Australian Donation Means New Life for Fund that Involves Indigenous Peoples in International Negotiations

Geneva / Canberra, March 1, 2017
PR/2017/803

Jointly released by WIPO and Australia's Ministry for Industry, Innovation and Science

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry has welcomed an independent contribution by the Australian Government that has reinvigorated a fund supporting the participation of the world’s indigenous peoples in international negotiations hosted at WIPO.

WIPO member states in 2005 established the Voluntary Fund for Accredited Indigenous and Local Communities to help bring the perspective of these communities to the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC).

Since its inception, the Voluntary Fund has collected some CHF 620,000 to host 69 different representatives of various indigenous and local communities at the IGC and related meetings. The fund has remained empty since early February 2014 despite pleas for its replenishment.

In opening a February 28 2017 celebration of Australian indigenous culture and innovation on the sidelines of the IGC’s 33rd meeting, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells foreshadowed a donation of AUD 50,000 to the Voluntary Fund. Australia’s total contributions to date represent 20 per cent of the fund since it was launched.

Video: Australia boosts fund that involves Indigenous Peoples in negotiations.

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry welcomed the contribution. “Australia’s donation underscores its dedication to ensuring that the voices of indigenous and local communities are delivered in person here at WIPO,” said Mr. Gurry. “I hope other member states will quickly follow suit with their own donations.”

Australia’s Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy MP, said he was pleased IP Australia was able to make this donation.

“This contribution by the Australian Government will assist the participation of indigenous peoples in these negotiations. In Australia, we have a vibrant, living indigenous culture and a rich heritage of biodiversity.” Mr. Laundy said he encouraged other WIPO members to make similar contributions.

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