MINEPDED SW Staff Enlightened on ABS Process in Cameroon

Divisional Delegates, Regional Chief of Services and other staff of the Southwest Regional Delegation of the Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEPDED) have been schooled on the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Initiative and their role in its implementation.

Shancho Ndimuh

These MINEPDED Southwest staff were  drilled alongside some staff from the Southwest Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF), Mount Cameroon National Park and national NGOs during a MINEPDED organised workshop in Limbe, October 26, 2017.

The workshop was aimed at educating/sensitizing MINEPDED South West Region staff on the National Strategy on access to genetic resources, and the fair and equitable distribution of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources within the South West Region. The organisation of the workshop was motivated by a number of reasons

“For over three years now, only the Regional Delegate, National Focal Point and a few others have been  trained and sesnsitised in the country on ABS;  we discovered that our Regional Chief of Services, Divisional Delegates were not trained. This made it difficult for them to go to the field and sensitize others. They had to be trained and be sure that they master the process and can transfer the knowledge to the local population” said Set Ekwadi, South West Regional Delegate of MINEPDED.

It’s against this backdrop that participants, during this workshop  were made to review the objectives  of the  1992 Convention on Biological Diversity with a special focus on the third objective, which underscores the need for the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and their related traditional knowledge. All 36 articles of the 2010 Nagoya Protocol were also reviewed. Key concepts in the ABS process like ‘MAT’, ‘PIC’,  ‘Benefit Sharing’, ‘Fairness’, ‘Equitability’, ‘Genetic Resources’, ‘Derivatives’, ‘Commercialisation’, ‘Utilisation’ etc were explained to participants. Meanwhile, working sessions were held to identify species that can be involved in the ABS process, how the ABS process can be decentralized, suggest ways of  improving the ABS process in Cameroon etc.

At the end of the workshop, MINEPDED’s SW Regional Delegate implored his staff and all other participants to ensure that communities are sensitised about the ABS Principle.

He appreciated the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) for her contributions in the development of the ABS process in Cameroon. The Regional Delegate called on other partner NGOs in the Region to follow the example of ERuDeF by also ensuring the respect of the ABS principles in the use of genetic resources.

Though just a two day worshop, participants said it was enriching

“Seriously, the workshop has been of great importance to me. It has actually opened my mind & knowledge on the ABS and everything relating to the Nagoya protocol. I have seen that it’s a good initiative to ensure that local communities benefit from the sales of their genetic resources,”  Che Thomas Njingo Eleve, Director of the Mount Cameroon Prunus Management Company (MOCAP) testified.

On his part, MINEPDED Divisional Delegate for Ndian, John Eyong Arrey, said he has gained new knowledge on ABS from the workshop that will be transferred to his Division.

“ This workshop has been particularly interesting to me because I am coming from and area where there are lots of forest/genetic resources and  the exploitation of natural and forest resources are really high. Educating my people on the ABS process and making sure it’s  followed in genetic resources exploitation is of paramount important to me,” he added.

The Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Principle is an international regulation, which calls for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources and related traditional knowledge. It is the third objective of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) coming to support the first two objectives that revolves around the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Conscious of the rich biodiversity and the potential of these resources to contribute to the socio-economic development, Cameroon in 1994 adopted the CBD. In 2012, with the aid of the COMIFAC funded project-the Support Project for the Development of ABS Policy in Africa, a national ABS strategy was developed. Finally, the Nagoya Protocol was also adopted in Cameroon in 2014 and implementation is in course.

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