JIS News

Story Highlights

  • CARICOM stakeholders will be engaged in a workshop aimed at arriving at a roadmap for the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS).
  • The ABS protocol will enable increased legal certainty, clarity and transparency for both users and providers of genetic resources.
  • The protocol comes into force within the next year.

Stakeholders from across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), over the next three days, will be engaged in a workshop aimed at arriving at a roadmap towards ratification and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) of genetic resources, and their use.

The ABS protocol, which emerged from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), will enable increased legal certainty, clarity and transparency for both users and providers of genetic resources.

The protocol comes into force within the next year. So far, there are 26 ratifications and no CARICOM state is yet party to it.

Jamaica has moved steadily to take the necessary steps to adopt the protocol. To this end, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, said that he will be seeking Cabinet’s approval, in the coming months, to prepare draft instructions for the necessary legislative framework.

Addressing the opening of the second Caribbean Workshop on the ABS Protocol, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Monday, November 25, Mr. Pickersgill said Jamaica recognises the importance of adhering to the objectives of the CBD, and noted the island nation’s rich legacy of biodiversity and endemism.

“With the improvements in technology and research techniques, the useful properties and benefits that can be derived from our biodiversity become more evident with the passage of time,” he stated.

Mr. Pickersgill said accession to the ABS protocol is an important step in facilitating the sustainable use of biodiversity. He asserted that when the protocol is in force, developing countries such as Jamaica will have the necessary legal platform to further elevate the values ascribed to their biodiversity, and can use this to drive the momentum for the conservation of these resources.

The Climate Change Minister emphasised that the importance and value of genetic resources is demonstrated locally in many ways. He noted the work of Jamaica’s Dr. Henry Lowe and his achievement in developing the region’s first indigenous nutraceautical industry, which was launched last year, with seven products.

He also cited the use of marijuana, by Drs. West and Lockhart to produce prescription drugs, for the treatment of glaucoma.

Minister Pickersgill told the gathering of biodiversity experts and other interests that the potential earnings from the nutraceuticals industry could be from US$500 billion to US$1 trillion over the next five years.

“With the advances in science, several pharmaceutical drugs have been developed, which either contain or have similar chemicals to those found in the cannabis plant…researchers have used their understanding of how the brain processes cannabinoids to develop drugs, which follow the same pathways, and this has now become a multi-billion dollar industry,” he explained, pointing out that these drugs are used to treat a wide range of conditions.

Meanwhile, the Minister said that Caribbean countries, which are faced with similar challenges in respect to the protection of natural resources, have a common responsibility to identify opportunities to improve how these resources as used.

The workshop, which ends on Friday, November 29, is hosted by the Ministry and organised by the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, in partnership with the CARICOM Secretariat, and the Secretariat of the CBD. The first regional workshop was held in Trinidad and Tobago in September 2012.