Recap: Workshop on Biocultural Rights and Community Protocols

A workshop on Biocultural Rights and Biocultural Community protocols was held in Namibia from 18-19 August. The workshop was organized by the San Support Organizations (a forum for all community-based and non-governmental organizations working with the San communities) and the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation, with support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).
Natural Justice facilitated sessions on the biocultural rights of Indigenous communities in Namibia to their to material and cultural resources through the development of biocultural community protocols. These presentations, role-plays, and discussions invited community representatives and supporting CBOs and NGOs to consider how they could utilize biocultural rights in their specific contexts. The Integrated Rural Developmentand Nature Conservation (IDRNC) and the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) also highlighted the strategies of the Khwe Community from the Bwabwata National Park and the Hai//om from Etosha National Park in asserting their biocultural rights over their resources and knowledge and the continued conservation of their lands.

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) also attended the second day of the meeting and presented on Namibia’s domestic and international obligations in relation to access and benefit sharing, traditional knowledge, and genetic resources. The Ministry officials were asked a number of pertinent questions by community representatives on recognition of traditional authorities, traditional lands, the failure of the Government to recognize Indigenous peoples, and rights over resources. As a result of the discussions, the Ministry officials indicated that all community representatives present would be invited to attend the public consultations at the National Consultative Workshop on the Access and Benefit Sharing Draft Bill for Namibia, which were held on the 24th of August in Windhoek.

Natural Justice will continue to work with the San support organizations, including LAC, IDRNC, the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation, and OSISA in supporting the biocultural rights of Indigenous peoples in Namibia. San communities of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy and the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation indicated their interest in the development a biocultural community protocol and have invited Natural Justice and OSISA to assist them in this process.

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