Sustainable ecosystem management, which will enhance the conservation of biodiversity will only be meaningful when the concept of the ecosystem as a web of life is fully acknowledged. Natural resource conservation is one facet in the nexus of economic development of indigenous communities. Our sustainable development programme recognises the link between various indigenous cultures and conservation behaviour, and the preservation of natural resources by various stakeholders in the community.
Sharing the Benefits of Biodiversity
Our benefit-sharing plan has been formulated to adhere to the following principles:
• Distribution of benefits to ensure that economic rewards are channelled back to the source regions of plants, considering that cash may not be the most appropriate benefit in all cases.
• Empowerment of local communities through town associations, village heads and professional guilds of healers to make decisions regarding compensations and projects in their localities.
• Enhancement of internal capacity for scientific research and herbal product standardization. This includes a viable scientific partnership between US scientists and their counterparts in Nigeria and Cameroon.
• Appropriate recognition of all parties contributing to the development of a therapeutic agent, including those providing lead information.
• Recognition that labelling ideas, accessing instruments of protection, monitoring for possible infringement, identifying expert witnesses, and providing legal assistance are all necessary factors in equitable distribution of benefits.
• Recognition of communality in the ownership structure and therefore the sharing of the benefits of indigenous knowledge, side by side with the fundamental right of the professional herbalist to his or her own private property knowledge.
The Biodiversity Fund
The Funds’ goal as outlined in the BDCP constitution, is to facilitate and ensure the equitable distribution of benefits derived from sustainable utilization of Nigerian biological resources, and to that effect:
• Serve as a channel through which economic benefits from bioprospecting are distributed to the source regions of plants for drug and nutraceuticals, in accordance with stipulated modalities.
• Apply revenues available to projects that will promote conservation of biological diversity in tandem with the economic well being of rural communities.
• Facilitate poverty alleviation and enhance income generating activity through community development initiatives, education and public awareness, and to mobilize volunteer efforts towards self-reliance and sustainable utilisation of biological resources.
• Collaborate based on the particular circumstances of each rural community, with town associations, village heads and professional guild of healers in determining the nature of compensation to apply.
• Compensate, as appropriate, the scientists and other individuals who contributed to the identification and processing of medical or source plants.
The fund is an independent not for-profit, non–governmental organization. The fund has three principal organs, Board of Trustees, an Advisory Board, a Board of Management, a Chairman, four traditional medical practitioners, and one representative from the Federal Ministry of Health, one representative from the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology; two pharmaceutical scientists and one ecologist.
The principal source of funding at the initial stage was from the Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme and its collaborators, especially ICBG programme.
Types of Compensation
• Short term payment and Compensation (small cash payment; consultation clinics with local healers; access fees to the herbalists, union or village council)
• Long term Benefits/Royalty payments
• Training and Capacity Building
Key Areas Promoted
Six sectors have been delimited for funding on the basis of a benefit sharing formula. They are:
• Biodiversity Conservation activities/National Interest (20%);
• Education (10%);
• Traditional Healer’s Association for group projects or as micro credit fund (30%);
• Community Development Association/Village projects (30%);
• Women (especially widows, micro credit may be considered 5%);
• Children’s welfare (5%).
Experience with the fund is evaluated using the following criteria, which are also of relevance to the implementation of the CBD.
• Participation of the affected segments of the population;
• Sustainability ;
• Broad geographical spread of projects;
• Extent of enhancement of internal capacity;
• Efficiency in the use of resources.
The Fund has given decisive impulses for implementation of the Convention in Nigeria. Through progressive confidence building, it has successfully engendered local participation and mutual cooperation. Over the medium and long term, the impact of the Fund and its benefit- sharing project will be determined by the ability of participating associations and local communities to sustain and independently implement their activities.
Global Health Foundation
Our Global Health Project emerges from the International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG) programme on “Drug Development and Conservation in West and Central Africa” and the global health fund. It brings advances in biomedical research, biological and information technology to improve health and living standards of indigenous and local communities in the tropics.