26 Jul 2011

UEBT explores possible roles for biocultural community protocols in Ethical BioTrade

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Last week, UEBT was in Puerto Maldonado, a town in the Peruvian Amazon, for a project on biocultural community protocols (BCPs) and Ethical BioTrade. The project, conducted jointly with the NGO Natural Justice, aims to assess how BCPs may be used to support the engagement of local actors in Ethical BioTrade supply chains. This initial pilot case focused on Asociación Forestal Indígena de Madre de Dios (AFIMAD), an indigenous association promoting productive activities, which is working together with Candela, a founding UEBT member.

 

A BCP is a tool, developed on the basis of a consultative process, through which indigenous or local communities outline their core cultural, ecological and spiritual values and customary laws. On the basis of these values and laws, the community develops clear terms and conditions to regulate their interaction with government, organizations, companies and other actors.

 

In this case, AFIMAD championed a BCP as a way to communicate the communities’ concerns and expectations.  The BCP, now in draft form, contains information on the members of AFIMAD, their organization and values, as well as how they want to relate to companies and what they see as their own commitments towards improved relationships.

 

In addition, and on the basis of the BCP and the Ethical BioTrade standard, AFIMAD and Candela engaged in a dialogue to better understand each other’s values, governance, communication and decision-making, and to agree on certain approaches that could improve their relationship. The outcome, an ‘Agreement of Principles,’ described common objectives such as transparency, trust and good faith, as well as pledges for continued discussion on issues such as improved approaches to conflict resolution and price negotiations.

 

A BCP will not be possible or appropriate in all cases. However, ensuring communities have the opportunity to consider their values and approaches is important to create more balanced relationships along supply chains.  In the context of Ethical BioTrade, elements of the BCP process and content could thus be adapted to promote community reflections more generally.  Such reflections would then facilitate an improved dialogue between the community and the company that sets a stronger and more balanced basis for their relationship.

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