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Training Course to Build African Capacity in Access and Benefit Sharing

Harare, Zimbabwe, 1-5 June 2015 

By the end of 2014 twenty African nations had ratified the Nagoya Protocol. Despite numerous activities to increase ABS knowledge and capacity a number of constraints remain, linked to the complex mix of scientific, conservation, trade and legal issues. Among them are implications of new biotechnologies through to the protection of traditional knowledge, the patenting of life and corporate control over food supply and healthcare.

Such complexities result in particular challenges for capacity building, and require cross-sectoral and wide-ranging solutions that bring together a range of diverse understandings and stakeholders.

This training course was shaped to help to find these solutions.

The course was originally designed by the Environmental Evaluation Unit (EEU) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, where it was held for the first time in January 2010. A second course was presented in collaboration with Strathmore University in Nairobi in October 2011, followed by a third course held in Gaborone in February 2013, and a fourth presented on the island of Zanzibar in May 2014.

The training comprised a mix of lectures, group and pair work, role-playing exercises, discussion, and practical sessions. At the end of each day, a short questionnaire tested participants’ knowledge.

During a one-day field trip participants visited a group of resurrection bush (Myrothamnus flabellifolia) harvesters and an agro-processing and biotrade innovation lab. The smaller twigs and dry leaves of the bush are used as traditional medicine and have been commercialized as an herbal tea valued for its health benefits. Recently the bush generated interest for its potential cosmetic properties. While the demand is still small the resurrection bush has great potential to be a commercially successful ABS case compliant with the Nagoya Protocol.

The course was co-hosted by the Zimbabwean Ministry of Environment and the Genetic Resources and Biotechnology Institute. It was organized by the Bio-Economy Research Chair in cooperation with and with the financial support of the multi-donor ABS Capacity Development Initiative.