On Wednesday 3rd July 2019 – At Lemigo Hotel Kigali, UNDP in collaboration with the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) organised a workshop for traditional knowledge and genetic resources holders to disseminate; the newly developed “Guideline and Toolkit for Access and Benefit Sharing of Traditional Knowledge Associated with Genetic Resources in Rwanda” and to unveil the inventory report of the Traditional Knowledge in Rwanda. The workshop brought together 34 traditional healers gathered in their association “AGA Rwanda Network”. The guideline and toolkit were produced under the support of UNDP Rwanda and REMA through their joint project entitled “Strengthening human resources, legal frameworks, and institutional capacities to implement the Nagoya Protocol” or the Global ABS project. This project aims at supporting the government of Rwanda implement the Nagoya Protocol and to put in practices of the recommendations on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) that was adopted in 2010 and entered in force in 2014.
The Nagoya Protocol also known as the ABS Protocol was adopted in 2010 in Nagoya and aims at ensuring a fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of genetic resources which contributes to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The Protocol was established as a tool to address the 3rd objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. The Nagoya Protocol mandated parties to develop national ABS guidelines that require users to obtain Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and develop Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) for genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge from Traditional and Local Communities.
To put into force the protocol, UNDP and REMA in partnership with the University of Rwanda developed a guideline and toolkit that are meant to regulate the way traditional knowledge is shared, stressing on the fact that the knowledge holders have to fairly benefit from sharing their knowledges.
Opening the workshop, Mr. Faustin Munyazikwiye, the Deputy Director General of REMA emphasized the importance of sharing traditional knowledge on genetic resources, therefore thanking all of the traditional healers there present. He also thanked those who were willing to participate in the mapping of the traditional healers which helped in putting together the guideline and toolkit. “In collaboration with UNDP, we put together a guideline containing rules and regulations on how to share your traditional knowledge on genetic resources. The guideline will ensure that a maximum of people benefits from your knowledge but that you will also be able to get something in return to the knowledge you shared “, said Mr. Munyazikwiye on the occasio
Mr. Faustin Munyazikwiye, Deputy Director General of REMA addressing the audience at the workshop
Speaking on behalf of UNDP, Environmental Specialist Ms. Reina Otsuka stated that the Nagoya protocol is an essential tool in the overall protection of the biodiversity. She also thanked the government of Rwanda for implementing the Nagoya Protocol recommendations, hence the production of the guideline and toolkit for knowledge sharing. “UNDP is proud to collaborate with the government of Rwanda to put together the guidelines. This is a step towards protecting biodiversity and UNDP will continue to support the domestication process” said Ms. Otsuka.
The workshop was also an opportunity to get feedback from the main beneficiaries from the toolkit and guideline, the traditional healers. Many of them stressed the fact that they are willing to share their knowledge to benefit the society. Mr. Moussa, an elderly traditional healer operating in the Eastern province of Rwanda said to be sad because he might pass away without properly sharing his knowledge to benefit the society. “You (compilers of the document) need to approach all traditional healers especially us who are old as we may die before anyone approaches us for the knowledge. I have started my own research by listing a lot of natural plants that cure a wide range of diseases”, argued Mr. Moussa on the urgency to collect the knowledge.
Through discussion, it was revealed that it is going to be a continuous process. The challenge was identified to be the availability of the traditional healers. This is stressed by the fact that the inventory contained only 300 members out of around of 14,000 that had been identified. For this, Ms. Gertrude Nyirahabineza, the president of AGA Rwanda network said that they have already working on it but require support. “We have called upon our representatives in all of the 30 districts in the country to descend and encourage all of the traditional healers to share their knowledge. This guideline and toolkit will help us greatly to convince them because they will be sure to also benefit from sharing their knowledge.”, commented Ms. Gertrude.
The guidelines are intended to raise awareness about the Nagoya Protocol and Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) procedures in Rwanda and also help the intended audience to understand the legality and procedures related to knowledge sharing on genetic resources. The UNDP-GEF project “Global ABS project” main objective that is trifold. (1) Strengthening the legal, policy, and institutional capacity to develop national ABS frameworks; (2) Building trust between users and providers of genetic resources to facilitate the identification of bio-discovery efforts; and (3) Strengthening the capacity of indigenous and local communities to contribute to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.