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Conference:

African Ministers’ Conference on ABS

8-10 March 2010, Windhoek, Namibia

Ministers and senior officials in charge for Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) implementation in 38 African countries attended the conference to discuss, coordinate, and endorse the African position and negotiation strategy for the upcoming 9th meeting of the ABS Working Group in Cali, Colombia.

At that stage of the negotiations it was of crucial importance to raise at the high political level the necessary awareness on the on-going negotiation process and its implications for national and global environmental governance.

Objectives

  • Further build Pan-African ownership over ABS at ministerial level
  • Raise at the high political level - through issue focused briefings - the necessary awareness on the on-going negotiation process and its implications for national and global environmental governance. This improves the needed political backing of the ABS negotiators during the process of elaborating the regime and enable informed final decisions by the high-level participants at the Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the CBD 10 (COP-10).

Outcomes

 The African group is well equipped for the upcoming international ABS negotiations, thanks to the preparatory steps during the previous 4th Pan-African ABS Workshop and this Conference.  The EU side and the African Group had previously not seen eye to eye. The main conclusions from the Conference discussion were:

  • A single legally binding international ABS regime in the form of a protocol was demanded by all participants
  • Access standards are seen from the EU side as a benchmark to achieve compliance, while the African concerns about misappropriation and misuse and their links to access to justice and fairness were noted
  • A requirement for disclosure is agreed by both sides
  • Derivatives have been a divisive issue for many years, the importance of the issue to the African group was highlighted

The commitment of several European countries to continue their cooperation with African countries, irrespective of the outcome of Nagoya, was reassuring for African countries.

The event was hosted by the Government of Namibia in partnership with the African Minister’s Council on the Environment (AMCEM) and fully funded by the Government of Denmark as an initial step in joining the ABS Initiative.