The Second African Indigenous and Local Communities (ILC) Preparatory Meeting on Access and Benefit Sharing and Traditional Knowledge wrapped up on the 1st of September. The 3-day Pan-African meeting, supported by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa and hosted by Natural Justice, was attended by over 40 ILC representatives and representative organizations from 25 countries in Africa. Over the three days, the participants exchanged their experiences on bio-prospecting and bio-piracy and discussed the status of negotiations on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing (IRABS) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), with a focus on traditional knowledge.
The final day of the meeting began with a presentation by Lucy Mulenkei (Indigenous Information Network), who provided a comprehensive overview of the African interventions to the CBD on ABS issues as early as 1972, including the establishment of a Fast Ad-Hoc Open Ended Working Group for African Negotiators and its work to date.
Following this introduction, the participants were divided into groups and discussed the relevant draft decisions of the Ad-Hoc Open Ended Inter-Sessional Working Groups on Article 8(j) and Access and Benefit Sharing for the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the CBD. Participants then provided comments and recommendations on the draft decisions for the African Group of negotiators in their preparations for COP 10. In their recommendations, the participants highlighted access to and appropriation of land and communal rights, as well as the recognition of customary laws by governments, as the critical issues to protect indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ traditional ways of life and knowledge and, in turn, conserve and sustainably use biodiversity.