Aichi Biodiversity Target 16: By 2015, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization is in force and operational, consistent with national legislation.
17 November 2018, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt – The Nagoya Protocol is an international agreement for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. It will contribute significantly to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
The full name is the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
In the Pacific region momentum is increasing to enact the Nagoya Protocol with eight Pacific island countries now a Party. These are the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
This will help ensure that any use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge that leads to commercial benefits will see those benefits shared equally with the owners. This is also known as Access and Benefits Sharing (ABS).
A hypothetical example is, if a plant in Tuvalu is known to have healing properties and a research company overseas takes these plant compounds and uses them for medicine which is then sold – the protocol will ensure that proceeds from the sale of this medicine is shared to the owners of this plant and its knowledge in Tuvalu.
“Given the rich biodiversity and traditional knowledge across the Pacific islands region, we must protect ourselves from the exploitation of these resources for commercial purposes by those who do not to share any of the benefits with us, the owners of the resources,” said Ms Ofa Kaisamy the Access and Benefits Sharing Legal Adviser of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
“At the moment some of our Pacific islands have no policy or regulations to follow, and in that case there is free access to their resources.”
To ensure that the Protocol is successful and being actively implemented at the national level, there must be policy and regulatory structures in place that can help ensure there is fair and equitable sharing of any benefits that are returned from use of genetic resources.
SPREP is currently implementing the GEF-6 funded Ratification and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in the countries of the Pacific Project to strengthen the capacity of Pacific island countries. One of the project objectives is also to encourage countries to sign and ratify the Nagoya Protocol for which four more Pacific island countries have ratified the Protocol since 2017.
The project will also help the Pacific islands by developing a regional mechanism to help those that do not have national frameworks in place, until these are established. It is also working with countries to help establish legal frameworks, as well as developing a pool of experts to help them with ratifying and implementing the Nagoya Protocol.
“The project has had a full and busy first year,” said Ms Kaisamy.
“We have conducted a Capacity Building Needs Assessment which led to national consultations, and training sessions in Fiji, Palau, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. We’ve also provided drafting instructions to help develop ABS law in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga and Palau.”
The project has also helped facilitate several regional workshops in partnership with the GIZ ABS Capacity Development Initiative, Japan Biodiversity Fund and the International Law Development Organisation to help the Pacific islands ratify and implement the Nagoya Protocol. It employs an open-door policy for all Pacific islands to approach SPREP and partners for assistance with legal analysis, preparation of relevant national reports and legal frameworks.
The outcomes of these workshops and other assistance have resulted in the increase of Pacific island Parties to the Protocol and put plans in place to assist those which are yet to sign and ratify.
“The Cook Islands will look at ratifying the Nagoya Protocol. We believe it will help safeguard our traditional knowledge and our genetic resources. It is important that we protect our communities and peoples Traditional Knowledge related to our genetic resources,” said Ms Elizabeth Munro, the Senior Biodiversity Officer of the Cook Islands National Environment Service.
“We are now working towards ratifying the Nagoya Protocol by preparing all the legislation and policies that are needed to assist the Cook Is to successfully implement it.”
Work undertaken by the Pacific islands in their endeavor to achieve Aichi Biodiversity Target 16 will be featured through numerous platforms at the 14th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity now underway at Sharm El Sheikh from 17 to 29 November 2018.
“We’re really pleased with the progress across our Pacific region, we’ve made great strides and we’re committed to continuing our work with our Pacific island Members to help protect our Pacific genetic resources and the traditional knowledge associated with these,” said Ms Kaisamy.
The Ratification and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in the countries of the Pacific Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). UN Environment is the implementing agency and SPREP is the executing agency. The project began in June 2017 and it will be completed by December, 2020. It supports the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
For more information on the Ratification and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in the countries of the Pacific Project, please visit https://www.sprep.org/project/abs