Experiences from the field: UNV supports the implementation of UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project
22 Jun 2018
Through a programmatic and financial collaboration, the United Nations Volunteers programme (UNV) supports the implementation of the Global ABS UNDP-GEF project “Strengthening human resources, legal frameworks, and institutional capacities to implement the Nagoya Protocol”. The project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is implemented in 24 countries from four regions over a three-year execution period (2016-2019); addressing the lack of legal certainty and transparency of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge use for both users and providers.
At a global level, UNV contributes to establish a community of practice on ABS as a means of sharing knowledge between recipient countries and to facilitate the mapping of experts and technical needs on ABS under a south-south cooperation scheme.
At a regional level, UN National Volunteers are deployed in the field serving as valuable social assets fostering the participation of indigenous and local communities (ILCs) in national ABS policy-making processes, promoting awareness-raising on the importance of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits that arises from their use. These activities supports the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and contribute to the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
UNV coordinates awareness raising campaigns with indigenous and local communities in Honduras
Manuel Hernandez, Communications and Volunteer Officer who supports the implementation of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project is motivated to improve the understanding of indigenous and local communities regarding legal frameworks that prevent the extraction of genetic resources and traditional knowledge in Honduras.
“After hearing many stories and testimonials about the illegal extraction and traffic of cultural assets in Honduras, and the different cases of illegal appropriation and exploitation of traditional knowledge, I sadly realized that these situations were in many cases dismissed due to the lack of policies or the lack of interest to enforce policies.”
To rectify these issues, Manuel has established important partnership-agreements with local organizations in Honduras. For instance, an important collaboration-agreement with the National Direction of Indigenous and African-Honduran Groups (DINOFRAH), intends to generate capacities in genetic resources and traditional knowledge-monitoring.
The importance of minority groups’ empowerment
Sumak Bastidas, National Volunteer Coordinator and member of the Kichwa Puruwa indigenous town of Ecuador stresses the importance of local and indigenous communities’ empowerment in the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS.
“Talking about ABS in Ecuador is still a challenge due to the technical nature and novelty of the topic. It is therefore of great importance to link local community and volunteers in the process creating in this way trust, solidarity, and reciprocity; aspects much needed for this type of implementation.”
To accomplish the project’s goals in Ecuador, Sumak, in direct coordination with national organizations, organizes awareness raising and empowerment workshops in SDGs, 2030 agenda, and associated traditional knowledge protection.
Strengthening local volunteer networks
Motivated by the goal of the project to protect the possessory rights of countries to ensure the fair and equitable access of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources and traditional knowledge in Panamá, Guillermo stresses the importance of strengthening local volunteer networks that will support awareness raising activities in local and indigenous communities.
“Been able to share the feeling to serve as a volunteer, transmitting the purpose of this service to whom can learn its value and to strengthen this ideology as a useful tool in everyone’s personal, social, and cultural aspects of their life, is one of the objectives of my assignment.”
From this view, Guillermo promotes volunteerism in Panama as a universal concept that inspires citizen participation, social inclusion, solidarity, and the sense of ownership on ABS-related topics.
KAP surveys and their importance to policy design and implementation
Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) survey design and implementation has been identified as an important tool to obtain baseline information on the current state of knowledge, attitudes, and practices on ABS-related topics. The activity is implemented in Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Panama with the help of hundreds of local and community-volunteers. Laura Muriel, KAP survey officer in Ecuador shares her thoughts about the assignment:
“Volunteering is for me a transformational and incidence tool and for this reason I took responsibility to be part of this interesting and important project. The results derived from my assignment will allow participating and associate parties to have the necessary inputs to design norms, policies, and laws related to ABS and the Nagoya Protocol.”
The results obtained from the KAP surveys will provide projects ‘stakeholders relevant information needed for policy design and enforcement, multisectoral awareness campaign on ABS, and the implementation of the Nagoya protocol on ABS.
Volunteering for sustainable development
The UNV component that supports the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project is integrated by a multicultural team of experts working both in the field and in remote locations, therefore the importance of a country office that supports technical and administrative requirements is essential. Fernando López, project technical assistant of the UNV component that supports the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Projects, provides technical and administrative support to volunteer coordinators in the field.
“Volunteering with the United Nations is for me an important opportunity to grow as a professional and as a person. The Global ABS Project represents an important initiative from the United Nations Development Program(UNDP) and the Global Environmental Facility(GEF) that promotes the sustainable use of natural resources globally. It is therefore for me an honor to support an initiative that promotes the sustainable development of countries worldwide.”
UNV’s online platform as a strategic project collaboration tool improving the Global ABS PNUD-GEF brand visibility
During the implementation of the global ABS PNUD-GEF Project, UN Online Volunteers have supported logo design, mapping, translation, and brief elaboration activities via the UNV Online Volunteering Platform. These volunteers work remotely, volunteering their technical expertise and contributing with the Global ABS Project team. George Wafula, UN Online Volunteer from Kenya, contributed to the update of the design of the winning ABS project logo proposed by Mongolia. He prepared various samples and improved its quality under different online tasks. He states:
“My contribution as a volunteer involved the editing of the Global ABS Project logo for better brand visibility. I was responsible for creating samples on how the Global ABS Project logo and its tag line could be utilized together with the UNDP logo and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) logo. This collaboration has been very exciting, giving me a deeper appreciation for collaborative efforts in projects.”
Document translation improves the project’s public reach
Another important activity supported by UN Online volunteers is document and communication material translation. Carla Bendezú, UNV Online Volunteer from Peru supports this important task.
“Participating as a UN Volunteer is one step forward in my personal and professional development. I have focused all my energies and abilities into a project with whom I feel proud of. My contribution allows project’s team members to access the documentation, usually presented in English, therefore increasing the public reach of the project.”