Samoa presents draft report of traditional knowledge and guidelines on ABS

Samoa presents draft report of traditional knowledge and guidelines on ABS

5 Dec 2018


These relevant documents were introduced to stakeholders during a workshop held up on the 13th November 2018 in Apia.

Samoa has presented a draft report of the situation analysis of its traditional knowledge and guidelines for implementation of Access to genetic resources and Benefit-Sharing (ABS), during a workshop in Apia on 13 November 2018.

The documents were introduced under the titles “Status of Traditional Knowledge and Associated Genetic Resources in Samoa and Options for Protection” and “Guidelines on Access and Use of Traditional Knowledge Associated with Genetic Resources of Samoa”. Both reports were presented to representatives of the Government of Samoa, researchers, academics, non-profit organizations and development partners including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations Education Fund (UNESCO).

“This workshop is an opportunity to share preliminary findings of work being done under the Global ABS project, particularly on biodiscovery and traditional knowledge, including the development of a traditional knowledge and genetic resources database,” said Seumaloisalafai Faiilagi, Assistant CEO at the Division of Conservation and Environment of the Samoa Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The situation analysis was conducted to understand the status and trends of traditional knowledge and associated genetic resources in Samoa. It also aims to provide evidence for decision-making in this regard.

The research highlights some of the valuable traditional knowledge available in Samoa. Among others, the use of the bark of mamala tree, which has been found to contain prostratin, a compound that can be useful for the treatment of hepatitis, HIV/AIDS and cancer. It also presents options for profitably exploring these resources while protecting them from the threat of misuse, misappropriation and erosion.

Abs National Samoa
Photo: Participants in the review workshop, Apia, November 13th 2018.

The guidelines on ABS implementation provides general guidance, instructions and directions on the use of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources in the country.

Samoa’s biodiversity and ABS

With its over 500 species of native flowering plants and about 220 species of ferns, Samoa has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the Polynesia. Therefore, there is a need for guidance documents that provide clear and transparent instructions for providers and users of the valuable genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.

“Samoa possesses useful traditional knowledge that is already contributing positively to numerous sectors, including agriculture, fishery, healthcare, and climate change and adaptation. The government is working with UNDP and other partners to establish an enabling environment and strengthen mechanisms for the development and preservation of this knowledge,” said Mr. Alphonse Kambu, consultant traditional knowledge expert.

“The database presented adds value to Samoa’s assets by providing legal certainty on any export of species while safeguarding the wealth of traditional knowledge and associated genetic resources,” said Mr. Toleafoa Brown, consultant IT expert.

The two documents will be reviewed by stakeholders before adoption and implementation.“We hope that our work can lead to discovering new information and/or developing new products or processes in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmetic, agricultural as well as other sectors,” said Mr. Geoff Burton from the United Nations University.

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