16 Mar 2004

Indigenous Pacific islands advised to protect their knowledge and resources

4:26 pm on 16 March 2004

Indigenous people of the Pacific are being advised to protect their knowledge and resources to benefit them, not others.

An expert adviser to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Mililani Trask, says Pacific people need a stronger voice.

And, she says this is one reason why a Pacific branch of the UN forum is being set up.

Ms Trask says Pacific people have been marginalised for too long and there needs to be better protection of their natural resources.

"This has become a major issue in terms of the commercialisation of biodiversity and also the taking of indigenous knowledge, especially in the field of medicinals. Pharmaceuticals are covetous of obtaining the knowledge of how we use various things such as noni but the Pacific is not benefitting from this."

The forum is being held over three days in Fiji and is being attended by representatives from 15 Pacific island countries.