In a move that ushers in a new era for the sustainable management of biological and genetic resources, Namibia has introduced new Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) Guidelines for this purpose, along with an online permitting system. 

The initiative is led by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism in partnership with local and global development partners.

ABS is a framework under the Convention on Biological Diversity that governs the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources. 

ABS Guidelines regulate access to these resources, ensuring that users obtain permits and agree to benefit-sharing agreements, particularly with the communities that have traditionally stewarded them.

It also aims to ensure the sustainable use of genetic resources, which include plant varieties, animal breeds, microorganisms, vectors, and genetic sequences, as well as empower local communities to economically preserve such traditional knowledge.

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism emphasised the pivotal importance of ABS Guidelines in empowering local communities. 

"Namibia exports, among other resources, over 90 percent of the world's devil's craw, with at least over 1,000 tonnes exported in 2022 to countries such as the EU, the UK, US, China, Russia, Korea, Brazil, and South Africa. The question is how much of the resources are developed into cosmetics and medicines and how much flows came back to benefit the community from which it was haversted"

She highlighted that these guidelines recognise the value of traditional knowledge held by communities and ensure that they receive fair compensation when their knowledge is used for commercial purposes. 

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation reaffirmed the government's commitment to international cooperation in managing genetic resources. 

The implementation of the ABS aligns with our strategic foreign objectives, which are to promote and protect Namibia's sovereignty, territorial integrity, national security, and social well-being while fostering sustainable development."

The Online Permitting System will simplify the process of obtaining permits for accessing genetic resources, making it more efficient and transparent. 

This system will further enable researchers, businesses, and other users to comply with regulations while facilitating responsible resource management.

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NBC Digital News


Daniel Nadunya