Ethiopia is a party to the Nagoya Protocol and has enacted a law to regulate access to genetic resources, which entered into force in 2009.
Biodiversity in Ethiopia
Biodiversity in Ethiopia is of very high significance because of the social, environmental and economic impacts particularly for the tourism, agricultural and industrial sectors. As a mega diverse country, Ethiopia has many endemic plant and animal species, and a higher number of endemic bird species than any other country on mainland Africa. The country’s lowlands and highlands have many endemic fauna, particularly birds and mammals, and the fertile agricultural areas of the highlands are so densely populated that larger wildlife species have been confined to montane extremes of the Simien and Bale Mountains, the arid lowlands, and the Rift Valley. Ethiopia is a centre of origin for cultivated crops like coffee, tef (Eragrostis tef) and enset (Ensete ventricosum), and a centre of diversity for many crop species like durum wheat, barley and sorghum. Industries in the country that produce food, beverage, textile and leather depend largely on plant and animal resources for their raw materials.
Forest biodiversity contributes an estimated four percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product through the production of honey, forest coffee, natural gum, and timber, and provides opportunities for ecosystem services such as provisioning, regulating and supporting. Fourteen percent of the country is made up of protected areas, which play significant roles in improving conservation, recreation, eco-tourism and employment.
However, Ethiopia’s ecosystem is under threat from land degradation, deforestation, invasive alien species, habitat conversion, human encroachment, and the consequent loss of wild gene pools, leading to a decline in species abundance. Some of the measures currently being taken to reduce these threats include rehabilitation and restoration of degraded areas, afforestation and sustainable management practices.
Nagoya Protocol and ABS Implementation
Ethiopia is a party to the Nagoya Protocol and has enacted a law to regulate access to genetic resources – Access to Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge and Community Rights Proclamation No 482/2006 – which entered into force in 2009. The law applies to ex situ and in situ genetic resources (including derivatives) and the traditional knowledge associated with them. It stipulates procedures for access and community consent, administration and utilization of access money, and other provisions, and contains two templates for commercial and non-commercial access requests. The country also has a Code of Conduct for administering ABS issues.
Current UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project Activities
Project activities were formally initiated with an inception workshop held in July 2017. The project is assisting national Access to genetic resources Benefit-Sharing (ABS) team in reviewing the existing ABS legislation and Code of Conduct with the support of national and international technical experts and in close consultation with relevant national stakeholders.
Support is being provided to strengthen national capacities to protect and value Ethiopia’s genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, simplify ABS implementation, foster partnerships and raise awareness about ABS and its socio-economic potential for the country.