This report explores the extent to which indigenous knowledge have been advanced by the 1992 Rio Earth Summit up to Rio 20 in the evolution of coastal, ocean and marine environmental law. Parties to the Rio Earth Summit have failed to follow through on their commitments, but the state of the global environment would have been worse off without the Rio initiatives. But Indigenous knowledge issues have yet to gain traction in areas of marine genetic resources (MGR) and marine scientific research (MSR). Integrated, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral ecosystem-based environmental management requires that Indigenous knowledge be re-engaged and not subjugated in a hierarchy of knowledge. Indigenous peoples’ lifestyles and knowledge systems stand to be dramatically changed by policies in ecosystem management. Coastal, ocean and marine environmental resource governance needs to be constructed in a way that does not allow powerful global actors to exploit the natural resources of vulnerable populations. MSR is an opportunity for considering the role of intellectual property and bioprospecting as a force for public interest scientific research, rather than the appropriation of Indigenous knowledge. The urgent need to engage Indigenous issues and knowledge is just as relevant in the coastal and oceans arena as they are in other contexts.
Oguamanam, Chidi, Rio+20: Indigenous Knowledge and Intellectual Property in Coastal and Ocean Law (2013). 27 Ocean Yearbook 121 (2013).