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MILESTONES

The story of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) goes back to 1992 and the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Despite the formal positioning of "the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources" in the global arena it took several years until ABS really gained momentum. Many experts currently working with the ABS Initiative were part of this process.

In 2005, co-financed by the Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ, today: GIZ) GmbH organized the first regional ABS capacity development workshop for Eastern and Southern Africa in Addis Ababa. Based on its great success, one year later the DGIS and GIZ launched the co-financed Dutch-German ABS Capacity-Building Initiative for Africa. Soon additional donors joined and in 2011 the regional scope of the Initiative was extended to include the Caribbean and Pacific region.

On the road towards worldwide implementation, the Initiative has helped erect milestones which have significantly impacted the development of ABS:

  1. Stakeholder representatives from Africa's sub-regions agreed on an ABS vision with clear goals for Africa.
  2. As Africa speaks with one voice in international ABS negotiations, African positions are clearly reflected in the Nagoya Protocol.
  3. Africa tackles emerging cross-sectorial aspects of ABS.
  4. The Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) adopted a strategy for the development of harmonised national ABS policies.
  5. ABS is well integrated in bilateral development projects.
  6. Research, studies and assessments inform ABS related processes.
  7. Cooperation with the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT) and PhytoTrade Africa improves business engagement for ethical sourcing of African biodiversity.
  8. The initial Caribbean and Pacific ABS workshops and trainings generated high interest by many governments and regional organizations. The documentation and analysis of ABS cases was initiated.

For a detailed history of the ABS Capacity Development Initiative please click through our timeline below.

ABS Vision for Africa - An Instrument for Poverty Alleviation

ABS Vision for Africa - An Instrument for Poverty Alleviation

Representatives from all stakeholder groups agreed on a strong and compelling vision for ABS in Africa as a basis for cooperation and networking. This common vision defines the desired state of ABS in Africa through a concrete description of how ABS should "look and feel" after 2010. At the same time, the vision provides guidance for the Initiative's activities. The vision was initially developed by participants attending the first pan-African multi-stakeholder workshop in November 2006 in Cape Town, South Africa, and subsequently endorsed by the sub-regional processes on the African continent.

African Positions Reflected in the Nagoya Protocol

African Positions Reflected in the Nagoya Protocol

Since the sixth meeting of the ABS Working Group held in January 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland, the group of African representatives, or African Group, has been negotiating with one voice. This success is predominantly due to three achievements: 1. a common position developed prior to the negotiating sessions, 2. overcoming the African French-English language barrier, and 3. gaining input from stakeholder representatives from the entire continent. As a result, African positions are very well reflected in the Nagoya Protocol. The Initiative has facilitated this process by organising preparatory meetings for negotiators, high-level events and regional and sub-regional multi-stakeholder workshops.

Cross-sectorial Activities - Example: Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) for ABS

Cross-sectorial Activities - Example: Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) for ABS

Conscious of the challenges in communicating ABS, stakeholders established a pan-African strategy on CEPA. This strategy is central for the implementation of ABS policies at the national level as it helps to bring ABS to the heart of political and public concern. With the EU joining the ABS Initiative this CEPA strategy has been extended to the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

COMIFAC Strategy for ABS policy

COMIFAC Strategy for ABS policy

With the support of the ABS Initiative the ten COMIFAC countries - Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea Equatorial, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe - have adopted an approach for the development and implementation of ABS policies. This strategy, in addition to the international ABS frameworks, provides guidance for national regulations in member countries. Similar activities are taking place with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at the sub-regional level and with Morocco and Namibia at the national level.

Integration of ABS in National Projects

Integration of ABS in National Projects

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH - as the manager of the ABS Initiative - conducts bilateral cooperation projects in many African countries. The ABS Initiative ensures that the topic is well integrated within this context. Two examples:

Algeria: In April 2013, a regional workshop involving Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia on integrating ABS in forest management and valorization approaches for Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) took place in Algiers as part of the GIZ implemented Silva Mediterranea-Collaborative Partnership on Mediterranean Forests (CPMF) programme. The ABS Initiative backstopped the workshop design and delivered input on relevant ABS value chain development.

