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Daily report for 29 March 2000

1st Meeting of the CBD Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j)

Delegates met in Plenary to hear a presentation on the results of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) and reports of the Sub-Working Groups. Sub-Working Group I (SWG-I) discussed programme elements on participation, equitable benefit-sharing and legal elements. Sub-Working Group II (SWG-II) discussed programme elements on traditional cultural practices for conservation and sustainable use, and monitoring. Discussions on programme elements referred to specific tasks for completion under the work programme.


On behalf of the IFF Secretariat, Jaime Hurtubia outlined the institutional results of the IFF process and outcomes directly related to the mandate of the Working Group. He noted the involvement of indigenous and local communities in the formulation, design, implementation and monitoring of sustainable forest management, highlighting: the proposed creation of a UN Forum on Forests; appreciation of the relationship between intellectual property rights (IPR), sui generis systems and other forms of protection; and options for collecting, recording, applying and locating traditional forest-related knowledge. He welcomed input from the Working Group on Article 8(j) as a step toward consolidating the collaborative relationship between the CBD and the follow-up to the IFF process.

Co-Chair Damaso Luna (Mexico) noted the interim results of SWG-I, which had focused its Tuesday sessions on the application and development of legal and other appropriate forms of protection for traditional knowledge. He noted that the majority of speakers had represented indigenous and local communities. Co-Chair John Herity (Canada) reviewed the draft recommendations from SWG-II, which included, inter-alia: different methods of implementation according to linguistic and cultural diversity; the role of women; indigenous declarations; capacity-building and identification of needs; communications; funding issues; and identification of synergies, conflicts and gaps. He mentioned that background information is needed on the work programme element on status and trends before it can be adequately addressed.


Regarding the programme element on participatory mechanisms for indigenous and local communities, CANADA, INDIA, INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND BIODIVERSITY, NORWAY/ SAAMI PARLIAMENT and SPAIN called for increased recognition of women. The AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS DELEGATION and the ASIAN INDIGENOUS AND TRIBAL NETWORK called for an indigenous body, similar to SBSTTA, to advise the COP. BRAZIL noted concern about lack of reference to national authorities.

Regarding a task on enhancing the capacity of indigenous and local communities to promote application of their knowledge, ECUADOR supported preparation of guidelines on capacity-building activities as opposed to their identification. INDIA and the UK urged that capacity-building issues be given priority. COICA called for improved access to the CBDs financial mechanism for indigenous peoples. MEXICO proposed that benefits and funding be considered before guidelines for the compilation and dissemination of information. The COLOMBIAN INDIGENOUS MOVEMENT recommended references to education, public awareness and training.

NORWAY/SAAMI PARLIAMENT supported a task on developing mechanisms and guidelines to ensure the full participation of indigenous and local communities in decision-making and policy planning. JAMAICA suggested reference to implementation of plans and programs. INDIA, SWEDEN and the UNITED KINGDOM said that guidelines should be developed through SBSTTA. ECUADOR called for criteria to evaluate participation of indigenous and local communities in managing protected areas. WWF/IUCN suggested accounting for existing principles and guidelines on participation of indigenous and local communities in management strategies. Regarding a roster of indigenous and local community experts, CANADA and MEXICO stressed that its mandate be well-defined. COICA and ECUADOR proposed that indigenous and local communities appoint the roster. The INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF TROPICAL FORESTS noted a UN study concluding that there are no existing mechanisms for participation of indigenous peoples. WIPO offered expertise and contacts resulting from their recent work.

Regarding the programme element on equitable benefit-sharing, CANADA suggested that the Secretariat compile and analyze existing codes of conduct regarding access to and use of traditional knowledge. BOLIVIA called for a review of case studies and identification of key elements for benefit-sharing among and within communities. MEXICO and COSTA RICA highlighted the need to assess benefits derived from traditional knowledge and the conditions for their creation. COSTA RICA proposed benefit-sharing mechanisms allowing indigenous and local communities to review options appropriate for their needs. ORGANIZACION NACIONAL INDIGENA DE COLOMBIA proposed two additional programme elements on: national legislation, demarcation and management of indigenous territories; and access to genetic resources. The ASIAN TRIBAL AND INDIGENOUS NETWORK and ECUADOR noted that guidelines are not legally enforceable and suggested including reference to development of national legislation. ASOCIACION NAPGUANA said that minimum standards should ensure direct participation and consultation of indigenous and local communities before defining benefits and their distribution. The WTO outlined relevant activities regarding the ongoing review of the TRIPs Agreement and liaison with the CBD and other relevant international organizations.

Regarding the programme element on legal elements, the ASIAN TRIBAL AND INDIGENOUS NETWORK, DENMARK, ECUADOR, the EUROPEAN COMMISSION and the US noted tasks were interrelated and could be merged or streamlined. ETHIOPIA and TEBTEBBA called for inclusion of relevant international regimes in the development of legal frameworks on traditional knowledge. ECUADOR and MEXICO stressed the need for development of both national and international legislation. MEXICO and ASOCIACION NAPGUANA proposed analyzing the establishment of commitments or forms of protection for traditional knowledge at the international level. HONDURAS called for examination of existing national and international legislation before implementing Article 8(j). DENMARK, ECUADOR and the EUROPEAN COMMISSION supported establishing an inter-agency task force to recommend legal and other forms of protection. HAITI and the ASIAN TRIBAL AND INDIGENOUS NETWORK disagreed. CANADA, COLOMBIA and the US suggested the Secretariat convene roundtables with concerned international institutions and indigenous and local communities. TEBTEBBA suggested an analysis of root causes of the loss of traditional knowledge. The US called for information on available legal tools such as trade secrets, trademarks, common law and contractual arrangements. MEXICO called for a database on legal provisions prohibiting "biopiracy."

