Botswana has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since its entry into force in October 2014.
Biodiversity in Botswana
Botswana is very rich in biodiversity, especially areas in and around the Okavango Delta, which supports 463 species, high densities of large mammals, and some of the major wildlife migration routes in Southern Africa. Sixty percent of the country’s landmass consists of forests and rangelands which provide livelihood opportunities to the country’s relatively low population. With nearly half of its land area under protected wildlife, Botswana attracts a huge number of tourists annually and tourism contributes 12 percent to its Gross Domestic Product.
Botswana’s economy depends largely on the use of natural resources and ecosystems by the mining, manufacturing, energy, tourism, livestock, and arable agriculture sectors. This presents a serious threat to the conservation of genetic resources, as overexploitation is causing huge losses of biodiversity through the destruction of species, their habitats and breeding sites. Essential resources needed for the sustenance of poor indigenous communities are constantly being destroyed. Pollution and climate change also threaten the ecosystem.
Nagoya Protocol and ABS Implementation
Botswana has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since its entry into force in October 2014. There is sectoral legislation relevant to Access to genetic resources and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) but there is no specific legislation as stipulated by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol. The country has at least 19 pieces of legislation relevant to ABS, which were developed before the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol. Such legislation is not sufficient to support full implementation of the Nagoya Protocol but it provides an important foundation for the development of comprehensive and ABS-specific legal instruments.
The country requires support to develop an institutional framework that provides for the key elements of prior informed consent, consultations with communities and other relevant stakeholders, legal certainty and clarity, a clear application process for ABS permits, and compliance measures for the users of genetic resources.
Current UNDP-GEF ABS Project Activities
The UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project was launched in Botswana during a national inception workshop held in October 2017 in Gaborone. In early 2018, the project began working with stakeholders to incorporate ABS into the draft Industrial Property Law and incorporate aspects related to access to traditional knowledge and genetic resources.
Efforts are being made to support the identification of possible pilot cases to test how ABS value chains and activities can be applied and integrated into the national ABS frameworks. In partnership with the National Food Technology Research Centre, the project is supporting pilots on ABS contracts, model mutually agreed terms, and data management. The Centre already has valuable experience in ex-situ conservation, research and development, and the distribution of raw and improved materials from its seedbanks.
Oduetse Oldman Koboto