Project Consultant, Toleafoa Christopher Brown, and staff of MNRE working towards a smoother implementation of the Nagoya Protocol through ABS Clearing House and TKGR database
With Samoa now working towards further strengthening the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol (NP) on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment through the Division of Environment Conservation (MNRE-DEC) conducted a one day training on the Access and Benefit Sharing Clearing House (ABSCH) and Traditional Knowledge associated with Genetic Resources (TKGR) database
The Development of the TKGR and ABSCH Database is one of Samoa’s activity’s under the Global ABS Project through UNDP. This is the second training conducted by MNRE where both were facilitated by project consultant, Toleafoa Christopher Brown, and was attended by members of MNRE. The key objective of the training was; to validate changes made from the initial training, to raise awareness on the NP on ABS, to familiarize the ministry’s users on the database and how to navigate or regulate it, to build data entry capabilities of participants so that data is well managed and organized, and to identify gaps needing attention in going forward – DEC’s Terrestrial Conservation Senior Officer, Entole Simanu, assisted in facilitating the training.
This training is crucial because the ABSCH and TKGR Database is a platform that allows for better exchanging of information on ABS, it acts as a key tool for facilitating implementation of the NP, and caters for registration and monitoring of Samoa’s ABS process.
And with MNRE as Samoa’s key implementing agency, it is important for staff responsible for data entry, maintaining the database and updating the database to have sound knowledge of the entire procedure and how to execute the database functions.
“The training was successful as the participants were well informed on the ins and outs of the database as well as the ABS initiative as a whole,” explained Ms. Simanu.
“The database is a user friendly tool that houses the process of ABS. It also protects and keeps track of our GR and associated traditional knowledge once used in any research furthermore assisting in ensuring the equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilization. Building further understanding on this was one of the objectives achieved during the training.”
The NP on ABS is a supplementary agreement under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), by which Samoa has been a party to since 2014, and includes three objectives: to strengthen the legal, policy and institutional capacity to develop national ABS frameworks; build trust between the “users” of Genetic Resources (GR) and “providers” of GR to facilitate the identification of bio-discovery efforts; and lastly, to strengthen the capacity of indigenous and local communities to contribute to the implementation of the NP on ABS. Users of GR refers to those who wish to use GR’s in any way and can come in the form of researchers, universities, or corporations – on the other hand, providers of GR refers to those who hold sovereign rights over the GR such as the government or local communities.
ABS pushes to protect the sovereign rights of Samoa, and its people, to their GR by promoting conservation of local biodiversity, sustainable use of components found in local biodiversity’s, and to fairly and equitably share the benefits between the GR users and the GR providers. This is necessary to avoid past concerns where communities around Samoa became victims to unfair benefit sharing where GR users from foreign countries who requested access to local GR (through District representatives and Chiefs) but did not give a fair share of benefits back to the people.
As the key implementing agency, MNRE-DEC will continue to work towards a smoother implementation of the NP on ABS through the ABSCH – TKGR database and work towards a more fair relationship between those who wish to use GR and those who provide it. MNRE-DEC would like to also acknowledge the invaluable support of UNDP and SPREP for their part in helping to make ABS a reality in Samoa as well as assist in the completion of all key activities under the UNDP-GEF Global ABS.