Tuesday, August 21, 2012

South African BABS Guidelines Drafted with Natural Justice Support

To ensure the effective implementation of South Africa’s regulations on the conservation of biodiversity and implementation of Access and Benefit Sharing, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs has promulgated new guidelines for providers, users and regulators of South Africa’s biodiversity. Natural Justice provided technical support to the Department in drafting the guidelines, and Kabir Bavikatte, Johanna von Braun and Laureen Manuel of Natural Justice drafted the second chapter for providers. 

Holding 10% of the world’s plants, 7% of its reptiles and 15% of its coastal marine species, South Africa is the world’s third most mega-diverse nation after Indonesia and Brazil. Out of this richness, the nation’s biodiversity has faced severe threats to species and ecosystems from human activities. To address these challenges, the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (the Biodiversity Act) was promulgated in 2004 and the Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing (BABS) Regulations were passed in 2008. To support actors using South Africa’s biodiversity understand and adhere to these new requirements, South Africa’s “Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit-Sharing Framework: Guidelines for Providers, Users and Regulators” has been promulgated. 

The first section of the guidelines, drafted by Natural Justice, offers guidance to those who would provide indigenous biological resources and traditional knowledge on their uses, including discussions demarcating the discovery and commercialisation phases, elaborating upon community ownership of resources and knowledge, details on the kinds of benefits that can be expected, and guidelines on concluding agreements with users. The second section elaborates upon the requirements for users of biological resources and knowledge. It discusses permits, dialogues with communities around prior informed consent, and agreements with providers of resources and knowledge. The final section provides guidelines for regulators of bioprospecting. 

The full guidelines can be accessed here. The guidelines for providers, drafted by Natural Justice, can be accessed directly here. Learn more about Natural Justice’s work around bioprospecting in South Africa here.

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