Friday, February 25, 2011

Human Planet - Web exclusive series trailer - BBC One

To watch: This is our planet. Our mother Earth. This is us, humans amidst mother nature. Great trailer. Thanks to the artist.

IFAD to establish forum to examine plight of indigenous peoples’ in rural areas

Rome, 18 February 2011 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced the establishment of an indigenous peoples’ forum under the Fund’s auspices, following a two-day workshop that concluded today at IFAD Headquarters in Rome.

Organized by IFAD with the support of the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), the workshop convened about 30 representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations, as well as IFAD staff, to discuss and agree on the directions, scope and the objectives of the forum, as well as how it will be organized, operated and governed.  The forum’s overall aim is to advance the participation of indigenous peoples in IFAD discussions and programmes that have an impact on them.

The group determined that the first global meeting of the indigenous people’s forum will take place in conjunction with the IFAD Governing Council in 2013

Indigenous peoples, who make up one-third of the world’s one billion extreme poor in rural areas, are among the most vulnerable and marginalized of any group.  Spread over 70 countries and representing diverse cultural backgrounds, they share many common challenges such as limited access to healthcare and education, loss of control over lands, displacement and violations of basic human rights

IFAD’s special interest in supporting them is based not only on poverty reduction, social justice and humanitarian concerns, but also the value that indigenous people in many cases contribute to sustainable agriculture, especially given the rich knowledge and understanding of ecosystem management that they have.
Welcoming the participants to the workshop on 17 February at IFAD headquarters, Kanayo Nwanze, President of IFAD said: “the work we do at the forum will be important, but we all agree that it is just one step in a long-term commitment to reaching our dual goals of equity and economic opportunity for indigenous peoples.”

“It is important that an indigenous peoples forum in IFAD be established so that the indigenous peoples will have an opportunity to share their views and recommendations on how IFAD can respond more effectively to indigenous peoples’ needs, aspirations and priorities” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Convenor, Asian Indigenous Women’s Network and Former Chair of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). “It will also enhance further the partnership between IFAD and indigenous peoples,” she concluded.

Mirna Cunningham Kain, Chair Center for autonomy and development of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua and member of the UNPFII, declared “IFAD’s policy of engagement with indigenous peoples offers an opportunity to address injustice that indigenous peoples has suffered in rural areas in the world and the establishment of an indigenous forum in IFAD is an innovative step, gives us voice and visibility that can and should help change rural development practices in our countries”.

According to Joseph Ole Simel, Chairman of Africa indigenous peoples climate change network and Executive Director, Mainyoito pastoralist integrated development organization in Kenya “IFAD initiative on indigenous peoples forum is a great idea of the 21st century for indigenous peoples”. The forum will assist or an able both indigenous peoples and IFFAD to deal with the problem of underdevelopment in a fundamental way. It will be the engine that will facilitate us to direct our efforts at the root causes of extreme poverty among indigenous peoples,” he concluded.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The ALDAW Save Palawan Campaign: using web 2.0 for policy Advocacy on indigenous peoples

