Providing answers to the access and benefit sharing of genetic resources: GEF/UNEP-IUCN ABS LAC Regional Project

The GEF Regional Project “Implementation of Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-Sharing regimes (ABS) in Latin America and the Caribbean, executed by IUCN-Sur, is making a good progress to reinforce capacities on the eight countries which are part of the project.

Dipteryx odorata (Cumaru), semillas que se usan para extraer aceite esencial Photo: Asociación Vida Verde de la Amazonía, Avive

“The project has already achieved key results”, says Arturo Mora, IUCN Project Coordinator and Programme Officer at the Regional Office for South America (IUCN-Sur). From the beginning of the project, on 2011, it has been developed different activities to improve countries’ capacities on ABS regimes in the eight participant’s countries (Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Panama and Peru). National workshops and activities were first steps taken by countries to learn and share experiences on effective measures on ABS. Moreover, the project has fulfilled some gaps that created uncertainty between researchers as well as governments, the project carried out virtual forums, training workshops and developed case studies on ABS issues, but also on traditional knowledge.

One of them was the ABS Contracts Negotiation Workshop which gathered 65 participants including government’s representatives, intellectual property authorities, regional experts and indigenous and local community’s representatives from the LAC Region. It aimed to review the ABS international instruments as an opportunity to implement national ABS frameworks and to familiarize participants with trading instruments and key elements that must be included in any contract.

In parallel, national events were carried out by Alejandro Lago, Director of the UNESCO Cathedra at Rey Juan Carlos University, and other partners in the project. The National Focal Points of the eight countries are also committed on the construction of the international regime for ABS under the instrument known as the “Nagoya Protocol” on ABS.

These activities are coordinated also with UNEP, as implementing agency, and the CBD as members of the Steering Committee of the Project. In addition, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and other key institutions like the Indigenous Women's Biodiversity Network-LAC (IWBN-LAC), DIVERSITAS or the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT), among others, are strategic partners for the achievement of the Project’s objectives.

Other activities focused on the exchange of experiences through the preparation of case studies. Jorge Cabrera from Costa Rica and Gabriel Nemoga from Colombia worked together to compile good practices and lessons learnt in the Latin American region such as monetary and non-monetary benefits, how to negotiate an ABS contract, the importance of the prior informed consent (PIC) and the mutually agreed terms (MAT) before granting the access, among others.

The upcoming months the project will deliver two key outputs: a Legal framework analysis on ABS issues and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and the Analysis of critical issues on ABS in Latin America, including trade, scientific research and traditional knowledge. All this information will be available soon.

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