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International Academy  of the Environment .

    The International Academy of the Environment was established in 1991 as a policy, research and training institution. The Academy aims to contribute to forming a new generation of decision makers, better able to comprehend and provide solutions to the problems of environment and development. It works in cooperation with governmental organizations, NGOs and the private sector, and is supported by interdisciplinary research and curriculum development. 

   The Biodiversity/Biotechnology Programme was set up in 1993 in order to address two basic issues: the loss of species and natural habitats, and equity and the recognition of rights. Through research, policy dialogues and seminars, the Programme seeks to develop national and international pilot projects and to strengthen institutional capacity. 

   Its activities fall into three areas: equitable and sustainable use of biodiversity, including generating reserves, IPR issues and socio-cultural issues; conservation of biodiversity, focusing on in situ conservation methods and also agricultural species; biosafety and biodiversity. The Academy publishes various reports and research findings.   

    ‘Commonly, germplasm-rich countries charge for samples in the form of a fixed initial payment (collection fee), a delayed payment based on sales of the resultant commercial product (a percent royalty, i.e. a form of sharing of benefits), or a combination of the two ... When the likelihood of finding a commercially viable product is small (the risk of failure is great), emphasizing initial payments can be done only at the expense of a significant reduction in the royalty rate and hence in the expected overall revenues.  .     The importance of the failure risk is such that reducing it notably through preliminary in-country screening can improve revenue prospects greatly. Whether that is a viable approach depends on in-country skills, facilities and costs ... Indigenous knowledge of plants is another means of “screening” or reducing the failure rate. That knowledge adds value to the samples which can be used in determining an appropriate level of funds to channel to those groups as payment for indigenous knowledge.’  . From: Lesser, W.H. and A.F. Krattiger. 1994. The complexities of negotiating terms for germplasm collection. Diversity 10(3):6-10.    

Genetic erosion and the privatization of genetic resources are together undermining the very base of sustainable development.


  • Kalemani Jo Mulongoy, Director,  Biodiversity/Biotechnology Programme,  International Academy of the Environment,  4 Chemin de Conches, CH-1231 Conches,  Geneva, Switzerland;  Tel. +41.22.7891311, Fax +41.22.7892538, 
    e-mail kalemani.mulongoy.iae@unige.ch  Internet http://www.unige.ch/iae


.Foundation for International Environmental  Law and Development

Volume 2:2 (1993) of RECIEL focuses on IPR and biodiversity, reflecting FIELD’s special interest in these topics. - GJM

     The Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) seeks to contribute to the progressive development of international law for the protection of the environment and the attainment of sustainable development. The Foundation combines international legal advice and assistance with research, publication and teaching. 

    It is primarily a resource center, providing assistance to NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, states and the private sector, on a pro bono basis where possible, for the economically disadvantaged. Work is publicized through its journal RECIEL (Review of European Community and International Environmental Law), books and articles, and by running conferences and seminars. FIELD runs four specialist program areas: Climate Change and Energy, Trade and Environment, Marine Resources, and Access to Justice. The last mentioned is trying to develop a more accessible and just legal system based upon the increased involvement of NGOs and full consideration of alternative dispute settlement procedures. 

    ‘In international law, the status of genetic resources as property remains unclear. Under the “common heritage’’ doctrine, genetic resources are held in common and the whole world enjoys benefit from their free flow. Genetic material found in one country may be used to the benefit of agriculture in another, or refined for particular purposes and returned to the country of origin with an enhanced value. Consequently, the countries of origin have permitted free transfer and agricultural research institutes, such as the International Rice Research Institute, have facilitated such transfer.

    However, recent developments in biotechnology and intellectual property rights challenge the notion that genetic resources are part of a common heritage. Developing countries are the primary centres of biodiversity and they object, understandably, when the developed countries call for free access to genetic materials yet assume the right to charge for the refined materials, profits for which accrue to biotechnology companies, seed companies and plant breeders mostly located in industrialized countries. In response, developing countries are beginning to claim economic compensation and technology-related benefits for the provision of the original genetic material. 

   These types of claims are now recognized in the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was signed by over 150 countries between 5-12 June 1992.’ 

From: Rose, G. Editorial. RECIEL 2(2):iv-v.


  • Roger Wilson, Managing Director, FIELD,  46-47 Russell Square,  London WC1B 4JP, UK;  Tel. +44.171.6377950, Fax +44.171.6377951,  e-mail field@gn.apc.org


Center for International Environmental Law

    The World Environment and Resources Program of the MacArthur Foundation recently gave a renewal grant to CIEL in support of its Biodiversity Law Program, ensuring continued work on trade and biodiversity, and financial incentives for conservation.  - GJM . 

