On 5 March, an expert meeting took place in Geneva between Natural Justice and the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT) to assess the potential role of biocultural community protocols as a tool to facilitate and strengthen community engagement in ethical sourcing practices of natural resources. It was discussed how biocultural community protocols could serve to empower and facilitate dialogue with Indigenous peoples and local communities engaged in Ethical Biotrade activities. In additional, Ethical BioTrade could constitute a useful context in which to evaluate and further elaborate on the applicability of community protocols, in particular where communities are engaged in specific commercial relationships with outside parties, ranging from Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), Payment for Ecosystem Services schemes, or bioprospecting discussions.
Next to the organizations involved in the project (GIZ, UEBT and NJ), the meeting involved a small group of experts in biotrade and community engagements and served as a platform for the launch of the project. Based on the feedback and suggestions received by the participants of the meeting, the project will continue with three practical test cases that will assess in detail the practical role of biocultural community protocols in the context of the sourcing activities of UEBT members. The specific circumstances of each case will be examined in consultation with the communities engaged in the sourcing activities. A final review meeting will assess these experiences, sum up the lessons learnt and discuss a way forward.