By Rjhay E Laurea
MANILA — A gift-sharing scheme will be applied by the government to ensure the Philippines’ own genetic wealth from endemic plants and animals will give economic chances to indigenous people (IP) and poverty-stricken rural communities.
The Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) framework from the country’s genetic wealth will be taken by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as its program for the Nagoya Protocol (NP).
The NP is a 2015 global deal for the access of all to genetic funds and traditional knowledge and their fair economic sharing.
A genetic fund is a physical object of biological origin and the intellectual information mixed with it such as traditional knowledge (Learn Nagoya).
An example is native people’s knowledge of the use of a plant as a cure for illness.
The poorest of society that comes from indigenous people in the boondocks and rural cities are among the targeted beneficiaries of the treaty.
The DENR Project will be executed over six years to be funded by the seventh cycle of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
“The project will increase economic opportunity and biodiversity conservation for local communities and IPs stemming from fair and equitable sharing of biodiversity benefits,” according to a memo for DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Natividad Y. Bernardino.
The project costs a total of $26.015 million. Of this, $4.384 million is taken up by GEF and $21.631 million is co-funded by the Philippines, mainly, the government.
Over the last ten years, scientific study acts have surged due to the rise of intellectuals and “Balik Scientist” Filipinos from abroad.
These people were given incentives by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to join in the local “brain gain.”
Filipino analysts have been exploring the making of drugs, pharmaceuticals products, natural ingredients for food, clothing, and raw tools for home furnishings, commercial products, and industrial products such as commercial vehicle accessories.
They have been tapping the Philippines’ natural resources of plants and animals from its rich biodiversity.
“Research undertakings with the private sector for possible uptake will be established,” according to the report submitted by DENR-Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Services Assistant Director Sabrina R. Cruz.
The first thing of the project, “Implementing the National Framework for Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge”, is tying in policies with the Nagoya Protocol on prospection policies and scientific research.
These policies include ads of genetic resources on flora and fauna (plants and animal life).
The Philippines was one of the first countries to implement access and benefit-sharing under Article 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) through Executive Order 275 (1995).
It has since been amended by the Wildlife Act (Republic Act or RA 9147) and supported by the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (RA 8371 of 1997).
The DENR-BMB will lead the project, other executive partners are Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, DENR Regions 3 and 4, Department of Agriculture (DA), PENRO (Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office)-Sorsogon, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), DOST, and local government units (LGUs).
The second thing includes spreading information on the national policy on access to these genetic resources.
Policies on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR– patents and commercial licensing instruments) will be strengthened.
It will apply capacity building for IPs and local communities in asserting their rights over their Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP).
The third component consists of facilitating negotiation for ABS agreements.
“It will support community protocols for security Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) to ensure fair and equitable sharing of both the monetary and non-monetary benefits of genetic resources.” (ai/mtvn)