Latin America

Latin America

Natural Justice began working in Latin America in 2010 with the development of a biocultural community protocol (BCP) in Chocó, Colombia. From 8-9 August, 2011, a regional dialogue on BCPs was co-hosted in Lima, Peru, by Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA), ETC Compas, GIZ, and Natural Justice. For more information, please download the report (in Spanish). A Spanish version of our 2009 book on BCPs will be available soon.

We are also collaborating with the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) to explore the application of BCPs in the context of biotrade in Peru (Madre de Dios) and Brazil (Belem), as well as in Madagascar (Vohimana). For more information about some of the experiences and lessons learned through these activities, please visit the dedicated community protocols website.

Miskitu BCP

The Miskitu community, with a population of around 70 000, live in the tropical rainforest ecosystems of La Moskitia in eastern Honduras. They are facing a series of challenges in their traditional territory, ranging from the destruction of primary forests through agricultural expansion, illegal trade of flora, fauna and drugs, as well as the commercial exploitation of their sub-soil resources. To face these and other threats to their natural and cultural environment, Moskitio Asla Takanka (MASTA), a Miskitu community-based organisation, developed and launched a BCP with technical assistance from Natural Justice and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Regional Office for Mesoamerica in 2012. The BCP is focused on defining a mechanism for free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), a vital procedural right that has often been ignored by government and non-governmental development projects. The process of developing the BCP was guided by MASTA, together with representatives from 12 territorial councils and their respective community councils. With this protocol, MASTA is seeking to guarantee that future consultation and consent-seeking processes respect the Miskitu’s own institutions and decision-making procedures. The Miskitu BCP can be downloaded in Spanish here.

Alto San Juan BCP

In 2010, Natural Justice supported the Instituto de Investigaciones Ambientales del Pacifico (IIAP) and ASOCASAN, a community council for the afro-descendent community of Alto San Juan in Chocó, Colombia, in developing a BCP. The biogeographic region of Chocó along Colombia’s Pacific coast has an approximate size of 78,618 km2 (7.1% of the national territory), of which 57.5% is titled to local communities (both Indigenous and afro-descendent). About 32,000 afro-descendent families coexist with 2,561 Indigenous families in this area, which is renowned for being one of the most biodiverse in the world.

While over the last decade, both Indigenous and afro-descendent communities have gained a range of substantive and procedural rights through national and international law, a number of concerns remain. These relate to the use of biological resources on their ancestral territories without their prior informed consent, the protection of traditional knowledge in relation to medicinal plants, the lack of recognition of traditional mining practices, sustainable forest use, as well as the permanent threat of the loss of traditional knowledge and practices through centralized economic policy making by the government without taking endogenous development objectives into consideration. The Alto San Juan BCP can be downloaded in English here and in Spanish here. A case study on the Alto San Juan BCP was published in IIED’s Participatory Learning and Action series and can be accessed in English here and in Spanish here.


Alto San Juan Biocultural Community Protocol (ASOCASAN, 2010)
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Reportaje: Protocolo Biocultural del Pueblo Indígena “Miskitu”
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Protocolo Bio-cultural del Pueblo Indígena Miskitu
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La defensa de nuestro territorio: el protocolo comunitario biocultural de Alto San Juan, Colombia (IIED Participatory Learning and Action 65, 2012)
English | Español

Biocultural Community Protocols: Articulating Stewardship, Asserting Rights, Affirming Responsibilities
English | Français

Regional Dialogue Report (“Taller Regional sobre Protocolos Comunitarios y/o Bioculturales”)
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Protocolos Comunitarios Bioculturales: Articulando y Affirmando la Custodia (Natural Justice y Moving Images, 2012)
Español | Français | English


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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Latest Publication

Biocultural Community Protocols: A Toolkit for Community Facilitators
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Community Protocols

Images from our work in Africa, Asia, and the Americas
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