Environmental Affairs hosts first UNDP-GEF Workshop on Implementation of Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing

13 April 2018

South Africa, through the Department of Environmental Affairs, the United National Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environment Fund (GEF) on 12 and 13 April 2018 co-hosted a multi-stakeholder workshop to discuss implementation of a Global Access and Benefit Sharing project.

The workshop, under the theme “Strengthening of Human Resources, Legal Frameworks and Institutional Capacities to Implement the Nagoya Protocol”, was held in Pretoria.  Stakeholders are discussing the implementation of a project that is aimed at increasing the ability of indigenous and local communities to benefit from genetic resources and their associated traditional knowledge. The roles and responsibilities of partners and stakeholders in the project will also be clarified.

South Africa ratified the Nagoya Protocol in January 2013, and this protocol  entered into force in October 2014.   The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation,  popularly referred to as the Nagoya Protocol on ABS , is a subsidiary protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD). South Africa  joined the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1995.

The Nagoya Protocol on ABS is a legally binding agreement outlining a set of terms prescribing how one country will gain access to another country’s genetic resources and how the benefits derived, from such use will be shared. It provides for measures to regulate and facilitate access to and the utilisation of the indigenous fauna and flora of a country as well as their associated traditional knowledge.

South Africa is one of the first countries to regulate bioprospecting and biotrade sectors in order to promote conservation and sustainable use of indigenous biological resources and their associated traditional knowledge. Through the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) and the Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing Regulations, it is illegal for any person to obtain and utilise any extracts from indigenous fauna or flora for bioprospecting or biotrade without a permit. 

The effectiveness of the legal framework is complemented by the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations, CITES Regulations, provincial ordinances, the Patent Amendment Act and the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Policy. The incorporation of mandatory disclosure requirements for any new invention involving indigenous biological resources, and their associated traditional knowledge, in the Patent application process by the Department of Trade and Industry, has placed South Africa at the forefront of addressing potential cases of misappropriation. 

In addition, the Department of Science and Technology is managing the process to introduce new legislation through the National Recordal System and the Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Bill.  The process is taking place under the umbrella of the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Policy to ensure measures are in place to protect, amongst others, traditional knowledge associated with indigenous biological resources.

The three-year UNDP/GEF project being discussed at the workshop covers 24 countries and is aimed at assisting countries in the development and strengthening of their national Access  and Benefit Sharing  frameworks as well as enhancing human resources and administrative capabilities to implement the Nagoya Protocol. Participating countries include Albania, Belarus, Botswana, Colombia, Comoros, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mongolia, Myanmar, Panama, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan, Tajikistan and Uruguay.The project seeks to achieve this through three focus areas:

  • Strengthening the legal, policy and institutional capacity to develop national ABS frameworks;
  • Building trust between providers and users of genetic resources, including plants and animals; and
  • Strengthening the capacity of indigenous and local communities to contribute to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.

The implementation of these and other basic measures of the Protocol are expected to create legal certainty regarding access to South Africa’s genetic resources, such as the Aloe ferox, Baobab, Rooibos and Honeybush. This in turn improves the ability of communities holding the traditional knowledge to benefit from that knowledge, as well as the utilisation of the biological and natural resources.

All the above focus areas are aligned to the Biodiversity Economy initiatives developed through the Operation Phakisa on the-Biodiversity Economy which is aimed at unlocking and optimising the bioprospecting and Biotrade Sectors by increasing supply of high-value indigenous plant species through mass cultivation and sustainable harvesting. It is also aimed at increasing demand and local value-addition through better coordination of stakeholders by harnessing existing initiatives and accelerating innovation in the sector through a new Bio Products Advancement Network South Africa (BioPANZA).  Additional initiatives include the simplification of the regulatory environment to enhance growth, and the transformation of the sector through direct involvement of communities and holders of traditional knowledge.

The workshop will assist all partners and stakeholders ranging from industry, academia, research institutions, non-government organisations, government to communities to fully understand, embrace and effectively participate in the project.

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: +27 (0)83 490 2871