    The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) was established in 1989 to strengthen and develop international and comparative national law, policy and management throughout the world. By doing this, it seeks to contribute to solving environmental problems, to promote sustainable societies and to incorporate fundamental principles of ecology and democracy into international law. CIEL provides a range of legal services, working in partnership with lawyers, NGOs, international institutions and governments, especially those of developing nations. These include conducting analyses of legal issues concerning environmental protection, which are regularly published as research papers, review articles and books. It also provides advice and advocacy assistance, primarily to other NGOs, and is active in education and training. CIEL offers scholarships, research fellowships and exchange opportunities, and conducts environmental law workshops worldwide. Another aspect of CIEL’s work is in helping to develop environmental law institutions and coalitions in other countries. 

    The Biodiversity Law Program focuses on providing legal support to the environmental community on biodiversity law and policy. It has been addressing the issues related to sharing commercial benefits from the use of biodiversity and has been involved with the implementation of the Biodiversity Convention’s provisions on access to genetic resources and the structuring of biodiversity prospecting agreements. Other initiatives within the Project are the analysis of the relationships between conservation and trade, and international research and education on economic incentives for conservation. 

    ‘In addition to serving as the source of development of new crop varieties, diversity in the form of multicropping and interweaving of farms and gardens with wild areas provides stable returns in the face of climatic variation, crop disease and other changes, while also producing a range of valuable products. In these economies, local people depend on a wide range of ecological and economic values of genetic resources. Their gardens, farms and surrounding areas include many different species and many varieties of species, which provide long-term stability as well as many products and services. The value of genetic and other biological resources on larger-scale markets understates their value as means of production in local ecosystems/economies.’ 

From: Downes, D.R. 1995. The Convention on Biological Diversity: Seeds of greener trade? Tulane Environmental Law Journal 8(1):163-180.


  • David R. Downes, Senior Attorney,  Center for International Environmental Law,  1621 Connecticut Avenue, NW, #300,  Washington, DC 2009-1052, USA;  Tel. +1.202.3324840, Fax +1.202.3324865, 
    cielus@igc.apc.org Internet http://www.econet.apc.org/ciel/


International Labour Office INDISCO Programme 

    ILO Convention 169 is the only United Nations convention that specifically addresses indigenous peoples. The collective nature of indigenous peoples’ culture, including their relationship with their territories and property, is recognized in Article 13(1). As collectivity is fundamental to the transmission, use and protection of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices, its recognition in Article 13 may be important in international legal terms.   - DAP  

The International Labour Office (ILO) is the oldest UN agency. It was founded in 1919 and, as of 31 December 1995, had a total of 173 Member States. The ILO specializes in social and labor questions. Its tripartite structure, which allows governments, workers and employers to come and work together on standard-setting, is known to be one of ILO’s advantages in promoting the rights of working  people. ILO Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples was adopted in 1989 and, by the end of 1995, nine countries had ratified it.

   The ILO INDISCO Programme, which was designed on the basis of the principles defined by this Convention, aims to help indigenous and tribal peoples promote their own systems for employment and income generation. The Programme works through supporting grassroots cooperatives and other self-help organizations, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding traditional values and culture. INDISCO is coordinated from the ILO’s Cooperative Branch in Geneva, and currently has pilot projects in India and the Philippines. The Geneva office provides advisory services, and monitors and evaluates progress of its projects. Data on the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples are gathered and assessed, and a range of training materials is produced. INDISCO’s pilot projects have five main components: development of the local economy, through increasing production and income, and supporting local initiatives; helping with rehabilitation and development of the economy following involuntary displacement; improving natural resource management, in order to reverse environmental deterioration; helping to improve the social and economic status of women; and training and networking of extension workers. 

    ‘ILO’s concern with the indigenous peoples dates back to the earliest days of the Organization. In 1926, a Committee of Experts on Native Labour was set up to draft international standards for the protection of indigenous workers. As a result, the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), among others, was adopted. A committee of Experts on Indigenous Labour was established in the beginning of the 1950s. The ILO adopted the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention (No. 107) and its accompanying Recommendation No. 104 in 1957. 

    When it became clear that international organizations as well as indigenous groups felt that the ILO’s 1957 standards were outdated, the International Labour Conference at its 75th session in 1989 adopted the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (No. 169).’ 

