From 9-14 June, the African regional preparatory meeting for indigenous peoples and local communities for the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) took place in Bujumbura, Burundi. The meeting was co-hosted by the CBD Secretariat, the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), and the Unissons-nous pour la Promotion des Batwa (UNIPROBA). The agenda of the meeting is available here.
The meeting contained specific capacity development sessions on Article 8(j) of the CBD, the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), biocultural community protocols, and intellectual property rights. It also served as an opportunity for the 55 representatives of indigenous peoples and local communities from 21 African countries to strategize ahead of COP11, which will take place in October in Hyderabad, India. Gino Cocchiaro, Lassana Kone and Johanna von Braun (Natural Justice) supported the meeting by holding a session on biocultural community protocols as well as co-facilitating a two-day training session on intellectual property rights and ABS.
In the meeting’s closing panel, which included Burundi’s Minister of Environment, Water, Public Works and Urban Planning, Lucy Mulenkei (IIN) highlighted the importance of such meetings for indigenous peoples and local communities in Africa to be prepared for intergovernmental meetings. She also appealed directly to the Minister to lobby other African governments to pay more attention to environmental matters, to ratify the Nagoya Protocol, and to support indigenous peoples and local communities. The Minister, in turn, expressed his government’s commitment to spare no efforts to support indigenous peoples and local communities in their struggles and to promote human rights in general and in particular those of indigenous peoples, including those of Burundi’s large local Batwa community. He ended the workshop with the words: “Long live international cooperation! Long live the CBD! Long live indigenous people! And long live Burundi!”