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First Meeting of the Ad-Hoc Open-Ended Inter-Sessional Working Group on Article 8(j) And Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Seville, Spain, 27 -  31 March 2000


Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The first meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Inter-Sessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) begins in Sevilla, Spain, today and will continue until 31 March 2000. The working group is mandated to address five specific areas: application and development of legal and other forms of protection for the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities; implementation of Article 8(j) and related provisions; development of a programme of work; priorities, opportunities for collaboration and implementation of the work programme; and measures to strengthen cooperation among indigenous and local communities. Delegates are expected to meet in two sub-working groups. Regarding the development of a work programme, Sub-Working Group I will consider: participatory mechanisms for indigenous and local communities; equitable sharing of benefits; and legal elements. Sub-Working Group II will address: status and trends in relation to Article 8(j) and related provisions; traditional cultural practices for conservation and sustainable use; exchange and dissemination of information; and monitoring elements. Article 8(j) of the CBD specifically states that Parties will, subject to 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 biodiversity; promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of such knowledge-holders; and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices. Article 10(c) calls upon Parties to protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices. Article 17.2 addresses scientific and technical information exchange with specific reference to indigenous and traditional knowledge. Finally, Article 18.4 states that Parties shall encourage and develop methods of cooperation for the development and use of technologies, including indigenous and traditional technologies, pursuant to the objectives of the Convention. Additionally, discussions on cross-cutting themes, such as the ecosystem approach, access and benefit-sharing, the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) and the specific ecosystem themes have also addressed the integration of considerations relating to Article 8(j) and indigenous and local communities.

Opening Plenary. Monday, 27th March

The first meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Inter-sessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions started today and delegates heard opening presentations from Hamdallah Zedan, Executive Secretary of the CBD, Fernando Riquelme, Minister of Special Affairs of Spain, and Isabel Tocino, Minister of Environment of Spain. Representatives of the fourth International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity delivered a statement on their deliberations over the weekend. Delegates held a minute of silence for the passing of Canadian Ambassador, Arthur Campeau, who played a significant role in the UN Conference on Environment and Development and the implementation of Article 8(j). Delegates also addressed the organization of work and commenced discussion of the agenda item on measures to strengthen cooperation among indigenous and local communities at the international level.

Prior to the official opening of the Plenary, delegates gathered for prayer and benediction.

Hamdallah Zedan, Executive Secretary of the CBD, welcomed participants and expressed gratitude to the Spanish government for hosting the meeting. He stated that traditional knowledge is integral to CBD implementation efforts and noted that Article 8(j) influences other thematic and crosscutting issues. He expressed his hope that the spirit of collaboration visible in the Madrid Workshop on Traditional Knowledge held in 1997 would be maintained.
Juan Luis Muriel, Ministry of Environment of Spain, was introduced as the meeting's chair.
Fernando Riquelme, Minister for Special Affairs of Spain, stated that Spain has been working since 1977 toward recognizing the role of indigenous peoples. He pointed to Spain's sponsorship of the present meeting and the Indigenous Forum as further examples of Spain's commitment.

Sem T. Shikongo, Directorate of Environment Affairs, Namibia, highlighted the importance of integrating local and indigenous communities into the identification and formulation of conservation and sustainable use strategies.
  Isabel Tocino, Minister of Environment of Spain, opening statement.
Chantal Nicole, Madagascar, noted that information exchange should not be limited to the Internet.

N.R. Gata, Director, Department of Research and Specialist Services, Zimbabwe. Speaking with fellow delegates during the break. During her intervention she stressed the need to distinguish and adequately prioritize the role of local communities.
Arturo Martinez, Argentina, cautioned against creating new cooperation mechanisms without first evaluating existing ones.

R.H. Khwaja, Ministry of Environment and Forests, India, called for national policies and dialogue and suggested that the fact-finding mission by the World Intellectual Property Organization present its findings to the COP.
Joaquim Whitaker Salles, Brazil supported a proviso calling for due regard to national legislation.

Marcial Arias, International Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of Tropical Forests, noted that the CBD's definition of indigenous and local communities fails to recognize such groups as "peoples" and called for better coordination among international agencies, especially for discussions on rights and other legal aspects.
At the close of the day's session, delegates enjoyed both the climate and hospitality of Spain on the rooftop patio of the Melia hotel

Seville: The Plaza de Espa�a. Built as part of the Ibero American World Fair of 1929. Its construction survived the economic ruin of the stock market crash of that same year. It remains to this day one of the best preserved landmarks of the city. The Meliá hotel, host to Article 8(j), is accross the road.

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