Sunday, September 14, 2008

ICIMOD launches 'Access and Benefit Sharing Knowledge Portal

ICIMOD launches 'Access and Benefit Sharing Knowledge Portal
(Kathmandu, Nepal, 30 July 2008) The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) announces the launching of a web portal on 'Access and Benefit Sharing from Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge'. Accessible at, the portal contains information about Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) mechanisms and processes being carried out as well as the development and implementation of ABS regimes in countries of the Himalayan region. The portal provides links related to the subject and aims to serve as a regional clearing house mechanism on ABS. Through this facility, ICIMOD hopes to encourage, enable, and support learning and foster multi-stakeholder discussions and sharing of the ongoing debates and dialogues at international, regional, and national levels on the subject.

In simple terms, access and benefit sharing means that one person or entity (the user) obtains biological or genetic resources and or knowledge from another person, entity, or country (the provider) in exchange for benefits. The CBD aims to achieve the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge by facilitating access through prior informed consent of the provider. Article 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) provides a framework for the implementation of ABS. All the countries in the Himalayan region are party to the Convention and are implementing ABS regimes.

Implementing the framework in practical and legal terms is complex and has raised concerns amongst stakeholders. The portal thus aims to raise awareness as well as provide a platform for sharing and discussing various options in dealing with ABS issues. ICIMOD, a regional intergovernmental organisation based in Kathmandu, Nepal, recently launched the portal as part of a project to promote ABS in the eastern Himalayan countries. The Centre has been working with 13 partners in four Eastern Himalayan countries - Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan – in seven project sites since 2005, to promote the ABS process. Plans are underway to expand the project's coverage over the long term to the entire Himalayan region, which covers Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan – ICIMOD's regional member countries.

Supported by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the BMZ, the programme reaches out to marginalised groups from grassroots-based mountain women, Dalits, indigenous peoples (Janajatis and ethnic minorities), to policy and decision makers to raise awareness and build the capacity of local institutions and individuals belonging to these groups. The aim is to implement sustainable ABS regimes. Through this programme which is part of a broader Biodiversity Conservation and Management Programme, ICIMOD aims to develop the competence of partner organisations by supporting activities such as capacity building, documenting and evaluating traditional knowledge, assisting in developing regulatory instruments, and a variety of information sharing platforms. The capacity of stakeholders and partners in the government and nongovernmental organizations is being enhanced who are imparting knowledge and skills related to ABS mechanism among the indigenous people and marginalized communities. Through this process, the ABS mechanism is gradually internalised among the communities as an opportunity for poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation.

Regional Context
The Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region, and more specifically the Eastern Himalayas, is one of 34 global biodiversity hotspots – a treasure house of genetic biodiversity and natural resources managed with rich base of traditional knowledge and skills. These resources provide the basis for building livelihoods for mountain communities.

ICIMOD believes that local communities and stakeholders can protect and manage their genetic resources and biological diversity. This will only be possible if the people who take care of the resources also get benefits from them and get full support from the local and national governments, civil society organisations and the international community.

For further information contact:
Dr. Krishna Prasad Oli, Regional Coordinator, ABS – EH
Biodiversity Conservation and Management
Environmental Change and Ecosystem Services, ICIMOD
Tel: 5003222, Email:,

Ms. Nira Gurung
Communications Officer
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
Khumaltar, Lalitpur
GPO Box 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 977-1-5003222, Ext. 115
Fax: 977-1-5003277

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