• Safeguarding biodiversity in Ethiopia’s coffee forests: Opportunities and challenges related to intellectual property rights
    Not only is coffee production in Ethiopia significant in economic, social and environmental terms for the country itself — it also has critical implications for the genetic diversity of one of the world’s most important commodities. As attempts to protect and promote Ethiopian coffee develop, it is important to consider how these efforts can and should…
  • Progress or setback? An African regional instrument to protect traditional knowledge and folklore
    During the 13th Session of its Administrative Council in 2006, the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) adopted a draft instrument for the protection of traditional knowledge (TK) and expressions of folklore. The draft instrument was adopted against a backdrop of various international initiatives aimed at finding ways and means for the protection of TK…
  • Debating biotechnology
    If there is one lesson from the experience of national and international negotiations on agricultural biotechnology to date, it is that the public does not take kindly to being excluded from decision-making processes or being presented with policy decisions on issues considered important. What we eat and how our food is produced are such important…
  • Biofuels and sustainability: Is certification the answer?
    Biofuels mandates and targets have come increasingly under fire from both development and environment groups, which say they have unintended consequences, driving up global food prices, encouraging conversion of forested land to monocultures, and leading to the exploitation of labourers in developing countries. One way to place some checks and balances on biofuels production is…
  • Sticky sticker situation: Food miles, carbon labelling and development
    Climate-conscious consumers want to cut their carbon footprints. Retailers have responded, initially, labelling air freighted produce with an airplane. But this simplistic strategy hit developing country producers in an unfair way, and today schemes to consider the full carbon lifecycle of goods are underway. Local food movements, which encourage consumers to buy food produced in their…
  • Raising agricultural productivity in Africa: The energy challenge
    Africa faces daunting challenges with regard both to the future of agriculture and energy supply. Strategically targeted and used, bioenergy could provide part of the solution. Agriculture in most African countries is characterised by a dual system combining a subsistence farming sector, revolving around staple food crops such as millet, sorghum, cassava and rice, with an…
  • Sink or swim: Eco-patent commons and the transfer of environmentally sustainable technologies
    Agenda 21 and multilateral environmental agreements, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), emphasise the need for transfer of Environmentally Sustainable Technologies (ESTS). Yet, progress on this front remains unsatisfactory. The importance of the private sector in the transfer of technology is increasingly coming to fore. An initiative to share environmental patents is…
  • From export processing zones to low carbon development zones
    Twenty years ago, China successfully created a number of ‘Special Economic Zones,’ which helped jump-start its high-growth, export-oriented economy. Today, the world has changed and climate change is one of our most pressing challenges. While China has outgrown the need for Special Economic Zones to fuel its economy, this innovative concept can be tweaked and…
  • In Brief
  • Commission on Sustainable Development: CSD-16 2008 Review Session
    The UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established in 1992 to report on implementation of the Earth Summit Agreements – Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of Principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests. The CSD meets annually as part of two-year cycles that focus on specific themes…
  • Climate change update: Technology, IP issues on the table
    Climate change negotiators have started grappling with key issues in order to arrive at a new global climate agreement at the end of 2009. Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, in early April more than a thousand negotiators and other participants gathered to agree on the concrete work programme for the next two years. During five intensive days…