Indigenous Forum

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The 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology is going to be held one month before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (20-22 June 2012).


The ISE Congresses provide an important meeting ground for people to come together to share experiences and ideas and formulate action plans. In Cusco (2008) under the leadership of Alejandro Argumedo, the current Director of the Global Coalition, the ISE began hosting an Indigenous Forum as an integral part of its congresses.  The inaugural Indigenous Forum resulted in the Indigenous Forum Declaration [ND to add to ISE website and link].  In Tofino (2010) the Indigenous Forum followed a fairly loose format of pre-determined facilitated gatherings and then ended in plenary where a Hul’q’umi’num elder led a Ts’lhnuts’umaat, a Coast Salish traditional teaching about being “the whole family.”
Following on the adoption of the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) at the ISE Congress in Tofino, Canada (May 2010), the Global Coalition is developing the
concept for the 2012 Indigenous Forum around exploring how the UN Declaration for Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) can be broadened into actionable steps. The Forum will run as a parallel stream during the Congress, culminating in a plenary session on the last day when recommendations will be shared with all Congress participants.
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Monday May 21
Participatory research, dissemination and advocacy: the view from the Indigenous Forum
(Global Diversity Foundation)

At this year’s International Congress for Ethnobiology (CISE 2012), the theme for the pre-congress workshop is “Conservation by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities: Advances in Participatory Action Research, Dissemination and Advocacy”; it will bring together indigenous and local community representatives that are engaged in participatory action research, dissemination and advocacy efforts that enhance the governance and management of Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas.
In conjunction with the pre-congress workshop, the Indigenous Forum (IF) at CISE 2012 will also carry the theme “Participatory research, dissemination and advocacy”. GDF proposes to make a seamless link between the workshop and the IF by opening the workshop’s discussion to the broader public present at CISE 2012 through a dedicated and inaugural IF session to be held on Monday 20th of May 2012. Here, a conversation on the broad theme of communication will be launched by a presentation that sums up the discussions held during the pre-congress workshop. Participants that were not at the workshop will be asked to contribute their views, comments and experiences on the topic, and a panel of indigenous and local community members from the workshop will be asked to respond.
One of the aims of this inaugural IF session is to generate an ongoing conversation about research, dissemination and advocacy throughout CISE 2012. GDF proposes to encourage this discussion by setting up panels (one panel for each theme: participatory research, communication, dissemination and advocacy) in the IF space and making post-it notes and marker pens available to participants. The latter will be asked to write down (throughout the week and in their own language) comments, thoughts, and experiences regarding the topics, how they were dealt with throughout the various different CISE sessions, and innovative contributions or ideas emerging during these sessions, and pin them up on the panels. On the Friday, prior to the ISE 2nd General Assembly, participants will be asked to join in a summing-up discussion - based on the ideas and thoughts collated and exhibited throughout the week - concerning the topics of participatory research, dissemination and advocacy. If required, a brief précis of the week’s discussions may be prepared to contribute at the General Assembly. It is hoped that in this way participants will maintain a thematic awareness of issues surrounding communication throughout the congress, creating space for broader conversations, idea-sharing and networking to emerge and carry on beyond the congress.

Tuesday May 22
Sacred Sites and their Custodians: building resilience to deal with the threats of climate change, extractive industries and loss of ancestral territories
(Sacred Natural Sites Initiative, The Gaia Foundation, Sacred Land Film Project)

Purpose: To convene a dialogue with indigenous custodians and others involved in protecting sacred natural sites. The session will enable discussion on the main themes that arise from the earlier ICE workshop on “Sacred lands - dynamic archetypes for changing times” (S35), as well as other issues participants raise during the day.
Objective: The main objective is to share strategies for building resilience of sacred sites to deal with modern threats – from strengthening community governance and ritual practice, to raising public awareness, to engaging in advocacy and education, to registration of sacred sites and developing legal strategies. The participants will discuss common custodian-based guiding principles for the recognition of indigenous sacred sites systems and territories, the IUCN Motion and Guidelines around sacred natural sites in protected areas. They will explore how to strengthen international recognition of sacred sites from an indigenous perspective. The event will re-affirm support for the Statement of Custodians of Sacred Natural Sites and Territories (IUCN WCC, 2008) and the Opinsaht Declaration (ICE, 2010). Participants will also reflect on how best to approach international meetings and film screenings of the “Standing on Sacred Ground” documentary series during 2012-14 to gain more support for the protection of sacred natural sites.
The one-day session will open and close with indigenous blessings. The focus will be mostly on group discussion and feedback, for dialogue to be open and free-flowing. It will include the screening of excerpts from
Standing on Sacred Ground and several other films relating directly to custodians of sacred natural sites.

Thursday 24 May
Using Bio-Cultural Protocols to implement UNDRIPs and MEAs at local level for Sustainable Development
(ISE Global Coalition)

Morning session: Using BCPs to implement UNDRIPs and MEA policies on biocultural heritage. This will include presentations by representatives from different MEAs (eg. CBD, FAO, WIPO, WTO, WHO) on their treaty provisions on biocultural heritage or biocultural rights, how they are implementing these and how they think these provisions can be implemented locally through BCPs.  We will also explore the role of BCPs in implementing UNDRIPs, Sustainable Development, and alternative/locally relevant visions of Sustainable Development and Wellbeing (eg. Buen Vivir & Sumaq Causay).
Afternoon session: Understanding BCPs and how to develop them (capacity building). This will include discussion of how to develop BCPs to interlink different treaties relevant to the particular needs of the community; and maximise the potential for strengthening community governance; what BCPs are: elements of a community protocol, combining customary law principles and formal law, BCP core principles; and presentations of examples and experiences to illustrate the above (eg. ANDES, IIED/PLA, Natural Justice, ISE members, Brendan Tobin).
More about the ISE Global Coalition

Friday 25 May
Indigenous Resource Management – customary practice and contemporary management
(Hokotehi Moriori Trust)

This session will draw to together projects and people working in indigenous contexts to record, protect, and manage heritage landscapes, elder collective memories and customary resources, with a particular emphasis on intergenerational learning. The session will be open and interactive on the manner of traditional fora (elders first). It will focus on the importance of the preservation and transmission of intergenerational knowledge of "living in country" and the maintenance and promotion of retention of the local language(s) and cultural practices of the communities that sustain this knowledge. At its heart will be an understanding of the importance of the sacred/spiritual/wairua traditions – as an expression of the thread that binds people together with their natural worlds, and which provides the basis for living in a mutually respectful and mutually enhancing relationship of humans, plants and animals. In addition to providing a collective forum for learning about traditional knowledge and the importance of being able to practice cultural continuity, the session will also examine ways in which the modern world may come to a better understanding of how this sacred knowledge or knowledge of the sacred is critical to humankind (re)learning how to live "in connection with" rather than increasingly "disconnected from" our planet and planetary systems. It will also look at ways that modern science can incorporate these ways of thinking for preserving and maintaining biological and cultural diversity on our planet.
Session papers and presentations will be based on case studies that highlight examples of where the ethical use of customary management practices and/or values has resulted in beneficial outcomes for indigenous communities and where communities are working to revive traditional knowledge through various means, such as story-telling and the use of digital technology in the transfer of knowledge.