The public meetings are to resume and complete the community consultations on the Cook Islands Access to genetic resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Draft Policy, providing an opportunity for the public to discuss and question the proposed draft.
ABS project coordinator Emily Pierre says the community meetings are to help develop the right access and benefit sharing legal framework for the Cook Islands people.
“This policy details the legal authorities, mechanisms and processes that must be in place to effectively manage access by the world of science and research to our traditional knowledge.”
According to the draft, the conservation and sustainable management of our environment and of the biological diversity of our lands and oceans, aims to provide sustainable health and food security benefits for the people of the Cook Islands.
The drafted ABS policy is also translated into Cook Islands Maori language (Rarotonga dialect). It reads: “It is important that this document is translated into the languages and dialects of our Pa Enua, to ensure that ta’unga and Are Korero in the Pa Enua clearly understand what their rights are during any approaches by interested parties and any subsequent negotiations, and where they can get assistance or advice.”
Maureen Hilyard and Mathilda Miria-Tairea were originally contracted to develop the ABS Policy and Hilyard will present and lead the Rarotonga consultations.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits was adopted in Nagoya Japan 2010 and enforced in October 2014. The protocol highlights that the Cook Islands has the potential for economic benefit from the knowledge of local ta’unga about the uses of our biological diversity, based on generations of tradition and practice.
The purpose of the Nagoya Protocol in the Cook Islands is to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources in the Cook Islands, and the fair and equitable sharing of any benefits arising from the use of its genetic resources.
The Cook Islands has yet to sign the Nagoya Protocol but is set to do so following the endorsement of the ABS policy.
The Vaka meetings will begin tonight (Tuesday) at 6pm at the Arorangi Calvary Hall (Puaikura), Wednesday November 21 at the Ngatangiia CICC Sunday school in Avana (Takitumu) and Thursday at the Sinai Hall in Avarua (Te Au O Tonga).
The Tuanga Taporoporo (National Environment Service) is the implementing agency on behalf of government of this GEF-UNDP funded project.