Significant advances in the review of the ABS legislative assessment in the Caribbean Region

Basseterre, St. Kitts. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) support the efforts of Caribbean countries to protect both its biodiversity and the traditional knowledge of its people by building alliances with key stakeholders and supporting the countries towards the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.

Hon. Enguene Hamilton - Minister with responsibility for Environment (middle) with Mr. Eavin Parry, St. Kitts and Nevis Project Focal Point (left) and Mrs. Melesha Gunning-Banhan – Project Coordinator (right). Photo: UICN ORMACC

IUCN and UN Environment have been supporting these efforts through this project “Advancing the Nagoya Protocol in Countries of the Caribbean Region”, for the last 2 years and will continue supporting the ABS legislative preparation of each of the participating countries.

The Fourth Regional Meeting of Caribbean Countries was held on the 19th and the 20th of June in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis, hosted by IUCN-ORMACC and UN Environment in corporation with the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis. The regional meeting served as an opportunity to further the project goals through the presentation of information and facilitation of discussions on the issues of legislation and bioprospecting in the Caribbean Region.

Outcomes of the meeting included a detailed review of the legislative assessment on ABS for each participating country and the completion of information documents on ABS to be used by custom agencies, tour guides and tourism centers across the region.

The Department of Environment of St. Kitts and Nevis co-hosted the regional workshop.  The Opening remarks were presented by Alistair Edwards - Permanent Secretary, on behalf of the Minister with Responsability for Environment. Mr. Sylvester Belle - Chief Conservation Officer/CBD Focal Point, Heads of Departments, also joined in the regional workshop.

Representatives of the Countries focal points of the Project from Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Grenada, participated in the regional workshop, as along with representatives of CARICOM and The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

“Recognizing the value of Caribbean Natural resources many countries are in the process of signing and ratifying the Nagoya Protocol and fully incorporating its measures into their legal and policy frameworks. It is therefore our pleasure to continue to support the participating countries in providing a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources”, said Mrs. Melesha Gunning-Banhan – Project Coordinator.

Regional and national awareness activities

The Project seeks to support countries and national authorities to facilitate access to their genetic resources and benefit sharing in a fair and equitable way, in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol. In this regard, the audience given by the Government Representative, Hon. Enguene Hamilton - Minister with responsibility for Environment, was a great opportunity to drive this agenda forward and to pursue these goals. 

“The minister noted with interest the concerns regarding bioprospecting in the Caribbean region and pledged his support towards ensuring the readiness of Saint Kitts and Nevis to address these issues through legislation and Regional Corporation”, said Mrs. Melesha Gunning-Banhan.

The National Consultation on Issues of ABS was also held during the week in Basseterre, with the participation of representatives of various organizations on both islands. 

“The government of St. Kitts and Nevis recognizes the importance of the Protocol and is cognizant of the fact that its implementation will create greater legal certainty and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources”, said Mr. Eavin Parry, St. Kitts and Nevis Project Focal Point.

Mr. Parry said that at the end of this project, St Kitts and Nevis is expected to have benefits in several ways but not limited to comprehensive review of their legislation as it relates to access and benefit sharing matters which includes recommendations to adopt provisions that would facilitate compliance with the obligations of the Nagoya Protocol.

IUCN and UN Environment looks forward to continuing its support to encourage economically inclusive development as well as the promotion of respect to culture, traditional knowledge and equitable sharing of the benefits of one of the most precious biodiversity hotspots on the planet. 

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