Darwin Initiative Project: Promoting the use of plant resources in research and development
Background to the project
At a time of global environmental change, population growth and economic development there is an increasing demand for genetic resources, both for local exploitation and for research and development. The utilisation of plant genetic material is governed by two international treaties: the Nagoya Protocol (NP), which operates on a bilateral basis through individually negotiated contracts, and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources of Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), which takes a multilateral approach using a standard contract.
While the aim of these two agreements is to promote the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources and equitable sharing of benefits derived through their utilisation, many countries have yet to put in place functional mechanisms to effectively operationalise these agreements.
Ethiopia has a framework in place but has identified as a priority the need to further promote and increase the amount of genetic material available for research, development and subsequent commercialisation.
There are a wide range of stakeholders involved in the chain of custody and use of plant resources, and a growing range of institutions that acquire, hold and supply resources as intermediaries. Differences in Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) understanding between these groups and the lack of a common ‘language’ leads to mistrust, misunderstandings and bottlenecks in the flow of genetic resources and the generation of benefits that can be shared with providers.
Of particular concern to this project is the lack of guidance to support the access to plant genetic resources for research purposes and the general lack of awareness amongst collection holders of both the NP and the ITPGRFA. The project will aim to build the capacity of plant collection holders to act as trusted intermediaries between the providers and users of plant resources and develop widely applicable recommendations for simplified measures to facilitate research on plant resources.
The project is implemented in partnership with the Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute. It is running from April 2016 to March 2019 and covers collection holders and researchers located across the whole of Ethiopia.