A regional training workshop was jointly convened by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and from the 4th to 6th of March 2019 at the Fortis Manor Hotel, in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa, in the framework of the implementation of the AU-IBAR project on "Strengthening the capacity of African Countries on Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Animal Genetic Resources in Africa". A total of 35 participants comprising National Focal Points for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and Nagoya Protocol (NP), National Coordinators for Animal Genetic Resources, government and non-governmental officials and development practitioners in the SADC and technical and administrative staff of AU-IBAR region attended the 3-day training workshop. The SADC participants were from: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The training workshop was facilitated by the Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Sub-Regional Focal Point for AnGR for Southern Africa, Mrs Deidre Januarie.
The main objective of the workshop was to strengthen capacity on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) for Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR) in the SADC region.
The specific objectives were:
- To raise awareness on ABS and IPR issues related to AnGR,
- To mainstream AnGR into the existing national and regional legislation,
- To share information and best practices and lessons learnt on ABS on AnGR and ABS Procedures and/or Mechanisms and
- To agree on priority interventions to fast track their implementations.
The workshop was opened by the Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Sub-Regional Focal Point for AnGR for Southern Africa, Mrs. Deidre Januarie who welcomed participants and encouraged them to actively participate in the deliberations during the 3-day training workshop. She highlighted the importance of the workshop towards strengthening of capacity on ABS and IPR for AnGR in the SADC region. She conveyed apologies on behalf of the SADC representative who could not attend the workshop.
Drs Edward Nengomasha and N’Guetta Bosso, of the AU-IBAR Genetics Project provided a background and overview of the project. They reported that ABS and IPR issues were key activities of the project and therefore, the project fully supported the training workshop. Participants were informed that the Genetics Project was ending in July 2019. Participants’ expected to improve their understanding of ABS principles under the Nagoya Protocol as well as the IPR issues including how they can be applied to AnGR.
Some key elements of ABS and IPR
The essential components and definitions of the unique AnGR were presented by Mr. Wilson Nandolo from Malawi. The presentation provided an underlying background for the participants to understand some of the intrigues of ABS and IPR. The importance of conservation and sustainable utilization the rich diversity of AnGR in the region and the need to protect them from genetic erosion due to various factors such as replacement by new breeds, inbreeding depression and effects of climate change were also highlighted.
Ms. Martha Kalemba, the National Focal Point for ABS in Malawi gave an overview of the principles of ABS and the key elements as outlined in the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol. The origins of the Nagoya Protocol including back ground information on the processes that led to its development were also clearly explained. The Nagoya Protocol focuses on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization.
Mr. Regis Mafuratidze, a legal expert from Community Technology Development Organization, a nongovernmental organization in Zimbabwe stressed the importance of recognizing and protecting the livestock keeper’s rights as an important element of Access and Benefit Sharing of AnGR. The livestock keepers should be recognized as creators of breeds and custodians/stewards of AnGR for food and agriculture. They play prominent roles in the sustainable utilization of traditional breeds and the conservation of their respective ecosystems. Traditional breeds represent collective property and are products of indigenous knowledge and cultural expression.
An update on international developments on AnGR for food and agriculture under FAO and the Commission was presented by Mrs Deidre Januarie. It was reported that the finalization of the ABS elements and their guiding notes as tools for guiding implementation of Access and Benefit Sharing at national level, were finalized at the 17th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA). The current global discussions on the adoption of Digital Sequence Information (DSI) and the challenges associated with it, were also highlighted.
Country representatives presented reports on the status of implementation of ABS legislation in their respective countries. It was clear that most countries in the SADC region do not have measures for addressing ABS for AnGR in line with the Nagoya Protocol. The few countries that have developed the measures still lack key components of the Protocol, highlighting the need for review and alignment.
The first training session was on ABS and conducted by Mr Tom Suchanandan and Ms Shumi Pango from the Department of Science and Technology in the South African government. They explained in detail the key elements of Access and Benefit Sharing which including: (i) Prior Informed Consent (PIC), (ii) Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) and (ii) Benefit Sharing (BS). The trainers made special reference to the South African Indigenous Knowledge Bill which addresses bio-piracy and misappropriation of the rich biological resources and the protection of its associated traditional knowledge. The bill presented a very practical example for the national implementation of ABS by South Africa. In group sessions, participants were asked to enact practical situations involving issues related to ABS. In their report back, participants demonstrated an impressive levels of understanding of the key elements and principles of ABS.
Dr Joanne van Harmelen, an Intellectual Property (IP) expert from ENSafrica shared knowledge and expertise on Access and Benefit Sharing with particular focus on IP in relation to biological resources. Issues of IP were put into context with references made to the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act of 2014 (NEMBA Act) South Africa. The presentation addressed various aspects on the development of MAT, PIC and BS agreements between the providers and users of genetic resources. This enhanced the participants’ understanding and reinforced the knowledge and information acquired from the previous sessions. The presentation stimulated active participation and discussions among the participants and also involved solving practical ABS related situations.
Workshop outputs and recommendations
- Participants level of understanding on ABS and IPR related issues was significantly enhanced as evidenced by their impressive presentations.
- Participants were equipped with the necessary skills to develop and implement ABS and IPR policies for AnGR in their respective countries.
- Participants developed a draft key position paper for the SADC region on AnGR as one of the outputs of the workshop.
- A SADC regional coordination unit/instrument/mechanism on ABS to deal with multilateral agreements related to transboundary genetic resources should be established.
- Communities should be empowered in decision-making processes on matters related to ABS.
- National governments in the SADC region should make efforts to create conducive environments for negotiations between providers and users of genetic resources.
- The domestication of the Nagoya Protocol through development of national legislation which takes into consideration traditional knowledge, IP and ABS of AnGR should be prioritized.
- Building capacity on ABS to create a critical mass of experts on the subject should be continuous.
- A SADC position on ABS and its links to AnGR, associated traditional knowledge and intellectual property should be developed.
- A capacity building session for the National Focal Points for the Nagoya Protocol (NP), National Coordinators for Animal Genetic Resources and some key government officials in negotiation skills should be organized.
- Similar trainings should be organized in the other regions of Africa.
The training workshop was a success and achieved the intended objectives. Participants were encouraged to utilize the knowledge, information and skills gained during the training workshop in their respective countries.