A CEPA side event on "ABS Implementation and the Communication Challenge" was organized by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa with CEC, UNU and other partners at the Nagoya Protocol meeting in June.
The Nagoya Protocol has enriched the world with yet another biodiversity acronym: “ABS", Access and Benefit-sharing. Now the challenge is not only to make it known by and more and more people, but also to spread the message of ABS and brand it with an overall feeling that these are good rules for fair use and trade of genetic resources that make ‘biopiracy’ a thing of the past.
With the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol, the ABS challenge has moved to the national level: all countries are called upon to design and implement measures that make ABS work in practice. This requires effective communication with a broad range of actors. The ABS Capacity Development Initiative is currently drafting a hands-on ABS Communication Guide with a focus on Africa. The objective is to support individuals who are in charge of national ABS implementation, by addressing questions like: how to identify relevant stakeholders; how to craft suitable messages for different purposes and audiences; what communication approaches can be used to help stakeholders make informed decisions; etc.
The ABS Capacity Development Initiative is a very timely partnership to also develop communication tools and messages to explain the potential of ABS to all actors. To get them on board and engaged in making ABS operational. To promote that ABS is not only about lawmaking against biopiracy – but much more, it’s about partnerships and win- win situations between, local communities and industry, between North and South and finally between business and nature conservation.
The IUCN Commission on Education and Communication has been involved in supporting the Convention on Biological Diversity on matters of communication and education since the mid 1990s. The Commission plays a key role in strengthening the capacities of Parties in strategic communication and has been engaged in ABS for a few years, and is ready to support the ABS Initiative to further develop ABS communication tools and instruments.
The tools and methods of CEPA, Communication, Education and Public Awareness, will play an important role in raising awarness and building communications capacity for ABS. The outline of a new communications guide was presented and welcomed by more than 50 international delegates at a side event during the last Intergovernmental Consultations of the Nagoya Protocol (ICNP-1)
in Montreal. The finalized ABS CEPA guide is planned to be presented at the ICNP2 meeting (Chennay India, April 2012), preceded by a CEC member peer review opportunity.
This article was edited by Suhel al-Janabi, co-manager of the ABS Capacity Development Initiative and based on an introduction to the CEPA side event by Keith Wheeler, CEC Chair, and a PowerPoint presentation prepared by CEC Special Advisor Frits Hesselink.