional owners of the territory on which the meeting took place and also the representative of Tebtebba Foundation, a co-organizer of the meeting. 

 

 

 

D. Election of officers

 

 

 

10. Ms. Joji Carino, Project Leader for the Capacity Building Programme for CBD Implementation of the Tebtebba Foundation was elected as Chairperson. Mr. Glen Kelly, the consultant for Asian regional report, was elected as Rapporteur.

 

 

 

E. Adoption of the agenda and programme of work

 

 

 

11. The Workshop adopted its agenda on the basis of the proposed agenda and programme of work as submitted by the Secretariat with a minor amendment proposed by partner organizations that discussions include international threats to the retention and use of TK, as well as threats at local and national levels. The agenda and programme of work are contained in Annex I.

 

 

 

12. The Workshop was conducted in six plenary meetings.

 

 

 

F. Adoption of the report

 

 

 

13. On 30 April 2005, the Workshop adopted by consensus the report and the recommendations (contained in section IV below).

 

 

 

G. Closure of the Workshop

 

 

 

14. The meeting was closed after the adoption of the report and recommendations in the final (sixth) plenary session on 30 April 2005.

 

 

 

PART III OBSERVATIONS 

 

 

 

Goals and expectations

 

 

 

12. At the outset, it was noted that the purpose of the workshop was to provide an opportunity for both indigenous and local communities and governments to provide input into the Second Phase of the Australia, Asia and the Middle East – Regional Report on the status and trends concerning the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (TK) and specifically to identify processes that may threaten traditional knowledge with the view to the identification and assessment of measures and initiatives to protect, promote and facilitate the use of TK.

 

 

 

Background and Process

 

 

 

13. Participants were provided by the Secretariat of the CBD, with an overview of the Convention on Biological Diversity and of Article 8j and related articles and issues to provide a context for discussions concerning traditional environmental knowledge (TK). The work programme for Article 8j was examined in detail with specific focus on the development of phase two of the regional report.

 

 

 

14. In the first plenary session Ms. Joji Carino also presented research concerning the implementation of Article 8j. Mr. Mattias Ahren, representative of the Saami Council provided a critique of indigenous participation in CBD processes with a focus on current and ongoing work of interest to indigenous and local communities. Ms. Jannie Lasimbang of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and Mr. Glen Kelly discussed with participants opportunities to have input into the development of phase two of the Asia Australian regional report.

 

 

 

15. Methodologies to engage the participants included the use of group work and mind-mapping exercises to contextualize TK discussions and to identify obstacles to the retention of TK and to identify and assess, where they exist measures and initiatives to protect, promote and facilitate the use of TK.  

 

 

 

16. In the second plenary session, participants were provided with an overview of the Executive Summary of first phase of the regional report by the Secretariat of the CBD and this was complemented by an analysis of the first phase of the regional report by the consultant Mr. Glen Kelly during the third plenary session. These discussions provided the backdrop for focused discussions in third and fourth plenary sessions on the identification of processes that may threaten traditional knowledge at local, national and international levels.

 

 

 

 

 

17. In the third plenary session, participants worked in groups to brainstorm local, national and international threats to TK and reported the outcomes back at the fourth and fifth plenary sessions and reported back to the plenary. A similar process was followed in session four concerning the identification and assessment, where they exist of measures and initiatives to protect promote and facilitate the use of TK. Throughout the 3 days of the workshop, the consultant worked with participants to interview interested parties regarding sources of information and useful networks to assist the development of phase two of the regional Asian Australian report.

 

 

 

18. In session 5 participants were provided with draft recommendations for their consideration and comment. Participants critically analyzed and refined the draft recommendations and posed new recommendations, which were presented back to the plenary at session 6, where the report and recommendations were adopted by consensus. 

 

 

 

General Observations

 

 

 

19. Many participants discussed the importance of traditional languages for the preservation and promotion of traditional knowledge. An indigenous participant from the Philippines emphasized that “very single word that is lost from a particular language results to the loss of a particular element of traditional knowledge necessary for the protection of cultural rights; needed for the conservation of biological diversity and needed for human survival and growth”. Participants further noted that traditional language is a significant indicator for TK retention. However, to effectively evaluate the retention of TK, further indicators needed to be considered including self determination, indigenous land-tenure and security, water rights, indigenous education, elevation of TK (respect) in line with Western knowledge systems and Western science. There was consensus amongst participants that a bundle of indicators should be fully developed to accurately measure the retention of TK. Many participants noted the correlation in the decline of biodiversity and the use of TK. 

