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Seychelles hosts second Pan African Community of Practice series | 08 July 2019

Around 60 delegates representing a wide array of development practitioners and experts, including state actors, researchers and academia, private sector, local communities, civil society and the media will gather in Seychelles for the second Pan African Community of Practice (CoP) series taking place from today until Thursday.

The event is taking place under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (MEECC) of Seychelles, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) through the UNDP-GEF Global ABS (Access and Benefit-Sharing) Project ‘Strengthening human resources, legal frameworks, and institutional capacities to implement the Nagoya Protocol’.

Following the first ‘The Road to COP14’ held in Kigali on August 2018, this second event will focus on tools and innovations to add values to Africa’s genetic resources by developing meaningful valorisation strategies to foster bio-discovery partnerships, attract ABS investments along bottom-up ABS value chains and yield broader development dividends in contribution to the SDGs.

Tools and innovations such as the “Valorization Workbook” featuring the “Time for REACTION! Valorization Tool ‘Gender Toolkit’ featuring the “MIND Your Step! Gender Tool”will be launched to support ABS country teams build critical capacities in countries eager to translate their biodiversity potential and domestic ABS measures into biodiscovery partnerships, business opportunities and broader development dividends.

Africa’s bio-economy can enable a transformational change to up-lift people from poverty, boost economic growth while ensuring that resources are used sustainably. From blue economy to wildlife economy, there are many examples of how a bio-economy development pathway for Africa can be fulfilled by putting in place sound bio-sciences’ policies to foster knowledge-driven bio-innovations which translate into a wide range of Research and Development (R&D) based products and services. This clearly illustrates how biological and genetic resources can be a driving force towards seizing a wide array of development co-benefits from job creation and economic growth in R&D sectors such as biotech start-ups, to make a business case for the sustainable use of biodiversity and leverage innovative environmental finance for its conservation.

Aware of the potential of their bio-economies, African nations are working towards engineering successful ABS partnerships by investing in capacity building to draft good contracts, designing user-friendly and efficient monitoring systems, and by boosting the functionality of domestic ABS regimes which effectiveness will be measured by their legal certainty, clarity, ease of doing business and the impact of subsequent ABS partnerships on economies, development and environment.

About 60 participants from nine countries are gathering on Mahé for this landmark Pan African gathering, namely Algeria, Botswana, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, Seychelles, and Sudan.

The CoP was designed to serve as an innovation Lab around key experimentation zones, to disseminate innovative thinking, lessons learned and best practices emanating from valorisation cases conducted on different pilots in various African countries supported by the GEF, UNDP and other development partners.

Five years after the entry into force of the Nagoya protocol, it is becoming increasingly vital for African nations to develop sound strategies for the valorisation of their genetic resources to enable policy makers understand the true potential of genetic resources for the bio economy and development alike. Countries are considering international benchmarks and home-grown solutions in an attempt to set up business-friendly processes which capture the variety of business models of industries using genetic resources. Nevertheless, more efforts are needed to create an investment-ready environment for researches and businesses to attract ABS investments upfront.

Several African countries supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and other development partners, have launched different valorisation initiatives to conduct socio-economic analyses, invest in knowledge, develop national ABS strategies and bring-in ABS partners together to work across silos and unlock the true potential of their bio economies. Building on this narrative, this CoP was designed as a cross-pollination platform, which aims to disseminate the knowledge accumulated from country experiences featuring key innovations, good practices and lessons learned to stimulate innovative solutions, strengthen capacities and provide ABS professionals with actionable tools to bolster ABS partnerships and attract critical ABS investments.

This second Pan African Community of Practice series will be structured over four days around key experimentation zones at the nexus of 1) Doing Business in Africa, the economic potential of genetic resources, 2) Introducing tools and innovations to develop ABS value chains and engineer a wide range of ABS partnerships especially with businesses to attract private investments, and 3) Increasing the political profile of ABS to fast-track the adoption of domestic ABS measures and the development of business-friendly strategies and policies to unlock the potential of bio-economy.

Country representatives, guest speakers and experts will share their experiences and expertise to enable participants address key challenges hindering countries from translating the potential of their genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge into business opportunities and development co-benefits.

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