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Learning from the Practitioners: Benefit Sharing Perspectives from Enterprising Communities
Learning from the Practitioners
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Benefit Sharing Perspectives from Enterprising Communities

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by M.S. Suneetha and Balakrishna Pisupati.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the first international instrument to deal with issues of ethics and equity with regard to the sharing of benefits derived from genetic resources between those who have conserved them and those who exploit them. This study uses an analytical framework to take a closer look at benefit sharing by focusing on inter- and intra-community equity in economic transactions related to bioprospecting. Specifically, it examines the management and use of biological resources for income generating activities at the local level by the providers of the resources. The study also focuses on how various communities in a range of ecosystems share the benefits derived from economic activities and how that affects their ability to meet their needs and ensure social and economic well-being. Representatives of fourteen communities from various ecosystems provided information on their priorities for resource use and management, acquisition of benefits and mechanisms for the distribution of benefits among their members, including challenges they face in the process.

Although there is a concern that national governments do not have sufficient experience in implementing the access and benefit sharing provisions of the Convention at the local level, the results of the study demonstrate that numerous communities are already working on access and benefit sharing, irrespective of whether the provisions of the CBD are being implemented at the national and local levels and on terms not typical of current international discussions. By analysing the implications of their actions, the results showed that community well-being improved in terms of various indicators such as basic needs (i.e., food security, shelter and health), safety needs (i.e., security from natural and economic risks), belonging needs (i.e., equity in governance, access to resources and benefit) and self-esteem (i.e., of degree of autonomy to determine use of resources, economic activities, education, etc.). Hence, this type of community perspective could aid in the effort to understand the access and benefit sharing provisions under the Convention, in developing national action programmes as well as in the negotiations on the international regime on access and benefit sharing.

Published October 2009, UNEP/UNU-IAS, 50 pp, download this publication here.

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