United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility supports ten countries of the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), to carry out activities leading to the ratification, accession and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS). This initiative aims to strengthen the capacity of the participating member countries of the COMIFAC to achieve ratification or accession processes as well as to start the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.
This collaborative effort also seeks to increase regional coordination and cooperation among member countries of the COMIFAC in order to promote sharing of information, experiences and lessons learned on relevant issues relating to the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) to further improve the understanding of the Nagoya Protocol in the region.
This initiative was first launched in Rwanda, in March 2015, and has since recorded progress in majority of the COMIFAC member states. At a recent forum organized by UNEP, the GEF, and COMIFAC Secretariat and member countries, in Kigali, Rwanda, with the intention to provide a platform for knowledge sharing on best practices and recommendations in the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, countries recorded the following success stories:
- Five member countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, and Chad) of the COMICAF had ratified the Nagoya Protocol. Equatorial Guinea is in the process of depositing its instrument of ratification.
- Six countries (Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, CAR, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, and Chad), had developed and adopted the ABS strategies and action plans.
- Local communities, including women and the youth participated in awareness raising forums, giving them a deeper understanding and sensitization of the ABS protocol.
- There was enhanced sub-regional cooperation and coordination among the member countries, which lead to cohesion in the development and implementation of the protocol.
- Three countries (Burundi, Cameroon, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) completed all the results-based activities under the project.
It can be celebrated that synergy among the COMIFAC members has successfully led to the ratification of or the accession of the Nagoya Protocol, the development of national ABS strategies and action plans, strengthening of capacity building activities and awareness raising, and exchange of knowledge and experiences for sustainable ideas, in the sub-region.
In as much as these achievements were recorded, COMIFAC member countries still face challenges at both national and regional levels, which hinder the effective implementation of the Protocol in the region. Some of the challenges include regular change of government officials including Ministers national ABS focal points, causing high turnovers and poor sustainability of expertise; limited sensitization and communication from focal points; lack of clarity in the roles of the various actors involved in the process of ratification and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, and; insufficient information available to local communities and authorities to participate in the implementation processes of the Protocol at the national level. To help close these gaps, UNEP will continue to strengthen its efforts to:
- Promote awareness raising and sensitization efforts at all levels to ensure appropriate access to genetic resources and to promote fair and equitable sharing of the benefits.
- Encourage synergy and partnership with specialized natural research structures; the private sector; training instructions; and organized structures of indigenous populations and local communities.
For more information, please contact: Tita.Korvenoja[at]un.org I Emmanuel.Adonsou[at]un.org I Catherine.Abuto[at].un.org.