The Nagoya protocol: a possible solution to the protection of traditional knowledge in biodiverse societies of Africa
Moody, Oluwatobiloba Oluwayomi
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There is a growing interplay of competing realities facing the international community in the general areas of innovation, technological advancement and overall economic development. The highly industrialised wealthy nations, largely located on the Northern hemisphere are on the one hand undoubtedly at the forefront in global research, technology and infrastructure development. The developing and least developed countries on the other hand are mostly situated on the Southern hemisphere. They are not as wealthy or technologically advanced as their Northern counterparts, but are naturally endowed with unique variations of plant, animal and micro-organism species occurring in natural ecosystems, as well as the traditional knowledge on how to use these unique species. This knowledge has been adjudged to be responsible for the sustainable maintenance of the earth biodiversity. Increasing exploitation of biodiversity spurred on by the competing realities identified above, has left the earth in a present state of alarm with respect to the uncontrolled loss of biodiversity. The traditional knowledge of local peoples has significantly offered leads to research institutes from the North in developing major advancements in drugs, cosmetics and agriculture. Little or no compensation has however been seen to go back to the indigenous communities and countries that provide resources, and indicate various possibilities through their traditional knowledge to the use of such resources. Efforts by some biodiversity rich countries to ddress this trend through legislation developed in accordance with the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity have been frustrated due to the inability to enforce their domestic laws outside their borders. Theft of genetic resources and its associated traditional knowledge from such countries has therefore remained a major challenge. Against this backdrop, and on the insistence of biodiversity-rich developing countries, an international regime on access and benefit sharing was negotiated and its final text adopted in 2010. This international regime is as contained in the Nagoya Protocol. This research sets out to examine whether the Nagoya Protocol offers a final solution to the protection of traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity in biodiverse countries. It further examines the importance of domestic legislation in achieving the objectives of the Protocol. The research has been tailored to African biodiverse countries, and seeks these answers within the context of Africa.