Ensuring a sustainable future through recognizing and protecting indigenous ecological knowledge

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Legal Aspects of Sustainable Development: Horizontal and Sectorial Policy Issues, 2015, pp. 109 - 123
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016. This paper sets out the way in which Indigenous ecological knowledge has received increasing recognition as a holistic mechanism through which Australia’s natural resources can be sustainably managed. This increased recognition and consequent utilization needs to take place within a legal framework that acknowledges and respects the customary laws and rules of the Indigenous ecological knowledge holders and provides appropriate benefits back to those knowledge holders. This paper considers the nature of such a legal framework and reports on the research conducted by the author and her research team, through the use of action research and Indigenous research paradigm methodologies, in developing such a legal regime that encapsulates the principles established in the Convention on Biological Diversity 1992, expanded in the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention, and reinforced in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007. The result was a White Paper espousing a sui generis legal framework of recognition and protection of Indigenous knowledge associated with natural resource management focussed on the Aboriginal Communities of the state of New South Wales in Australia and accordingly reflects the concerns and interests of those communities while incorporating the international law principles described above. This was achieved through an initial comparative analysis of regimes already in existence in other nations, the establishment of a highly skilled and multidisciplinary Working Party representing both Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals and stakeholders, and finally through Aboriginal Community consultation.
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