Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Project Workshop

The Division of Environment and Conservation (DEC) conducted the National Stakeholder Workshop for the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Project, held at Taumeasina Island Resort this morning, Tuesday the 13th of November 2018.

In his keynote address, the Assistant CEO Seumaloisalafai Afele Faiilagi said, “The workshop today is an opportunity for our colleagues and consultants to share with us some of the preliminary findings of some of the work being done under the Global Access Benefit Sharing project for Samoa. In particular on bio-discovery and traditional knowledge including development of Traditional Knowledge and Genetic Resource Database to facilitate the storage and management of data.”

The ABS is a global project, with 24 participating countries, including Samoa. It began in 2017 and is intended to be ongoing for 3 years. ABS is basically managing research into genetic and bio-chemical makeup of living things (Genetic Resources or GR’s). This can lead to new drugs, foods, plastics, biofuels, industrial enzymes, etc.

Three primary components of the ABS project include:

  1. Strengthening the legal, policy and institutional capacity to develop national ABS frameworks
  2. Build trust between the users and providers of genetic resources to facilitate the identification of bio-discovery efforts, and
  3. Strengthening the capacity of indigenous and local communities to contribute to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS.

Some outcomes of the ABS Global project include the ABS Legal Framework and Samoa’s National Interim Report on the Nagoya Protocol.

A main component of the Global ABS project is to develop community protocols in terms of access and use of the community traditional knowledge. Community protocols is one of the many aspects of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS. It is said that participating Governments, including Samoa, are encouraged to support the indigenous and local communities in their development of these community protocols.

Although the development of community protocols by our own local communities can be timely, it will ensure that access to traditional territories, natural resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources are implemented appropriately.

In attendance of the National Stakeholders Workshop were representatives from  UNDP-MCO (UNDP Multi-country Office), Government Ministries, SPREP, UN Agencies, FAO, UNESCO and NGO’s.