From September 29 to October 3, 2014, Johanna von Braun and Barbara Lassen from Natural Justice contributed to two meetings on BCPs in Mexico. The meetings were organized by GIZ (German Development Cooperation) under the project “Governance of Biodiversity” and CONABIO, Mexico’s National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity. The first meeting brought together representatives from indigenous peoples and local communities from different parts of Mexico. The second meeting informed representatives of government agencies, research institutions and NGOs.
Natural Justice presented on lessons learned from BCP processes and on examples of protocols in Africa. Regional examples were presented from the Potato Park in Cusco, Peru; the Guna peoples in Panama; and from Alto San Juan in the Colombian Chocó (Natural Justice supported IIAP and ASOCASAN in developing this BCP in 2010). Mexican communities from all over the country presented on existing processes towards the recognition of their customary norms and rights to land and resources. These local processes include internal regulations for ‘ejidos’ and rural communities, as well as autonomy processes of indigenous communities.
Participants exchanged on the experiences in and outside of Mexico and debated the merits of BCPs in the Mexican legal context. In some cases the existing processes already fill the function of a BCP, in others local processes could be strengthened by a stronger focus on community rights under national and international law. In a number of communities, local norms and regulations need to be made more visible and a BCP could support the dialogue of communities with government agencies and other actors.