Dr Daniel Robinson
Senior Lecturer
Field of Research: 
Biodiversity, indigenous knowledge, geography
Contact details:
+61 2 9385 9809

Room 409, G17 Building
UNSW, Kensington 2052

Research & Current Projects

Dr Daniel Robinson has a background in human geography, environmental science and environmental law. Daniel has a strong interest in indigenous and traditional knowledge for conservation and cultural maintenance, and has worked closely with local communities, particularly in Thailand, to understand the customary frameworks and 'knowledge domains' that help protect and sustain their knowledge.

Daniel also has an interest in the environmental and social implications of multilateral, regional and bilateral trade rules, particularly for the developing world.

Daniel's PhD was on Biodiversity-Related Traditional Knowledge in Thailand: Intellectual Property Relations and Geographies of Knowledge Regulation. From this research, he has developed a strong interest in issues related to bioprospecting and "biopiracy", and the need to protect the intellectual contributions of farmers and local communities. On this topic, Daniel authored the Earthscan book Confronting Biopiracy published in 2010.

On these issues, Daniel has acted as a researcher and/or consultant for the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and UNCTAD joint project on Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, The Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT), UNESCO, and the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. Daniel is also a research associate of the NGO Natural Justice.

In 2012 the GIZ led ABS Capacity-Development Initiative (with AusAID funding and DSEWPaC support) commissioned Daniel to analyse existing bioprospecting and biotrade activities including the following cases:
The Cook Islands Medical Technologies (CIMTECH) and Koutu Nui agreement,
The International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG) Project between the University of Utah and the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG),
The Santo 2006 Global Biodiversity Survey, Vanuatu, and
The Mamala case at the Faleolupo community in Samoa. The case studies are outlined in: ABS Capacity Development Initiative: The Pacific

Prior to gaining his PhD he worked in a range of positions including environmental consulting (environmental assessment and contaminated land, air and water), as a natural resources officer for Sydney Water, and as a research intern for Sutherland Council looking at housing sustainability indices.

Research in the Media

'The Kakadu plum controversy', 14 Dec 2010. ABC Radio National Interview on The Law Report.

'Patent Fights Erupt over Kakadu Plum', 4 Dec 2010, Sydney Morning Herald article.

International Patent on Kimberley Plant Extract’, 20 May 2010 (Thursday). Midday interview (12:05) ‘Mornings with Vanessa Mills’, ABC Radio Kimberley.

Kakadu Plum Patent’, 17 May 2010 (Monday ). Morning interview with ABC Radio National ‘Bush Telegraph’, 11am



IEST5002 - Tools for Environmental Management

IEST5007 - Environment and Development

ENVS1011 - Environmental Science for SUstainability


Current Research Students

Rebecca Cross (PhD candidate)

Nahid Saltana (PhD candidate) (Joint supervision with Dr John Merson)

Melissa Sinclair (PhD candidate)

Melissa Vogt (PhD candidate) (shared supervision with A/Prof Wendy Shaw)




Robinson, D. (2010) Confronting Biopiracy: Cases, Challenges and International Debates. Routledge Earthscan, UK. Now published in paperback.

Peer Reviewed Articles and Chapters

Robinson, D.F., Drozdzewski, D. and Kiddell, L. (Forth. 2013) ‘“You can’t change our ancestors without our permission”: Cultural Perspectives on Biopiracy.’ In Fredrikksson, M. and Arvanitakis, J. (eds) Piracy – Leakages of Modernity. Litwin Books, Sacramento CA.

Robinson, D. (2012) ‘Gains and Challenges in Access and Benefit-Sharing: Lessons from National Systems’ in Conservation in a Crowded World: Case studies from the Asia Pacific. Eds. J. Merson, R. Cooney, and P. Brown. Sydney: UNSW Press, 277-298.

Kalpage, S. Merson, J. and Robinson, D. (2012) 'Landscape-based Conservation and Sustainable Resource Use in the Developing World: A Case Study from Sri Lanka.' in Conservation in a Crowded World: Case studies from the Asia Pacific. Eds. J. Merson, R. Cooney, and P. Brown. Sydney: UNSW Press, 16-33.

Robinson, D. (2012) ‘Biopiracy and the Innovations of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities’ inIndigenous Peoples and Innovation:Intellectual Property Pathways to Development. Eds. P. Drahos, and S. Frankel. ANU E-Press, 73-90.

