Biocultural Heritage

Promoting resilient farming systems and local economies

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The Nagoya Protocol and awareness raising measures

The Nagoya Protocol requires that:

Each Party shall take measures to raise awareness of the importance of genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, and related access and benefit-sharing issues” (Article 21).

Awareness raising measures may include:

  • organising meetings of indigenous and local communities and relevant stakeholders and involving them in implementation of the Protocol;

  • establishing a help desk, and a national clearing house;

WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organisation

wipo logoThe World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) aims to promote intellectual property rights (IPRs) worldwide. In 2000, it established an inter-governmental committee to address IPR issues relating to genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore, including how to protect traditional knowledge from misappropriation and how to share benefits from commercialisation equitably.

Drivers of change

We are facing a double extinction crisis - biological and cultural - as a result of prevailing development models and globalization.

The FAO estimates we have lost three quarters of all crop genetic resources in the past 100 years. Modern farming, based on just a few species and varieties, has spread across the globe, weakening agriculture’s genetic basis and our capacity to adapt to changing climates. Yet policymakers often see traditional farming systems rich in genetic diversity as a hindrance to economic growth.

An evolving concept

Biocultural heritage, as a concept, has evolved in response to traditional knowledge policies that have tended only to protect the intellectual component of knowledge systems, and not the equally crucial biological, cultural and landscape components. It reflects indigenous communities’ holistic worldview, where everything is inter-dependent and inter-connected.

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