A three-year independent international initiative to protect the traditional knowledge and intellectual property of indigenous peoples is to be launched this month. Indigenous experts in cultural and intellectual property from around the world will develop a strategy to achieve greater participation in, and control by, indigenous peoples in the protection and development of their cultural heritage.

To respond to the threats and challenges of emerging international intellectual property (IP) policies which do not adequately reflect or respond to the concerns of indigenous peoples, an international committee of indigenous peoples experts on traditional knowledge and intellectual property is launching “The Call of the Earth: Ancient Wisdom for Sustaining Livelihoods, Cultures and Environments.”

The Call of the Earth Circle initiative aims at advancing indigenous peoples’ perspectives on intellectual property policy. The initiative includes a series of Global and Regional Dialogues on Intellectual Property, which will be held over the next three years, the development of a Knowledge Base and support for local innovative initiatives and capacity building. A supporting ‘Circle of Wise People and Friends’ will also be developed to enable those wishing to participate and assist in this initiative.

The Call of the Earth Circle initiative will be launched in Bellagio, Italy, next week. The initiative is being organized by an Ad-Hoc Indigenous Peoples Steering Committee and is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations University, The Convention on Biological Diversity, the Mataatua Declaration Association and other international organizations.