Participants in a three-day regional workshop of the UNDP-GEF Global Access and Benefits Sharing (ABS) Project, organized to strengthen the coordination, collaboration and exchange of experiences among five participating countries in Latin American and the Caribbean.

Volunteerism as an innovative component for the implementation of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project 

From 16-18 May 2018, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, in close coordination with the UNDP-GEF Global Access and Benefits Sharing (ABS) Project, organized a three-day regional workshop with the objective of strengthening the coordination, collaboration, and the exchange of experiences among the five participating countries in Latin American and the Caribbean. 

Through a programmatic and financial collaboration, UNV supports the implementation of the Global ABS UNDP-GEF project "Strengthening human resources, legal frameworks, and institutional capacities to implement the Nagoya Protocol".

The project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is implemented in 24 countries from four regions over a three-year execution period; addressing the lack of legal certainty and transparency of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge use for both users and providers. Alejandro Lago, Global ABS Project Manager shares his thoughts about the impact of this collaboration: 

One of the innovative components of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project comes from the partnership with UNV. It is the first time that volunteerism is directly related to the thematic of access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing. UNV shows its strong commitment by contributing and mobilizing its own resources and funding for the successful implementation of the project. --Alejandro Lago, Global ABS Project Manager

The regional workshop brought together counterpart institutions, UN National Volunteers, UNDP staff, consultants, and relevant stakeholders from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Panama, Uruguay and Mexico. 

The participants actively shared their ideas and experiences on possible methodologies, lessons learned, and best practices to implement UNV´s collaboration activities. These activities are the design and implementation of KAP surveys, the elaboration of biocultural community protocols, and the support to government authorities in ABS related activities.

Furthermore, UNV will implement trainings of trainers’ workshops with the aim of promoting a cascade approach to mobilizing national volunteers in capacity building and awareness-raising activities contained within the project’s scope. 

At the global level, UNV supports the establishment of a community of practice on ABS, a collaborative platform that allows experts in the field to exchange their experiences and knowledge, promoting this way the South-South collaboration spirit of participating countries. This activity will be supported with the recruitment of one National UN Volunteer whom will be working as website content and communications officer. 

To date, the UNV component that supports the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project has mobilized eight national UN Volunteers, one international UN Volunteer and 14 UN Online Volunteers.

By the end of its collaboration, more than 300 local and community volunteers are expected to be mobilized at the national level. Sumak Bastidas, National Volunteer Coordinator in Ecuador shares her point of view about the project: 

Successful implementation of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project must involve citizen participation. Through volunteerism, we will be able to mainstream citizen engagement with the ownership of young people, women, leaders as well as civil society in public policies. This will foster the social fabric that contributes to the strengthening of legal, political, and institutional frameworks that ensures the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. --Sumak Bastidas, National Volunteer Coordinator, Ecuador

After the accomplishment of the regional workshop objectives, UNV expects to utilize volunteerism as a strategic means of implementation in Global ABS action, facilitating community integration and building trust among users and providers of genetic resources and their associated traditional knowledge.