Monday, November 30, 2015

UN Climate Change COP21 Side Event: Monday 7th December 2015


When: Monday 7 December, 15:00 – 16:30 hrs
Where: COP21/CMP11, Parc des Expositions, Le Bourget conference site, side event room - OR 03

This event will share a variety of recent research concerning:

  • Supporting the adaptation practices and traditional knowledge (TK) of Indigenous peoples and local communities, and the importance of biocultural heritage.
  •  The protection of knowledge holders and the sharing of TK in adaptation initiatives.
  •  The role of community protocols as a tool to reach the most vulnerable communities through participation and biodiversity legislation.
  •  The quantity and quality of adaptation finance reaching those most in need.
Who: Dr. Hannah Reid, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

Ms. Krystyna Swiderska, (IIED), Mr. Alejandro Argumedo (ANDES), Peru & Dr. Yiching Song (Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Science)

Dr. Cath Traynor (Natural Justice) & Mr. Reino Le Fleur (Griqua representative)

Ms. Roberta Ramos, Grupo de Trabalho Amazonico (GTA), & Munduruku representative

Dr. Carlos Potiatra Castro, University of Brasilia

Mr. Delfin Ganapin, UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme

You are invited to find out more at this side event. Light snacks will be served at 14.45 hrs.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Kukula Traditional Health Practitioners Association Explore Opportunities with Skukuza Indigenous Plant Nursery, Kruger National Park, South Africa

KTHPA  SANParks staff at Nkuhlu
Enclosure (Photo:  Cath Traynor)
KTHPA discussing medicinal plants with
SANParks staff (Photo: Cath Traynor)

The Kukula Traditional Health Practitioners Association (KTHPA) of Bushbuckridge, South Africa visited Kruger National Park’s Skukuza Indigenous Plant Nursery earlier this year. The Kukula were invited by Michele Hofmeyr, the Manager of the nursery after she attended the Kukula’s Biocultural Community Protocol (BCP) Revision Workshop. The aim of the visit was to explore areas of mutual interest: South African National Parks (SANParks) is developing a list of medicinal plant species of interest to communities in the bufferzone areas of the park, and KTHPA are interested to access propagules of medicinal plant species that only occur within the park.
Members of the Kukula spent an afternoon in the nursery, looking at the existing stock of medicinal plant species, learning how the different species are propagated, and discussing which species may be suitable for KTHPA to propagate themselves. The following day, Nursery staff joined the Kukula on a walk in the Nkuhlu Enclosure, a 139 ha fenced area consisting of dense woody vegetation thickets along the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers. The KTHPA members identified species of particular interest, and SANParks staff collected specimens so that scientific names could be ascertained.

The nursery kindly donated seedlings and plants to the Kukula, including saplings of the pepper-bark tree (Warburgia salutaris), this is a highly sought-after medicinal plant, which is critically endangered, and one that the nursery is cultivating on a large-scale.

KTHPA at SANParks Skukuza
Indigenous Plant Nursery
(Photo: Cath Traynor)
Michele Hofmeyer, SANParks
Skukuza Indigenous Plants Nursery 
Manager sharing her knowledge regards
successfully germinating different
plant species (Photo: Cath Traynor)
Natural Justice, together with partners K2C and Wits Rural Facility are supporting the Kukula Traditional Health Practitioners to revise their BCP, and to utilize it to constructively engage with external stakeholders such as SANParks. Running throughout South Africa’s legislation on conservation is the balance between conservation on the one hand and sustainable use for the benefit of communities on the other. Through collaborations such as these KTHPA hope to both conserve biodiversity and to advance the health of their communities through their traditional healing practices.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Workshop on Financing of Infrastructure Held During World Bank's Annual Meetings

(WBG Logo)

On 10 October 2015, during the World Bank's annual meetings in Lima, Peru, several civil society organizations under the leadership of Eurodad and the Center of Concern hosted a Strategy Workshop on "Financing of infrastructure: global and regional trends and impacts on sustainable development and human rights." At the workshop, participants noted several trends regarding the financing of infrastructure, including the growing reliance on private sources to fund large infrastructure projects and the lack of transparency of institutions that provide financing, such as the Brazilian Development Bank. Participants also noted the challenges that communities face when decisions on mega (and even larger) projects are made as part of discussions to which they have no access. Finally, it was noted how difficult it can be to monitor financing for development projects when the money is directed through financial intermediaries. To begin addressing these and other challenges, participants decided on several outcomes, including:

