New book – Indigenous Peoples, Customary Law and Human Rights – Why Living Law Matters

This highly original work by Brendan Tobin (Law School, Griffith University, Australia) demonstrates the fundamental role of customary law for the realization of Indigenous peoples’ human rights and for sound national and international legal governance. The book reviews the legal status of customary law and its relationship with positive and natural law from the time of Plato up to the present. It examines its growing recognition in constitutional and international law and its dependence on and at times strained relationship with human rights law.  Published August 2014 by Routledge as part of Series: Routledge Studies in Law and Sustainable Development

Read more on the Routledge site.

CISDL study on access and benefit sharing measures

The Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL) has published the Third Edition of Overview of National and Regional Measures on ABS: Challenges and Opportunities in Implementing the Nagoya Protocol.  It provides a near comprehensive overview of ABS measures around the globe prior to the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol, as well as an assessment of forthcoming challenges.

Crop diversification strategies for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

Presenting group work during workshop in Lao. Credit: Bioversity International/RVernooy

Presenting group work during workshop in Lao. Credit: Bioversity International/RVernooy

Ronnie Vernooy, Bioversity International and Vongvilay Vongkhamsao, National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute of Laos write about crop diversification strategies for Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, following a workshop held in Vientiane, Lao PDR, 2-3 October 2014.

The governments of Cambodia and Lao PDR have made strong commitments to integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation into their national and sectorial development policies and action plans. Vietnam has also started to address climate change adaptation at national and sub-national levels.

Governments in all three countries have identified a series of agriculture-based interventions as priorities to strengthen the resilience of smallholder farmers, most notably, crop diversification. How to practically implement effective policy measures that benefit smallholder farmers, however, remains a challenge. Research could help develop a number of pilot experiences at sub-national scale to test and assess promising measures.

Continue reading on the Bioversity website.


Côte d’Ivoire : les avances d’un avant-projet de loi


par Edmond Koffi et Ronnie Vernooy

Du 25 au 26 septembre 2014 s’est tenu, à l’Etoile du Sud, à Grand-Bassam (République de Côte d’Ivoire), un atelier sur la validation de l’avant-projet de loi relatif aux règles d’accès aux ressources génétiques et droits des communautés locales en vue de la mise en place du cadre juridique et institutionnel relatif au système multilatéral, dans le cadre du projet de renforcement des capacités nationales pour la mise en œuvre du traité international sur les ressources génétiques pour l’alimentation et l’agriculture et de son système multilatéral d’accès et de partage des bénéfices. L’atelier a réuni 34 participants représentants des Départements ministériels, de Bioversity International, de la Commission Recherche, Science, Technologie et Environnement de l’Assemblée Nationale, du Secrétariat Général du Gouvernement, d’autorités administratives et coutumières locales, des Centres de recherche, des Universités et des Organisations professionnelles agricoles.

Les participants. Photo:  Mr ADOU Kadio Jean Louis

Les participants. Photo: Mr ADOU Kadio Jean Louis

L’objectif de l’atelier était, d’une part, de permettre aux décideurs représentant les différentes parties prenantes institutionnelles et techniques concernées par la question des ressources génétiques, de s’approprier et de valider l’avant projet de loi portant sur les règles d’accès aux ressources génétiques et droits des communautés locales, et, d’autre part, de doter la Côte d’Ivoire d’une loi unique qui prend à la fois en compte les exigences du Protocole de Nagoya et celles du Système Multilatéral du TIRPAA. Continue reading

Co-management: overcoming the tragedy of the commons

Co-management meeting in Mongolia. Credit: Bioversity International/R.Vernooy

Co-management meeting in Mongolia. Credit: Bioversity International/R.Vernooy

Ronnie Vernooy writes about the co-management of pastoral lands in Mongolia, as a guest author on the Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.

Mongolian herders are maintaining the centuries old practice of moving from season to season to find new grasslands for their livestock, the primary source of their nomadic livelihood. Right now it is time to move to their winter camps and enter the most critical period of the year – the months of extremely cold weather.

