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Biodiversity Indaba: Inclusivity, equitable sharing of benefits

Biodiversity Indaba: Inclusivity, equitable sharing of benefits

Dec 1, 2015

The second Biodiversity Economy Indaba ended in Durban in November, with a commitment by the wildlife and bioprospecting sectors to greater inclusivity and an equitable sharing of benefits between the private sector and communities.

The Indaba was hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs from 5 to 7 November 2015 under the theme:Biodiversity is good for Business, Business is good for Biodiversity’. The Indaba sought to promote the sustainable use of biological resources and how it could promote socio-economic and livelihood support, while these activities increase awareness and allocate resources integral for sustainable use of the biodiversity.

The three-day Indaba brought together multiple and diverse stakeholders in the biodiversity economy, including hunting, game farming, bioprospecting, natural products and biotrade industries.

The dialogue took place within the context of the National Development Plan, the Biodiversity Economy Strategy and Action Plan; the National Strategy for Sustainable Development and international obligations emanating from the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the United National Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) including the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, as well as the Aichi targets and the implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan.

The discussions were informed by the Draft Biodiversity Economy Strategy (BES), adopted by Indaba delegates, on which the public has an opportunity to comment by 19 November 2015.

The 14-year strategy is the government’s blueprint for sustaining the growth of the wildlife and bioprospecting industries. The aim of the Strategy is to provide a basis for addressing constraints for growth in the sector; outline stakeholder responsibilities; and monitor progress with regard to Transformative Enabling Interventions.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) will lead the process of implementing the Strategy in partnership with key departments namely Science and Technology, Rural Development and Land Reform, Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Small Business Development, Tourism and Economic Development.

An industry growth goal has been set in the Strategy which requires that by the year 2030 the South African biodiversity economy will achieve an average annualised GDP growth rate of 10% per annum in line with the National Development Plan’s Vision 2030.

BES provides the opportunity to develop the rural economy of the country while addressing  environmental imperatives of government, and includes the establishment of a National Biosprospecting Forum to enhance development in the natural ingredients sector, launched during the Indaba.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, said: “I want to see this forum playing a key role in the current review of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (act 10 of 2004). I also hope to see the forum serve as a vital platform for making recommendations that will be taken to key multilateral platforms such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

This will be particularly resonant at a time when South Africa prepares to host the 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES next year.”

A Market-Sizing Report and the Scoping Report on Biodiversity Mainstreaming in Business were also launched at the Indaba.

Key findings of the Bioprospecting and Biotrade Market-Sizing in South Africa have provided an insight into the manner in which value is being added to the country’s biodiversity and the extent that it is sought after by domestic and international markets. It was also found that the potential market size of the bioprospecting industry up until 2012, was at least R2.5 million per year. This means that the industry has reached only about 20% of its potential.

In addition, the Department of Environmental Affairs, in collaboration with the Endangered Wildlife Trust and a number of businesses, launched the National Biodiversity and Business Network in 2013. As a result of a preliminary assessment of the status of biodiversity mainstreaming in a number of different sectors in South, a snap shot is now available of the status of biodiversity mainstreaming and provides identified actions to further the mainstreaming of biodiversity going forward.

As a means of promoting a sense of guardianship of wildlife within communities, four dehorned rhino were also handed over to the Senzo’kuhle Nkos’uNodada Community Trust at a ceremony at the Nambiti Private Game Reserve near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal on 5 November 2015. The donation was facilitated by the National Department of Environmental Affairs and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs. The rhino were donated by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

The Game Reserve is owned by the Community Trust established after the community won a land claim. The donation of the four de-horned rhino by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is an acknowledgement of the role that communities play in conservation and sustainable use of the country’s biodiversity. It is also an encouragement to communities to take the lead in conserving a key member of the Big Five amid high levels of rhino poaching.

A similar donation of four while rhino will soon be handed over to the Kwasanguye Community, once additional security measures on the communal property are finalised.

Twenty-two individuals received bioprospecting permits and a payment of R2.6 million was made to two communities from Lephalale in Limpopo from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) resulting from the development of a non-carbohydrate sweetener derived from an indigenous plant called Molomo monate.

During the Indaba, government and industry stakeholders from wildlife and bio-prospecting sectors pledged their commitment to the development and economic growth of a sector of South Africa’s economy that has the potential to become one of the largest contributors to the country’s GDP.

Delegates had, in addition, reviewed the action plan developed during the  first Biodiversity Economy Indaba held in Limpopo in 2013.  Issues revisited included the economic value of Bioprospecting/Biotrade, transformation, the South African Certification Scheme and community involvement.

The second Biodiversity Economy Indaba Action Plan included:

Bioprospecting Sector:

  • Streamlining the Regulatory Environment in the Bioprospecting sector through the Draft Amendment of Chapter 6 of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act by establishing, among others, a national focal point  for inter-departmental overlap and addressing confounding issues;
  • Developing a benefit-sharing model for the cosmetic sector and knowledge holders;
  • Promoting participation and awareness, as well as optimising support to communities
  • Improving access to finance and raising levels of investment
  • Enhancing research and development

Wildlife Sector:

  • Evaluating activities regarding natural resources against the objectives of the BES in their ability to transfer biological capital into goods and services for social and economic development for all our people in line with the Constitution;
  • Natural resource management objectives should be based on sound scientific facts and socio-economic principles, not on emotion, sensationalism and perception

With regard to coat colour variant breeding of wildlife, it was decided that additional dialogue was required on the matter and that the public needed to be educated to understand the wildlife economy as a viable alternative to traditional use practices.

It was also recommended that the enablers for a biodiversity economy or market, such as access to land, access to credit, addressing stigmas and the high cost of infrastructure, as well converting unproductive land to wildlife farming, and the cost of wildlife also be addressed.

Key deliberations will be based on the BES going forward, and all parties will report progress and review the stated objectives and plans of the strategy at the next Biodiversity Economy Indaba in 2017.

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