Jordan strengthens implementation of ABS from the use of its genetic resources
25 Jul 2019
The workshop “Implementation of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) from the use of Genetic Resources in Jordan: A practical approach”, organized by the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project, took place from July 17th to 18th in the Dead Sea, Jordan.
This event was conducted under the patronage of Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Basma Bint Ali, Chairperson of the National Biodiversity Committee and Founder of the Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan and gathered 47 participants from different governmental departments, research institutions, women and local communities´ associations as well as representatives from the private sector.
The manager of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project, Dr. Alejandro Lago, highlighted in his opening remarks and presentation about the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, the need to have in place urgently access to genetic resources and benefit sharing procedures as a prerequisite not to miss opportunities to add value to the genetic resources and rich associated traditional knowledge in Jordan.
This message was shared and echoed by most of participants, in particular researchers, which served as an extra motivation to work together in the finalization of the draft ABS bylaw. Dr. Lago also underscored the importance of establishing effective checkpoints to monitor the utilization of local and foreign genetic resources in Jordan, in order to be in full compliance with the international obligations established under the Nagoya Protocol, and the opportunities that the national ABS system may bring in regard its impact into the Sustainable Development Goals and the consecution of the 2030 Agenda.
An ABS Journey
During the first part of the workshop the representative from the Ministry of Environment, Mr. Bilal Qtaishat, introduced the key elements of the draft ABS bylaw, in particular the administrative structure through a joint Committee on ABS composed by different governmental departments, as the national competent authority on ABS. The representative from the Dissi Women Cooperative stressed the relevance of women at local level in the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and genetic resources.
During the debate facilitated by the regional specialist of the Global ABS Project, Dr. Claudio Chiarolla, HRH requested further work into the draft to properly ensure that the benefits derived from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge go back to the local communities and are reinvested into the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
The second part of the workshop was dedicated to introduce the latest developments of the work that the key research institutions of the country are currently performing in the preservation, documentation and sustainable utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge and its potential for the country. Dr. Mustafa Shdeifat (Royal Botanical Garden), Dr. Khaldoun Al Sane (National Agriculture Research Center), Mr. Ehad Eid (Royal Marine Conservation Society) and Dr. Mamoom Al-Rshaidat (University of Jordan) presented they work with plants, crop wild relatives, marine biodiversity and marine microorganisms, respectively.
The previous block paved the way for the final discussion of the strategy for the valorization of genetic resources and bioprospecting. This working session led by the International Consultant of the Global ABS Project, Dr. Balakrishna Pisupati, served to prioritize, based on a preliminary list, genetic resources (GRs), species and ABS products with business potential, and opportunities for the local communities’ socio-economic development.
A bit of background
Jordan has ratified the Nagoya Protocol in 2014. Since then, the country has been advancing towards the sustainable and equitable use of genetic resources by developing a culturally acceptable, inclusive, and beneficial legal framework for implementing ABS in compliance with the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
UNDP Jordan and the Ministry of Environment conducted this workshop to pursue three objectives: Firstly, it fulfils the last steps for the finalization and approval of the ABS bylaw that will operationalize the ABS procedures and legal framework in Jordan. Secondly, to help finalizing the draft analysis of the bioprospecting/BioTrade situation in Jordan. To achieve this aim, ABS stakeholders considered and validated a preliminary list of genetic resources (GRs), species and ABS products with business potential, and opportunities for the local communities’ socio-economic development. Finally, the workshop supported the formulation of the sector strategy for promoting or initiating research and biodiscovery partnerships and proactively engage local communities and the private sector.
All these developments contribute to establish Jordan as the first country in the Middle East to fully implement the Nagoya Protocol, adding value to their genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, and generating opportunities for the country as a whole.