Man and the Biosphere programme hosts meeting on access to genetic resources and fair and equitable benefit sharing
On 27 May 2016, UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme hosted the annual Meeting of the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) initiative in partnership with the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT). This year’s theme was: ‘A public-private dialogue on the opportunities and challenges of implementing access to genetic resources and fair and equitable benefit sharing’.
Some 87 participants from public and private sectors across Africa, Europe and the Americas attended the meeting. The main objective was to advance discussions and practices in ethical biodiversity sourcing. Five working groups addressed different aspects of the ABS scenario including governance, negotiations, access procedures, benefit-sharing approaches, monitoring and intellectual property.
The main aim of MAB was to share its views on Access and Benefit Sharing in line with the programme’s stances on sustainable development. Local communities should be integrated into biodiversity-sourcing projects beyond mere payment for commodities. The capacities of small producers, in particular, should be strengthened with regard to large multinational companies. The MAB programme recognizes that the environmentally fair outsourcing of raw material in fact reflects an outsourcing of natural and cultural material. Accordingly, it is crucial to recognize the added value of traditional knowledge accumulated over centuries by communities that have encouraged and maintained biodiversity and species of particular interest for product development. Finally, the sharing of profits should lie at the heart of future discussions about access and benefit sharing.
Given the potential interest from biosphere reserves on this subject and the required capacity building – especially in developing countries, discussions are underway concerning the provision of information and technical training in MAB regional network meetings, for example, the upcoming AfriMAB meeting in 2017. The MAB Secretariat will keep the MAB National Commissions up to date on this subject.
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