Traditional knowledge of genetic resources overlooked: Iipumbu

Many communities have understood the properties of genetic resources for centuries and their traditional knowledge systems hold invaluable insight into their medicinal properties.

This is according to Minister of Industrialisation and Trade Lucia Iipumbu, who said the current global framework for intellectual property often fails to recognise the contributions of these communities, a situation which should be addressed.

Iipumbu in a speech delivered on her behalf at the opening of the Cross Regional Meeting on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge in Swakopmund emphasised the immense potential held by the wealth of genetic resources to the world.

The meeting which commenced on Tuesday is organised by the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA), in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), in preparation for the Diplomatic Conference for the adoption of the International Instrument for Protection of Genetic Resources and Traditional Know
ledge associated with the use of Genetic Resources, to be held in May 2024.

The objective of the meeting is to provide an opportunity for member states from all groups to discuss the basic proposal.

‘From the vast biodiversity of the Namib Desert to the fertile rainforests of the Congo Basin, Africa is a treasure trove of genetic material. This biodiversity is not just a collection of plants and animals; but rather a cherished fact that this too is rooted in the traditional knowledge of our people, often carried over from generation to generation,’ she expressed.

BIPA Chief Executive Officer Vivienne Katjiuongua underscored the importance of addressing the complex interplay between intellectual property and genetic resources, and the need for a robust international instrument that strikes a balance between promoting innovation and safeguarding the rights of indigenous communities.

‘Namibia has been very proactive in the development of legal and policy frameworks to protect traditional knowledge and geneti
c resources, which include the Access and Benefit-Sharing framework, aiming to ensure equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge,’ Katjiuongua highlighted.

The meeting is being attended by more than 60 delegates comprising Group Coordinators plus five other delegates from each regional group in WIPO.

It ends on Thursday.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency