Table of Contents

Indigenous Intellectual Property

Indigenous Intellectual Property

A Handbook of Contemporary Research

Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series

Edited by Matthew Rimmer

This Handbook considers the international struggle to provide for proper and just protection of Indigenous intellectual property. Leading scholars consider legal and policy controversies over Indigenous knowledge in the fields of international law, copyright law, trademark law, patent law, trade secrets law, and cultural heritage. This collection examines national developments in Indigenous intellectual property from around the world. As well as examining the historical origins of conflicts over Indigenous knowledge, the volume examines new challenges to Indigenous intellectual property from emerging developments in information technology, biotechnology, and climate change.

Chapter 16: Intellectual property, Indigenous knowledge and climate change

Matthew Rimmer

Subjects: law - academic, cultural heritage and art law, human rights, intellectual property law

Extract

Indigenous communities have been hard hit by the impacts of environmental degradation, biodiversity and climate change. Carola Betzold and Anaid Flesken have observed: About 300 million people belong to one of the roughly 5,000 Indigenous peoples worldwide. While their ecological footprint is very small, Indigenous peoples tend to be disproportionately affected by environmental problems, for they tend to live in sensitive ecosystems, are closely related to, and directly depend on the natural environment and its resources. Environmental degradation hence compounds the already difficult situation of Indigenous peoples, who typically suffer from problems such as poverty, marginalisation, discrimination, and exclusion from policy-making processes. There has a particular concern about the impact of climate change and global warming upon Indigenous communities and their lands, territories, natural resources and associated traditional knowledge. There have been fierce debates over intellectual property, the environment, and climate change in a range of international fora. The question of the protection of Indigenous intellectual property and traditional knowledge has emerged during these international discussions. There has been a significant fragmentation of the global governance of intellectual property, climate change, and Indigenous knowledge. In a survey of intellectual property and climate change, the World Intellectual Property Organization acknowledged: ‘Although Indigenous peoples regard themselves as the mercury in the world’s climate change barometer, they are rarely considered in public discourses on climate change.

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