Call for new laws to protect local knowledge


26-June-2009

This proposal is among the recommendations from the third Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) workshop for Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries, held at the International Conference Centre.

A continuation of the first and second workshops hosted by South Africa in 2004 and Zambia in 2007, the session focused on various issues related to homegrown rather than imported skills.

 

Mr Rose (on the right) addressing guests and delegates at the close of the workshop

The delegates reviewed the action plans proposed in the previous workshops and set new targets based not only on ideas, but also on viability.

They also focused on the need to come up with national policies and regional guidelines to protect and develop the IKS, to consolidate the existing database, to create advanced training centres and to look at how such knowledge can be integrated in local education systems.

The third IKS workshop was officially closed on Wednesday by principal secretary for youth, sports and culture Denis Rose in the presence of Minister for Community Development, Youth, Sports and Culture Vincent Meriton, ombudsman Gustave Dodin and other government officials.

Mr Rose said organising the event is a testimony to Seychelles’ support for the ongoing programmes and activities of our sub-region, and to our commitment as an active member of the SADC. It also shows our belief that the IKS is an important asset for sustainable development in the context of the current economic challenges.

He said that from the various countries’ reports it is evident that much ground has been covered in certain areas. However, there are still many challenges ahead, and overcoming these hurdles will require a concerted effort.

The implications of such issues, he said, go beyond individual borders and call for continuing interaction and exchange.

“At this juncture, the involvement of the SADC is extremely crucial to ensure that we develop common strategies and follow them through, while adopting best practices as we learn from the champions of the process and from each other,” added Mr Rose.

He also said with the recent introduction of an IKS desk in the organisation, member states are confident that the SADC will play its role more effectively, particularly in the area of general coordination.

Mr Rose added that venturing into the IKS essentially calls for a multi-disciplinary approach that lays the foundation for strong partnerships among the many stakeholders while it also develops and strengthens bonds and creates possibilities for cooperation at various levels.

During the session, member states agreed that regional legislation should be set up to protect indigenous knowledge, traditional expressions of culture and genetic resources.

They also acknowledged the inseparable relationship between cultural diversity and biodiversity, as well as the need to emphasise this fact in developing their national policy.

And, finally, they agreed to set up networks to promote the exchange of research into medicinal and aromatic plants, and access to genetic resources and indigenous knowledge as a way of preventing the non-authorised or illegal use of such resources, especially “bio-piracy” practices.

It was decided that Namibia will host the fourth meeting next year.

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