Advances on bioprospecting and ABS legislation in the Caribbean

Presentations on bioprospecting in the Caribbean region as well as the development of legislation on ABS for the participating countries, were submitted during the third regional workshop on the project “Advancing the Nagoya Protocol in Counties of the Caribbean Region”, held in Bridgetown Barbados on the 20th and the 21th of February, hosted by IUCN-ORMACC and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in corporation with the Government of Barbados. 

Third Regional Workshop on ABS held in Barbados Photo: Hyacinth Armstrong-Vaughn

Countries present at the workshop included Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Jamaica and Barbados. Also represented were regional bodies including the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as well as The Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

“We at IUCN are privileged to support the efforts of Caribbean countries to protect both its Biodiversity and the traditional knowledge of its people.  To this end, we aim to meet this objective by building alliances with key stakeholders and supporting the countries towards the implementation of the Nagoya protocol. IUCN has been supporting these efforts through this project and is delighted to continue supporting the legislative preparation of each of the participating countries”, expressed Grethel Aguilar, Regional Director of the IUCN Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

The regional workshop that runs over two days features the advances of the biopropecting research and provided country participants and regional partners with an updated status of bioprospecting in the Caribbean region. Representatives welcomed the discussions particularly because of the extended view on access and use of genetic resources provided by the discussions.

For example, Dr. Anthony Richards explained that there are a number of cases of genetic resources being accessed in the region for research. In many cases, there were confirmations of useful applications of materials for varying health benefits.

Similarly, there was a healthy discussion and welcomed information on the status of legislative drafts and existing legislation on access to genetic resources and sharing of benefits in the Caribbean region. Many countries were provided with updated information on the gaps existing in their draft legislation and also in existing legislations aimed at protecting the country’s resources. Feedback from participants suggest the process has provided them with pertinent information that will help in their development of national processes to implement the Nagoya Protocol in their countries.

Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the project is being executed by the IUCN-ORMACC, as the executive agency, and UNEP, as the implementing agency, in eight Caribbean countries. These include Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Other partners include the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the GIZ, OECS and CARICOM.

The project seeks the uptake of the Nagoya Protocol and implementation of key measures to make the protocol operational in Caribbean countries. It also aims to overcome barriers linked to poor understanding of the Nagoya Protocol and ABS and the implications of protocol ratification and requirements for implementation.

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