Timeline

Food & Sustainability

We promote informed and balanced discussion about what agricultural systems are best suited to different circumstances and needs.
March 2017

QUNO Food & Sustainability Programme Delivers Oral Statement at Human Rights Council

On March 8, 2017, the Clustered Interactive Dialogue (ID) on Sustainable Environment and on the Right to Food was held at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council. During the event, both the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Mr. John Knox, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Ms. Hilal Elver, presented their findings.

QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme has been actively following UN Special Rapporteur Knox’ report on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. In particular, last fall, we have submitted a written contribution to highlight the important role of agricultural biodiversity and small-scale farmers for the enjoyment of human rights.

In an oral statement, delivered by Nora Meier, Programme Assistant for Food & Sustainability at the Interactive Dialogue, we commended Mr. Knox for his report and thanked him for recognizing the explicit connection between agricultural biodiversity and global food and nutrition security and the ability to adapt to climate change and other abiotic and biotic stressors. Furthermore, we highlighted that industrial agriculture is the largest driver of biodiversity loss and causing harm to the health of people and our planet. We ended our oral statement by asking Mr. Knox: “What action should States take separately and jointly to support the role of small-scale farmers in managing agricultural biodiversity in order to mitigate and prevent the negative impact on enjoyment of human rights arising from loss of biodiversity?”

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March 2017

QUNO Review March 2017 now available

Our new, March 2017 edition of the QUNO Review is now available for download. The publication provides a brief introduction to QUNO and our way of working, as well as an overview of each of our programme areas. Learn more about our past year of our work and see where we are headed in 2017.

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February 2017

QUNO Attends 33rd IGC on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at WIPO

On February 27, 2017, QUNO Food & Sustainability Programme Assistant, Nora Meier, attended the opening of the 33rd session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. While the last two sessions were concerned with Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge respectively, this week’s meeting will focus on Traditional Cultural Expressions (TCEs). In particular, the member states will be debating the development of an international legal framework to protect TCEs and will intend to narrow existing gaps and reach common understanding on core issues. This includes the continuing negotiations around policy objectives, beneficiaries, scope of protection, administration of rights, and exceptions and limitations.

The morning session included a panel of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on the theme of “IGC Draft Articles on the Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions: Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Perspectives”. Keynote speaker, Prof. Rebecca Tsosie (of Yaqui heritage), and the two respondents, Dr. Kanyinke Sena (member of the Maasai Peoples, Kenya) and Ms. Lucia Fernanda Inácio Belfort Sales (member of the Povo Kaingáng Peoples, Brazil), laid out their perspectives and cautioned the IGC, inter alia, that culture is not static and TCEs are constantly evolving. Therefore, applying a timeframe to the protection of TCEs would be contrary to their nature. Furthermore, they emphasized the importance of the Voluntary Fund for the credibility of the IGC as a whole as well as the negotiations being undertaken during the sessions. The Voluntary Fund, which depends on voluntary contributions of member states, has been depleted since 2014. Therefore, the IGC has not been able to provide direct funding for representatives of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities to participate in the IGC sessions.  

QUNO welcomes the opportunity to be part of this session and will continue to monitor the progress of the negotiations this week. It supports the statements made by the Chair and the Indigenous Caucus, which called on member states to contribute to the Voluntary Fund. 

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February 2017

Priority areas for QUNO at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council

The 34th session of the Human Rights Council starts today in Geneva and QUNO will be following it closely.

At the opening session, the UN Secretary General, the President of the General Assembly and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights addressed States. In his speech, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded States of their commitments to human rights during a turbulent political era:

To those political actors who… threaten the multilateral system or intend to withdraw from parts of it, the sirens of historical experience ought to ring clear. We will not sit idly by. For we have much to lose, so much to protect. And our rights, the rights of others, the very future of our planet cannot, must not be thrown aside by these reckless political profiteers’ (full speech here)

This session will be significant for several of QUNO’s programme areas:

Peacebuilding and Human Rights

QUNO welcomes the decision of the Human Rights Council to address the issue of “The contribution of human rights to peacebuilding through enhancing dialogue and international cooperation for the promotion of human rights” at the High-Level Mainstreaming Panel on the 27th February. QUNO has longstanding programmes on both Peace and Disarmament and Human Rights and Refugees with relation to the UN and has been working for several years, in collaboration with our colleagues in New York, specifically to promote and strengthen the link between human rights, peacebuilding, and sustaining peace. We look forward to the making an oral statement at the Mainstreaming Panel, with our core message addressing the importance of better collaboration between human rights and sustaining peace. We will emphasize that economic, social and cultural rights are crucial to addressing the root causes of destructive conflict.

