Biodiversity

Biodiversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international treaty with 193 state Parties that came into force in 1993. Article 1 lists the three objectives of the Convention as: (1) the conservation and (2) the sustainable use of biological diversity and (3) the fair and equitable sharing of benefits that arise from the utilization of genetic resources. Article 15 addresses the rights of states over genetic resources in their jurisdictions. It asserts that states have sovereign rights over their natural resources and the authority to determine access to their genetic resources. Article 15 requires the consent of states prior to any access to their genetic resources and the sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of such resources.

In contrast to Article 15 stands Article 8(j). Article 8 is titled “In situ Conservation”, which makes explicit its intentions to preserve biodiversity in its natural environment. Article 8(j) states:

“Subject to its national legislation, [states are required to] respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices.”
Article 8(j) should be read together with Article10(c), which calls on parties to “protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements.”

 

Article 8(j) is unprecedented to the extent that it acknowledges a symbiotic relationship between “in situ conservation” of biodiversity and the “traditional lifestyles” of Indigenous peoples and local communities. These lifestyles however are manifested through the knowledge, innovations, and practices (collectively referred to as traditional knowledge) of communities, and states are asked to respect, preserve, and maintain communities’ traditional knowledge and promote its wider application. Article 8(j) also states that any use of communities’ traditional knowledge should be based on the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge and that they should be entitled to a fair and equitable share of the benefits arising from the utilization of their knowledge.

The full and effective implementation of Article 8(j) requires equal consideration to be given to each of the following three components:

  • Conservation of biological diversity is integrally linked to the customary ways of life of Indigenous peoples and local communities,
  • Traditional knowledge is embodied in the customary ways of life of Indigenous peoples and local communities and the in situ conservation of biological diversity globally can be achieved through the protection, preservation and wider application of that knowledge, and
  • The wider application of the traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples and local communities has to be based on their approval and involvement and any benefits arising from its utilization must be shared with the communities providing it.

Read IISD reports and analysis from past negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

 

Publications

Ethics, Justice and the Convention on Biological Diversity. (Schroeder and Pisupati, 2010)
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Community Protocols and Access and Benefit Sharing (Jonas et al., 2010)
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Dismantling the Divide Between Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge (Agrawal, 1995)
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Indigenous and Local Communities and Protected Areas: Towards Equity and Enhanced Conservation (Borrini-Feyerabend et al., 2004)
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Biodiversity
Chapter 5 in Global Environment Outlook 5 (UNEP, with contributions from Natural Justice, 2012)
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Protected Planet Report (UNEP-WCMC, 2012)
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Videos

Biocultural Community Protocols: Articulating and Asserting Stewardship (Moving Images & Natural Justice, 2012)
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Rooibos Robbery: A Story of Bioprospecting in South Africa (Steps Southern Africa, 2012)
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Maldhari Biocultural Community Protocol Photo Story (Sahjeevan & Natural Justice, 2012)
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Biocultural Community Protocols: A Toolkit for Community Facilitators
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Images from our work in Africa, Asia, and the Americas
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