At the First Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ICNP-1) in Montreal, a side event was hosted on 6 June on biocultural community protocols. Entitled “Biocultural Community Protocols Under the Nagoya Protocol: Nurturing ABS-TK Implementation and Awareness Raising Approach”, it was jointly organized by Seneca International, Asociacion ANDES (Peru), INBRAPI (Brazil), and Chinchansuyo (Ecuador).
Alejandro Argumedo (Asociacion ANDES) provided an outline of biocultural protocols by highlighting their derivation from the concept of biocultural heritage and provides parameters for discussion within and among communities and between communities and other actors. Alejandro noted that the intrinsic elements of a protocol articulate the rights of Mother Earth, reciprocity as the basis of exchanges, and links to ecosystems and landscapes, and recognizes economies based on biodiversity and culture and intercultural practices (linking different cultures/economies under a respect-based process). The extrinsic elements of a protocol links customary laws and positive law systems working together in a reciprocal, complementary and supportive way to achieve “equity” in benefit sharing. Biocultural protocols also help with the effective implementation of Articles 10(c) and 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing and supports an integrated approach to rights (specifically Traditional Resource Rights). Alejandro emphasized that among the objectives of a biocultural protocol are to articulate how Indigenous peoples practice “conservation and sustainable use” of biodiversity, ensure effective participation against biopiracy, constitute a process of community empowerment, improve livelihoods, and support the dynamic and innovative nature of customary law. Alejandro also presented on the Potato Park Biocultural Protocol and mentioned that the Protocol had a ranking system based on points that would identify the role that each of the six potato park communities play in conserving and sustainably using their collective biocultural heritage. Based on the number of points each community would get, the benefits derived from any ABS agreement would be shared proportionally. Finally, he highlighted the work that the Potato Park communities in setting up micro-enterprises based on a concept of ‘collective trademarks’.
Luciana Fernanda (INBRAPI) spoke of the work that INBRAPI has begun in supporting Brazilian Indigenous peoples in developing biocultural protocols, as well as ensuring an effective interface between communities and the government. Yolanda (Chinchansuyo, Ecuador) spoke of her organization’s work on communicating the Nagoya Protocol with communities and the importance of biocultural protocols. Yolanda spoke of the need to explore different tools of communication including films, pictures, and theater.
Closing remarks were made by Preston Hardison (Tulalip Tribes, Washington). He emphasized the need for respect for communities’ cosmovisions in the context of ABS. According to Preston, the question isn’t about whether or not communities want to share their knowledge and resources, but rather regarding communities sharing according to their traditional values. Communities would like to use biocultural protocols as a way to link to their customary laws in the context of interfacing with external users. Preston proposed the development of something similar to the IUCN Red List for communities’ sacred species where research and commercial use is strictly regulated (for example, ayahuasca and cedar trees).