Opening speech for the Pan African Community of Practice Series

2nd edition, Mahé-Seychelles, 8-11 July 2019

His Excellency,  General Dalbir Singh Suhag, High Commissioner of India

His Excellency, Vladimir Belous, Russian Ambassador

Charges D’affaires of the United Arab Emirates Mr Ahmed Saeed Alneyadi,

 

Distinguished guests, panelists and participants, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

It gives me great pleasure to say a few words for the opening of the 2nd Pan African Community of Practice on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS).

But first, let me also take this opportunity to extend a special welcome to all the international participants and organizers to our Seychelles.

This workshop, title ‘Doing Sustainable Business in Africa: Tools and innovation for the valorization of genetic resources to unlock the potential of Africa’s bio-economy and accelerate the achievement of the sustainable development goals is the second workshop in the Pan African community of Practice Series.

This Community of Practice was designed to serve as an innovation Lab to disseminate innovative thinking, tools and best practices emanating from case studies conducted on different pilot cases in various African countries, with the aims of adding value to our biological and genetic resources.

Over the next four days, you will have the opportunity to explore together meaningful ways to add value to Africa’s genetic resources, by developing sound valorization strategies to foster bio-discovery partnerships, attract ABS investments along bottom-up ABS value chains, and yield broader development dividends in line with our national development priorities and in contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It is estimated that Africa will need about USD 1.3billion[1] per year to achieve the SDGs. This shows that substantial investments are required and the demand cannot be met by public finance alone. Therefore, it will also require financial flows primarily from private financing.

One way to address this financing gap is by looking into home-grown solutions to engineer innovative financing mechanisms.

Ladies and gentleman, one such solution lies in the potential of our natural resources.   Africa is rich, and almost all of our countries are endowed with abundant natural resources.  From the blue economy to wildlife economy, Africa’s bio-economies can have a transformative impact on our development.

There are few questions which I would like to bring to your attention this morning.

What are the best business models for Africa’s bio-economies, based on biological and genetic resources, to contribute to closing the financial gap needed for the SDGs?

From a strategic point of view, what are the best strategies to valorize our biological and genetic resources, to create jobs through bio-based economic growth, to drive innovation and boost our scientific and technological capabilities, foster social prosperity, drive sustainable economic growth and finance biodiversity conservation?

From an operational perspective, how do we make the most of our biological and genetic resources? What kind of investments in Research & Development can add value to our biological and genetic resources along value chains? How do we get the best return on investments? How can we build capacity around these investments? Which policies are needed?

These are key questions that we need to find answers to.  We cannot do it alone.  This is why we have participants from 9 countries namely, Algeria, Botswana, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda and Sudan, here with us today.

We will be learning from each other about the incredible success stories, lessons learned and challenges of the different countries, in their journey to add values to their biological and genetic resources.

This 2nd edition of the Pan African Community of Practice on ABS is about hearing and learning what each and every one of us does best. We have a lot to learn from each other. Generating greater understanding and innovating together will help us advance all of our countries at the same time.

Our efforts to valorize our genetic resources in Africa, intend to lay out pragmatic foundations in our countries to translate the potential of our biological and genetic resources into partnerships, business opportunities and broader development dividends in contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, we are proud and honored to host this important workshop.  Seychelles is also an ideal place for such an event.

With almost 50% of our land territory already designated as protected areas and 26% of our EEZ already designated as marine protected areas, the biodiversity they contain are exceptional.  From the worlds’ biggest seed (coco de mer) to the world’s smallest frog and some of the world’s rarest plants, the potential to use and exploit those resources to get maximum benefits in a sustainable manner are enormous.

This is why our Government places a lot of emphasis on the blue economy and it recently approved a Policy on access and Benefit sharing.  My Ministry is also in the process of developing the legal framework to create an enabling environment for businesses and investors to work together.  I am happy that this workshop has come at an opportune time.

Let me take this opportunity to thank GEF for the financial support and UNDP for the implementation of this global ABS project.  We appreciate all the support.

I also thank the organizing team for putting this workshop together.

It is now my pleasure to declare the 2nd edition of the Pan African Community of Practice on ABS, officially open.

Thank you.

[1] http://africasustainability.org/sdgs-the-financing-gap-in-africa/

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