- The need for a mailing list to link different databases on projects, related information and news about legislative changes in order to facilitate responses to infrastructure projects in the region. In this context it was decided to revitalize the "IFIs en la mira" list, which works in Spanish; and

- The formation of a group of volunteers to drive the work on such a list. The group will focus on holding a strategy meeting to take place early next year, developing a methodology for surveying legislative changes to facilitate infrastructure projects and their financing, and building a roadmap for interdisciplinary work on cross-cutting issues emerging in the implementation of megaprojects. Additionally, it will seek to ensure that relevant information is shared among different groups, including those working on the World Bank, the G20, and others.

These outcomes provide a good basis for further collaboration in this field. In particular, Natural Justice and Columbia University, together with the Heinrich Boll Foundation and Center of Concern will hold a workshop in March 2016 that will examine the trends of development finance and the state of accountability in financing large infrastructure projects. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Community conservation initiates: A legitimate solution to climate change and conservation

Fostering Community Conservation Conference Closing Panel: Ms. Vahanen (14th FAO World Forestry Congress), Dr. Campbell (Forest & Farm Facility), Dr. Namirembe (World Agroforestry Centre), Ms. Mulenkei (International Alliance for Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests), Dr. Traynor (Natural Justice), Dr. Palenova (All-Russia Research Institute) & Mr. Seiber (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation). Photo courtesy of  Ronnie Hall/Critical Information Collective
Partner’s Global Forest Coalition have just released a Community Conservation Special Edition of their newsletter ‘Forest Cover’. The editorial highlights that community conservation initiatives are a real legitimate solution to conservation, ecosystem restoration and climate change. Articles include the role of Indigenous and community conservation in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Indicators for the 2030 Vision “Transforming Our World” and Natural Justice’s Cath Traynor contributed a piece summarizing the recent “Fostering Community Conservation Conference” and Relevance for the upcoming meetings of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Two CBD meetings are being held this week in Montreal, Canada; they are the Nineteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body of Scientific and Technical Advice, which will consider strategic scientific and technical issues related to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020; and the Ninth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Article 8(j) of the CBD. This will consider, among others, issues related to Prior, Informed Consent of communities for accessing their knowledge, equitable sharing of benefits, and regional cooperation in the protection and sharing of traditional knowledge. The findings and recommendations from the Fostering Community Conservation Conference as well as the reports from the individual country studies provide clear evidence that community conserved areas are legitimate initiatives that bring about real and consistent results in the interests of conservation and human well-being.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Role and Place of African Customary Law and Traditional Leadership in Constitutional Democracies – Civil Society Perspectives

“As you start walking, the way finds you”, this was the quote which opened the recent workshop on ‘The Role and Place of African Customary Law and Traditional Leadership in Constitutional Democracies – Civil Society Perspectives’. The objectives were to learn from African regional system and experiences about African Customary institutions and leadership, and to understand civil society perspectives including those of women, youth, elders, rural communities, and activists  around the relevance and place of culture, its institutions, and leadership in post-apartheid South Africa then to explore strengthening the ‘Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill, 2015’. The South African Parliament has enacted the Bill which will provide for the recognition of traditional and Khoi-San communities, leadership positions and for the withdrawal of such recognition. The workshop was organised and hosted by Natural Justice with the support from OSISA and the Heinrich Boell Foundation.

