Namibia to regulate access to genetic resources

06 Aug 2014 19:10pm
WINDHOEK, 06 AUG (NAMPA) - Namibia has acceded to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) that will come into force on 12 October 2014.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Equitable Sharing of Benefits to Genetic Resources and its Associated Traditional Knowledge Bill intends to raise awareness and regulate access to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as well as the equitable sharing of the benefits derived therefrom.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day indigenous local communities participation workshop for the implementation of the protocol on Tuesday, Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga noted that Namibia has developed its layman’s draft Bill in response to the country’s national and international obligations as regards access and benefit sharing which is currently on its way to Cabinet.
“It is therefore imperative that we accede to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing in order to engage with one another during the international Conference of Parties under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and share experiences as well as robust ideas on implementation measures.
It is only through such consultative approaches that we will be able to promote sustainable development across the country and its universe, and to conserve and manage our genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge wisely,” he noted.
Namibia has over 4 300 plant species of which nearly 700 only occur in Namibia. Many of these species are traditionally used for food, medicine, oils and other products with existing or potential for the commercial market.
In the absence of the ABS law, over the years access to genetic resources and the benefit sharing in Namibia has been regulated by the Interim Bio prospecting Committee (IBPC). Cabinet established the committee that is made up of a core group of ABS experts in the country in 2007. The first draft Bill for Namibia on Access to Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge was developed in 1998. However, this Bill was found to be too narrow in scope given the evolving international negotiations around ABS. As a result it was agreed that a more pro-active approach would be taken.
The minister said the Namibian Government is committed to countering this threat by ensuring that biodiversity and the ecological goods and services that it provides are used for the long-term benefit of Namibians especially the rural communities.
“Therefore, investors both national and foreign are welcome, as they have a role to play, on condition that they will do so within the laws of the country that is based on the need for economic and ecological sustainability,” he noted.
The first meeting of the Nagoya Protocol to which Namibia will participate will be held in Pyeongchang, Korea from 13 to 17 October 2014.