Sunday, 19 August 2012

join the People's Biodiversity Festival at Hyderabad, Oct 13 to 16th


Dear friends,
We warmly invite you to participate in the ‘People’s Biodiversity Festival: Unity for Diversity,’ from October 13 to 16, 2012, at the Exhibition Grounds, Nampalli, Hyderabad, bringing together a large number of groups from all over India and other countries.
The event will be a festive gathering of people in celebration of our rich biodiversity of crops, flora, fauna, and our vibrant and colorful bio-cultural heritage.
We hope you will join us!
More information and contact details are given below, followed by a note on our shared concerns, and why we are having this Festival to coincide with the international Convention on Biological Diversity.
With warm wishes,
'People's Bio-diversity Festival' team



People’s Bio-diversity Festival
 ‘Unity for Diversity’
(October 13 to 16, 2012 at Exhibition Grounds, Nampalli, Hyderabad)

Themes and Objectives:
·         Celebrating and protecting our rich biodiversity of crops, flora, fauna; and sustainable bio-cultural heritage
·         Safe-guarding the rights of farmers, adivasis, forest-dwellers, hill folk, fisher folk, future generations
·         Promoting and supporting holistic ecological agriculture and bio-diverse forestry for local needs and health
·         Conserving and regenerating natural wealth, sustainable livelihoods & traditional knowledge
·         Adopting a people’s manifesto for biodiversity as a collective, open-source heritage, free of private Intellectual Property Rights; and reclaiming farmers’ crop varieties from institutional germplasm banks
·         Local, regional, national and global networking for policy correction and collaboration





Features:
·         Display of several thousand heritage seed varieties of various crops/plants
·         Diverse indigenous breeds of life-stock
·         Direct interaction with farmers, seed savers, indigenous peoples and activists
·         Posters, photographs, documentation
·         Talks, presentations, workshops, discussions, seminars
·         Film screenings and cultural programmes, including song, music and tribal dance
·         Display and sale of books, ecological products, traditional arts and crafts
·         Seed exchange and sharing
·         Sale of indigenous, organic foods – to eat or take away

Participation: All who share our concerns are welcome to join. Registration for events and exhibition space will be on a first come – first served basis. So book early for your space and event!

Outreach Target: Citizens, farmers, youth, media, opinion and policy makers, international delegates to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and people at large. (At least 1,000 visitors are expected each day)

Organizational Process:
Collaborative and transparent, with voluntarily shared responsibilities and expenses; core group coordination and sub-group teams for various organizational functions, including: participant enrolment; sponsorship support; local assistance for outstation participants; venue arrangements; programme and cultural events; publicity and outreach mobilization; media contact, etc.

Call for:
·         Early confirmation of participation, stating the subject and nature of your proposed presentation/event/ exhibition, and a brief note about your group and its activity
(In view of the Navratri-Dussera festival beginning from the 16th Oct, you would also need to book your travel and return journey well in advance!)
·         Voluntary support for sharing organizational responsibility and/or expenses, indicating the  time/skills/ sponsorship you can offer
·         Please also widely publicize the Festival among whoever may be interested

Stall Booking:
About 60 exhibition stalls (approximately 10 ft x 10 ft) are available, each with 2 tables, 3 chairs, lights and fan. These will be available for setting up one day before the Festival begins, ie from the 12th October. No cost will be charged for booking a stall, but any voluntary contributions from those who can pay are welcome, and much needed.

Travel, Accommodation, Food, Local Transportation, etc.
We are trying to arrange simple, inexpensive accommodation not too far from the Festival venue. However, we request you to bear your own travel and food costs, and to bring all your exhibition materials, seeds, posters, etc. with you. To avoid the difficulties of daily local transportation to and from the Festival venue (and also to reduce accommodation expenses), participants are encouraged to camp at their own stall or adjoining open space at the Exhibition Ground, sharing the common toilet facilities available. For those requiring better hotel accommodation, a local hosting support team will try to assist you if you inform your needs & budget well in advance.

Contacts for enrolment/information:

  1) Jacob Nellithanan farmersrights@gmail.com Mob: 09425560950
  1. Bharat Mansata bharatmansata@yahoo.com Mob: 09967371183
  2. Ram Prasad ramprasad@chetnaorganic.org.in Mob: 09849422642
  3. Shashank Rajwadi srajwadi@yahoo.com Mob: 07842439062


Background ‘Concept Note’

Unity for Diversity

Why are we having a ‘People’s Biodiversity Festival’ at the same time as the international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at Hyderabad?

