Thursday, April 17, 2014

Report on Africa Regional Symposium for Community Land and Natural Resources Protection

Following the highly success Africa Regional Symposium for Community Land and Natural Resources Protection, co-hosted by Natural Justice and Namati in Cape Town in November 2013, a report on the outcomes of the Symposium have been released.

Community Land and Natural Resource advocates from around Africa gathered together at this symposium to discuss challenges and brainstorm solutions based on their own experiences, revolving around the following 8 key themes:
  • Community definition;
  • Conflict resolution;
  • Governance and Leadership;
  • Equity and Gender;
  • Conservation and Stewardship;
  • Investor-Community Relations;
  • Government Barriers to Implementation;
  • Policy advocacy and Law-Making.
The organisers look forward to building the momentum created during the symposium. 

Quito II: Second Dialogue Held in Ecuador to Discuss Methods for Financing Biological Diversity

Braulio Souza (centre), Executive Secretary
to the CBD, gives closing remarks at the meeting.
There is no question that biological diversity is being lost at an unsustainable rate and that this trend needs to be halted through a variety of different approaches. Important questions exist, however, about how to pay for those approaches. To help answer those questions, several governments, as well as the European Commission and the CBD Secretariat, convened a meeting in Ecuador called the Second Dialogue Seminar on Scaling up Finance for Biodiversity from 9-12 April 2014 to discuss issues regarding financing biological diversity.

Representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), NGOs and other organizations presented on a broad range of topics in plenary sessions, including: CBD and UN efforts in the area of financing (the High Level Panel on Resourcing and the Biodiversity Finance Initiative); the Global Environmental Facility's strategy for the next four years; and community monitoring of biodiversity. Jael Eli Makagon from Natural Justice presented on community protocols as a way of ensuring the full participation of Indigenous peoples and local communities in biodiversity financing. Several small group sessions were held, during which specific questions were asked by the organizers regarding many different topics, including perverse subsidies, taxation issues, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Report on Compensation for Communities in Relation to Large Investments

Natural Justice’s  Stephanie Booker has contributed a chapter entitled "Biocultural Community Protocols: A useful means of securing community interests in the context of extractive industries" to a new publication by the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC). 

Supported by Bread for the World and Groupe Tchad, the publication, "Compensation Matters. Securing community interests in large-scale investments", provides analyses of contentious issues in compensation matters such as power relations in negotiations, entitlements for compensation,  as well as an examination of the different types of compensation and discussion of a number of issues with respect to affected communities. 

Also included are  a number of tools and approaches that may be/ have been use to approach compensation strategically, aimed at sustainable, just and inclusive outcomes for affected communities.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Souls of Coloured Folk: Regaining Sense of Self through Traditional Customs and Rituals

By Lesle Jansen and Kabir Bavikatte
(This article appeared in the Cape Argus Newspaper, 4 April, 2014.)

It is a peculiar sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity – W.E.B Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Article appearing in the Cape Argus, 4 April 2014
I am told that anthropologists have diagnosed a condition amongst some indigenous peoples as ‘loss of soul.’ Apparently, this means the breakdown of a connection a people have to their traditions and their inner lives. They have forgotten the language and prayers their fathers used to speak to the gods, land and animals. They don’t hear their ancestors and their ancestors are deaf to them. In their lives, they are invisible to themselves, they are nameless, uninitiated and among the living dead. They lack a story that is their own. Instead they drift, trying on the masks and customs of other peoples. Sometimes abhorring vacuum, they accept identities thrust on them. And since none of them fit, they wander carrying a nameless ache they can’t put their finger on.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Call for Applications: Legal Officer, Kenya

Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and the Environment is a young and fast-paced non-profit organisation specialising in human rights and environmental law. We are a pioneering international team of legal practitioners, who conduct comprehensive research on environmental and human rights law, support communities and local organisations, provide technical advice to governments and intergovernmental organisations, and engage in key international processes in pursuit of environmental and social justice.

Natural Justice currently works in Africa, Asia and Latin America, with its headquarters in Cape Town and regional offices in Malaysia, India, and USA.

What are we looking for?
Natural Justice has been working with communities, NGOs and government agencies in Kenya since 2009. Due to increasing demand from our partners, we are seeking a full-time lawyer to lead and co-coordinate our work in Kenya. The successful candidate will be based in Nairobi and will be expected to begin work immediately.