Human rights and Refugees

For the Human Rights and Refugees Programme, at this session we have a particular focus on child’s rights in the context of the death penalty. On 14th March, there will be a High-Level Panel on the death penalty, looking at how it relates to the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. For this, we have prepared a written statement exploring how children of parents sentenced to death or executed might be considered victims of torture under international law. Our other main priority area during the Council is the human rights of refugees and migrants, and we will be closely following an Enhanced Interactive Dialogue on migration to be held on 10th March.  

Food and Sustainability

QUNO’s Food and Sustainability Programme is particularly interested in the link of human rights and biodiversity. In a written submission to Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox, we emphasized the importance of agricultural biodiversity for the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, such as the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation. The Special Rapporteur will be presenting his report on biodiversity on March 7, 2017 during an Interactive Dialogue. The F&S Programme is looking forward to attending this session and to delivering an oral statement on the role of small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity.  

Human Impacts of Climate Change

QUNO’s Human Impacts of Climate Change programme looks forward to the panel discussion on Climate Change and the Rights of the Child on 2nd March and we will be making a statement. The very heart of our message is that climate change is an intergenerational justice concern that critically needs immediate, sufficient and rights-based climate action to address the root causes.

We will be underlining the importance of recognising the current and future threats that climate change poses on vulnerable communities, children, and future generations by referring to the latest climate science to emphasize the consequences and effects of anthropogenic climate change is currently having on human rights. Recognising that human rights are under threat- including the right to life, health, food, water, adequate housing, and self-determination, articulates what is at stake and that this could also have serious repercussions with regard to peace and the threat of violence. 

However, this does not need to happen as we will reiterate the urgent need for a sufficient and rights-based climate action, by calling upon States to act urgently and justly, to protect our children and all our future generations.

See below for links to our written statements. We will also be delivering oral statements during the session.

 

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February 2017

QUNO contributed to GAFSP Monitoring and Evaluation Plan

On February 17, 2017, QUNO’s Food & Sustainability Programme was asked to contribute to the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) document, which is intended to serve as a reference to all Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) stakeholders. The updated plan will guide all new projects in the GAFSP portfolio going forward: on what is required at each stage of the project cycle, including applying and reporting against the GAFSP indicators. GAFSP emphasizes the role of monitoring and evaluation and learning on their website (see link below). Their M&E Plan reflects the strong results-oriented nature of GAFSP fund.

QUNO commends GAFSP for its transparency in seeking input from a wide range of interested parties at this early stage in developing its plan. In her written contribution submitted to the Working Group, Programme Representative Susan H. Bragdon voiced concern with “using [crop] yields as an indicator with no modifier […].”   Industrial agriculture may have increased the yield of some crops but this has come with high environmental costs. Susan therefore suggested “if increase in yields is an indicator, it needs to be yield per units of water and energy and environmental externalities” […], such as Greenhouse Gas emissions, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss. Furthermore, Susan emphasized the importance of including “impact on diversity grown and consumed […]” Susan noted this is of particular importance in light of dietary simplification being a cause of ‘hidden hunger’ and the nutrition transition that underpins obesity. Throughout the M&E report, Susan also highlighted the need to explicitly include agricultural biodiversity, in-situ and on-farm, as being critical to the long-term sustainability of any intervention for food and nutrition security.

QUNO is looking forward to the publication of the finalized report and welcomed the opportunity to contribute. 

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February 2017

QUNO contributes to CFS report on "Multistakeholder Partnerships"

During the 43rd Plenary Session in October 2016, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested that the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) produce a report on “Multistakeholder Partnerships to Finance and Improve Food Security and Nutrition in the Framework of the 2030 Agenda”. This report will be presented at the CFS 45 Plenary session in October 2018.

Before the report’s publication in the coming year, the expert panel has launched an ‘e-consultation’ process to gather views and comments on eight questions built around the scope and building blocks of the report, as proposed by the HLPE Steering Committee.

QUNO appreciates the opportunity to participate in the e-consultation and commented on the questions related to Multistakeholder Partnerships and the respective roles and responsibilities of public and private stakeholders and civil society in such partnerships and the questions relating to stakeholders and farmers’ participation.  

