Promoting equity and livelihoods

{Agathosma betulina} buchu stems & leaves

The international trade of biological resources is on the rise. Trade in medicinal plants alone is expected to be over USD 800 million per year (Leaman and Mulliken, 2006). A major portion of this is sourced from unorganized sectors that directly support rural livelihoods in a considerable way. Development is conventionally defined in terms of economic growth, and usually does not account for “informal” sectors
such as traditional health delivery systems. The specific skills, capabilities and resources possessed by communities can be utilized to achieve development objectives in their contexts. Traditional knowledge and resources from an ecosystem are parts of supply chains of products (e.g., medicinal products, raw materials) and services (e.g., health care, nutrition). When income is generated and distributed equitably from such activities, it can provide an incentive to conserve such knowledge and resources, while also resulting in better health
and nutrition outcomes. This facilitates community-­based enterprises that utilize traditional medicinal resources and products and streamline relevant policies related to access to resources and equitable sharing of benefits arising from its utilization (ABS).

Learn more about the buchu case – a native plant to the western part of South Africa, that has been considered as sacred and used for treating ailments such as fever, back pain etc. by the San and Khoi, indigenous people of what is now South Africa. The San and Khoi indigenous people have negotiated an agreement with several companies who were using buchu for many years as a medicine or nutritional supplement without sharing the benefits of its commercial gains. Find out more about the agreement and the health products developed using buchu here.

Learn more about the interlinkages between biodiversity, health and equitable livelihoods here.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 9 August


“On this International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, I call on the international community to ensure that they are not left behind. To create a better, more equitable future, let us commit to do more to improve the health and well-being of indigenous peoples. ”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

“Every year, 9 August is commemorated as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The day is celebrated with special events around the world, including at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

This year’s theme puts a spotlight on the issue of indigenous peoples’ access to health care services, as improving indigenous peoples’ health remains a critical challenge for indigenous peoples, Member States and the United Nations. The “State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Volume II”, which will be launched at the UN Headquarters event in observance of the International Day, provides important background information on the topic.

The observance of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples at UN Headquarters will take place on Monday, 10 August 2015, in the ECOSOC Chamber, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The event will be webcast live on Read the Press Release.” (c)



Community-to-Community Exchange and Capacity Development Workshop for Traditional Knowledge Holders on ABS

Muliru Farmers Group – Kenya 1(c) Muliru Farmers Conservation Group, Equator Prize Winner 2010, Kenya

From 28 September to 4 October 2015, the Biodiversity and Community Health (BaCH) Initiative (coordinated by UNU-IAS) jointly with the multi-donor funded ABS Capacity Development Initiative, the Transdisciplinary University (TDU) of the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Tradition (FRLHT), the UNDP Equator Initiative, the National Biodiversity Authority of India and partners, will conduct the Community-to-Community Exchange and Capacity Development Workshop for Traditional Knowledge Holders on ABS.

The event will take place in Bangalore, India and includes field visits within three South Indian states (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala), and a workshop, whose design involves interactive, participatory sessions amidst community members and other stakeholder expert representatives.

The Nagoya Protocol (NP) on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) emphasizes the need to take into consideration community protocols on access, utilization and benefit sharing with regard to traditional knowledge (TK) associated with genetic resources (GR). Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) have high levels of knowledge related to identification of those GR that are utilized in the community for different purposes, especially medicine, food and nutrition, as well as other wellbeing related purposes. This provides a good starting point to raise awareness on sustainable utilization patterns and the potential benefits of establishing value chains with external actors. In particular, it offers an opportunity to explore the development of small and medium scale enterprises that can be developed at the community level through appropriate R&D.

Being one of the pioneering countries in ABS, many examples have been created in India on how IPLCs can participate in ABS and the conservation, protection and valorisation of biodiversity and TK. In Africa too, more and more communities are actively engaging in the protection, conservation and valorisation of their TK and the associated genetic resources, e.g. by elaborating biocultural community protocols (BCPs) or by setting up value chains with external actors on the basis of the ABS principles. IPLCs are also increasingly engaging in national processes of ABS strategy development and the elaboration of the related regulatory frameworks and administrative systems.

The upcoming meeting will bring together about 70 stewards of biodiversity and associated knowledge, especially related to health and wellbeing to discuss the diversity of local innovations in the field of ABS and the conservation, protection and valorisation of biodiversity and TK in India, African countries and Central Asia. The event will offer a unique platform to increase the understanding of the relevance of the CBD principles on ABS and the implementation of the NP at the local level and provide an opportunity for developing partnerships among different stakeholders globally.

Please note that this event will be on invitation only, but we will be sharing all updates here!

Read more about the interconnection between human health and biodiversity conservation in the flagship publication under the CBD joint work programme on biodiversity and health co-led with the World Health Organization here.