BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, ACCESS, INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE AND
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science
University of Sri Jayewardenapura
Evidence of the accelerating depletion of natural resources and other
environmental and social problems has resulted in a global consensus on
the need to see development in terms of long term sustainability. This
interest in sustainable development has been accompanied by an interest
in important related issues such as the conservation of natural resources,
indigenous knowledge systems (cultural diversity), intellectual property
For thousands of years, information on plant genetic resources has been
collected freely all over the world. However, the growth of biotechnologies
which use genetic resources thus raising their commercial value in combination
with the loss of biological diversity world-wide had led to a narrowing
of the free exchange principle. Thus far, this narrowing has been largely
one sided. For many years, the developed countries have realised enormous
benefits from their access to third world genetic materials, specially
in the case of crop plants.
This paper explores the relationship between cultural diversity and biological
diversity and how indigenous knowledge technologies derived from that
can be used to manage biological resources on a sustainable manner. It
also explores the reasons and underlying causes for the cultural and environmental
changes which include biodiversity and indigenous knowledge systems vital
to sustainability to lose at an incredible rate.
The paper also discusses the threats placed on biodiversity, traditional
indigenous knowledge, the agreements and conventions which encourage countries
to consider ways and means for the effective protection and use of traditional
knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous people and other local
communities as well as fair equitable sharing of benefits arising from
such knowledge, innovations and practices.
Department of Forestry and Environmental Science,
of Sri Jayewardenepura,Sri Lanka. 1995-2000. All rights reserved.