The challenges of managing the risks that Mongolian nomadic pastoralists face are numerous and complex. Their livelihoods depend on a combination of individually owned livestock and collectively managed grasslands and other natural resources (water, wildlife and forest resources in particular) which remain State owned. Co-management, practiced in Mongolia for about 15 years, is a novel approach to deal with these challenges. Insights gained from the Mongolian co-management experience might be useful for other regions facing similar conditions.

Continue reading on the Agriculture and Ecosystems blog

Announcement: Climate-Smart Agriculture Conference

We are pleased to circulate this announcement for the Climate-Smart Agriculture 2015 Global Science Conference, 16-18 March 2015, Montpellier, France.

Climate smart agriculture is a way to achieve short and long term agricultural development priorities in the face of climate change and serve as an integrator to other development priorities. It seeks to support countries and other actors in securing the necessary policy, technical and financial conditions to enable them to:

- Sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes in order to meet national food security and development goals
- Build resilience and the capacity of agricultural and food systems to adapt to climate change;
- Seek opportunities to mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases and increase carbon sequestration.

Submit abstracts by 30 November 2014. Early bird registration by 31 December 2014.

Opportunity: International course on Integrated Seed Sector Development

We are pleased to circulate this announcement from Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation on their International course on Integrated Seed Sector Development, Wageningen, the Netherlands, 18 May – 5 June 2015.

Fellowships available – apply before 21 October 2014.

Creating vibrant, market oriented and pluralistic seed sectors
Seed is an essential input for crop production. Access of farmers to affordable quality seed of superior varieties is key in increasing agricultural production and productivity. Integrated Seed Sector Development (ISSD) recognizes that farmers obtain their seed from different sources or systems, and builds programmes upon a diversity of seed systems. ISSD programmes strengthen farmer and community based seed systems, businesses operating at local and national level, but also engage in partnerships with international companies producing seed or providing seed related services. In addition ISSD works on institutional bottlenecks and strengthens seed sector governance. Supporting the development of a vibrant and pluralistic seed sector can substantially contribute to increasing food security and prosperity in developing countries. Continue reading

Vote for agricultural biodiversity

Bioversity International’s submission to the Expo 2015 short video competition closes 10 September.

Watch the video and vote for it here.

During Expo Milano 2015 (from 1 May to 31 October 2015), a WALL made of monitors – the biggest ever built – will tell the art of hunting, fishing, raising and cultivating. Each video submitted to the Expo 2015 short video competition will be part of the WALL in the entrance Zero Pavilion.  The completion rules specified videos with no more than one minute duration and no sound.

Vote for agricultural biodiversity before the 10 September deadline and encourage partners to vote too.

Opportunity: International PhD Programme in Agrobiodiversity, Italy

The Institute of Life Sciences at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies of Pisa, Italy (SSSA) announces its International PhD Programme in Agrobiodiversity, in collaboration with the Italian National Academy of Sciences and funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MiUR).
The Course aims to contribute to the enhancement of human resource capacity in the utilisation and management of biodiversity in agricultural and natural systems, to improve the sustainability of agriculture and the conservation of genetic resources and agroecosystem (bio)diversity for the well-being of present and future generations.
Six scholarships are available to motivated students from any country. Applications from developing countries are particularly welcome. The application must include description of a research project that the candidate would like to carry out during the three-year period of the PhD. Examples of research themes are indicated in the Call for Applications. English will be the one and only language for all activities envisaged in the PhD Programme.

Further information on the Programme, the Call and the Online Application Form can be found at The deadline for receipt of applications is 5 September 2014. The Programme starts on 3 November 2014.

The Course has two curricula:
(A) Plant Genetic Resources (for further inquiries about possible research themes  contact Prof. Enrico Pè,
(B) Functional Biodiversity in Agroecosystems (for further inquiries about possible research themes contact Prof. Paolo Bàrberi, for topics related to Agroecology or Dr Francesco Licausi, for topics related to Crop Physiology).

For general information,  contact