Saint Lucia joins movement to conserve bio-diversity

GIS: IUCN, UN Environment Launch Promotional Videos on Nagoya Protocol in Saint Lucia.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Program (UN Environment) are increasing efforts to help Caribbean countries boost fair access to their genetic resources and equitable sharing of benefits derived.

The IUCN is the world’s largest and most diverse environmental union composed of both government and civil society organizations, working for a just world that values and conserves nature. Working through the Department of Sustainable Development in Saint Lucia, the agencies have developed and released two short videos on the Nagoya Protocol. The two videos – a short two and a half minutes and longer 10 minutes production – introduce viewers to the Nagoya Protocol and what it will mean for them individually and the Caribbean as a whole. The videos are a part of a regional/national awareness campaign on the Nagoya Protocol – which is still new to the Caribbean.

“We made the videos because we wanted people to easily understand what the Nagoya Protocol is and what it means for the Caribbean Region,” said María Pía Hernández, Coordinator of the IUCN’s Biodiversity and Rights Unit, as she explained that prior to the Nagoya Protocol there were no guidelines in place to ensure that countries and individuals were properly compensated for the use of their traditional knowledge and genetic resources.

The Department of Sustainable Development in Saint Lucia is the government agency responsible for overseeing implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its related protocols. It is vital that if our treasured local genetic resources are used for research or commercialization the people of Saint Lucia must benefit. Regulating access to our genetic resources helps promote their conservation, while benefit sharing mechanisms help build national capacity by addressing limiting skill gaps for national growth and development.

Promoting a culture of optimal knowledge sharing will help build awareness, strengthen our intellectual capital, international recognition and perpetual pride of Saint Lucia’s bountiful biodiversity.

The Protocol was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, and entered into force on 12 October 2014. It has been ratified by seventy eight (78) parties, which includes seventy-seven (77) United Nations (UN) member states and the European Union (EU). Although the protocol has not been ratified by Saint Lucia, it is the second Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the first is the 2000 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to work with regional governments, research institutions and other partners in the Caribbean to support countries to overcome barriers linked to poor understanding of Access Benefit Sharing (ABS), the Nagoya Protocol and the implications of protocol ratification and requirements for implementation.

1 Comment

  1. Dan Leskien
    November 13, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I would like to commend Saint Lucia and the other Caribbean countries on joining the movement to conserve biodiversity and on their efforts to implement, with the support of IUCN, UN Environment and GEF, the Nagoya Protocol.

    Establishing rules for access to genetic resources and for equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use for research and development is no doubt a major challenge for governments in all parts of the world, not only in the Caribbean Region.

    As the promotional videos rightly point out, an important aspect of the Nagoya Protocol is its recognition of traditional knowledge and of indigenous peoples and local communities who hold such knowledge and who have contributed to the conservation and sustainable use of these resources over many generations. The Nagoya Protocol requires its Contracting Parties to take measures with the aim to ensure that such knowledge is accessed with the prior informed consent of the knowledge-holders.

    I would like to offer a few observations regarding (1) access and benefit-sharing for genetic resources for food and agriculture and (2) the obligation of Contracting Parties of the Nagoya Protocol to take so-called compliance measures to ensure genetic resources/ traditional knowledge used within their jurisdiction are of “good legal status.”

    It is important to know that the Nagoya Protocol is not the only and, in fact, not the first international legally binding instrument which aims to operationalize the principle of sovereign rights of countries over their genetic resources. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture which entered into force in 2004 provides for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. The Treaty also establishes a so-called Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-Sharing which ensures that Contract Parties to the Treaty exercise their sovereign rights over their plant genetic resources for food and agriculture by facilitating access to these resources on a multilateral basis. They have agreed on standard terms and conditions under which they share these resources and under which they share benefits derived from them. Facilitated access to plant genetic resources is essential for the further development of agriculture. Farmers as well as breeders depend on having easy access to plant genetic resources necessary to face new environmental and agricultural challenges, such as climate change. The Treaty therefore provides a special ABS instrument, which in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, reflects the special nature of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, their distinctive features and problems needing distinctive solutions. While several states in the Caribbean Region have joined the Treaty, others have not. It is to be hoped, that in the course of the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, all countries in the region will recognize the important role of the Treaty’s Multilateral System and will join the Treaty.

    Compliance measures under the Nagoya Protocol are measures countries shall take to make sure that genetic resources used for research or development within their jurisdiction are of “good legal status”, i.e. have been acquired in line with the ABS law and regulations of the other Party. This obligation applies to all Parties of the Nagoya Protocol. It is important to note that the vast majority of countries are both, recipients and providers of genetic resources. Contracting Parties of the Nagoya Protocol therefore face a two-fold challenge: regulating ABS for their own genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge and create a mechanism through which they can ensure that genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge introduced into their territories are used for research and development in line with the laws and regulations of the country that provided the genetic resources/ traditional knowledge.

    Dan Leskien
    Senior Liaison Officer
    Commission on Genetic Resources
    for Food and Agriculture
    Food and Agriculture Organization of the
    United Nations