In particular, Programme Representative Susan Bragdon and Programme Assistant Nora Meier cautioned the HLPE to further study Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the area of food security before advocating for their use. While QUNO is emphasizing that “the issue is not pro-private sector and anti-public sector or vice versa,” it states that “it is about the appropriate roles and boundaries of each.” Therefore, first and foremost, there is a need for a better understanding of the role of the public sector, in particular as a provider of goods and services in food security as well as the role of the private sector in providing food security. In its statement, QUNO also asked to see “a reflection that governments play a critical, unique role in sustainable, national food systems and need to have both the space and capacity to act in the public interest.”

Furthermore, QUNO voiced their concern about the use of the term ‘stakeholder’ and the need to make sure that clear and rigorous definitions are understood and applied. In particular, “not every stakeholder has an equal stake” – for a small-scale farmer, decisions can be life and death, while for a corporation or company the “stake” may be in profits accrued or lost. 

Finally, QUNO commented on the need for farmer participation and stated that “we would therefore like the HPLE to consider the need to more experimentation, experience and information sharing on the practicalities of how to secure the input of highly diverse farmer groups, and in particular small-scale farmers.”

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January 2017

QUNO attends Global Donor Platform for Rural Development in Brussels

QUNO’s Food and Sustainability (F&S) programme representative Susan H. Bragdon attended the AGA this year to discuss the Agenda 2030 and how the new framework of global development priorities can be supported to achieve food and nutrition security for all.

Today, half the world’s food is produced by 1.5 billion small-scale farmers. However, while small-scale farmers contribute so much to global food security, they are often poor or very poor, and food insecure themselves. Of the hundreds of millions that go hungry daily (almost 1 billion), millions are rural, poor small-scale farmers. Decline in small-scale farmer livelihoods has increased rural-urban migration rates, as 54 percent of the world population now lives in urban areas, which is reducing food production and eroding food security (UNDESA, 2014).

QUNO therefore appreciated the opportunity to participate in the AGA, in particular in the discussions around the role of agriculture considering the new SDGs and the challenges of climate change as they relate to food security, small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity. 

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January 2017

QUNO Attended 16th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in Rome 30 January – 3 February 2017

QUNO’s Food and Sustainability (F&S) programme representative Susan H. Bragdon attended the 16th regular session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the FAO headquarters in Rome from 30 January to 3 February 2017. She closely followed the session, regional consultations, and side events as well as the one-day special event on the Contribution of Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture to Resilience.

The F&S programme team welcomed the opportunity to attend this event and was encouraged by the cross-sectorial work that has been done as well as by the reports and plans of action on plant genetic resources that have been produced.  

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November 2016

Expert Consultation on the Role of Government in Supporting Small-Scale Farmers and Agricultural Biodiversity

On November 6-8, 2016, the QUNO Food and Sustainability Programme hosted an expert consultation on the role of the public sector in supporting small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity at Chateau de Bossey, just outside of Geneva. 15 participants from around the world and representing a variety of professional backgrounds came together to discuss how to best help governments determine their roles in ensuring food security and to develop tools for them to create national food policies with small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity at their core.

While this consultation was only the beginning of a process with the long-term objective of achieving more just and sustainable food systems, the below documents were produced in preparation for the meeting as well as a result of the discussion held throughout. 

 

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November 2016

QUNO Attends 32nd IGC on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at WIPO

On November 28, 2016, QUNO attended the opening day of the 32nd session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. Some of the issues to be discussed during this week-long meeting will be around the development of an international legal framework to protect traditional knowledge, genetic resources and traditional cultural expressions. Member states will continue the negotiations around policy objectives, beneficiaries, scope of protection, rights holders, transparency, incorporation of customary law and complementary measures with the goal of narrowing the existing gaps on core issues.

Prior to today’s session, we also attended the Seminar on Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge (November 24-25), during which indigenous peoples and people from local communities from all around the world discussed, among other issues, the importance of the distinction between ‘sacred and secret and narrowly and widely diffused traditional knowledge’. The diverse set of speakers of the seminar included intellectual property attorneys, a member of the Maasai People of Kenya, and a member of the Kichwa/Kayambi Peoples of Ecuador, among others.

QUNO welcomed the opportunity to be part of both events and is looking forward to the outcomes of the sessions. QUNO supports the statements made by the Indigenous Caucus this morning to call on member states to continuously support the existence of the voluntary fund. This fund is essential in ensuring the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in these negotiations, which in turn speaks for the legitimacy and credibility of the instrument to be developed. 

