Unlocking Kenya´s Business Potential Arising from the use of its Biodiversity and Associated Traditional Knowledge

Pic: Kenyan experts on biological and genetic resources and their associated traditional knowledge pose for a picture after the technical meeting

UNDP-Kenya, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Council of Governors (CoG) Secretariat, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the Kenyan Wildlife Service organized an expert meeting at the Tafaria Castle and Countryside hotel from 22-26 October 2019, to unravel how to unlock the country´s business potential arising from the use of its genetic resources(GR) and associated traditional knowledge(TK). The meeting was sponsored by the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project under UNDP-Kenya Chapter and had the participation of various key stakeholders ranging from traditional knowledge (TK) holders, University and Intellectual Property (IP) managers, resource providers, county governments, regulators and policy makers. The key purpose of the meeting was to share experiences and lessons learned both at the global and national level, that would inform and guide the country towards developing systems for effective protection, management and commodification of the country’s TK associated with genetic resources.

The use of terms, specifically traditional knowledge and local knowledge, were extensively discussed, including the ongoing debates for Post 2020 strategy for biodiversity, impact of Digital Sequence Information (DSI) on TK, multi-lateral benefit sharing systems, WIPO TK process, CITES and the road from CoP14 Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt to CoP15 in Kunming in China.

The main outcome from the expert meeting was a revelation that management of TK in Kenya is under various legal instruments under different institutions. Regardless of wide range exploitation of Kenya’s TK associated with genetic resources, it was reported that there were no permits or ABS permits granted based on TK. Out of the various institutional IP policies that were operational in the country, there were only few that included TK compliance measures. Some of these measures on TK and genetic resources are separate, but no regulations or guidelines providing for procedures for access and benefit sharing exist.

Given the significance of TK associated to genetic resources, the main recommendation from the expert workshop was the need to urgently put in place measures for protection, preservation and unlocking the potential for Kenya´s TK.

Kenya´s stand on the implementation of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) mechanisms

Kenya is party to various international instruments dealing with traditional knowledge associated to genetic resources. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit sharing, Cartagena Protocol, WIPO treaties, the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), among others.

The international instruments previously indicated have been recognized under the country’s supreme law, the constitution and other domestic measures, including legislations, regulations and policies. Even though Kenya does not hold a substantive ABS law, the country has approved the ABS regulation of 2006, encompassing access and benefit sharing principles as stated in the Nagoya Protocol. In this regard, access permits in Kenya are subject to Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) between resource providers and users. Additionally, the country is in the process of developing the first online permitting system and reviewing its ABS domestic legislation to conform to the constitution and Nagoya Protocol provisions.

Currently, the government has established a Task Force to develop regulations within 90 days to operationalize TK and Cultural Expressions. The participants explored this opportunity and proposed accompanying ABS regulations and guidelines as some of the outputs within the proposed period. The workshop proposed a 7-member team to work closely with the National TK and Cultural Expression Task Force. In addition, a communication is to be released through the CoG to all the 47 Counties on the on-going process to develop regulations under TK and Cultural Expressions, generating awareness and establishing a network platform for TK holders and guidelines for the development of PIC and MAT.

These processes will be supported by the UNDP-GEF Global ABS funds and the Government of Kenya within the 2019/2020 financial year.

By Kabaka Watai (OGW), Kenya Wildlife Service

& Geoffrey Omedo, Portfolio Analyst UNDP

Training Workshop on IT Monitoring Tool for ABS in India

Pic: Workshop on IT Monitoring Tool for ABS in India, January 2020

A training-workshop organized by the Indo-German ABS Partnership and the National Biodiversity Authority of India, in collaboration with the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project, was held at Chennai, India, to present an online Permit and Monitoring System, supporting the National Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.

The permit and monitoring system tool is a single electronic permit system that facilitates the monitoring and reporting of applications of permits related to the access and use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. The system allows governmental authorities to permanently review and approve ABS access and use permits and applications, ensuring compliance to national ABS legal frameworks stated under provisions of the Nagoya Protocol.