Dr. Albert Barume & Mr. Stan Henkeman
The workshop began with a framing by Natural Justice’s Lesle Jansen, followed by a session setting out the issues around the Bill by Dr. Ademole Jegede, University of Venda. A keynote address on ‘Indigenous Peoples and local communities and their customary institutions within the African regional system’ was then presented by Dr. Albert Barume, United Nations Expert Mechanism on Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Expert Member of the African Commissions’ Working Group on Indigenous Populations. Dr. Barume outlined how Africa is currently “re-booting” itself, and shifting from the decades long perspective of building culturally homogenous nation states to recognizing and respecting cultural diversity and allowing it to flourish within a democratic system. He outlined how traditional values and institutions are beginning to be realized with the legal and policy frameworks of the African Union, and that the AU’s ‘Agenda 2063 – the Future we want for Africa’ highlights the importance of African culture and traditions for development. Mr. John Nakuta, Director Human Rights Documentation Centre, Namibia then discussed experiences from post-independent Namibia regarding traditional authorities, their constitutional and statutory recognition, power, duties, functions, government support and challenges. He outlined the importance that traditional authorities be apolitical, must be consistent with all human rights and guard against tribalism.

Panel Discussion: Mr. Zenzile Khoisan, Ms. Constance Mogale, Mr. Henk Smit, Mr. Ivan Vaalboi & moderator Mr. Delme Cupido (OSISA)

During the second day of the workshop civil society perspectives on culture and traditional leadership were shared through a series of panel discussions, these included youth, women, elders, a traditional healer, and activists. Issues that surfaced included recognition for the Khoi and San, restitution and restoration, land, whether the bill undermines or promotes culture and custom, political objectives of the bill, that the bill may reinforce apartheid boundaries, and concerns around elite capture. The bill provides for the long overdue recognition of Khoi and San people, and the bill has currently been passed from government to Parliament. There will shortly be public consultations on the bill and the discussions from the workshop will be further developed into a policy brief for submission.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Increased pledges for climate financing highlight the need for responsive accountability mechanisms

Recently at the Annual Meeting of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Lima, several institutions indicated that the amount of climate financing would need to be scaled up dramatically in the near future. The Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), requested that the Paris Agreement scale up the Financial Mechanism of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and she also highlighted the need for further funds. The GCF is the operating entity of the UNFCCC Financial Mechanism and the largest climate fund. At the same meeting the World Bank Group revealed that it plans to increase its climate financing to potentially amount to US$ 29 billion per year, thus by 2020 the Bank Group could be allocating more than a quarter of its funds towards climate financing. Currently, the World Bank is the interim Trustee for the GCF. Other institutions followed suit, for example the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced that it foresees climate financing accounting for 40% (or US$ 5 billion annually) of its total investments by 2020.

Climate finance is a key element of the draft text for the UNFCCC agreement, released on 5 October 2015, which contains the basis for the negotiation of the Paris Agreement. To ensure climate financing is transparent and accountable there should be participatory decision-making, implementation and monitoring processes. Lessons from other multilateral financing initiatives has shown that civil society engagement is fundamental to ensuring accountability. The options for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to help ensure a robust, well-functioning, and responsive accountability mechanism within the GCF were explored in a Briefing Paper, commissioned by Transparency International (TI), and authored by Both ENDS with contributions from Natural Justice earlier this year. The Briefing Paper was submitted to the GFC Board ahead of its 10th meeting in July, and the findings also contributed to a submission by TI in response to the GCF’s Call for Public Inputs on the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework.

As we head towards a possible agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November/December in Paris, and consequent implementation of the Convention thereafter, accessible grievance mechanisms which fairly and effectively handle grievances related to corruption  and/or violations of social-environmental safeguards will be essential.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Natural Justice contributes towards the OCSD Network 2015 Progress Update

Natural Justice’s “Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge Systems Related to Climate Change and Intellectual Property Rights” project, is one of twelve sub-projects within the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network (OCSDNet).

The network recently released a funder progress report and a summary blog which highlights some emerging results. These include considering ethical issues engrained in processes of openness especially when working with communities that have been traditionally marginalized from mainstream processes of knowledge production – this is a key issue Natural Justice’s project is exploring with indigenous Khoi communities in South Africa.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Community Conservation Resilience Initiative, Ethiopia

“The assessment was a wake-up call, and each of us saw what we had lost”, this was how Adam Haji-jarso, a community member from Dinsho-02 kebele (an administrative unit), in the Ethiopian Highlands described how the results of the Community Conservation Resilience Assessment of which he was a participant, highlighted community conservation issues within his own community.

