Traditional Knowledge and Benefit Sharing

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Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities all over Africa are the original custodians of their lands and natural resources. Their traditional knowledge and practices play an important role in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. However, communities usually do not receive fair benefits from the use of their resources. Their traditional knowledge is not valued and is often under threat.

A number of new policy frameworks are trying to share the costs and benefits of conservation more equitably. One such framework is the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) under the Convention on Biological Diversity. For the first time, this legally binding international framework gives rights to communities over traditional knowledge and genetic resources.

The implementation of these frameworks brings opportunities for communities in Africa and elsewhere. Nevertheless, they also bear risks if they are not implemented in respect of community rights, and if they do not take into account local realities.

We Aim To

  • Protect traditional knowledge and ensure fair and equitable benefit sharing.
  • Ensure the responsible implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.
  • Support communities who want to engage in ABS negotiations, or who are already part of ABS value chains.

We Do This By

  • Defending the rights of communities to their genetic resources and traditional knowledge, including the protection and revitalisation of that knowledge.
  • Providing information, training and assistance on ABS, including through the development of community protocols, and by facilitating dialogue with other actors.
  • Providing technical input into the development of national ABS frameworks and engaging with regional and international policy processes to ensure that community rights remain a central part of the discussions.



The programme operates in the following countries:

Programme Funders

ABS Capacity Development Initiative
GIZ PAGE Madagascar

Projects in this Programme


Community Protocol with Pastoralists in Niger


Traditional Knowledge Rights of the KhoiSan, South Africa


ABS Agreements on Indigenous Plant Species and Associated Traditional Knowledge in South Africa


Community Protocols on Sacred Forests, Benin


Review of the NEMBA Act, South Africa


Joint implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and the FAO Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources


Indigenous Entrepreneurs Beyond ABS: The Kukula Healers, South Africa


Community Protocol on the Motrobe Plant, Madagascar


Community Protocol of the Endorois in Lake Bogoria, Kenya

Programme News

Programme Publications

Comments on Isiolo County Bills

Submission: Basic Environmental Assessments for various West…

Submission on the review of the Wildlife Conservation and Ma…

Submission: Land Tenure Act Upgrading Amendment Bill (South …

Submission: Land Tenure Act Upgrading Amendment Bill (South …

Submission on Expropriation Bill (South Africa)

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