Dominican Republic has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since February 2015. The country recently adopted its ABS Regulation (January 2018) in line with its Biodiversity Act (2015).
Biodiversity in Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic comprises diverse ecosystems and habitats, including the arid and semi-arid zones, coastal, marine and freshwater habitats, as well as forest and mountain ecosystems. One third of the plant and animal species that make up the country’s unique and globally significant biodiversity are endemic and this has earned it a name as a “Caribbean Hotspot”. Examples of these endemic species include grasses (Poaceae), plants with composite flowers (Asteraceae, especially herbs), orchids (Orchidaceae), and legumes (Fabaceae).
Three of the nation’s terrestrial ecosystems – the Hispaniola Pine Forest, the Hispaniola Humid Forests, and the Wetlands of the Enriquillo Basin – are listed among the top conservation priorities in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its marine environments comprise part of the central Caribbean ecoregion, which has received the highest biological value ranking by Conservation International and the World Wide Fund for Nature, and listing among the top five conservation priority ecoregions in the world.
These ecosystems and species are however under threat from heavy exploitation of natural resources, tourism and urbanization.
Nagoya Protocol and ABS Implementation
Dominican Republic has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since February 2015. The country recently adopted its ABS Regulation (January 2018) in line with its Biodiversity Act (2015). The objective of this new regulation is to regulate and control access to genetic resources and their associated traditional knowledge, as well as control their utilization, based on a fair and equitable sharing of the benefits.
Current UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project Activities
Dominican Republic already has some milestone achievements, as the first among the 24 project countries to produce an ABS regulation, which was adopted in January 2018. Support is now being provided to establish administrative procedures and guidelines for implementing the regulation, particularly the development of an implementation framework and instructive documents for national competent authorities, checkpoints, local communities, and users.
The country signed its first ABS commercial agreement in December 2017 with a private company to produce cancer treatment drugs from the poison secreted by a species of scorpion found in a remote and poor region of the country. As part of the agreement, the company will construct research facilities within the region, make available a certain proportion of the products for use by some community members who cannot afford treatment costs, contribute to conservation of the species, and pay royalty to the government on the annual profits from the prospecting.
In addition, the project is supporting the development of procedures for access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge, and establishment of measures for control and compliance to ABS regulations. Through training of representatives of public institutions, lawyers and other stakeholders, the project is facilitating the establishment of an ABS regime and creation of new economic and research opportunities for sustainable conservation of biodiversity in the country.
Maria Eugenia Morales