Access and Benefit Sharing in Practice: Community, Science and Policy

Governments have struggled over the last few decades to translate the ambitious objectives of the Convention On Biological Diversity (CBD) into practice. Limited benefits have emerged for local communities, only weak connections have been made with biodiversity conservation, and policy-makers have struggled to keep up with rapid advances in science, technologies and markets. Despite increased attention to ABS capacity development, local voices of producer communities have not been adequately incorporated into policy and law. At the same time, conceptual understandings of ABS have not evolved fast enough to provide an underlying framework for effective ABS policy development. Despite the fact that ABS is intended to create economic incentives for biodiversity conservation there is little evidence of this result.

Led Professor Rachel Wynberg at the University of Cape Town, this project seeks to support an ecosystem of laws and policies that benefit local groups, conserve biological and cultural diversity and bring equity to the trade of biodiversity. It will develop a Community of Practice around access and benefit sharing (ABS) to provide advice, act as a conduit for voices currently under-represented in ABS policy processes, and develop conceptual and practical tools to help governments, researchers and local communities to deal with challenges and more effectively engage with ABS. The ABS Community of Practice will include tools to support governments, researchers, industry and local communities meet the needs of poor producer communities and biodiversity conservation.

As an expert on international law of biodiversity, genetic resources and traditional knowledge Professor Dutfield will provide technical advice to the project’s host countries and contribute and provide leadership to the Strategy and Advisory Group.

Project website