From: a pamphlet produced by INDISCO


  • Huseyin Polat, INDISCO Coordinator,  Cooperative Branch, International Labour Office,  4 route des Morillons, CH-1211,  Geneva 22, Switzerland;  Tel. +41.22.7996111, Fax +41.22.7988685


African Centre  for Technology Studies

    ACTS is one of the principal centers for research and policy in Africa, but its influence has become international through a superb and extensive list of publications on environment, trade, biodiplomacy, biotechnology, land tenure and traditional technologies. It is closely linked to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and is one of the supporting institutions for the international journal Biodiplomacy, that attempts to influence global policy through stimulating enlightened debate of the highest intellectual quality in diplomatic forums   - DAP  

The African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) is a non-profit organization, established in 1988, that conducts policy research, provides training and disseminates information. The Centre promotes the view that technological change, environmental management and institutional innovation are crucial to sustainable development and should be at the core of all development efforts. In recent years, ACTS has focused increasingly on issues related to the implementation of international conventions, particularly the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

  The Centre’s activities related to biodiversity conservation and community development fall within the Technology Management Programme. This aims to identify ways of using technology to facilitate sustainable development programs, through examining policy, institutional and economic factors. This work is being done in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

    ACTS organizes occasional conferences and has published a number of monographs and books related to biodiversity conservation issues, including: Biological Diversity and Innovation, Biotechnology for Sustainable Development and the Biopolicy International Series. ACTS collaborates with United Nations bodies, and governmental, inter-governmental, private and academic institutions.

    ‘Since the local people [of Bungoma district, Western Kenya] have a long tradition in resource conservation, it is possible to introduce community-based gene banks which will be linked to central or national facilities.  

    This will ensure that the knowledge pertaining to the plants is available in the area and that farmers can make demands on the breeders to improve some of the indigenous fruits and vegetables on the basis of local needs. Alternative methods of conservation such as gardens at schools and other institutions also need to be tested.’

From: Juma, C. 1989. Biological Diversity and Innovation: Conserving and Utilizing Genetic Resources in Kenya. ACTS, Nairobi.


  • Cleophas Torori, Director,  Environmental Governance Programme,  African Centre for Technology Studies,  P.O. Box 45917, Nairobi, Kenya;  Tel. +254.2.565173 or 569986,  Fax +254.2.569989,  e-mail acts@arso.sasa.unon.org


Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions

    SRISTI has pioneered efforts to study the process and nature of local innovation in traditional societies. This has been instrumental in showing that traditional knowledge as expressed in indigenous and local communities is not a static quantity, but rather a dynamic process in which individuals play a key role in adapting, inventing and innovating to keep traditional knowledge relevant to changing social and ecological circumstances and conditions.   - DAP .

   The Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) acts as a coordinating center for global efforts aimed at augmenting innovations for sustainable agriculture developed by farmers, pastoralists, artisans, fishermen and others.  

    The aims of SRISTI are to increase the dissemination and exchange of knowledge, and to promote recognition of the value of local knowledge in formal and informal agricultural research. It supports the dissemination of knowledge and expertise through The Honey Bee Newsletter. This newsletter, published in seven languages (Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Oriya in India, and Zonkha in Bhutan), provides technical support to its members, including advice on market research and product development, information technology and computing facilities. A database on farmers’ innovations, containing information on sustainable initiatives, will be accessible through e-mail. 

    Another important aspect of SRISTI’s work is protecting the IPR of local innovators through legal support and advice, and lobbying for recognition of these rights. SRISTI is investigating different approaches to providing compensation for peoples’ innovations related to the sustainable management of their natural resources (individual material, collective material, individual non-material and collective non-material). SRISTI is also involved in promoting organic agriculture, germplasm conservation, setting up of Gyana Van (knowledge gardens of medicinal plants) and trying to incorporate local ecological knowledge into primary education. 

    ‘From our perspective, the Convention on Biological Diversity generated a lot of hope, but also some concerns. For instance, should researchers who merely want to understand the lives of certain plants or animals be treated differently from those extracting raw material for corporations? Will the Convention generate ethically responsible behaviour of those who wish to benefit from developing new plant and animal products for sale? Will local communities and indigenous peoples really be accorded more than token participation? We see a clear need for clarification of ethical norms to guide all those involved in the new exploration of biodiversity.’  

From: Gupta, A.K. 1994. Suggested Ethical Guidelines for Accessing and Exploring Biodiversity. Draft manuscript, SRISTI, Ahmedabad.


Anil K. Gupta, SRISTI,  Indian Institute of Management, Vastrapur,  Ahmedabad 380 015, India;  Tel. +91.79.407241, Fax +91.79.6427896,  e-mail honeybee@iimahd.ernet.in


Mataatua Declaration Association

    The Mataatua Declaration Secretariat was the first indigenous institution to be established exclusively to promote awareness and debate by indigenous peoples themselves on cultural, scientific and intellectual property rights. It is not only a center for information and dissemination, but the nexus of a large network of indigenous, traditional and peoples’ organizations concerned with the ethical and equitable use of traditional knowledge and biogenetic resources.   - DAP

    The Mataatua Declaration Association (MDA) is a non-profit international indigenous organization based in Aotearoa New Zealand. MDA’s objectives are to promote and implement the Mataatua Declaration on the Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was established in August 1993, after having been presented to the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples (WGIP).  

