• September 18th, 2019

Namibia makes strides towards sustainable use of genetic resources


Absalom Shigwedha

WINDHOEK – Draft regulations to the Access to Biological and Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge Act of 2017 have been referred to the legal drafters for final input.

The Act, promulgated and enacted in June 2017, seeks to regulate access to biological or genetic resources an associated traditional knowledge, innovation, practices and technologies associated with biological and genetic resources and traditional knowledge, to protect the rights of local communities over biological and genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, to provide for a fair and equitable mechanism for benefit sharing, and to establish the necessary administrative structures and processes for the implementation and enforcement.

The chief public relations officer in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Romeo Muyunda, told New Era recently that the regulations to the Act have been given to the government legal drafters and the ministry for finalisation. 

Muyunda said once the legal drafters have finalised the regulations, the Act will then be gazetted and come into force. Regulations are rules and administrative codes having the force of law, prescribed by a superior competent authority relating to the action of those under the authority’s control. It is hoped that the draft regulations will be finalised at the end of this month.

Namibia formulated the law on Access and Benefit Sharing and Related Traditional Knowledge in an effort to help with the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The Nagoya Protocol was adopted on 29th October 2010 in Nagoya (Japan) as a global response towards the implementation of the third objective of the CBD which calls for a fair and equitable benefit sharing arising the commercial utilisation of genetic resources and related traditional knowledge.
Namibia is both a party to the CBD and its Nagoya Protocol. 

With financial support from the Biodiversity Management and Climate Change (BMCC) II project in MET,  Namibia developed the law on ABS issues through numerous regional consultations which started as far as 2010 seeking inputs from both local and indigenous people on how they want the ABS issues and related traditional knowledge to be regulated in Namibia.

The secretary general of the Nama Traditional Authority Association, Lazarus //Khairabeb, said Namibia has made some good strides towards the implementation of the CBD and its Nagoya Protocol. 
He said in comparison with the rest of Africa, Namibia has done fairly well in implementing the protocol by coming up with the national legal framework on ABS issues.

//Khairabeb said the coming into being of the Nagoya Protocol is a good move for the environment and people. “We now have a common denominator to work from when dealing with the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components,” he said. 

Professor Elifuraha Laltaika, an expert member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), said genetic and biological resources are the lifeline of rural communities and indigenous people. 

Laltaika, who teaches international law, human rights law and constitutional law at Tumaini University Makumira in Arusha (Tanzania) said these people’s traditional knowledge, related to the use of genetic and biological resources, merit protection from misappropriation to ensure continued vitality, recognition and benefits to them as they are the holders of this knowledge.


Staff Reporter
2019-07-11 09:19:11 2 months ago

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