Application process:
Deadline: 18 April 2014, 17:00 GMT

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Natural Justice attends Community Fracking Meeting in the Karoo

On 26 March 2014, Stephanie Booker of Natural Justice attended a meeting hosted by Southern Cape Land Committee in Jansenville, Eastern Cape. Attended by Southern Cape Land Committee, Groundwork and local community representatives from indigenous peoples and local farming communities across the Karoo, the meeting was an opportunity to discuss fracking developments nationally, the sharing of information on the ground and of various community strategies being pursued.

The meeting was a continuation of community mobilisation discussions with respect to fracking that originated in Steytlerville in May 2013, and continued in October with the launching of a declaration at the fracking dialogue in October 2013.

This Declaration can be found here.

Natural Justice thanks Southern Cape Land Committee for an engaging meeting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Community Rights and REDD+

Recent publications have highlighted the importance of community rights in reducing deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) a mitigation policy under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

A Special Feature in Ecology and Society on Beyond Carbon: enabling justice and equity in REDD+ across levels of governance, examines the complex landscape of justice and equity in REDD+ and the multiple levels of governance in which they play out. The papers illustrate the need for a greater integration of the human rights discourse in REDD+ as a means to improve equity outcomes, and disturbingly none provide evidence of a significant re-distribution of material benefits as a result of REDD+ initiatives. Interestingly, an analysis of Indigenous Peoples engagement in the UNFCCC REDD+ processes demonstrates that some indigenous actors have managed to ‘import power’ from human rights discourse to strengthen their influence over REDD+ decision-making.

2014 SEED South Africa Symposium

Cath Traynor
Cath Traynor of Natural Justice attended the 2014 SEED South Africa Symposium “Advancing the Green Economy: creating jobs and opportunities for green enterprises” held on 19-20 March 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. SEED stands for supporting entrepreneurs for sustainable development. Natural Justice’s Bio-cultural Community Protocols was a 2009 Gold winner in the SEED awards.

Over 150 participants including 40 entrepreneurs from private sector, civil society, academia, media, and government gathered to exchange experience, knowledge and perspectives that could advance the growth of socio-environmental entrepreneurship in South Africa. Sessions included creating green jobs and the impact of social and environmental start-ups, growing enterprises, and barriers, success factors and enablers to support enterprises. Key issues that arose included accessing financing during the initial phases of start-ups, encouraging investors to deal with risks and to understand the human value of initiatives, the limited voice and impact small enterprises have at policy level, the lack of understanding of the potential of SMMEs within the general public, and also insufficient support from government and within the regulatory environment. Discussions focussed upon finding solutions to common problems experienced by small enterprises in South Africa.

Monday, March 24, 2014

BCPs and Fracking: Stakeholder consultations in the Karoo

On March 13, 2014, Stephanie Booker, Marie Wilke and Aino Cantell of Natural Justice participated in a meeting with Board members of Vuyani Development Trust, in the community of Nelspoort. The meeting was hosted by Southern Cape Land Committee and Vuyani Development Trust with the view to discussing Biocultural Community Protocols (BCPs) and shale gas exploration within the community. The town of Nelspoort lies within the local municipality of Beaufort West, from which the community leases their farmland.

The meeting began with a presentation by Stephanie Booker on the role of Natural Justice and BCPs in the context of extractive industries. This was followed by a presentation on the advantages and disadvantages of fracking activities taking place within the community. Community members shared their own experiences on the issues, and articulated some of the community’s needs in light of the proposed activities, such as better information, and education on their rights. With a high unemployment rate, fracking is seen by some in the community as an opportunity to end current levels of poverty. Local organizations such as Southern Cape Land Committee are currently developing their work to provide balanced information to communities across the Karoo.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Indian Women's Rights to Property: Implementation of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005

In India, women’s access and rights of ownership over family property (both moveable and immoveable), in the absence of a will, is governed by succession laws based on religion. Under Hindu law prior to 1937, a woman did not have the right to own any property at all, except what she received from her parents at the time of her wedding. The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 was a breakthrough in terms of giving Hindu women a full and equal share of their husbands’ property as the children; yet, the male bias persisted. An amendment to this Act in 2005 took the progressive step of making daughters coparceners at par with sons, such that they receive an equal birthright to a share in the natal family’s ancestral property, i.e., parents’ property.

In December 2013, International Land Coalition (ILC) member Landesa Rural Development Institute and UN Women, India, prepared a report on the formal and informal barriers in the implementation of the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 in the context of women agricultural producers of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The study is unique in a number of ways, especially given its focus on women as agricultural labourers, an explicit effort to ask women what they want, and an assessment of the overall awareness of all stakeholders on general awareness relating to this law.