 

 

 

20. Observations were made regarding the local effects of globalization, which were seen as detrimental to TK retention. These included the introduction of imported rice, fruits and vegetables, which impacted on and diminished the use of local varieties of plants. This also impacted on the use of traditional farming methods that incorporate biological diversity. One participant noted that the world currently produces more than enough food to feed the human population and that the real problem remained unequal distribution and not the production of more food. 

 

 

 

21. Many participants noted that the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides also impacted dramatically on traditional farming methods as well as actions and initiatives to replace small plot farming with large-scale mono-cultural plantations. It was explained by one participant that chemical fertilizers and pesticides killed off micro-organisms and indigenous fauna and flora on which traditional farming depends. One indigenous representative said that in the past, before the introduction of artificial chemicals, “the world was more alive”. The use of these artificial methods also caused pollution and poisoning of lands and waters. Another participant noted that because of globalization and the increased demand for such products as cashmere, many traditional farmers in her mountain community had increased the numbers of goats (from 30% of livestock to 60% or more of total local livestock), and that this imbalance had resulted in severe environmental damage caused by the increasing numbers of goats.

 

 

 

22. Many participants identified the introduction of alien species (plants and animals) as a big threat to local biological diversity and corresponding TK. Examples provided included the introduction of acacia and conifer trees for soft wood and paper production, which poison the ground beneath them and inhibit the undergrowth, which originally included useful herbs and plants that were important to TK. Some participants referred to the importance of the precautionary principle when considering the introduction of alien species and other changes to the environment.

 

 

 

23. Many indigenous participants agreed that TK was the product of long-term observations over millennia. Many participants called for TK to be fully respected in line with Western science and suggested that partnerships between these knowledge systems are highly desirable.

 

 

 

24. Many participants agreed that protection of TK could be promoted through better education (including indigenous education) and through public awareness campaigns and through sui generis protection. Many participants called for further research into sui generis protection that was non-intellectual property based and included the recognition of elements of customary law.

 

 

 

25. Focusing on education, many participants called for support for indigenous education to promote TK and some suggested such strategies as “schools of living tradition”, language schools, cultural awareness programmes and exchange programmes between indigenous peoples to further promote TK. 

 

 

 

26. The representative of Tebtebba noted that increasing emphasis on the documentation and protection of the IP elements of TK may not be appropriate or helpful for the retention and use of TK and thus the current research on registers should be critically evaluated when completed. She also noted that government ownership of forests and the non-recognition and/or implementation of indigenous territorial rights are harmful to TK. Indigenous peoples need to be empowered to exercise and practice their TK without outside interference. 

 

 

 

27. The representative of the Saami Council noted the usefulness of the Akwe:Kon Guidelines and called for the effective implementation and national and local levels as another strategy to promote and encourage TK.

 

 

 

28. One indigenous representative explained how complementary gender roles are eroding and the important roles and knowledge systems of indigenous women in agricultural production, labour, and seed diversity is being lost.

 

 

 

29. Many participants linked cultural diversity, language diversity and biological diversity and noted the importance of the preservation of all three elements if TK is to be protected and promoted.

 

 


 

Recommendations 

 

 

 

General

 

 

 

It is recommended that:

 

 

 

1. Because migrations caused by socio-economic and political reasons, both internal and external and including increasing urbanization, and forced removals and displacements, all pose threats to TK, all interest holders should consider how to address this issue of population movement/s and the retention of TK, and the imbalance between urban and rural development;

 

 

 

2. Misappropriation of TK and associated genetic resources needs to be addressed through strategies such as the development of a code of ethics for researchers in indigenous and local community contexts as well as the development of other strategies, including sui generis protection such as the recognition of customary laws/legal principles and forms of protection to ensure TK is fully protected.

 

 

 

3. TK should be equally valued with Western science and thus scientists need to collaborate, through research and development, in equal partnership with TK holders, with their prior and informed consent.

 

 

 

4. All interest holders should work together to recover and support traditional knowledge systems for the good of all humanity, without prejudice to indigenous and local communities.

 

 

 

5. There is a need to strengthen the implementation of the CBD at global, regional, national and local levels.

 

 

 

6. Foreign and introduced religions have damaged TK systems and inter-Faith dialogues should be promoted to encourage and promote mutual respect and to repair centuries of damage to the TK systems of indigenous and local communities.

 

 

 

7. The promotion of good practices and models concerning TK and sustainable development should be further developed and encouraged.

 

 

 

8. Peace is a requirement for the protection, promotion and use of TK and participants have identified militarization and social conflict in indigenous territories as a threat to TK that need to be addressed by both Member States of the United Nations and the international community.

