Access and Benefit Sharing: South Pacific Countries gear up to implement the Nagoya Protocol

Representatives of ten South Pacific Island Countries gathered in Nadi, Fiji, on 19-22 March 2012 to share experiences and prepare to accede and implement the 2010 Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS), a protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity. 

Participants at the workshop.

The ABS protocol provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. By creating greater legal certainty and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources and ensuring the sharing of benefits from genetic resources, the Nagoya Protocol will enhance the contribution of biodiversity to development and human well-being.

The Pacific region has globally significant biodiversity and high species endemism. It also has an extensive and diverse coral reef system and relatively large population of many rare species.

The implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in the Pacific Island Countries will involve a broad range of legal issues, such as ownership of genetic resources and associated land ownership issues, traditional knowledge, free and prior consent (PIC) and mutually agreed terms (MAT) contractual arrangements for access and benefits.

The South Pacific Access and Benefit Sharing Workshop aimed at supporting the countries in joining and implementing the Nagoya Protocol. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) hosted the workshop, in partnership with the ABS Capacity Development Initiative (EU/GIZ) and AusAID.

The discussions over four days produced a list of capacity gaps and possible solutions, so countries can meet the Protocol’s obligations.

“IUCN Oceania looks forward to working under the leadership of SPREP in assisting the countries in the region fill some of the legal and institutional capacity gaps identified during this workshop,” said participant Patricia Parkinson, Senior Environmental Legal Officer at IUCN Oceania Regional Office.

Two additional South Pacific ABS Workshops are scheduled for this year, in late May/early June and November.

The ten South Pacific Island countries involved are American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. ABS experts and representatives of donors, regional organizations and academia include GIZ, IUCN, FELA, New Zealand, Australia, SPC, UNSW, USP, UNU IAS and SPREP.

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