“Access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation” – ABS for short – has been in our focus since 2005. We support relevant bodies and stakeholders at all levels in creating ABS systems and partnerships, developing ABS-compliant research and value chains, and realising global dialogues on Digital Sequence Information (DSI).
Some examples of our work are:
Throughout the decades, we’ve been involved in designing and implementing numerous international multi-stakeholder events on ABS, bringing together representatives of administration, academia, the business community and the grassroots level. From regional workshops in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, to pan-African workshops with up to 150 participants from over 40 countries, to thematic dialogues on the links between ABS and topics such as forestry, intellectual property, business or communication: We know the issues and the stakeholders. We also supported implementation of global dialogues on a variety of environmental issues – from desertification to Digital Sequence Information (DSI), in face-to-face as well as in virtual settings.
National ABS strategy Benin
In the context of the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, GeoMedia helped kick-off of a national ABS vision and strategy process for Benin in 2013. At the invitation of the national ABS focal point, some 30 participants came together for a three-day workshop, representing government agencies, research institutions, botanical gardens, NGOs, local communities, and traditional healers.
The approach was inspired by the solution-focused ‘miracle question’. Step by step, the participants first gathered elements of an ABS vision for Benin. They then described the current situation and scaled it against the vision. After discussing the pro’s and con’s of different ABS policy options, they finally defined concrete actions and stakeholder contributions to move towards the vision. A range of interactive methods helped ensure that everyone could voice their views and participate actively.
The event set the foundation for the national ABS strategy process in Benin, which GeoMedia continued to support.
ABS implementation in the Congo Basin
GTBAC, the Central African Working Group on Biodiversity, is one of the formal technical bodies of COMIFAC, the Commission of Central African Forests. Established in 2006, GTBAC aims at aligning CBD and ABS implementation in the Congo Basin, promoting capacity development and peer-to-peer exchange, and coordinating Central African positions regarding the CBD Conference of the Parties and its subsidiary bodies.
The group consists of CBD/ABS National Focal Points, parliamentarians, representatives of NGOs and of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) from all ten COMIFAC member states (Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe). They meet 1-2 times per year, usually for a period of five days in Douala, Cameroon.
With financial support from BMZ/GIZ and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), GeoMedia has been regularly providing technical, conceptual and strategic advice to the group since the first GTBAC meeting in 2006. A major achievement, to which we contributed with facilitation and input, was the launch of the COMIFAC ABS strategy in 2010. Until 2013, GeoMedia advisors participated in-person in all GTBAC meetings. Since then and until today, we continue to provide remote technical support on demand to GTBAC and individual member states, e.g. by email, telephone or online conferencing.