Govt. undertaking steps to domesticate and ratify Nagoya protocol-South PS

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Government says it is undertaking a number of steps which will lead to the ratification and domestication of the Nagoya protocol on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation.

Southern Province Permanent Secretary Margaret Miyoba said once Zambia ratifies the protocol and domesticates it, it will accrue a number of benefits that include enabling the country to establish more predictable conditions for access to genetic resources.

Ms Miyoba said other benefits include ensuring the benefits are shared between users and providers of genetic resources and that only legally acquired genetic resources are used.

She added that the process will contribute to increasing government revenue and empowering custodians of the natural resources such as the communities where the genetic resources are found.

Ms Miyoba said this in a speech read on her behalf by Southern Province Lands Officer Oscar Mweene at the official opening of a one day awareness workshop on the Nagoya protocol held at Leon Conference in Choma today.

She said the protocol provides a strong basis for greater legal certainty and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources.

Ms. Miyoba disclosed that currently 92 countries are party to the convention of biological diversity and have signed the Nagoya protocol while 29 countries have since ratified.

The Permanent Secretary noted that Zambia is party to a number of multilateral environmental agreements including the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD).

Ms. Miyoba said UNCBD is one of the three RIO conventions adopted at the earth summit in Rio De Jeneairo, Brazil in 1992 and Zambia is party to the convention which it signed and ratified in June 1992 and May 1993.

She explained that genetic resources include all living organisms that have the ability to pass on physical or mental characteristics genetically from one generation to another.

"In Zambia and the world over, this includes animals such as cattle, goats, and wildlife and fish species. Genetic resources also include crop varieties, medicinal plants and forests, among others," she said.

Ms. Miyoba explained that prior to the convention on biological diversity, genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, especially in developing countries such as in Africa, were often taken from communities and countries by organizations, pharmaceutical companies, perfume industries and other industries or individuals who
monopolized the benefits.

She said the expeditions were a one way transfer of knowledge with biological explorers taking knowledge from local communities.

She noted that there was little or no exchange of knowledge and no offer of compensation to such communities who owned various genetic resources.

”In order to promote equitable access to genetic resources and sharing of benefits arising from utilisation of such resources, parties to the UNCBD negotiated and adopted the Nagoya protocol on access and benefit sharing in 2010,” she said.

The objective of UNCBD convention is the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

Zambia will be participating at the twelfth meeting of the conference of the parties to the convention on biological diversity (UNCBDCOP12), which will be held this year in Pyeongchang, Gangwon province, Republic of Korea from 29th September to October 17, 2014.