Noticias | 01 Mar, 2024

Supporting the shift towards fair and equitable access and benefit sharing of genetic resources in Saint Lucia

The project “Strengthening Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) policies and institutional frameworks through demonstrable models in Saint Lucia” was launched this week in Castries, Saint Lucia, by the Government of Saint Lucia, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This project, funded with a USD 1,59 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), aims at enhancing the enabling environment to effectively implement the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) in the country.

content hero image

The resin of Protium attenuatum, known locally as “lansan”, has been traditionally tapped in a local artisanal industry for use as incense for religious ceremonies, and its extracts have had a longstanding export market in neighbouring Martinique.

Photo: ©Adams Toussaint

Castries, Saint Lucia, 28 February 2024. Genetic resources from plants, animals and microorganisms provide a wide range of products and services essential to human well-being. They are the base for the development of medicine, biotechnology, personal care and cosmetics, textiles and many other products. This makes genetic resources a highly valuable commodity worldwide.

Saint Lucia, as many of its Caribbean neighbours, faces multiple challenges when it comes to safeguarding its biodiversity and ensuring that effective protocols exist to facilitate and regulate the sustainable access and equitable benefit sharing of its biological resources. Often, local communities, the main custodians of these genetic resources, are not systematically included in the decision-making process about their own resources, nor do they benefit from their extraction and use.

The project “Strengthening Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) policies and institutional frameworks through demonstrable models in Saint Lucia” aims to address these challenges by implementing strategic actions, which include the strengthening of the legislative and policy framework on ABS, establishing an effective permitting and monitoring framework on genetic resources, conducting scientific research and commodity pilots on the ground, as well as sharing knowledge and lessons learned in the process.

The project follows a multi-sectoral approach promoting collaboration with key stakeholders from the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, the Attorney General`s Chamber and other institutions, as well as research facilities and conservation organisations, among others. It also envisages direct support to local communities through the creation of business and capacity building models, with the goal to directly improve ABS opportunities for at least 1,100 people.

Participants in the ABS Project Launch Event Participants in the ABS Project Launch Event Photo: @Department of Sustainable Development, Saint Lucia

 

"Saint Lucia possesses a high degree of biodiversity, species endemism and productive coastal and nearshore habitats, earning it international recognition as a biodiversity hotspot. Saint Lucia has over 200 endemic species and its waters support a number of globally and regionally important habitats and species. I am therefore, extremely pleased that we are taking steps, through this project, to establish a mechanism that will facilitate the effective utilization of our valuable biodiversity and the traditional knowledge associated with it",remarked Mrs. Anita Montoute, Permanent Secretary in the Department of Sustainable Development.

 

At the global level, the Nagoya Protocol, a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity, governs ABS, emphasizing the fact that genetic resources are the property of the sovereign states in which they are found. The Protocol also establishes how governments shall ensure Prior Informed Consent from the relevant indigenous and local communities within the country that possess traditional knowledge of genetic material. Additionally, it provides guidelines to reach mutual agreements on how benefits arising from the utilisation of these genetic materials would be shared. Saint Lucia has been a party to the Protocol since 2022.

 

"The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is pleased to partner with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to assist the Government and people of Saint Lucia in safeguarding the country’s indigenous biodiversity; its flora and fauna, and traditional knowledge over its use, and that benefits from their sustainable use can be realized by communities committed to protect and conserve these resources", stated Dr. Christopher Cox, Programme Officer / Task Manager (GEF Caribbean biodiversity portfolio) at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

 

Supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), this initiative is led by Saint Lucia’s Department of Sustainable Development, in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Executing Agency and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as Implementing Agency.

This four-year project will work towards four complementary goals:

  1. Strengthen the national policy and legislative institutional frameworks for operationalization of the Nagoya Protocol for ABS
  2. Develop an effective permitting and monitoring framework for ABS protocols in accordance with provisions of the Nagoya Protocol
  3. Establish demonstrable commodity pilots to test operationalization of ABS protocols toward sustainable management and equitable benefits of genetic resources and scale-up in future commercial applications.
  4. Enhance knowledge management on ABS to support decision making, stakeholder engagement and buy-in systems.

 

"I wish to thank our project partners for entrusting IUCN with the execution of the project and applaud the leadership from the Government of Saint Lucia for the decisive efforts to enhance fair and equitable access and benefit sharing. We are certain that through these joint actions, the project can make an important contribution so that equitable and sustainable access and benefit sharing mechanisms become operational in Saint Lucia, improving its people’s wellbeing, and supporting the sustainable development of the country", expressed Rodrigo Flores Gutiérrez, IUCN-ORMACC Regional Programme Manager.