PLA 65 - Biodiversity and culture: exploring community protocols, rights and consent

This special issue of PLA explores two important participatory tools that indigenous peoples and local communities can use to help defend their customary rights to biocultural heritage.

Article, 31 May 2012
Participatory Learning and Action
A journal for newcomers and experienced practitioners alike.

cover imageJune 2012

Guest editors: Krystyna Swiderska with Angela Milligan,Kanchi Kohli, Harry Jonas, Holly Shrumm, Wim Hiemstra, Maria Julia Oliva

Download complete issue

Also available in Spanish (Español)

Many rural communities in the global South – including some 370 million indigenous peoples – directly depend on biodiversity and related traditional knowledge for their livelihoods, food security, healthcare and well-being. But with the loss of biodiversity, valuable resources such as climate-resilient crops, medicinal plants and wild foods are being lost. Cultural diversity is being eroded at an unprecedented rate and with it, ancestral knowledge of how to use and conserve biodiversity.

This issue of PLA explores two important participatory tools:

  • Community protocols – or charters of rules and responsibilities – in which communities set out their customary rights to natural resources and land, as recognised in customary, national and international laws; and
  • Free, prior informed consent (FPIC) processes, in which communities decide whether or not to allow projects affecting their land or resources to go ahead, and on what terms.

The issue reviews experiences of communities in Asia, Latin America and Africa in developing and using these tools in a range of contexts, including: developing mechanisms for access and benefit-sharing (ABS) for genetic resources and traditional knowledge; confronting threats from mining and protected areas; and improving forestry partnerships. 

It also looks at government experiences of establishing institutional processes for FPIC and benefit-sharing. It identifies practical lessons and guidance based on these experiences and aims to strengthen the capacity of a range of actors to support these rights-based tools effectively in practice.

This special issue aims to provide guidance for those implementing the Nagoya Protocol and other natural resource and development practitioners, and to raise awareness of the importance of community designed and controlled participatory processes. 

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Content can be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided the source is fully acknowledged. 

Follow the links below to download the whole issue or individual articles in pdf format.

Download complete issue.



Glossary - Acronyms - Abstracts

Community protocols and free, prior informed consent: overview and lessons learnt
Krystyna Swiderska with Angela Milligan, Kanchi Kohli, Holly Shrumm, Harry Jonas, Wim Hiemstra and María Julia Oliva

Part 1: Setting the scene: research partnerships and ABS from the perspective of communities 

FPIC and beyond: safeguards for power-equalising research that protects biodiversity, rights and culture
Michel Pimbert

Whose access and whose benefit? The Nagoya Protocol and customary rights in India
Sagari R. Ramdas

Part 2: Institutional innovations for FBIC and benefit-sharing

The spirit of FPIC: lessons from government-community relations in Canada and the Philippines
Abbi Buxton

Indigenous benefit-sharing in resource development – the Australian Native Title experience
David Ritter

Changing the system from within: participatory plant breeding and ABS in China
Jingsong Li, Janice Jiggins and Yiching Song

Part 3: Community protocols for genetic resources and ABS 

Decolonising action-research: the Potato Park biocultural protocol for benefit-sharing
Alejandro Argumedo

The Bushbuckridge BCP: traditional healers organise for ABS in South Africa
Rodney Sibuye, Marie-Tinka Uys, Gino Cocchiaro and Johan Lorenzen

Biocultural community protocols: tools for securing the assets of livestock keepers
Ilse Köhler-Rollefson, Abdul Raziq Kakar, Evelyn Mathias, Hanwant Singh Rathore and Jacob Wanyama

Part 4: Community protocols and FPIC: mining, protected areas and forest partnerships

Sacred groves versus gold mines: biocultural community protocols in Ghana
Bernard Guri Yangmaadome, Daniel Banuoko Faabelangne, Emmanuel Kanchebe Derbile, Wim Hiemstra and Bas Verschuuren.

Defending our territory: the biocultural community protocol of Alto San Juan, Colombia
Tatiana López Piedrahita and Carlos Heiler Mosquera

Creating the Ulu Papar biocultural community protocol: process and product in the framing of a community agreement
Theresia John, Patricia John, Louis Bugiad and Agnes Lee Agama

Accessible technologies and FPIC: independent monitoring with forest communities in Cameroon
Jerome Lewis and Téodyl Nkuintchua

Biocultural community protocols and ethical biotrade: exploring participatory approaches in Peru
María Julia Oliva, Johanna von Braun and Gabriela Salinas Lanao

Part 5: Tips for trainers

How to implement free, prior informed consent (FPIC)
Jerome Lewis

Understanding and facilitating a biocultural community protocol process
Holly Shrumm and Harry Jonas

Using stakeholder and power analysis and BCPs in multi-stakeholder processes
Herman Brouwer, Wim Hiemstra and Pilly Martin

Regular features

In touch

RCPLA network