Mr. Haji-jarso, was referring to the results of a participatory mapping assessment facilitated by Tesfaye Tola, from the Ethiopian NGO MELCA, which was conducted in 3 neighbouring kebeles in the Bale Mountains area, Ethiopia. This assessment aimed to determine the status of Sacred Natural Sites (SNS) in the area. SNS are biologically diverse natural cultural centres where local communities gather to help one another, resolve conflicts, establish common law, and worship. Local communities in the area have stewarded their natural resources through SNS for generations.

The assessment revealed that historically there were 72 SNS within the kebeles, however over the last 50 years, 54 of these had been destroyed and only 18 currently remain. Through participatory processes communities analysed threats to the sites, challenges they currently face, and possible solutions. The assessment process facilitated communities to develop preliminary recommendations, and these included local issues such as creating a local network of SNS custodians, targeted financial and technical support, and advocacy at all levels including with national government.  Each of these could help to strengthen community conservation and resilience in the area.
Natural Justice’s Dr Cath Traynor assisted MELCA to produce the preliminary findings of the assessment, and a flyer is available here. The Ethiopian assessment of one of ten similar community assessments being carried out globally, and the preliminary results were presented at the recent Fostering Community Conservation Conference, earlier this month in Durban, South Africa. Further details of this global initiative are available on Global Forest Coalition’s webpages here. The multi-stakeholder conference produced key recommendations to policy makers which were disseminated at the 14th World Forestry Congress, 7-11 September in Durban.

Participatory Action Research into Traditional Knowledge and Climate Change

Dr. Cath Traynor of Natural Justice travelled to the Namaqualand area of the Northern Cape, South Africa to carry out Participatory Action (PAR) research with pastoralists and stock keepers in the area. She was accompanied by Reino Le Fleur, the project’s Community Co-Researcher from the Griqua community in Vredendal.

The PAR undertaken is part of the ‘Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge Systems  Related to Climate Change and Intellectual Property Rights’ project.  This project aims to assess how climate change is impacting communities, and how communities have produced indigenous knowledge related to addressing climate change and alternative strategies. The researchers interviewed an elder pastoralist and his son who is a stock farmer, and discussed similarities and differences in their livelihoods, and the impact of weather on their approaches and strategies to maintain healthy animals. Other elderly stock keepers were also interviewed and they shared their histories and experiences of stock keeping under changing environmental and socio-political conditions.

This research will contribute towards a process whereby the communities themselves will develop their own protocols regarding how they wish to collaboratively address the challenges of climate change in their own areas. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Adivasi Applied Theatre Workshop

In August, 2015, NJ explored the use of participatory theatre in the efforts to explore participatory ways of engaging with communities. The aim of using participatory theatre was to develop facilitation skills and deeper engagement with community members through tools from Forum theatre and Theatre of the Oppressed. The workshop was facilitated by Evan Hastings, a theatre artist and drama therapist who integrates Theatre of the Oppressed in his work.  Communities we work with in Odisha use forms of song and dance as a medium of expression, and hence it was felt that beginning our exploration in the use of theatre tools would be most appropriate with facilitators of processes in these communities.

This workshop is part of the ongoing process in Odisha of developing a community protocol with communities in the context of mining, and building capacity within community members and facilitators of the process to use creative practices to engage the community in critical thinking and reflection about their interests and priorities, to listen to the complexity of multiple viewpoints, and enable dialogue. This training used music, movement and theatre to facilitate meaningful community interactions, while grounding the process in cultural practices that honor traditional ways of knowing.

The three day workshop explored concepts of breaking and unlearning habits, power dynamics, meta-analyses of reactions from activities, and facilitating dialogues to address issues. There was also focus on breaking the ritual was used to give meaning to archetypal conflicts in relation to struggles faced by the community. The participants also created forum scenes in small groups with impossible tasks and the audience (the other participants) worked on resolving what they saw as the issues/problems within the scene.

Sharing from the participants was highly positive, with everyone feeling that there had been a good amount of unlearning and relearning during the workshop. To quote from what one of the participants said, “I learned that the first step is to respect and understand the community. What is my role and responsibility in the context? As NGOs, we suggest solutions – the community has ideas on how to solve problems, we just have to facilitate it.” Many participants were keen on using some of the tools in the community and further building their skills.