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November 2016

QUNO moderates for the FAO Event on Peace and Food Security

During Geneva Peace Week, QUNO representative Diane Hendrick moderated an event for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on “Contributions to peacebuilding and prevention:  Agriculture and food security perspectives”. The event was an opportunity to for participants with peacebuilding and/or agricultural backgrounds to explore the linkages between agriculture and food security and sustainable peace, which largely remain as separate areas of work.

The panelists discussed the linkages between sustaining peace, food security and agriculture at both system level and on the ground bringing an example of FAO work in South Sudan. The discussion highlighted the importance of protecting and investing in rural livelihoods and sustainable food security before, during and after conflict as this can play an important role in peacebuilding processes.

Below are links to relevant FAO publications. The GreeNTD document illustrates the FAO’s practical work in improving resilience of livelihoods and land disputes in DRC, and the Peace and Food Security paper provides a broader understanding of investing in agriculture for sustainable peace with interesting facts.

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November 2016

QUNO hosted consultation on the role of governments in supporting small-scale farmers and and agricultural biodiversity

QUNO hosted an expert consultation on the role of governments in supporting small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity on November 6-8. In this excerpt from the latest Geneva Reporter newsletter, our Food & Sustainability Representative Susan Bragdon discusses the event.

 

Can you tell our readers about your upcoming event? Who will be participating? 

We are bringing together small-scale farmer organizations, economists and experts in public administration—people who don’t commonly sit at the same table—to discuss the role of governments in supporting small-scale farmers, agricultural biological diversity and ensuring the long-term food security of their populations. We will have small-scale farmers from Bolivia, Cuba, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal and Zimbabwe in attendance. We have an economist from India who has been exploring these issues around health and agriculture for a couple of decades. We will have experts in public administration, in food system policy and in public-private partnerships. This wonderful mix of disciplines and geographies should yield interesting insights and results. 

What are your expectations for the consultation? 

This consultation is an attempt to challenge the dominant narrative that orients us to markets. We’re going to develop a strategy for raising awareness among national and international policy makers of the importance of small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity, and develop tools for helping governments determine what their roles should be in ensuring food security. Of course, every country is different and food security strategies must be tailored accordingly. This consultation is just the start. We need to keep this conversation going—asking critical questions and bringing together different perspectives—with the long term objective of achieving more just and sustainable food systems. 

We thank all the participants for joining us in this event and are looking forward to moving these discussions along. Next step will be the release of an agreed upon statement on the actions we think government should take in support of small-scale farmers and agricultural biodiversity.

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November 2016

Read QUNO's latest Geneva Reporter newsletter

QUNO's November 2016 issue of the Geneva Reporter newsletter is now available online. The latest issue features: an interview with our Food & Sustainability Representative on her upcoming expert consultation on the role of governments in supporting small-scale farmers and ensuring food security, a report on the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, news about our inequality side-event during Geneva Peace Week, and a QUNO Q&A  with 2016 Geneva Summer School participant Ayah Abubasheer.

The newsletter also includes a one-page insert featuring QUNO's perspective on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The full publication is available below.

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October 2016

QUNO Attended Symposium on UPOV and ITPGRFA

On October 26, 2016, QUNO attended a joint symposium on possible interrelations between the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV Convention). 

The issue of interrelations between the ITPGRFA and the UPOV Conventions in the context of Farmers’ Rights was raised at the ITPGRFA Governing Body in 2013 in Oman. Resolution 8/2013 on “Implementation of Article 9, Farmers’ Rights” requested the Treaty Secretariat “to invite UPOV and WIPO to jointly identify possible areas of interrelations among their respective international instruments”. This was in response to concerns that the activities of UPOV and WIPO undermine implementation of Article 9 of the ITPGRFA, which concerns “Farmers’ Rights. One key concern is that UPOV, in particular its Act of 1991, places severe restrictions on the right of farmers to save, use, exchange and sell seeds.

QUNO attended this symposium with a special interest in the discussion on reconciling farmers and plant breeders rights and on strengthening farmers’ seeds systems. Farmers' seed systems provide more than 80 percent of the total food crop seeds used by farmers. In other words, seed security leads to food security. These systems are also the main channel through which small-scale farmers can access new improved variety of seeds from the formal section. 

