Cook Islands launches Access & Benefits Sharing Project

May 16, 2016

Participants at the Inception Workshop. Photo credit: NES/2016.

The Cook Islands is at the forefront of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) of the Nagoya Protocol, regarded as a landmark in the international governance of biodiversity. ABS aims to ensure that benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, or plant diversity and their commercialisation are shared in a fair and equitable way with those providing the resources. In the Cook Islands it is specifically referring to plant resources used in traditional medicine. 

To strengthen the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, an ABS project for the Cook Islands held an inception workshop in Rarotonga on Thursday, May 12th, 2016.

The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

At the opening of the National Environment Service ABS Inception Workshop, Minister of Environment, Hon. Minister Kiriau Turepu said, “Access and Benefit Sharing is important for the Cook Islands to consider as there is a close and traditional dependence of our people on our local biodiversity – our plants, animals, our land and sea - and therefore, a need to ensure that our communities share in any benefits derived from its use”.

Workshop participants were representatives from Government Ministries, the Aronga Mana, traditional healers and local NGO’s.

Regional Technical Advisor for UNDP, Mr. Doley Tshering told the 30 participants that, “UNDP is working with governments and stakeholders on accessing financing and to facilitate fair ABS deals between users and providers as well as supporting local and indigenous communities with the development of benefit-sharing mechanisms and bio-cultural community protocols to develop nature-based products. The ultimate aim is that these products should deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits to the providers of these resources.”

Jointly implemented by the National Environment Service and CIMTECH (Cook Islands Medical Technology) through its local arm Matheson Enterprises, this project heralds the first Public – Private Partnership project for NES. Both parties look forward to delivering on this together. 

National Environment Service Director, Mr. Joseph Brider said, “NES is excited to be working with you all on this important project to develop Cook Islands biotechnology and necessary frameworks to ensure that we Cook Islanders, as users and providers of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, are sufficiently protected and safeguards are in place to ensure benefits are equitably shared.” 

The workshop also introduced Cook Islands ABS Project Coordinator, Ms Emily Pierre who will be leading project activities on behalf of NES.

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