 

 

 

9. Indigenous peoples’ full and effective participation at all levels of decision making processes is necessary to empower indigenous peoples to protect and promote TK.

 

 

 

10. Non-discrimination (with the exception of positive discrimination measures) and equality and inclusiveness need to be promoted at all levels.

 

 

 

11. The right of self-determination of indigenous peoples and the related process of free, prior and informed consent needs to be acknowledged and implemented if indigenous peoples are to be empowered to protect their TK.

 

 

 

12. The holistic nature of TK must be understood and promoted instead of its breakdown and compartmentalization into discrete components, such as Traditional Environmental Knowledge, Traditional Forest Related Knowledge, or Traditional Cultural Expressions. The UNPFII should promote such holistic understanding as well as the coordination and harmonization among the various UN agencies and multi-lateral bodies active on TK.

 

 

 
 

Local

 

 

 

It is recommended that:

 

 

 

1. Local traditional indigenous practices and institutions should be strengthened to promote and protect TK.

 

 

 

2. Indigenous and local communities need to consider how growing individualism at community levels can be balanced with the needs and values of the collective;

 

 

 

3. The introduction and strengthening of Indigenous education programmes including indigenous languages and including the important role of community Elders and indigenous women as holders and transmitters of TK should be encouraged and strengthened to bridge the growing generation gap, to ensure the perpetuation of TK.

 

 

 

4. The extended family, community and indigenous socio-cultural and political structures should be supported as primary modes of transmittal of TK for intergenerational transfer as the breakdown of these is not helpful to the transmittal, retention and use of TK.

 

 

 

5. Indigenous peoples and local communities require access, control and ownership of their territories and natural resources to practice TK.

 

 

 

6. Indigenous and local communities should promote the sustainable use of traditional foods, crop varieties, animals, agricultural and agro-forestry systems and medicines to encourage the retention and use of TK. 

 

 

 

 

 

National

 

 

 

It is recommended that:

 

 

 

1. There is a need to critique national laws and policies to identify the effects on the retention and use of TK. Where appropriate, legal reforms to harmonize such laws or to repeal laws, which are detrimental to the protection and promotion of TK, should be undertaken. Furthermore, critical indigenous legal studies should be introduced at tertiary institutions to sensitize law-makers (legislators) and lawyers to indigenous issues.

 

 

 

2. National reporting should incorporate or be complemented by parallel reports submitted by indigenous peoples organizations and NGOs to more accurately capture what is happening on the national and local levels.

 

 

 

3. Increased cooperation is required between governments and indigenous and local communities in national reporting and more importantly, in the implementation of the CBD.

 

 

 

4. Support for indigenous education is needed to promote TK and promotion of such strategies as “schools of living tradition”, language schools, mobile schools, cultural awareness programmes and exchange programmes between indigenous peoples to further promote and protect TK. Indigenous education should also be used to strengthen the intergeneration transmittal of TK.

 

 

 

5. Mainstream or dominant education systems should be reformed to include indigenous perspectives and promote respect for indigenous heritage and TK.

 

 

 

6. CBD National focal points should be strengthened and strongly encouraged to work with indigenous peoples organizations and networks to distribute information to indigenous and local communities and to other government departments (to build capacity and sensitivity to indigenous issues).

 

 

 

7. The precautionary principle should be applied to the introduction of all alien species, including genetically modified organisms and other modern technologies, and to development proposals.

 

 

 

8. The Bio-safety Protocol should be ratified and implemented and countries and indigenous communities who have adopted policies for bans or moratoriums on genetically modified organisms should be supported.

 

 

 

9. TK should be promoted through indigenous media and mainstream media and sensitization of the mainstream media should be promoted to ensure cultural awareness and sensitivity to indigenous and local communities.

 

 

 

10. Governments should recognise the principles of customary indigenous law applicable to TK and incorporate such principles into national legal systems, in equal partnership with TK holders and with their prior and informed consent, and respecting the right of indigenous peoples to continue practising these systems without interference or threat.

 

 

 

11. Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories need to be recognized in order to protect TK and ensure the full and effective implementation of the CBD. Recognition should be based on the right to self-identify along with the characteristics as identified in the Cobo report (refer UN document PFII/2004/WS.1/3 and E/CN.4/Sub.2/1986/7 and Add. 1-4).

 

 

 

12. The full and effective implementation of the Akwe:Kon Guidelines can contribute to the promotion and protection of TK

 

 

 

13. Foreign investment and foreign funded projects and national development should not occur in unsustainable ways on the territories of indigenous and local communities as these practices hamper the promotion and protection of TK.

