Researchers and legal practitioners receive training on ABS
Towards better and effective multi-stakeholder involvement in the access and benefit-sharing (ABS) mechanism of the Nagoya Protocol.
13 researchers and 15 legal practitioners from COMIFAC countries have been sensitized and trained on the Nagoya Protocol and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The stakeholders drafted specifications with a view to getting involved in implementing national processes in their respective countries.
Article 21 of the Nagoya Protocol (NP) provides that each party shall take measures to raise public awareness of the importance of genetic resources, their use and associated traditional knowledge and related access and benefit-sharing issues.
Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and especially the ABS mechanism involves several actors, mainly at institutional level, from the research and development sector (state or private) but also from the private sector (credit unions, farm or processing corporations, etc.) and civil society (defense of customary or aboriginal peoples’ rights , etc.). Our region offers favorable conditions and prospects for valuing genetic resources through the ABS mechanism at both the regional and national levels. The greatest challenge remains ensuring participatory development and establishment of a legal and institutional framework for implementing the Nagoya Protocol and its ABS mechanism.
The provisions of the NP impact research activities and, more broadly, all stakeholders involved in the chain of exploitation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. Furthermore, one of the main challenges in implementing the Protocol is the need to mobilize the required capacities to support countries wishing to amend or establish new legal, administrative or political measures at national level. Each country must define its own approach to suit its needs and priorities. To this end, COMIFAC organized awareness and capacity-building workshops for researchers from the research and development sector and legal practitioners active in the environmental sector of the COMIFAC countries on key aspects of the Nagoya Protocol. The workshops received technical and financial support from the GIZ ABS project to support COMIFAC through the consortium of GOPA/UEBT subcontracting firms and were held respectively on 2 and 3 October 2017 in Douala for the researchers and 5 and 6 October 2017 in Douala for the legal practitioners.
The workshops’ training modules covered the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) highlighting its objectives, structure and content; key concepts and principles of the Nagoya Protocol; the state of the art of the implementation process in the sub-region; the implementation of the ABS mechanism and considerations relating to ABS contracts and negotiations.
The researchers’ breakout groups focused on the strategic options for implementing the Nagoya Protocol at national level, with special emphasis on monitoring use, fair and equitable sharing of benefits, access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge and institutional mechanisms. Country representatives formulated recommendations in the form of specifications. For example, in the case of Chad, the aim in the long term will be to conduct an inventory of genetic resources in collaboration with the National Herbarium, in the medium term, establish a platform of ABS researchers and in the short term, help finalize the National ABS Strategy. In the long term, Cameroonian researchers plan among other things to implement the ABS mechanism in the research and development sector with multi-stakeholder engagement to promote research on biological resources, in the medium term they will help develop the National ABS Strategy and identify the full range of biological resources in Cameroon and traditional knowledge and in the short term, they will inform and raise their research colleagues’ awareness of the importance of the ABS mechanism for research and traditional knowledge.
As for the legal practitioners, the specifications alongside a plan of action envisage among other things, participation in drafting laws or other legal instruments relating to the principles of the Nagoya Protocol and its ABS mechanism at country level, the establishment of a national ABS biodiversity committee in each country, activities to raise public awareness of the need to protect traditional knowledge and the establishment of a coordination and monitoring-evaluation unit at regional level.
Judging from all these recommendations, including some dealing with awareness issues, it appears that communication, education and public awareness are at the heart of inclusive and participatory implementation of the Nagoya Protocol at national and regional level.
Chantal EDOA et Nadia MOUTAWAKKIL, Senior Consultant GOPA/UEBT
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