In March 2006, former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called for a revitalization of mining nation-wide. Open-pit and strip mining for nickel results in the flattening of mountain tops, in the plundering of forest and in the production of vast amounts of tailings that contaminate freshwater sources and the sea. Palawan, the richest Philippines’ province in terms of biocultural diversity, and a UNESCO Man & Biosphere Reserve, is threatened as ever before.
ALDAW (Ancestral Land/Domain Watch), a local advocacy network decided to take immediate action, in the attempt of bringing the plight of Palawan indigenous peoples to international attention. In 2009, ALDAW in collaboration with the Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD) of the University of Kent, began to produce participatory videos amongst indigenous communities. The primary aim was to provide communities with more information on the ecological and social impact of mining, in order to allow people to make informed decisions while confronting mining corporations. ALDAW began its journey amongst those communities who had already experienced the effects of mining. The recorded testimonials from community representatives (both indigenous and migrant farmers) were shared with other communities who were still in the process of confronting mining companies, and were unsure about the way in which they should approach these enterprises. These videos have had a tremendous impact in terms of bringing local grass-root voices to policymakers and to the global level. 
Dedicated ALDAW channels on YouTube and a page on Vimeo were established. For the residents of Palawan, these platforms have become an essential channel for presenting their claims and aspirations, as well as for entering into a dialogue with other indigenous communities from around the globe. ALDAW fieldwork also included the production of geo-tagged images aimed at documenting the overlapping between mining concessions, fragile environments and the ancestral territory of indigenous communities. Geo-tagged photos were loaded into a geo-aware application, displayed on satellite Google map and posted on the ALDAW Facebook Page. ALDAW also posted an Online Petition that, as of the present, has been signed by almost 4,900 people, while ad additional 20,000 signatures were collected through the assistance of Rainforest Rescue. 
Networking and the wide dissemination of information on the Palawan case encouraged other organizations - such as Survival International - to support the ALDAW campaign. As of now, a number of advocacy organizations and research institutions provided added channels for ALDAW to disseminate information including video documentaries (vlogging) and updates from the field. See, for instance, Intercontinental Cry, PPgis.Net Blog , Plant Talk of the Eden Project, Community Solidarity Response Toronto, CEESP, the IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, PipLinks (Philippine Indigenous Peoples Links). 
Rainforest Rescue also decided to support ALDAW struggle, by petitioning the UNESCO for taking no action to protect its declared Palawan Man & Biosphere Reserve. As a result of this action, ALDAW has been approached by the UNESCO and preliminary negotiations are ongoing. 
Just when the Palawan campaign almost appeared to have reached its peak, a tragic and unexpected event took place in Palawan on 24 January 2011, Gerry Ortega, an environmental advocate and broadcast journalist, was killed by a gunman after finishing his daily radio program on DWAR Palawan, which had been very critical of mining interests. Right after this, the ABS-CBN Foundation of the Philippine decided to fully support anti-mining efforts in Palawan, through the lunch of a 10 Million Signatures “No to Mining in Palawanonline petition. 
Recently, in response to the mounting outcry from both International and National communities, Pres. Benigno Aquino III announced that the government will cancel more than 300 pending mining applications in Palawan. ALDAW and the NGO community have welcomed the President’s decision, but they also warned that this will have little impact on the ecological integrity of Palawan because it would not stop the destruction and degradation being done by those mining projects that are already operating on the island.
People interested in the topics can join this GoogleGroup.
Impact on policy making:
Here are some articles appeared in the press:
Comments are reflections
The short article summarizes the experience and methodologies of the ALDAW Network in bringing the voices of mining affected communities on Palawan Island (the Philippines) to national and international attention.  The overall ALDAW campaign strategy combines community grounded work with several WEB 2.0 tools/platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, Blogs, Vlogs, Facebook, Geotagging, GoogleGroups, e-networking, and other tools for monitoring the occurrence of selected topics on the net, etc.
Some of the key lessons learned which ALDAW could share with other indigenous/farmers groups, as well with NGOs and People’s Organizations from different countries include the following:
  1. How to use participatory videos to fostering reflection and joint actions while establishing strategic grass-root alliances against extractive-industries;
  2. How to produce and circulate participatory videos to be used for exerting pressure at the national and international policy level.
This entails producing advocacy tools that are not only addressed to policy makers, conservation and development organizations, but that equally generate intra or inter-community solidarity across regions, as well as common grounds for cross-cultural discussions and analysis.

Report Indigenous and Tribal Peoples' Rights over their Ancestral Lands and Natural Resources

Washington, D.C., February 17, 2011—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today published its report Indigenous and Tribal Peoples' Rights over their Ancestral Lands and Natural Resources.

The protection of indigenous peoples' right to property over their ancestral lands is an issue of particular importance to the IACHR because the effective enjoyment of that right involves not only protection of an economic unit but also protection of the human rights of a collectivity whose economic, social, and cultural development is based on its relationship with the land, which is the basis for its worldview. As a result, the Commission has long paid particular attention to indigenous and tribal peoples’ right to communal property over their lands and natural resources, as a right in itself, and as a guarantee of the effective enjoyment of other basic rights.

