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Biodiversity as a Common Resource: Conflict Concerning Property and Exploitation

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Massieu, Yolanda
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1541
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Information & Knowledge
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
conflict--case studies
intellectual property rights
genetic resources
international treaties
Abstract: "The paper considers the increasing importance of biodiversity as a strategic resource, specially since the development of genetic engineering. Biological conservation has been an important goal both of governments and environmentalists, mainly because environmental and ethical reasons. Bio-prospection is an important activity of biotechnology industry since the nineties and there are powerful economic interests about exploring and collecting plants, animals and micro-organisms. This has transformed biodiversity in a strategic resource for this powerful industry. There are now new Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) that concern biodiversity and lead to a more private use of it. In this paper I try to make an analysis of IPR towards biodiversity (both in Mexico and international level), on the one side, and the fact that high biodiversity regions in Mexico have common property characteristics and indigenous population in many cases. This is leading to increasing social and economic conflicts. I start describing the strategic importance of biodiversity, as well as the situation of IPR towards it. I also consider related international agreements. I continue giving information about a case study: Los Chimalapas, Oaxaca, one of the most high biodiversity regions in Mexico, in which there is indigenous population and social, economic and political conflicts are very important. Being the traditional territory of zoques indigenous group, this region has been very isolated, there are conflicts about limits between Chiapas and Oaxaca and in recent decades powerful economic groups linked to livestock production and drugs are taking some lands by force and attacking zoque group. There has been also action of some environmental non-government organizations and there is a proposal of a peasant-indigenous natural protected area, although it has not been implemented yet. Conflicts have taken violent forms and they are an obstacle for biodiversitys conservation and sustainable use. As conclusion, I try to make a reflection about the possibility of solving problems and making a sustainable and socially fair use of biodiversity in regions as the Chimalapas in Mexico."

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