 

 

 

14. Capacities of and coordination between national and local bodies responsible for implementing the CBD should be enhanced, including through the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities.

 

 

 

15. Measures should be taken to promote the right to self-identification of and legal recognition given to, those indigenous peoples who are currently not recognized by national institutions and governments. 

 

 

 

16. Special efforts should be made to protect indigenous peoples, who are under immediate threat and face extinction of language, culture and TK practices.

 

 

 

17. Measures and mechanisms to compensate and redress indigenous and local communities for the destruction of their resources and misappropriation of their TK and genetic resources should be developed and implemented (on both national and international levels).

 

 

 

18. Efforts by indigenous and local communities to document life experiences on TK and

 

sui generis protection contributing to the broader society be supported and strengthened.

 

 

 

 

 

International

 

 

 

It is recommended that:

 

 

 

1. CBD processes should be linked with other related international instruments and in particular established and developing human rights standards and processes and other relevant international structures (such as the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues) with the view of promoting further complementation and harmonization (refer GA resolution 41/120)[1]. 

 

 

 

2. Concerning indigenous and local communities, CBD needs to fully commit to a human rights-based approach in the implementation of the Convention and in particular, the work programmes concerning TK, ABS and Protected Areas.

 

 

 

3. The current model of globalization should be critically examined and a new model with all interest holders including indigenous and local communities, be developed that is friendly to indigenous and local communities and encourages cultural diversity, including language diversity and protection and promotion of TK. An alternative “globalism” needs to be developed that allows for the survival and growth of indigenous economic systems and local, small-scale community (and often non-cash based) economies.

 

 

 

4. More indigenous parallel events on TK and indigenous issues at CBD meetings are needed to raise awareness of TK with governments and non-indigenous peoples.

 

 

 

5. Exchange programmes should be established between indigenous peoples and non-indigenous professionals to increase awareness of TK and indigenous perspectives on environment. Exchange programmes to promote sustainable development through TK should also be established and promoted.

 

 

 

6. The guidelines concerning the conduct for tourism in indigenous territories should be further developed with full and effective participation of indigenous peoples with particular emphasis on protection of culture.

 

 

 

7. Work on a code of conduct and ethics for researchers in indigenous and local contexts, should be the CBD should be accelerated with the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples.

 

 

 

8. Indigenous peoples, and organizations enhance their capacities and develop specializations to effectively participate in CBD processes at all levels from international to national to local and governments should support indigenous peoples in these initiatives. Indigenous participation, particularly that of TK holders and indigenous women, at all levels of elaboration of protection and implementation of protection is regarded as essential if the CBD is to be effectively implemented. Furthermore TK holders at the local level should be responsible for local implementation of protection measures for TK. Governments need to support the local implementation through legislation and enforcement of that legislation.

 

 

 

9. The CBD needs to transform its processes to increase the visibility of indigenous and local communities across all programme areas as TK is identified as a cross-cutting issue. CBD discussions should be grounded in grass-roots indigenous and local communities, where it is implemented. More indigenous voices are required at all CBD meetings of interest to indigenous and local communities and indigenous participants have suggested that the use of regional caucuses may be useful to promote the diversity of indigenous and local communities.

 

 

 

10. The CBD should recognize indigenous peoples, TK holders and indigenous women as experts and encourage and facilitate their full and effective participation in experts meetings and advisory bodies.

 

 

 

11. The CBD should increase resources and indigenous staff to assist with the implementation of CBD work programmes of interest to indigenous peoples recognizing

 

that TK is a cross-cutting issue.

 

12. The CBD should accelerate its work on Article 10c concerning sustainable use, by allocating more resources including staff, as this will complement the work concerning the promotion and protection of TK.

 

 

 

13. The issue of sovereignty over natural resources requires further discussion within the CBD, as indigenous and local communities and human rights experts have disparate views with governments on this issue, with the view of resolving this issue and recognizing indigenous peoples’ sovereignty over natural resources, as part of the right of peoples to self-determination.

 

 

 

14. The CBD and the UNPFII should undertake impact assessments and analysis of the international trade and investment agreements relevant to TK and formulate recommendations for implementation with the view to protect and promote TK.

 

 

 

15. The CBD should further recognize that gender complementation is vital for both the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities and in the implementation of the CBD at all levels.

 

 

 

16. Recognizing the memorandum of understanding between the CBD and WIPO, the CBD should accelerate its work on the protection of TK, as appropriate to its mandate, and further develop holistic and culturally appropriate sui generis non-intellectual property based forms of protection with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities.

 

 

 

 

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