The right to property pursuant to Article 21 of the American Convention on Human Rights thus has singular importance for indigenous and tribal peoples, because the guarantee of the right to territorial property is a fundamental basis for the development of indigenous communities’ culture, spiritual life, integrity and economic survival. It is a right to territory that encompasses the use and enjoyment of its natural resources. It is directly related, even a pre-requisite, to enjoyment of the rights to an existence under conditions of dignity, to food, water, health, life, honor, dignity, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of association, the rights of the family, and freedom of movement and residence.

The report the IACHR is publishing today compiles and discusses the scope of indigenous and tribal peoples’ rights over their territories, lands, and natural resources. In this regard, it analyses the obligation of the States to consult with indigenous peoples and guarantee their participation in decisions regarding any measure that affects their territories. The State has to consult them on any matters that might affect them, the purpose of such consultations should be to obtain their free and informed consent, and they must be carried out in accordance with their customs and traditions, through culturally adequate procedures and taking into account their traditional decision-making methods.

The report is based on the legal instruments of the Inter-American system, as interpreted by the Commission and the Inter-American Court in the light of developments in general international human rights law. It also aims to point out specific problems, guidelines, and best practices to enhance the enjoyment of human rights by indigenous and tribal peoples across the hemisphere.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happenings at the United Nations: Workshop for the Creation of an Indigenous Peoples’ Forum

Rome: Rome was the venue this past week for a crucial high-speed two-day workshop on the creation of a Forum to redress pressing agriculturally based concerns involving indigenous peoples.

Delegates representing indigenous groups from Latin America/Caribbean, Africa and Asia/Pacific gathered at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to hammer out details on the principles and framework of the Forum.  The Forum is platform by which partnerships with indigenous peoples with regard to agricultural activities can be strengthened, and institutionalized dialog between the United Nations and indigenous peoples can be promulgated.  The creation of the Forum is obligated under the principles and auspices of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

One hundred people including IFAD staff and observers were on-hand to witness the proceedings.  Many of the delegates were dressed in their traditional pomp, which made for a splash of eye-catching color.  Proceedings were carried out in on a tri-lingual basis.  English, as the official business language of the United Nations, was heard most throughout the elongated and acoustically smart IFAD conference space.  French and Spanish were heard almost as often.  Linguistic experts in cavernous booths behind the scenes feverishly interpreted the mélange to provide delegates with unwavering translation.

The right to self-determination is at the very heart of issues surrounding indigenous peoples’ struggles.   Full participation in decision-making connected to rights to land and resources is seen as a very necessary step to express self-determination.  This also includes the ability to re-define the definition of “poor” and “poverty.”  The concept of poverty to many indigenous groups is foreign, and likewise do not consider themselves to be “poor.” Many of those representing indigenous groups at the workshop wanted a common understanding and conceptual framework, which addressed systemic communication and agricultural processes between IFAD and themselves so that their voices were well-understood going forward.   Also expressed was that full participation and two-way information sharing is crucial to eliminate any overly “top-down” processes in the creation of agricultural policy carried out at local levels.

Other issues brought to the fore were climate change, development aggression, identity, totemism, gender balance, livelihood representation, equal regional community representation, and lived experience. This workshop was not a policy making fora, but a space to work out details of an agreed upon policy framework. The hope is the that Forum will provide a strong framework and continuum to allow for open dialog between and among indigenous communities, national governments, and IFAD on very important agricultural projects.  The outcomes will certainly have reciprocal importance for us all.  To follow the action, please see IFAD’s website:

By Sam Yellen

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ten step process for producing a Participatory Video. The Telecho Experience

This video was shot during the making of a participatory video in Telecho village, Highlands Ethiopia. It is meant to show in 10 easy steps the process used during this participatory video training. Fernanda Baumhardt and Patricia Santos trained 14 youth age 14- 16 that have no access to electricity and TV to hold a camera, speak on a microphone and do interviews, making their own film.

This Video has been produced in the framework of the project: "Promotion of Collaborative Spatial Information Management and Communication in East and Southern Africa", Telecho, Ethiopia

Project coordination and funding: Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) and MELCA - Ethiopia