This is the ‘International Decade of Biodiversity’, as designated by the United Nations. Two decades ago, the world adopted the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which called for: (1) its conservation; (2) its sustainable use; and (3) the fair and equitable sharing of its benefits. This year, the CBD meets in October at Hyderabad to review its sad record of non-achievement, and the scaling down of its aspiration. But given current trends and indications, there seems little hope for any significant corrective outcome from the official government delegates to revitalize this once promising international treaty, unless strongly pressurized by people.

Presently, the CBD is gravely compromised, having bent backwards to accommodate the needs of big industry and capital, at the cost of the basic life support needs of common people. By capitulating to Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) on life forms and plant/crop varieties, it has effectively allowed the carving of private slices of the ‘genetic pie’ – at the cost of ecological sustainability and social equity. The ‘access’ to our rich heritage of crop germplasm, and the ‘benefits’ accruing from it have largely been cornered by a few big multi-national corporations, while the sharing between communities has declined.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal broke fresh news of what may well be called ‘The Great Gene Bazaar’. It reported that the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) would offer MNCs around 400,000 (seed) varieties of native germplasm, audaciously adding that ICAR would even be willing “to accept a small share of the profit!”  The ICAR Deputy Director General, Mr. Swapan Datta’s sales-talk on the fabulously rich fare offered for a song is – "We have crops that are being grown and adapted very naturally to different geographies. So we have drought-tolerant rice, terminal-heat tolerant wheat and salinity-tolerant crop varieties."

It is no secret that the agri-business MNCs promote unsustainable monocultures of Genetically Modified (GM) crops and commercial hybrids – grown with high inputs of increasingly expensive and scarce fossil-fuel energy, chemicals and water – leaving a trail of toxicity and greenhouse gases. Instead we need bio-diverse, self-reliant ecological farming with locally evolved or adapted, open-pollinated seeds, providing wholesome yields in a sustainable and healthy manner.

The eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, to be held from October 8 to 19, 2012 at Hyderabad, is expected to bring together tens of thousands of people from all over the globe. There is great urgent need to avail this opportunity to unitedly press upon the world, and our own people and policy makers, our core concerns. Our heritage of biodiversity (including agro-diversity) and related knowledge, can best be conserved as a collective commons, governed by the ethic of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbukam’ – the earth is one family. The narrow market view – lobbied by large corporates for carving out slices of exclusionary Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) over our collective genetic wealth – will ultimately preside over its demise, rather than conservation.

Most of us do not and cannot accept the naked attempts to privatize our precious agro-biodiversity heritage. While some may be planning to protest and campaign against these moves at the CBD gathering at Hyderabad in October, the fragmented nature of independent initiatives is sure to dilute their impact, enabling powerful economic interests to run roughshod over our concerns. The only hope lies in adopting a strong, united platform at a separate gathering in Hyderabad, coinciding with the CBD.

To protect the sanctity of our genetic and ecological commons – held in collective trusteeship for shared benefit and for passing on to future generations – we need to adopt an Open-source Heritage Registry of our biological and agricultural diversity and related knowledge, free from any exclusionary IPRs. We also need to assert the rights of our farmers to simplified, facilitated access to our many thousands of crop varieties in national and international germplasm banks, originally collected from our own farmlands, and having evolved through the cumulative innovations, adaptations and selections of many generations of our farmers. Return access is our inalienable right.

At a broader level, the onslaught of indiscriminate and reckless urban- industrial expansion – including forest mining, big dams, and large polluting/hazardous power plants – seizing and destroying our bio-heritage commons, violates the fundamental rights of many millions of farmers and indigenous peoples, including forest-dwellers, hill folk, fisher folk, etc, undermining the means of their sustainable livelihoods and healthy survival, provided by nature. This too cannot go unchallenged. Nor can the violence, indeed devastation, unleashed on other creatures, birds, bees, earthworms, fish, … and myriad other life forms, found only on our rare planet, and nowhere else that we know.

The proposed ‘Peoples’ Biodiversity Festival/Mela’ is thus an endeavor and appeal for a united front and campaign, reflecting our shared concerns, to be jointly presented at Hyderabad from October 13 to 16, 2012, and continued beyond. The event will hopefully lay the foundation for ongoing sharing and cooperation – for wider dissemination of our seed wealth and biodiversity-related knowledge for inclusive, ecological self-reliance in harmony with nature; and for sustained peoples’ pressure for public policy correction towards such purpose.

But alongside the challenges, is the celebration of all that we are still so fortunate to have. And so, the People’s Biodiversity Festival will be vibrantly festive and colourful, with irrepressible energy.

“Let us celebrate the infinite imagination of nature
Let us live and let live!”

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