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Subregional Workshop:

Access and Benefit-sharing for Francophone African Countries

24-28 October 2016, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Since the coming into force of the Nagoya Protocol in 2014, African countries have intensified activities to develop their domestic access and benefit-sharing (ABS) systems. At the regional level, guidance is provided by the African Union Guidelines for a Coordinated Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol (AU Guidelines) since 2015, and the African Group continues to play an important role in the negotiations of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Nagoya Protocol.

In the run-up to the 13th Conference of Parties to the CBD and the second Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol (COP 13 / COP MOP 2), held in Cancún, Mexico, in December 2016, the ABS Initiative organised two sub-regional workshops for participants from Anglophone and Francophone African countries, respectively.

The Francophone workshop took place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 24 to 28 October 2016. It provided a forum for stakeholders from Francophone African countries to learn about recent developments in the ABS arena, exchange experiences and discuss approaches to implementing the Nagoya Protocol as well as other ABS-related issues. Acknowledging the fact that more and more countries in Africa dispose of considerable experiences and lessons learnt in the implementation of ABS and the Nagoya Protocol, the meeting put a particular methodological focus on innovative interactive formats that created room for experience sharing, mutual learning and discussion among participants, including opportunities for discussing entirely self-chosen topics in small groups.

Specifically, the workshop aimed to:

  • Introduce the guidance frame provided by the AU Guidelines;
  • Discuss approaches to developing national regulatory frameworks;
  • Foster exchange on strategic approaches to the valorisation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge;
  • Discuss elements and the functioning of ABS agreements as well as related monitoring and compliance mechanisms;
  • Provide a forum to exchange on approaches to involving IPLCs in ABS and integrating the protection of traditional knowledge.

The workshop was hosted by the Ivorian Ministère de l’Environnement et du Développement Durable. As a biodiversity hotspot in West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire keeps attracting the interest of researchers and enterprises, both from the region and from across the world. Recognizing this great potential for the valorization of its domestic genetic resources, Côte d’Ivoire ratified the Nagoya Protocol and is now in the process of developing its national ABS system. During an excursion day, the workshop participants visited two enterprises valorising Ivorian genetic resources and traditional knowledge for health and nutrition purposes. These cases served as good examples of GR and aTK utilisation within so-called provider countries and triggered insightful discussions on the implications of such cases for national ABS frameworks and valorisation strategies.  

57 participants from 19 Francophone African countries took part in this workshop. These included National ABS Focal Points, representatives of IPLCs, stakeholders from civil society as well as from the research and private sectors.