The first phase of data collection for the 14 provinces under cultural mapping programs has been completed, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told parliament on Monday.
He spoke about the program and initiatives of the iTaukei Ministry of Affairs to encourage learning and transfer of indigenous ecological knowledge and environmental management. Currently, he said, the data was verified, cleaned and would be stored in the database of traditional knowledge and cultural expression.
“The database will be a repository of knowledge and information and will evolve into a registry,” he said.
He said this was an essential part of the Traditional Knowledge and Cultural Expression (TKEC) Bill which would soon be submitted to Parliament.
He said the ministry was working with attorney general chambers on the TKEC bill, a specific law that covered traditional knowledge.
“The TKEC bill provides for the registration, ownership and protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression.
He said that the iTaukei Ministry of Affairs has undertaken over the years a national exercise on cultural mapping to be able to transcribe, archive and compile an accurate record of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression iTaukei and that the exercise does not was not yet finalized.
“Until the cultural mapping exercise is completed and the registry is in place, the bill, even if implemented now, will not be effective. “
“The owners and developers of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions will first need to be identified before action can be taken against the illegal use of traditional cultural knowledge or traditional cultural expression.
“But once it is in place, Mr President, Sir, it will provide a legal remedy for traditional communities to complain about a person, business or institution that they believe is abusing their designs, their traditional totems or their traditional knowledge. “