Belarus has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since its entry into force in October 2014 and has established a formal institutional structure, funded from the republican budget, for its implementation.
Biodiversity in Belarus
Located in the European deciduous broad-leaved zones, over 60 percent of Belarus landscape is covered by natural complexes and ecosystems comprising wetlands, inundated territories, forests, kame moraine, and lakes. The country has some of the rarest landscapes in Europe. The Belarus Polesie, located in the southern part of the country, is one of Europe’s most important inland water regions and has been given priority for conservation and sustainable use. The wetlands, which were extensively drained in the 20th Century, have increased in recent years due to rewetting.
In Belarus, biodiversity is dependent on the state of natural ecosystems including natural protected areas, which cover 8 percent of the country’s territory. However, most of the country’s natural ecosystems (inhabited by about 30 percent of the rare and endangered species) are located outside the protected areas. For these territories, effective biodiversity conservation is impossible without ecologically balanced planning in territorial units.
Nagoya Protocol and ABS Implementation
Belarus has a vibrant research community with advanced research infrastructure. The country has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since its entry into force in October 2014 and has established a formal institutional structure, funded from the republican budget, for its implementation. Most investments in genetic resources have been provided by the government and are channelled to support research institutions that base their work on genetic resources.
The country’s legal framework and strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity is elaborated in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2011-2020. This strategy consolidates earlier laws on Protection of the Environment, Specially Protected Areas, the Plant World and the Animal World, and stipulates mechanisms for access to genetic resources and joint distribution of benefits in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity.
However, prior to the UNDP-GEF Global Access to genetic resources for Benefit-Sharing (ABS) Project there was no uniform procedure for implementing ABS and there was no mechanism for monitoring the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.
Current UNDP-GEF ABS Project Activities
Under the leadership of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection and the National Coordination Centre on ABS, the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project is assisting Belarus to modernize its ABS legislation. It is helping in the determination of liability measures for cases of non-compliance with the Nagoya Protocol as well as the establishment of effective access measures related to granting of prior informed consent and establishing mutually agreed terms for the transfer of genetic resources.
The project is supporting the establishment of a systematic inventory of DNA of genetic resources; further development of the animal, plant and microorganism genetic resources database of the Republican DNA Bank; and the conduct of a study on access to genetic resources by the different industry sectors.
The project is assisting in the conduct of a scientific assessment of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, collection and dissemination of information about traditional knowledge holders, and legal protection of traditional knowledge.
Awareness-raising activities are being conducted among stakeholder groups of the importance of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources in order to overcome challenges related to the involvement of local communities and civil societies in ABS issues.