Biocultural Heritage

Promoting resilient farming systems and local economies

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Regional laws on traditional knowledge and access to genetic resources

Some regions, such as Africa and the Andean Community, have introduced regional laws to protect traditional knowledge and genetic resources. Where these resources are shared between countries, the laws promote common standards so that those seeking access can’t just go to the country with the lowest requirements. Regional laws also provide model legislation that can guide countries developing national laws, eg. the African Model Law.

Putting the concept into practice

This section highlights key actors and initiatives that put the concept of biocultural heritage into practice—from indigenous organisations and NGOs, to universities, UN organisations and donors.

Indigenous organisations

Asociacion ANDES (Peru)

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation for 2020

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation for 2020 was agreed at the Biodiversity Convention’s 10th Conference of Parties in Nagoya, 2010. It sets out a series of targets to be achieved by 2020. The following two targets are directly relevant for the protection of biocultural heritage:

Objective II; target 9: 70 per cent of the genetic diversity of crops including their wild relatives and other socio-economically valuable plant species conserved, while respecting, preserving and maintaining associated indigenous and local knowledge.

Indigenous Biocultural Territories

‘Indigenous Biocultural Territories’ (IBCTs) aim to protect collective biocultural heritage of indigenous peoples through collective territorial rights. They support the integrity of indigenous territorialities which are under siege from a variety of forces and actors, in a rapidly changing world. These territories are essential for sustaining local subsistence economies, diverse cultures, biological resources, innovation and adaption systems, and ecosystem services.

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.

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