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October 2016

QUNO Co-Hosted Side Event at Committee on World Food Security in Rome

On October 20, 2016, QUNO and the Swiss Agency for Development and Coordination (SDC) co-hosted a panel discussion on Who Will and How Will We Feed Humanity at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) 43 in Rome. The co-head of SDC’s global food security program, Manuel Flury, opened the side event. It was the first time in the agency’s history that the SDC co-hosted a side event at CFS with a Civil Society Organization (CSO). The panel speakers included Pat Mooney (ETC), Nichola Dyer (GAFSP), Juan Gonzalez-Valero (Syngenta), Netty Wiebe of La Via Campesina and Susan Bragdon as a moderator.

The panelists were asked to discuss two countries A and B based on previously sent out key characteristics. The two questions that guided the discussion were how their organizations would contribute to the food security situation in each country and what they believed the role of the public sector was in each of the country in terms of ensuring food and nutrition security. The event was very well received and several people commented on the diverse panel that provided for an excellent opportunity to bring together different actors to discuss their perspectives. 

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October 2016

QUNO to Co-Host Side Event at Committee on World Food Security in Rome

On the occasion of the CFS 43 in Rome next week, QUNO will co-host a side event with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The side event is entitled ‘Who Will and How Will We Feed Humanity’ and will be moderated by QUNO’s Food and Sustainability representative Susan Bragdon.

A panel of four speakers, representing the private sector, civil society and farmers, will be trying to find complementarity between contrasting approaches to achieving food security and nutrition. Discussions around how to achieve food security and nutrition and the related targets of Agenda 2030 are often polarized — and charged. How core challenges are framed, often rooted in a particular ideology or perspective, lead to different and sometimes contrasting approaches to solving them. Discussions on the role of trade and the value of on-farm innovation and biodiversity will be enriched as a result and lead to practical outcomes.

Panelists will describe how their organizations contribute to the food security of hypothetical nations, how their interventions articulate with one another, and identify appropriate roles for governments. The side-event will be opened by Manuel Flury, Co-Head of the Global Programme Food Security at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

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October 2016

QUNO Submits Contribution to Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & the Environment

Following up on a public consultation on Biodiversity and Human Rights at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, QUNO submitted a contribution to Special Rapporteur John Knox’s upcoming report on biodiversity and human rights.

The contribution focuses on the application of a human rights approach to agricultural biodiversity. QUNO finds the latter to be a critical subset of biodiversity, upon which all of humanity depends. Small-scale farmers are the active managers and developers of the majority of this diversity worldwide. QUNO believes that a human rights interpretation of agricultural biodiversity may encourage States to proactively develop legislation, programs and policies that are supportive of small-scale farmers.

QUNO therefore calls upon Mr. Knox to consider including agricultural biodiversity in his report on human rights obligations as they relate to the protection of biological diversity and ecosystems to be released in March 2017.

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September 2016

QUNO Attends WTO Public Forum 2016 on Inclusive Trade

During the last week of September 2016, QUNO attended the WTO Public Forum on Inclusive Trade. Throughout various plenary sessions and side events, QUNO followed the discussions on how to enable a wider range of individuals and businesses to participate in the trading systems and how WTO rules can help to ensure everyone benefits from trade. In particular, QUNO paid close attention to the panel discussions on the roles of agriculture and small scale farmers in today’s global trading system. 

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September 2016

QUNO attends Public Consultation on Biodiversity and Human Rights at the 33rd Session of the Human Rights Council

On September 22, 2016, QUNO attended a public consultation on biodiversity and human rights obligations at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, presented his approach for his report to be introduced at the upcoming Human Rights Council session in March 2017. The release of the report, which will focus on human rights obligations as they relate to the protection of biological diversity and ecosystems, will be closely followed by QUNO.

While attending the public consultation, QUNO intervened to emphasize the importance of agricultural biological diversity and small-scale farmers in this discussion. QUNO stated its opinion that the unique characteristics of agricultural biological diversity could usefully be elaborated upon in the upcoming report. 

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September 2016

QUNO submits statement to 31st session of WIPO's committee on IP and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore

© WIPO 2016. Photo: Emmanuel Berrod

QUNO attended the opening of the 31st session of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) in Geneva on Monday September 19, 2016.

Following a panel discussion of Indigenous Peoples on a draft text and international legal instrument to ensure the effective protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, QUNO submitted a written statement to emphasize the importance of small-scale farmers in that discussion.  

In its statement, QUNO acknowledged and appreciated the essential representation of Indigenous Peoples present at the 31st WIPO IGC session. However, it called upon the IGC and those who take part in it to also encourage the participation of small-scale farmers, whether or not they identify themselves as Indigenous.

The statement was submitted on September 22, 2016. 

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