Morocco and 9 other French-speaking African countries are working collaboratively to establish a francophone African legal network focused on developing legal expertise regarding access and benefit-sharing (ABS). The project to establish a francophone African ABS legal network is addressing a recognized lack of legal expertise on capacity development activities related to access and benefit-sharing (ABS).
Issues surrounding access and benefit-sharing (ABS) are both nuanced and complex, and that complexity requires adequate expertise to help navigate legal questions surrounding ABS-related issues, especially because ABS has a significant impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and its resources.
Countries have sovereign rights over the genetic resources found within their borders, and resources that could be valuable to human progress, such as plants, animals, and microorganisms, should be shared. However, it is important that international agreements and laws are in place to ensure that those valuable resources and their benefits are shared equitably and fairly between those who provide the resources and those who use them. Traditional knowledge is also an important aspect of ABS, because indigenous peoples and local communities often play a significant role in the discovery of new active ingredients found in genetic resources.
The current project to establish a francophone African ABS legal network is building upon and expanding Morocco's GEF-UNDP project, "Elaboration d'un cadre juridique national sur l'Accès et Partage des Avantages des ressources et des savoirs traditionnels pour la mise en oeuvre du protocole de Nagoya au Maroc", which developed a national framework on access and benefit-sharing (ABS) of genetic resources and traditional knowledge to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in Morocco.
With support from the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Bio-Bridge Initiative (BBI), Morocco hosted the first consultative meeting for the establishment of a network of legal experts on access and benefit-sharing (ABS) and the establishment of a capacity development program for ABS legal leadership in francophone African countries.
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