When it comes to ABS implementation, the ABS Initiative is supporting three core processes: developing and revising ABS regulatory frameworks, negotiating fair and equitable ABS agreements and effectively integrating indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in the respective processes. Lessons from the Initiative’s activities directly support the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) in the implementation and development of the Strategic Framework for Capacity-building and Development to Support the Effective Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol. The Initiative also provides substantial input to the negotiations of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
- Providing guidance on developing and implementing national institutional and legislative ABS frameworks, including permitting systems and administrative processes
- Promoting ABS agreement negotiations between users and providers of genetic resources
- Conducting ABS relevant technical trainings, for example on user sectors or intellectual property rights
- Organizing trainings on the negotiation of Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) clauses, including benefit-sharing, information on monitoring and compliance systems in user countries as well as on relevant market standards
- Setting up of dialogue and exchange fora with ABS stakeholders
- Identification of cooperation partners and innovation opportunities leading to ABS agreements
- Specific awareness raising on ABS among relevant stakeholders such as policy makers, public administration, academia, private sector and IPLCs
- Supporting transboundary harmonization and exchange of experiences on ABS by offering (sub-)regional trainings and workshops in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
When implementing these activities, the ABS Initiative applies a number of tools it developed in cooperation with partners in three main areas:
- knowledge generation and management (e.g. weekly ABS News Digest)
- human capacity development tools (e.g. ABS contract training course, multi-stakeholder strategy workshops)
- awareness raising tools (e.g. interactive graphics, “simply explained” videos).
Already during the negotiations of the Nagoya Protocol in the early 2000s, the Initiative supported key African stakeholders by organizing preparatory meetings, high-level events and (sub-)regional multi-stakeholder workshops and trainings. As a result, the “African Group” was able to negotiate with one voice and effectively participate in the negotiations of the Nagoya Protocol which was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.
Over the years, the ABS Initiative advised the development of draft Nagoya Protocol compliant policies and regulations in African partner countries, such as Benin, Cameroon, Madagascar, Micronesia, Morocco, Namibia, Palau, Samoa and Senegal. It also provided assistance in the development of a sub-regional ABS strategy for Central Africa.
Experts of the ABS Initiative promoted the negotiation of ABS agreements for several natural ingredients / products through capacity building of local providers and regulators as well as facilitating the negotiations that led to the signing of ABS agreements, e.g. in Cameroon, Namibia and South Africa.
In collaboration with the NGO Natural Justice, the Initiative has supported indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in managing their natural resources and interacting with potential users and governmental institutions. Key instruments in this regard are Biocultural Community Protocols (BCPs) which, among others, support the establishment of ABS agreements between IPLCs and industry. Facilitated by the Initiative, a BCP process in South Africa led to an agreement between a local Healer Association and a domestic cosmetic company.
Further, the ABS Initiative supported the development of the African Union (AU) policy and technical guidelines for the coordinated implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in Africa. The two documents provide strategic and practical step-by-step directions and tools to guide African countries in the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.