16 December 2021, Port Moresby - A workshop to consult key national stakeholders on the development of a legal framework for access and benefit sharing (ABS) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has seen the biggest Pacific islands nation take a step closer to ratify the Nagoya Protocol.
Held in Port Moresby, 30 participants from different sectors in the country attended the second workshop held this year despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.
The workshop was to develop a policy framework for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation under the Convention on Biological Diversity. PNG is one of 14 Pacific island countries included in the Regional ABS Project and is yet to ratify the Nagoya Protocol.
Mr Rahul Chand, ABS Capacity Development Officer for SPREP, highlighted the importance of institutional arrangements for an effective compliance mechanism in PNG.
“It is important that there is clarity on the national ABS process,” he said. “For this to happen, PNG should actively participate in the ABS Clearing House established by the Secretariat of the CBD as well ensure that database, information exchange and an effective monitoring and reporting system are undertaken nationally”
Professor Daniel Robinson, of the University of New South Wales, Australia, spoke about patent landscaping, citing examples of PNG medicinal plants to highlight the potential benefits of an ABS system.
“Many of the medicinal plants in PNG have not been patented yet which highlights that they may be under-researched by universities and companies,” said Prof Robinson.
“Having an ABS system in place will help capture the benefits of research and development (R&D) for these species, through research collaboration, technology transfer, or potential monetary benefits. Some plant species have started to attract R&D and patents including Canarium indicum (known locally as galip nut), a species only found in Melanesia, which suggests benefit-sharing agreements under the Nagoya Protocol should be in place. However, we are unaware of any ABS agreements for Canarium at this time and will be looking into it further.”
Dr Evana Wright, of the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, presented the key terms and conditions that should be included in any agreement for access and benefit sharing. Noting that ABS agreements will vary on a case-by-case basis, she emphasised the importance of including in any agreement the specific details as to the type of benefits – both monetary and non-monetary - that will be shared with the access provider.
Facilitated by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), the workshop was jointly hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme under the Regional Access and Benefit Sharing Project and the ABS Capacity Development Initiative (ABS-CDI).
Participants came from the Attorney General’s Office, PNG Manufacturing Council, PNG Chamber of Commerce & Industry, PNG Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME), PNG Pasifica Chemical Ltd, PNG Forest Authority and Forest Research Institute, University of PNG, and the Intellectual Property Office of PNG and members of the community.
They benefitted from presentations by industry representatives who are involved research and development as well as feedback from experts of SPREP and ABSCDI on the issues discussed.
It was a productive weeklong meeting including technical presentations from ABS experts in the region and informative presentations from key stakeholders from both the public and private sectors in PNG. PNG is aiming to put in place measures before they ratify the global protocol and SPREP will continue to assist. The workshop ended on 3rd December with a closed session by CEPA to discuss proceedings and outcomes of the workshop.
About the Regional ABS Project
Supporting 14 Pacific island countries to ratify the Nagoya Protocol and implementing key measures to make the Protocol operational is the Regional ABS Project. It aims to empower Pacific islands to facilitate access to their genetic resources and secure benefit-sharing fairly and equitably in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol.
To learn more about the Regional ABS Project please visit: https://www.sprep.org/abs.