Rural farmers are main holders of TK and must benefit from it

Participants with Chief guest Hon'ble Secretary of MoAF
Participants with Chief guest Hon’ble Secretary of MoAF

29 – 30 March, Thimphu: That the traditional knowledge (TK) are rich in rural areas and that they must benefit, which will contribute towards sustainable conservation of the biological resources, National Biodiversity Centre (NBC) hosted two-day International Seminar on traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources at Thimphu, which concludes today.

NBC has completed documenting different types of traditional knowledge in 95 gewogs and has recorded atleast 290 TK holders and maintained in TK database at the centre. They plan to continue and document TKs in all 205 gewogs so that they are preserved and protected from piracy. The formal documentation will also help in identifying and handing over legal ownership of the TKs associated with biological resources so that illegal and unethical misappropriation are prevented.

This is in compliance to the Nagoya protocol on access and benefit sharing adopted in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, a supplementary agreement to the Convention of Biological Diversity, which requires that all benefits derived from utilization of genetic resources must be shared fairly and equitably among all players.

Bhutan signed the protocol in September 2011.

Gracing the inaugural session as chief guest, Hon’ble Secretary, Dasho Tenzin Dhendup said that as a country that places high priority in preservation of customs and traditions, access and benefit sharing is crucial. He shared the concern that traditional knowledge are being fast depleted because younger generations are not willing to take up and due to rural-urban migration, with no one to pass on the TK, often it dies with the original holder.

In Bhutan, there are mainly three types of TK such as spiritual person/Shaman, common knowledge and gSo-ba-rig-pa. NBC’s Chencho Dorji said that Bhutan ABS fund is in place, portion of which goes to communities, the provider of genetic resource. He added that it is critical to share the benefits since it will not only help the sustainable management of biological resources but also alleviate poverty. “When they get the benefits, they will realize the value of the resources. Hence, they will build ownership as well as conserve,” Chencho Dorji explained.

Participants from countries such as Nepal, India, Malaysia, Norway together with ICIMOD also shared about how ABS is being practiced and implemented in their country. The seminar brought together all relevant countries which enabled them to share and exchange experiences and knowledge while also sorting out the issues and bottlenecks that hinders effective implementation of ABS.

With fund support provided by GEF-funded Nagoya Protocol Implementation project, the seminar saw some 40 participants from different government ministries, private sectors, RUB colleges and international participants including donor agencies such as GEF and ICIMOD.

Reported by: Ugyen Tshering, ICS

Photograph by: Choidup Zangpo, ICS

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