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Benefit-sharing in the Brazilian Amazon: the challenges to achieving equity and fairness

Ramos, Roberta Peixoto (2019) Benefit-sharing in the Brazilian Amazon: the challenges to achieving equity and fairness. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004242


As a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity and as one of the most socio-biodiverse countries in the world, Brazil has, since 2001, legally regulated access of genetic resources and traditional knowledge in the country. Despite that, there has been very little success in achieving fair and equitable benefit-sharing agreements, especially where indigenous people and traditional communities are involved in the negotiation. This suggests a grossly unjust power imbalance between users and providers of biodiversity and traditional knowledge. This research looks into the challenges of achieving fairness and equity in access and benefit sharing (ABS) through the lens of a rights-based approach to conservation, where the right to participation, the right to prior informed consent, the right to land security and the right to culture are shown to be elements that can influence the fairness and justice of an ABS agreement. To illustrate this, a case study of an ABS contract signed between the Oriximiná ‘Quilombola’ (1) communities and a Brazilian university for access to their biodiversity and traditional knowledge for pharmaceutical research is analysed. The experience of this community reveals that justice and equity cannot be achieved solely according to the content of a contract, as it is generally expected. There are aspects of the negotiation process such as the community’s access to information and respect for customary norms that need to be taken into account, which discussion of the rights-based approach brings to light. The thesis evolves to a discussion of the Bailique Community Protocol, the first of its kind in Brazil, which is an innovative tool for natural resource management and community empowerment. This thesis shows how a Community Protocol can be an instrument that addresses the many challenges identified in the Oriximiná case study, thus having the potential to be used as a mechanism to support communities in achieving a fair and equitable benefit-sharing in cases of access to their traditional knowledge. By discussing and constructing their community protocols, communities are able to define their customary norms, their decision-making processes and their development priorities, enhancing the possibility of a more equal and informed dialogue with external actors interested in accessing their biodiversity and knowledge. (1) Quilombolas are a self-defined ethnic group with specific territorial relations and an identification of black ancestry that is related to resistance to their historical oppression

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Roberta Peixoto Ramos
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Hall, Anthony

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