Co-Chair Luna noted that the results of the days discussions would be incorporated into a draft set of recommendations.


Co-Chair Herity outlined the draft recommendations from SWG-II. Co-Chair Aroha Mead (Te Puni Kokiri) introduced three Elders, who addressed perceptual differences regarding elements of Article 8(j). An Australian Elder addressed issues regarding the exploitation of traditional plant-related knowledge, noted gaps between indigenous and Western knowledge systems, and referred to a lack of recognition of customary laws. A Colombian Elder highlighted the flexible nature of indigenous ways of thinking and noted the loss of traditional knowledge. He emphasized the value and holistic nature of this knowledge, noting its link to indigenous rights. He stated spiritual knowledge is not for profit and must not be corrupted. He noted that indigenous knowledge can not exist without the recognition of lands and territories. An Elder representing the CENTER FOR WORLD INDIGENOUS STUDIES read a statement addressing, inter alia, anthropocentric ignorance contained in the concept of land-use, the importance of sustainable development to cultural values and guaranteed baseline conditions for cultural wellness.

At Co-Chair Meads request, a representative from the GEF outlined activities the organization is currently funding toward capacity-building for indigenous peoples.

Regarding a programme element on traditional cultural practices, the UNITED KINGDOM, supported by ARGENTINA, ECUADOR, FRANCE, GERMANY, NEW ZEALAND, NORWAY and the UKRAINE, stressed the importance of a task proposing the development of guidelines for the respect, preservation and maintenance of traditional knowledge. NIGER suggested adding reference to valuing and upgrading traditional knowledge. NEW ZEALAND and ARGENTINA supported distribution of a questionnaire on task prioritization. CANADA highlighted the preservation and control of access to traditional knowledge and, supported by NORWAY, suggested voluntary and universal guidelines as a means of reconciling worldviews. BRAZIL, supported by PERU, emphasized the importance of equitable benefit-sharing. The MESO-AMERICAN PROGRAMME ON INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE questioned who would design the guidelines and their underlying principles. ABYA YALA FUND highlighted a set of recommendations being drafted by the indigenous caucus. The CANADIAN INDIGENOUS CAUCUS noted that some countries work on land rights addresses elements of the work programme. GERMANY noted the different roles of women and men regarding traditional knowledge. MALAWI, supported by ITALY and the ORGANIZATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF SURINAME, highlighted holistic and ecosystem approaches.

Regarding a task proposing development of criteria and indicators under the programme element on monitoring, MEXICO, BRAZIL, ARGENTINA and PERU suggested the inclusion of governments. The ORGANIZATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF SURINAME proposed a reference to patenting in text on monitoring access to genetic resources. The MESO-AMERICAN PROGRAMME ON INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE suggested that the application of criteria be based on the participation of indigenous and local communities and the creation of an international database on bioprospecting contracts. CANADA noted that "criteria and indicators" usually refers to sustainable management when measuring progress in implementation, and suggested using more general language.

Regarding a task on strategic, environmental and social impact assessments, ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, MALAWI, SAMOA and the US questioned use of the term "strategic." ARGENTINA suggested that conflict resolution could address illicit appropriation of traditional knowledge. The US and the INTERNATIONAL INDIAN TREATY COUNCIL (IITC) proposed reference to sacred sites. The US, supported by SAINT LUCIA, suggested indigenous and local peoples be consulted in final decisions on impact assessments. IITC and SAMOA supported the inclusion of cultural impact assessment. The COMISION JURIDICA PARA EL AUTODESARROLLO DE LOS PUEBLOS ORIGINARIOS ANDINES and the UKRAINE called for mechanisms to ensure indigenous involvement in environmental assessments. PERU reiterated the significance of impact assessments on lands used by indigenous and local communities.

Regarding a task calling on the development of internationally applicable standards and guidelines, the CANADIAN INDIGENOUS CAUCUS stated that traditional knowledge is not protected under existing guidelines, and, with IITC, suggested a moratorium on use until appropriate guidelines are drafted. The US suggested focusing on modalities of reporting in addition to standards and guidelines. IITC noted that standards and guidelines should be in accordance with views of indigenous experts. BRAZIL suggested retroactive compensation for use of traditional knowledge prior to the CBDs entry into force.

Regarding the draft recommendations, ITALY, supported by NORWAY, called for clear timeframes. NORWAY, supported by the UNITED KINGDOM, SWEDEN and ITALY, proposed explicit language on indigenous participation.


Many delegates seemed pleased that Sub-Working Group discussions regained their momentum and focus as they addressed concrete programme elements and recommendations. Others pondered whether this was the calm before the storm, wondering how the Co-Chairs draft recommendations could satisfactorily address all worldviews, concerns and recommendations raised.


PLENARY: Plenary will convene at 10:00 am; look for conference room papers on legal and other forms of protection for traditional knowledge and cooperation among indigenous and local communities.

ARTICLE 8(j) & TRIPS: This briefing will meet in the Iceja room at 1:00 pm.

GEF & INDIGENOUS PEOPLES: This informal session will meet in the Giralda room at 1:00 pm.

Further information