access AND BENEFIT SHARING AS RELATED TO GENETIC RESOURCES (ARTICLE 15)

BRIEF REPORT ON GHANA'S IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ACCESS TO GENETIC RESOURCES AND THE FAIR AND EQUITABLE SHARING OF THE BENEFITS ARISING FROM THEIR UTILIZATION:

INTRODUCTION:

Ghana signed the Convention on Biological Diversity on 29th August 1994. Ghana is committed to working with the international community to meet the objectives of the convention. Records indicate that about 2,974 indigenous plant species, 504 fishes, 728 birds, 225 mammals, 221 species of amphibians have been recorded in the country. Additionally, three species of frogs, 1 lizard, and 23 species of butterflies have been reported to be endemic. This makes Ghana a potential place for bioprospecting and related activities. This puts the onus on Ghana to put in place the necessary legal regime to facilitate access to the genetic resources and ensure the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their utilization.

STATUS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF ARTICLE 15 OF THE CBD

Notwithstanding our status as a Party, Ghana has not been able to fully implement Article 15 of the CBD. This is due partly to inadequate government policies, legislation and resources. Additional problems relate to relevant personnel and logistics required to formulate and effectively implement the legislation on "access to genetic resources and benefit sharing" after adoption.

There are some sector specific policies that touch briefly on the topic in some respects. For example, the Ghana Wildlife and Forestry Policy has recognized access to natural resources by interested parties and the perpetual flow of optimum benefits to all segments of society. The District Assemblies Law prescribes an eventual take-over of or participation by District Assemblies in the management and development of natural and environmental resources under their respective jurisdictions. It is expected that the devolution of management authority to the custodians of the resources and local level administration, would ensure rational use of these biological resources and the associated conservation of biological diversity and benefit sharing with the custodians. District Assemblies are empowered to enact Bye-Laws on natural resources management and conservation.

The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan hopes to formulate effective agreement for formulating bioprospecting and evaluating all benefit sharing mechanisms in the country. In addition, it plans to review and redefine tenurial rights that guarantee fair and equitable sharing of benefits from access and rights to use of biological resources. It gives the assurance that appropriate measures and structures for fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use and conservation of biological resources will be developed.

CONCLUSION:

Though no national regime has been put in place on Access and Benefit Sharing in Ghana yet, there is a great potential for it to be successful when it is initiated in the country. It is clear from the foregoing policies that government has a vision to implement the concept of benefit sharing. What is needed now is to consolidate the vision that is scattered within various policy documents and begin the process of consultation and public participation in fashioning appropriate legislative and regulatory tools for implementation.

Ghana's expectation is that appropriate support will be made available in terms of financial and related support to enable Ghana implement the concept of access to and sharing of benefits arising out of the use of its vast genetic resources.

THE WAY FORWARD: 

Ghana is privileged to be part of a case study exercise on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of the Benefits Arising  from their Utilization. This is part of the UNEP initiative on ABS and its being implemented in collaboration with the United Nations Institute of Advanced Studies and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity with financial support from the Government of Ireland. The beneficially countries are: Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, Ethiopia, Zambia and Ghana.

 

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