Between the 30th of January and 3rd of February the 6th Pan-African ABS Workshop brought together 110 participants in Limbe, Cameroon. The workshop is put together every year by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative and was hosted by the Cameroonian Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEP) and the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC). Its participants included national ABS focal points, representatives of indigenous and local communities, private sector experts and other ABS stakeholders as well as representatives of a number of intergovernmental organisations including the CBD, UNEP-GEF and FAO.
The objective of the workshop was to provide participants with a forum within which to exchange and discuss national and regional experiences in addressing ABS issues with a special focus on non-timber forest product based value chains; approaches to addressing the transboundary nature of biological and genetic resources; and the need to consider the establishment of a Global Multilateral Benefit-Sharing Mechanism. The workshop also provided African stakeholders the opportunity to familiarise themselves with a recently finalised draft study on a “Gap Analysis and Review of the African Model Law”; the outcomes of an expert workshop on ABS and intellectual property rights and the regional perspectives on ABS as relevant in other UN fora, namely WIPO and the FAO.
Finally, as every year, participants were invited to study with more detail a local ABS case study. In this case participants were able to gain insight into the case of the Prunus Africana at the foot of Mount Cameroon. Through a day long excursions participants familiarised themselves with the value chain of the bark of the tree used among other to treat prostate ailments. The example brought great insight to the actual challenges of implementing ABS in practice.