The aim of the workshop was to introduce the event attendees to this tool, developed by the Indo-German ABS Project in close cooperation with the Indian Center for Advanced Computing (CDAC), featuring two free softwares (Gephi and Tableau) that can process taxonomic and patent data that generate useful information to determine the extent of use of genetic resources in query. Both softwares are free and available now.

Mr. Anthony Foronda, UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project Regional Technical Advisor on ABS for Asia/Pacific. India, January 2020.

The event was attended by Alejandro Lago, Global ABS Project Manager, who highlighted the key aspects and the features of the Global ABS Community, and plans on carrying out a pilot on the usefulness of Blockchain as a technology to facilitate the monitoring of the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.

Additionally, Anthony Foronda, Regional Technical Advisor on ABS for Asia/Pacific, graced the opening session by highlighting the importance of cooperation among like-minded institutions to be able to add value to these kind of activities and take forward the training-workshops not only in India, but to the international ABS community.

In 2016, the German Agency for International Cooperation presented this model of system as a series of integrated components that can be developed and adapted by countries or entities interested in implementing it. “We hope that this model will contribute to building shared capacity and collaboration between Parties interested in developing effective ways to meet the access, benefit-sharing, monitoring and reporting requirements of the Protocol.”

About the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project

The UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project “Strengthening human resources, legal frameworks and institutional capacities to implement the Nagoya Protocol is a three-year project (August 2016-2019) that aims to assist 23 countries in the national implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.

The Global ABS Community is the community of practice developed under the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project, oriented to provide information, knowledge dissemination and experience exchange among project participating and non-participating countries setting the foundation for the establishment of a global cooperation framework on Access and Benefit Sharing.

Kenya has launched its National Biodiversity Clearing House Mechanism

Phot: HowardWilks at Pixabay.

Source:ABS-sustainabledevelopment UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project

Since April 2020, information about biodiversity activities and relevant documents related to Access and Benefit Sharing are available through the National Biodiversity Clearing House Mechanism (CHM) for Kenya. The launch of the platform represents one step forward on the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in the country.

The website, presented as a participatory integrated system to collect and disseminate biodiversity data under open access for Kenya, provides a broad range of information. Through the platform, users can access existing legal frameworks on biodiversity and national strategies, status and trends, a research database, news and events as well as ABS related documents of interest available to download.

Previously, Kenya had organized an expert meeting in October 2019, under the support of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project, to unlock the country´s business potential arising from the use of its genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. Learn more about this important event here.

What´s a CHM

The Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) is a two-way information exchange platform established in accordance with  Article 18.3 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Its purpose is to contribute to national planning, implementation and reporting of biodiversity initiatives and promote scientific and technical cooperation.

It helps to bring together potential users and providers of goods, services and information, thus matching demand with supply.

About the Nagoya Protocol implementation in Kenya

Kenya approved its ABS regulation in 2006, encompassing access and benefit sharing principles as stated in the Nagoya Protocol. Access permits in Kenya are subject to Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) between resource providers and users. Additionally, the country is in the process of developing the first online permitting system and reviewing its ABS domestic legislation to conform to the constitution and Nagoya Protocol provisions.

View here the ABS biodiscovery project developed in Kenya under the support of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project. Learn more on Kenya´s biodiversity here.

National Inception Workshop for the Global ABS Project

National Inception Workshop for the Global ABS Project

The National Inception Workshop for the Global ABS Project “Strengthening human resources, legal frameworks and institutional capacities to implement the Nagoya protocol” was held at Panafric Hotel Nairobi- Kenyaon August 1st 2017 ,

Key key objective of the workshop were:

  • Assist national partners in Kenya to fully understand and take ownership of the project;
  • Discuss project management, reporting, M&E requirements and financial procedures;
  • Present the Annual Work Plan for 2017;
  • Clarify the role of the key national actors in the project at both national and local levels.