Botswana rolls down Nagoya protocol

16 Aug 2018

The main objective of the Nagoya is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The project started in 2016 and is scheduled to end in 2019 and is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Botswana’s inclusion in the Nagoya protocol is necessitated by the fact that the country is relatively flat, at 900 metres above sea level (masl) with occasional rocky protrusion. A U.N document titled “Strengthening human resources, legal frameworks, and institutional capacities to implement the Nagoya Protocol” states that the “implementation of the basic measures of the Nagoya Protocol in the participating countries will unleash a wide range of monetary and non-monetary benefits for providers of genetic resources. Some of these benefits should be reinvested in the conservation and sustainable use the biological. This will fulfil the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.”

The project is aimed at development and strengthening of countries’ national Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) frameworks, human resources, and administrative capabilities to implement the Nagoya Protocol.

Part of the report states that this will be achieved by “strengthening the legal, policy and institutional capacity to develop national ABS frameworks; buildings trust between users and providers of genetic resources to facilitate the identification of bio-discovery efforts; strengthening the capacity of indigenous and local communities to contribute to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.”

Many people especially in rural areas are dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. As a result, national planning is undertaken in a coordinated approach to derive value from the use of natural resources and ecosystems to support both social and economic development objectives.

“The country’s vegetation provides a wide range of goods and services that satisfies the needs of the nation at large. 60 per cent of the country consists of forests and rangelands. However, of this 60 per cent, only one per cent comprises forest reserves. Botswana’s productive economy is fundamentally dependent on the exploitation of natural resources and ecosystems by the mining, manufacturing industry, energy, tourism, livestock, and arable agriculture sectors,” states the report.

In spite of this impressive endowment, Botswana’s biodiversity is under threat from a variety of factors. “These threats include pollution, overexploitation of natural resources, and climate change. Pollution to water and air threatens biodiversity in Botswana. Air pollution occurs as a result of various human activities such as mining (sulphur and heavy metals) and agriculture (spraying of insecticides for control of the tsetse fly in the Okavango delta). Water pollution, both surface water and groundwater, occurs due to the improper disposal of hazardous chemicals from mines and industrial sites, as well as human waste contaminating the water sources. Leaching of toxic chemicals resulting from agricultural activities contaminates the groundwater, reducing its quality for consumption and other purposes,” states the report.

It also states that overexploitation of natural resources leads to the loss of biodiversity in Botswana. “Veld products such as phane, grapple plant, and thatching grass are threatened by overexploitation; in Botswana these resources are essential for subsistence and serve as buffers for poor people. Population pressure has led to exploitation of the natural resources, which consequently affects biodiversity,” states the report.

The report further underpins that the amount of land used for pastoral farming has increased rapidly, creating pressure on the rangelands. It has been shown that bush encroachment is likely to occur within several years and there is clear evidence of vegetation changes around livestock watering points and settlements. Botswana is expected to be faced with increased temperatures accompanied by unpredictable rainfall and this will change the prevalent vegetation and vegetation cover, in turn affecting species types, composition, and distribution. It is also projected that Botswana will experience decreased rainfall, which could lead to water scarcity and changes in Okavango delta.  

By helping to ensure benefit-sharing, the Nagoya Protocol creates incentives to conserve and sustainably use genetic resources, and therefore enhances the contribution of biodiversity to development and human well-being. 

It applies to genetic resources that are covered by the CBD, and to the benefits arising from their utilisation. The Nagoya Protocol also covers traditional knowledge (TK) associated with genetic resources that are covered by the CBD and the benefits arising from its utilisation.

The Nagoya Protocol on ABS was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan and entered into force on 12 October 2014, 90 days after the deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification. Its objective is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. 

“Domestic-level benefit-sharing measures are to provide for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources with the contracting party providing genetic resources. Utilisation includes research and development on the genetic or biochemical composition of genetic resources, as well as subsequent applications and commercialisation,” states part of the report.

Existing and planned investments for programs and baseline activities for the 2016-2019 periods in Botswana are estimated to be $462,941USD.