Indigenous Intellectual Property
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Indigenous Intellectual Property

A Handbook of Contemporary Research

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.
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Chapter 4: The World Indigenous Network: Rio+20, intellectual property, Indigenous knowledge and sustainable development

Matthew Rimmer


The United Nations Rio+20 summit has raised a number of difficult questions about law, culture and technology: what is the relationship between intellectual property, the environment and climate change? What role does intellectual property play in sustainable development? Who will own and control the Green Economy? What is the best way to encourage the transfer of environmentally sound technologies? What are the respective roles of the public sector and the private sector in green innovation? How should biodiversity, traditional knowledge and Indigenous intellectual property be protected? Should there be due acknowledgment of the position of small island states, particularly those situated in the Pacific? The Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 resulted in a number of landmark agreements. The 1992 texts include the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development 1992, Agenda 21, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 1992, the Convention on Biological Diversity 1992, and the Forest Principles 1992. These agreements considered the relationship between intellectual property, sustainable development and the environment. There has been much debate about the Rio Summit and the subsequent 20 years of multilateral environmental negotiations. Gro Harlem Brundtland has reflected upon the Rio Summit: ‘We have an obligation to the world to be honest about what we have really achieved here: moderate progress in some areas, slight progress in other areas, and in many areas no progress at all.’ Elinor Ostrom, the Nobel Laureate in Economics, and the grand philosopher of the Commons, previewed the United Nations Rio+20 summit.

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