South Africa has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since October 2014 and has a well-developed and progressive policy framework for biodiversity management.
Biodiversity in South Africa
South Africa occupies only two percent of the world’s land surface area, but it is the third most biologically diverse country in terms of species richness and endemism, and the most diverse floral kingdom. It is home to 10 percent of the world’s plant species, 15 percent of marine species, and seven percent of reptiles, bird and mammal species. The country’s economy is largely dependent on biodiversity; therefore, sustainable use and conservation of its resources has significant potential for sustaining local economies and livelihoods. However, sustainability can only be achieved through strategic partnerships for biodiversity development between the State, the private sector and the communities.
There are many threats to South Africa’s biodiversity, including extensive loss of natural habitat from degradation; urban, mining and industrial development; agriculture, biofuel production, marine trawling, invasive alien species, pollution, and climate change.
Nagoya Protocol and ABS Implementation
South Africa has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since October 2014 and has a well-developed and progressive policy framework for biodiversity management. It is one of the first few countries to establish a national legislation to implement Articles 15 and 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which recognize the importance of regulated Access to genetic resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS). The Biodiversity Act No. 10 of 2004, along with other regulations and the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan regulate ABS implementation in the country.
Current UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project Activities
The UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project in South Africa builds on current biodiversity economy initiatives developed through Operation Phakisa on the-Biodiversity Economy, which aims to unlock the bioprospecting and biotrade sectors by increasing supply and demand of high-value indigenous plant species. The project is supporting revision of the existing ABS legal framework in compliance with the provisions of the Nagoya Protocol.
This project is supporting gender mainstreaming and inclusion of young people and local communities on ABS issues with a view to benefitting them the commercialization of biodiversity-related products. Efforts are being made to strengthen information management and sharing, particularly with community-based interest groups and target beneficiaries. The project is facilitating documentation and development of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, and business planning and marketing of biodiversity products.
To increase sustainability, the project is facilitating partnerships between the research community, policymakers, indigenous peoples and local communities, and the private sector.