Robinson, D. (2011) ‘Local Agricultural and Environmental Knowledge: Working with Thai Institutes and Communities’ in Jennings J., Packham R., Woodside D. Eds. Shaping Change: Natural Resource Management, Agriculture and the Role of Extension. Australasia-Pacific Extension Network (APEN), Australia. ISBN 978-0-9577030-7-0. pp102-108.

Kabir Bavikatte and Daniel F. Robinson, ‘Towards a People’s History of the Law: Biocultural Jurisprudence and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing’, 7/1 Law, Environment and Development Journal(2011), p. 35
Available at: http://www.lead-journal.org/content/11035.pdf

Robinson, D. And Gibson, C. (2011) ‘Governing Knowledge: Discourses and Tactics of the European Union in Trade-Related Intellectual Property Negotiations’ Antipode: a radical journal of Geography, 43 (5) 1883-1910.

Zhang, C. and Robinson, D., Wang, J., Liu, J., Liu, X., and Tong, L. (2011) ‘Factors Influencing Farmers’ Willingness to Participate in the Conversion of Cultivated Land to Wetland Program in Sanjiang Nature Reserve, China’ Environmental Management, 47(1): 102-120.
Robinson, D. And Tobin, B. (2010) ‘Dealing with Traditional Knowledge under the ABS Protocol’ Bridges Trade BioRes Review. Nagoya Special Edition, October, 4(3): 8-10.  

Robinson, D. (2010) ‘Locating Biopiracy: Geographically and Culturally Situated Knowledges’ Environment and Planning A. 42(1): 38-56

Robinson, D. (2010) ‘Sui Generis Systems for Plant Variety Protection and Traditional Knowledge in Asia.’ In Melendez-Ortiz, R.  and Roffe, P. (ed) Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development: Development Agendas in a Changing World, Edward Elgar, London, ISBN 9781848446458, pp 235-270.

Kuanpoth, J. & Robinson, D. (2009) ‘Geographical Indications Protection: The Case of Thailand and Jasmine Rice’, Intellectual Property Quarterly. No 3, 2009. pp288-310.

Robinson, D. and Kuanpoth, J. (2009) ‘The Traditional Medicines Predicament: A Case Study of Thailand’, inJournal of World Intellectual Property. 11(5/6): 375-403

Robinson, D. and Edwards, D. (2009) ‘Sustainable Housing Design: Measurement, Motivation and Management in Sutherland Shire, Sydney, Australia’ Environment and Planning B. pp336-354.

Robinson, D. (2008) 'Sui generis plant variety protection systems: liability rules and non-UPOV systems of protection' in Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice 3 (10): 659-655

Robinson, D. (2008) ‘Beyond “protection”: Promoting traditional knowledge systems in Thailand’ in Gibson, J. (ed) Patenting Lives: Life Patents, Development and Culture. Ashgate, Aldershot. pp121-138.

Robinson, D. (2007) ‘Local Agri-cultural and Environmental Knowledge: Working with Local Institutes and Communities in Thailand’ refereed conference proceedings, Australasian-Pacific Extension Network Forum, Canberra, 15pp.

Gibson, C. and Robinson, D. ‘Creative Networks in Regional Australia’, in (2004) Media International Australia: Culture and Policy, Vol 112, pp.83-100.

Peer Reviewed Reports and Discussion Papers

Robinson, D. ‘Towards Access and Benefit-Sharing Best Practice: Pacific Case Studies.’ DSEWPAC, Canberra and GIZ, Eschborn, Germany (2012).

Robinson, D. And Defrene, E. (2011) ‘Argan: A Case study on ABS?’ Union for Ethical Biotrade, presented at the Beauty of Sourcing with Respect conference in Paris, 6 May 2011.

Robinson, D. (2010)  ‘Traditional Knowledge and Biological Product Derivative Patents: Benefit-Sharing and Patent Issues Relating to Camu Camu, Kakadu Plum and Açaí Plant Extracts – a discussion paper’, United Nations University Traditional Knowledge Initiative (UNU-TKI).

Robinson, D. (Oct. 2009) ‘Biopiracy Concerns Heat Up over Chilli Pepper’ Bridges Trade BioRes Review.

Savita Mullapudi and Robinson, D. (ed) (2009) Towards a Balanced Sui Generis Plant Variety Protection System for Developing Countries. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New York. 33pp

Robinson, D. (March 2007) Exploring Components and Elements of Sui Generis Systems for Plant Varieties Protection and Traditional Knowledge in Asia. ICTSD-UNCTAD and IDRC, Geneva. 60pp. At:http://www.iprsonline.org