   The MDA is an active participant in meetings of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as the Commission on Sustainable Development and the UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples. The MDA Secretariat contains a resource library of original works by indigenous peoples, historical and contemporary, focusing primarily on cultural and intellectual property rights and the environment. Its Pacific collection is particularly strong. In 1995, the MDA joined the Indigenous Peoples Biodiversity Network, and agreed to become the Pacific Regional Indigenous Peoples Biodiversity Centre (IPBC). Once funding is more secure, MDA and the IPBC hope to establish an indigenous publishing house to encourage and promote indigenous writing, research and training programs in indigenous practices of environmental management, cultural and intellectual property rights. 

    The Mataatua Declaration has been endorsed by indigenous peoples all over the world and has been published in English, Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese and Maori. The Declaration takes the view that indigenous peoples have inherited from their ancestors rights and responsibilities to safeguard the heritage of future generations. In carrying out this function, the Mataatua Declaration asserts that indigenous heritage is inalienable, and both site-specific and culture-specific. 

    The Declaration specifically focuses on biological resources and human genetic resources, and recommends the repatriation of international collections and developing partnerships with indigenous peoples. Local initiatives to safeguard indigenous heritage are favored, while looking to national and international instruments to regulate the activities of outsiders wanting to utilize or exploit indigenous heritage (both tangible and intangible) for commercial purposes. It requires both technology transfer and capacity building within local communities, acknowledging that some indigenous communities are not in a strong position at this stage to fully exercise  guardianship responsibility. The Declaration gives priority to the establishment of indigenous educational, science and research units.


  • Aroha Te Pareade Mead, Director, Mataatua Declaration Association,  P.O. Box 13-177, Johnsonville, Wellington,  Aotearoa New Zealand; Tel./Fax +64.4.4797781,  e-mail aroham@nzonline.ac.nz


Instituto Socioambiental

    ISA has become Brazil’s major resource center for environmental and social issues. As an amalgamation of the well known and respected Indigenous Rights Nucleus, SOS Mata Atlantica, and the Centre for Indigenous Documentation, ISA has the resources, breadth and credibility to provide guidance and support much needed in a country the size of Brazil, while maintaining professional links with organizations around the world.  - DAP  

   The Instituto Socioambiental was founded in 1994 by a group of people working for social and environmental rights in Brazil. It undertakes research and programs that promote socio-environmental sustainability and safeguard cultural and biological diversity. It is currently involved in a range of projects, which include activities on agroforestry, sustainable fishery, land demarcation, handicrafts and socio-economic zoning.

  In the Xikrin do Catete Indigenous Area, an inventory of forest resources is being completed and new means of income generation explored, as steps towards the development of a sustainable forest management plan for the area. The Institute is also undertaking the prosecution of illegal loggers. The legal team of the Institute (in Brasilia) provides advice and support for legal proceedings and carries out research into environmental and human rights legislation. 

    The Institute manages a database on protected, indigenous and extractive areas. At its cartographic center, there is a Geographic Information System and facilities for remote sensing. These tools are used for planning and monitoring natural resource management, carrying out inventories and zoning land. The Institute publishes maps, books and a number of periodicals: Boletim de Informações e Análise, Aconteceu Especial Povos Indígenas and Enciclopédia Povos Indígenas no Brasil. It has a reference library and a video and photographic collection.   

    ‘[The Institute] draws upon the material and non-material legacy of the 15 years experience of the Indigenous Peoples in Brazil Programme of the Ecumenical Documentation and Information Centre (CEDI) and the experience of the Nucleus of Indigenous Rights (NDI) in Brasilia. Both organizations have substantial track records in indigenous rights questions in Brazil.’ 

From: a pamphlet produced by Instituto Socioambiental.


  • João Paulo Capobianco  or Carlos Alberto Ricardo, Executive Secretaries,  Instituto Socioambiental, Av. Higienópolis 901, 01238-001 São Paulo - SP, Brazil; Tel. +55.11.8255544, Fax +55.11.8257861,  e-mail socioamb@ax.apc.org
  • To contact the Institute’s branch in Brasilia:  SHIS QI 11, bloco K, sala 65,  71625-500 Brasilia - DF, Brazil;  Tel. +55.61.2482439 or 2485412,  Fax +55.61.2486420  


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