Supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), South Africa enacted its Bioprospecting and Access and Benefit Sharing Regulations in 2008 and subsequently developed ABS guidelines. Both activities were executed by GIZ with the support of the ABS Initiative and parallel funds of a regional UNEP/GEF project. Based on these regulations several bioprospecting agreements have been signed, for instance on the development of sweeteners and cosmetics.
Within the African Biocultural Community Protocol Initiative, implemented by Natural Justice, traditional healers have been empowered to negotiate an ABS and non-disclosure agreement with a South African cosmetics company on the utilization of their knowledge. In addition, the national ABS Clearing House Mechanism has been established, and products such as best practice guidelines have been completed.
South Africa is participating actively in a Dialogue Forum organized by the Initiative on practical ways forward for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol - among other countries rich in ABS experience such as Brazil, India, Malaysia and Mexico.
The Initiative is working closely with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs in analysing existing value chains in which the country is both provider and user. This collaboration contributes to the establishment of a national biodiversity economy strategy with ABS as a cornerstone.
South Africa was the host of the ABS Initiative's 1st and 7th Pan-African ABS Workshops and the meetings of the African Steering Committee (held back-to-back with the workshops).
The Hoodia plant is one of three African case studies in the 20-minute film People, Plants and Profits. The movie illustrates the basic principles of ABS in the context of the Nagoya Protocol.
South Africa ratified the Nagoya Protocol in January 2013.