The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

Message from WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry, on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

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GENEVA – Indigenous Peoples’ traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) embody significant innovation and creativity and contribute to the diversity and richness of the planet’s civilizations and cultures. They also contribute to the cultural identity, sustainable development and social cohesion of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and, globally, to the conservation of the environment, the promotion of food security and the advancement of public health.

The enhanced promotion, preservation and protection of TK and TCEs are called for by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, who seek greater control over if and how their TK and TCEs are accessed and used outside the traditional context.

Indigenous Peoples and local communities have, therefore, a direct stake in the negotiations underway at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) with the objective of reaching agreement on an international legal instrument or instruments which will ensure the effective protection of TK and TCEs. The negotiations also address the relationship between intellectual property and genetic resources, another issue of seminal interest and importance for Indigenous Peoples. The negotiations take place within the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (the IGC).

In this regard, this year’s theme for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, “Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honoring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements”, advocates for the need to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples. The United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) reflects a global understanding on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and it directly addresses intellectual property protection in its Article 31, which refers to Indigenous Peoples’ “right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions”.


Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

One thought on “Message from WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry, on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

  1. Pingback: Traditional Food | westernimpression

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