Friday, October 12, 2012

Traditional knowledge valuable resource for the Pacific

 Article 8. In-situ Conservation
(j) Subject to its national legislation, respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices;

12 October 2012, CBD COP 11, Hyderabad India - The value of traditional knowledge in the Pacific was acknowledged at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.  Known as Article 8J in the CBD, this strengthens the role of traditional knowledge in contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

Fiji presented a statement on behalf of FSM, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Nauru and Tonga:

“Traditional knowledge and culture are important components of biodiversity within these countries. The Pacific island countries including the stated countries are diverse in culture and traditional knowledge which are intricately linked to our livelihoods. Cultural practices and traditional knowledge have enabled the people of these nations to survive on the islands since time immemorial. It is for this reason that the Governments for these countries consider cultural diversity, an important component of the national biodiversity programmes implemented at the national, islands and village levels.”

While the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing pertains to the genetic resources and their use, Traditional knowledge is about the innovations, practices and knowledge of local communities around the world.

The Institute of iTaukei Language and Culture is undergoing a Cultural Mapping project working closely with the Department of Environment to look at linkages between Traditional Knowledge and Biodiversity.

This project covers all villages within the 14 provinces in Fiji with research teams recording and documenting indigenous knowledge and cultural expressions.  A key objective of these activities is to retrieve important traditional knowledge from the elderly who are often the key repositories of knowledge.

L - R Sarah Tawaka Fiji, Rawlston Moore GEF, Easter Galuvao SPREP

“We proposed on behalf of these countries that we link the role of biodiversity and traditional knowledge to climate change, as traditional knowledge can assist with climate change adaptation,” said Sarah Tawaka of the Fiji delegation.

“We also asked that they consider how we can resolve repatriation of traditional knowledge before Article 8J came into force as countries have varying levels of traditional knowledge that was released before Article 8J, we would like to address this.”

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