Morocco: At the request of the Moroccan Government, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provides long term support to the national implementation of the Nagoya Protocol through the scaling up of the country's existing Biodiversity and Adaptation to Climate Change Programme. An ABS advisory group, supported and backstopped by the ABS Initiative, developed the cornerstones of a national ABS roadmap. These were subsequently verified in a May 2012 feasibility study. Activities for regulatory and institutional support for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol have also been conceptualized, including the definitions of the interfaces to a project on ABS currently under development by UNDP/GEF 5.

Gap Analysis Report on the African Model Law

Gap Analysis Report on the African Model Law

Africa has developed effective instruments for the protection, sustainable use and access and benefit sharing of biological resources. These resources respond to the challenges posed by globalization and climate change while taking into account the continent-specific needs. The African Model Law for the Protection of the Rights of the Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources (the African Union Model Law) developed in the late 90s is a case in point. The adoption of the Nagoya Protocol in 2010 prompted a fresh look at the African Model Law by the ABS Initiative as requested by the AU Commission. The Initiative's resulting report highlighted significant gaps due to relevant international developments and recommended to develop Guidelines for a Coordinated Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS in Africa.Africa has developed effective instruments for the protection, sustainable use and access and benefit sharing of biological resources. These instruments respond to the challenges posed by globalisation and climate change while taking into account the continent-specific needs. The African Model Law for the Protection of the Rights of the Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources (the African Union Model Law) developed in the late 90s is a case in point. The adoption of the Nagoya Protocol in 2010 prompted a fresh look at the African Model Law by the ABS Initiative as requested by the AU Commission. The Initiative's resulting report highlighted significant gaps due to relevant international developments and recommended to develop Guidelines for a Coordinated Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS in Africa.

Africa has developed effective instruments for the protection, sustainable use and access and benefit sharing of biological resources. These instruments respond to the challenges posed by globalisation and climate change while taking into account the continent-specific needs. The African Model Law for the Protection of the Rights of the Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources (the African Union Model Law) developed in the late 90s is a case in point. The adoption of the Nagoya Protocol in 2010 prompted a fresh look at the African Model Law by the ABS Initiative as requested by the AU Commission. The Initiative's resulting report highlighted significant gaps due to relevant international developments and recommended to develop Guidelines for a Coordinated Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS in Africa.

Africa has developed effective instruments for the protection, sustainable use and access and benefit sharing of biological resources. These instruments respond to the challenges posed by globalisation and climate change while taking into account the continent-specific needs. The African Model Law for the Protection of the Rights of the Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders and for the Regulation of Access to Biological Resources (the African Union Model Law) developed in the late 90s is a case in point. The adoption of the Nagoya Protocol in 2010 prompted a fresh look at the African Model Law by the ABS Initiative as requested by the AU Commission. The Initiative's resulting report highlighted significant gaps due to relevant international developments and recommended to develop Guidelines for a Coordinated Implementation of the Nagoy

Work and Impacts of ABS Initiative Acknowledged by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Work and Impacts of ABS Initiative Acknowledged by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

After the Third Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol on ABS (ICNP-3) in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Executive Director of the SCBD in an official letter expressed his gratitude for the successful involvement of the ABS Initiative in this meeting, its "positive impact assisting African countries advance their national (ABS) processes" and for its financial assistance that enabled the African Union to make great progress towards developing regional guidelines "to ensure the coordinated implementation of the (Nagoya) Protocol for the African region".

At the 2 - 6 July 2012 Second Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol on ABS (ICNP-2) in New Delhi, it was recommended that ABS Initiative activities form the basis of awareness raising and capacity building efforts.

At its meeting on 4 - 5 February 2012 in Limbé, Cameroon, the Secretariat of the CBD (SCBD) emphasized the Initiative's significant role in supporting their ABS capacity building workshops. The SCBD also explicitly mentioned the Initiative as a key partner in promoting ratifications of the Nagoya Protocol.

Public-Private Partnership with Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) and PhytoTrade Africa

Public-Private Partnership with Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) and PhytoTrade Africa

After the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol in October 2010, the Secretariat of the ABS Initiative intensified its efforts to engage the private sector in ABS implementation.

In 2011, the Initiative, jointly with the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) and PhytoTrade Africa, launched a public-private partnership. This project is designed to further engage the business community in the ethical sourcing of African genetic resources. The goal is to build ABS related capacities of UEBT (European users of genetic resources) and PhytoTrade Africa (Southern African providers of genetic resources) members and to integrate ABS requirements into the supply chains of UEBT member companies.