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What the Convention says about Traditional Knowledge, Innovations and Practices

"Traditional knowledge" is employed to mean "knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity".

It recognizes the need to exchange information in conjunction with technology transferred pursuant to Article 16, Paragraph (1). The status of "indigenous and local communities traditional knowledge" is also affirmed by preambular paragraph 9 to Decision III/14 of the Conference of the Parties regarding the implementation of Article 8, Paragraph (j).

The CBD also contains three other provisions besides Article 8(j) which deal with the interests of indigenous and local communities. These are Articles 10 (c), Article 15.5,Article 17.2, and Article 18.4.

Article 10 (c) requires Parties to "Protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements". Such customary uses can be considered to be synonymous with the "practices" referred to in Article 8(j), when both are relevant to or compatible with the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources.

Within the context of both Article 8(j) and 10(c), such customary uses can be considered synonymous with the "knowledge, innovations and practices" referred to in Article 8(j), when these are relevant to or compatible with the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources. The traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of most indigenous and local communities directly derives from customary use of biological resources, thereby emphasizing the need to read Article 10(c) in conjunction with Article 8(j).

Article 15.5 refers to prior informed consent with respect to Access to Genetic Resources. Access to genetic resources and benefit sharing arising out of the use of genetic resources cannot be separated from the traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities. Traditional knowledge can be highly valuable in identifying sources of new products derived from genetic resources, It is important that Article 8(j) and Article 10 (c) are read in conjunction with Article 15. Article 8(j) indicates that the wider application of indigenous and local communities knowledge, innovation and practices should take place with the approval and involvement of its holders

Article 17 provides for the exchange of information. Article 17.2 obliges the Parties to facilitate the exchange of information on, inter alia, indigenous and traditional knowledge as such and in combination with the technologies referred to in Article 16, paragraph 1.

Article 17.2 provides for the repatriation or return of information, which is of importance to indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyle relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

Article 18.4 lays down the requirements for technical and scientific cooperation, provides that Parties shall encourage and develop methods of cooperation for the development and use of technologies, including indigenous and traditional technologies, in pursuance of the objectives of the Convention. This allows for the same obligation and status as other technologies that can contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, and to subject them to the technology transfer obligations of Article 16 that ensure protection of the rights of knowledge holders. This obligation complements the general Article 8(j) (promote the wider application of the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities), Article 12 (research and training), Article 16 (access to and transfer of technology), Article 17 (exchange of information) and Article 19 (handling of biotechnology and distribution of its benefits)

Gender-related aspects

The formal recognition of the role of indigenous and local communities and their womenfolk is occurring. The Convention on Biological Diversity addresses the role of both women and local communities in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. In the Preamble of the Convention on Biological Diversity (paragraph 13). The Contracting Parties recognizes the:

"...vital role of women in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and affirming the need for the full participation of women at all levels of policy-making and implementation for biological diversity conservation”

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme