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Writing sample for technology and public policy and for project on prosperity and development 2


Writing Sample 2

Writing Sample 2

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  • 1. The ever-growing demand for genetic materials for pharmaceutical products hasincreased the economic value of genetic resources. However, this bio-prospecting andinternational trade has not brought much economic benefit to the countries and communities whohost these resources. A benefit sharing strategy for exploitation of pharmaceutical biodiversityresources should have the following goals: a.) The adoption of global norms on transparency andpublic participation in decisions related to genetic resources, and b.) the acceptance of theprinciple of free and prior informed consent by local communities before states allow access togenetic resources.Benefit-sharing arrangements should be specifically designed to include those that would benefitcommunities from which the genetic resources are taken, and while there NGOs, governments,and companies recognize that benefit sharing should include benefits for local and indigenouscommunities, most of the debate still focuses on benefit sharing at the national level. Thisincludes technology transfer, scientific capacity building, and so forth. To ensure benefits at thelocal level there should be:1. Up-front payments to local communities for samples collected in their territories and/orcash “milestone” payments pegged to stages in the development of a product where its valueincreases, as well as: reform of public forestry concession pricing, license fees, reforestation fees, and royalties eco-labeling discontinuation of below-cost sales biodiversity prospecting deals international franchise agreementsAn example can be found with the San community who receive six percent of all royaltiesreceived by the CSIR from Phytopharm as a result of the successful exploitation of products. TheSan also receive eight percent of the milestone income received by the CSIR from Phytopharmwhen certain performance targets are reached during the product development period.2. Transfers of locally-useable technology and local capacity-building, so that the sourcecommunity may bring added value to its genetic resources. agricultural land set-aside schemes public or grant-aided land purchase cost-sharing/ management agreements
  • 2. 3. Earmarking of funds for conservation of biodiversity and genetic resources in acommunity‟s territory. Examples include: species enhancement schemes customary cultivation of biodiversity international biodiversity transfers4. Co-ownership of patents and other intellectual property rights where indigenousknowledge associated with collected genetic resources contributes to the discovery of a usefulcompound and/or development of a commercial product. tradable development rights property-right mechanisms5. Support for infrastructural developments desired by a community in whose territorysamples are collected. schools, water supplies, roads full appraisal of forest benefits debt-for-nature swaps Currently, there are many issues challenging benefit-arrangements for the local level.Many local and impoverished communities reject the patenting of „life forms‟, and the ownershipof knowledge of living products and life processes. Further, developing intellectual propertyrights for these life forms is difficult at the local level, as certain legal, financial andadministrative resources are needed that many communities do not have. The present IPRsystems and TRIPSs does not affectively address the collective nature of traditional knowledge,both within and among generations of indigenous and local communities, and how to createmonopolistic rights over knowledge and biological resources. IPRs are subject to manipulationby economic interests that wield the most political power, and indigenous peoples lack the legalmeans for protecting their knowledge. IPRs can also be expensive, complicated, and time-consuming to obtain, and even more difficult to defend, and can encourage theft.Therefore it is crucial that new IPRs allow indigenous communities to refuse access to traditionalknowledge and for them to be able to apply for IPR protection under the name of the community.There must also be written prior informed consent for access and application of traditional
  • 3. knowledge, and co-ownership of research data, patents and products derived from the researchwithout the community having to pay patent fees. Communities must also be able to nullify anyapplication. Costa Rica and Brazil have developed Acts that cover these rights.To achieve this, there needs to be the creation of an international certification system tracing thegenetic flows of material obtained and utilized. The legislation should also require, for bothdomestic and international access to biodiversity, prior informed consent, mutually agreed terms,and burden of proof on the applicant. To protect indigenous knowledge, while developing innovation and practices, the benefitsharing mechanism should include:a. IT application to deal with informational asymmetries in the formal and informalknowledge systems.b. IPR system reform to make them accessible for small grassroots innovators.c. Green venture promotion funds and incubators for converting innovations intoenterprises.d. Obligatory international agricultural and natural resource management institutions toaccord priority to adding value to local innovations.To achieve this mechanism, there must be the establishment of an autonomous authority, withlocal community representatives as the majority members. They could be entrusted with accessto all contracts, which will be assessed to ensure that the management plans for sustainableextraction of diversity involves scientifically appropriate methods. Penalties will be imposed fornon-sustainable extraction of the „genes‟ by domestic and external extractors.Further, an Ethical Committee within the Authority should be established. The Committee wouldensure that cultural and other values of important biological resources and materials are notignored. It would also negotiating transfer of rights to national and international bodies andindividuals. The Committee should see to it that genetic materials are not meant only for humanbenefits but have significant ecological values. The Committee should ensure that localcommunities receive the market prices. The market price itself should be based on sustainablerates of extraction, land use and water resource availability. The appropriate national biodiversityagencies should scrutinize market approval for products/ processes; and oversee the patentapplication for anything derived from biological resources/ knowledge of local community.
  • 4. Biodiversity must be made into an attractive and accessible investment opportunity. Jointarrangements and partnerships between the public, commercial and community sectors should bedeveloped in research, subsidies, etc. Efforts can be made to attract charitable donations throughtrusts, foundations and endowments. These trust funds structure local award schemes tomaximize conservation incentives. The Trusts associated with the ICBGs are most oftendisbursed by committees that represent communities and national interests. Examples include,small-scale credit and grant-making facilities such as the community targeted Wildlife forDevelopment Fund in Kenya. To implement this in other communities, detailed transparentaccounting procedures would be needed, with formal requests for distribution of funds approvedby a Trust, detailed budgets and plans, and traceable bank accounts. Also, one option for fundersmay be to begin with small planning grants for source country organizations, as establishedsource country partnerships can take advantage of international funding opportunities and bemore attractive to private companies.Tax relief or publicity to contributors can also encourage involvement. A common way of usingfiscal instruments as incentives for biodiversity conservation is to manipulate the market pricesof different products through the application of selective taxes and subsidies. One example ofthis can be found in Eritrea, where energy taxes and subsidies are used as incentives toencourage the use of forest-saving technologies Fiscal instruments are also widely used as toolsto encourage land uses which contribute to biodiversity conservation. For example, in Brazil, thegovernment provides a property tax exemption to encourage the creation of reserves on privatelands. Further, bio-prospecting should be linked to knowledge and skill identification within thevillage committees and appropriate rewards for existing local knowledge be devised throughbenefit sharing on a case by case basis. One way is to make sure that the prices and markets forbiological resources themselves incorporate efficiency and scarcity concerns. To effectively achieve these partnerships, contractual agreements among bio-prospectingpartnerships would be best, and would assist in securing benefits for the source country. Incontrast to patent law, agreements can be used to define the types and amounts of benefits andcan target recipient populations and conservation objectives. These contracts for benefit sharingcan be structured in various ways, but the best may be a wheel-like or overlapping structure, likethe Latin America ICBG and the Suriname and Africa projects. Bi-lateral agreements are mucheasier to negotiate than multi-lateral ones, and the stability for the group is greater even if one ofthe partners or the terms of a specific agreement change, and it would allow local communities todirectly participate in the licensing agreements with commercial collaborators. Know-HowLicenses, an industrial agreement that provides the licensee with exclusive or nonexclusive rightsto use informal knowledge should also be utilized in conjunction with the contracts, allowinglocal peoples recognition and protection in their contracts.
  • 5. Engagement in the global processes by local stakeholders needs sustained engagement at thenational and regional level. At the global level, local and impoverished communities must buildalliances among themselves and with sympathetic constituencies, including with scientists,environmental organizations, and other civil society organizations. Alliances with otherstakeholder groups working on agriculture and food security issues, intellectual property andtrade are also crucial for success.Sources: