Biodiversity sector must acknowledge traditional knowledge holders

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Environmental Affairs Minister, Dr Edna Molewa, says transformation of the biodiversity sector is a necessity in a changing world.

“This is more so in the context of South Africa, where policies of the past were exclusionary, thus depriving the majority of our people from actively participating in sectors of the economy,” Minister Molewa said.

Addressing the 3rd Biodiversity Economy Indaba (BEI) at the International Convention Centre in East London, Eastern Cape, she said it can’t be justified that the custodians of the genetic resources and equally the holders of traditional knowledge are treated as non-equals in the beneficiation of their resources. 

Minister Molewa said government has, in response to this anomaly, developed and implemented the National Biodiversity Economy Strategy, which aims to promote a new generation of partnerships between communities, industry and the public sector.

Minister Molewa said this was done to realise the access, fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of biological resources.

“In order to ensure a coherent approach in the implementation of this strategy, detailed plans at a three-feet level were developed through the Operation Phakisa Model, organised in the form of the Biodiversity Economy Lab.

“This was an intense process which focused on identifying quantifiable targets centred on transformation, sustainability and economic growth, as well as the associated initiatives meant to deliver big fast results for the Bio-prospecting, Wildlife and Coastal & Marine Tourism subsectors,” she said.

Minister Molewa said the country’s efforts in the bio-prospecting industry should create a sustainable, inclusive and commercially viable sector adding 10 000 new jobs and contributing R1.7 billion to GDP at 10% per annum by 2030.

In recent years, the biodiversity economy, which is an important contributor to job creation, has shown a constant annual growth of 6%.

The South African bio-prospecting sector encompasses organisations and people that are searching or collecting, harvesting and extracting living or dead indigenous specimens, or derivatives and genetic material for commercial and industrial purposes.

The 3rd BEI Indaba brings together multiple and diverse stakeholders in the biodiversity economy, including the hunting and game farm sectors and the bioprospecting, natural products and biotrade industries. – SANews.gov.za

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