Acting Premier Of The Northern Cape Province: Ms Griselda Cjiekella.
Mec For Environment And Nature Conservation: Mec Sylvia Lucas
Mec For Public Works: David Rooi
Executive Mayor Of Namakwa District Municipality: Executive Mayor Frank Van Heerden
Executive Mayor Of Namakoi Local Municipality: Mayor Wt Cloete
Speaker & Councillors
Hod For Environment And Nature Conservation: Mr Denver Van Heerden
Our Coo At National Environmental Affairs: Ms Lize Mccourt And Your Management
Bioprospecting Teams And Beneficiaries
Members From The Media
Representatives From Various Recipients Of Babs Permits
Representatives From The Komaggas Community And The Khiosan
Representatives From The Beneficiary Communities From Other Provinces
Officials From Various Departments
Members Of The Community
Ladies And Gentlemen
I must firstly express my appreciation of the warm welcome I received from the leadership of the province, the district and local municipalities as well as yourselves, to this important event.
It is indeed a pleasure, to be amongst you in this beautiful province of Northern Cape to celebrate and hand over the various bioprospecting permits to different organisations which are issued in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (NEMBA) and its associated Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing (BABS) Regulations of 2008.
As many of you may know, South Africa has a rich natural and cultural resource base that ranks amongst the top 3 in the world's most bio-diverse countries. We are home to approximately 24 000 plants species and have an entire floral kingdom within its borders. South Africa is not just rich in biological diversity but also blessed with a rich cultural diversity. These natural and cultural resources underpin a large proportion of the economy and many rural and urban people urban are directly dependent on them for employment, food, shelter, medicine and spiritual well being.
Ladies and gentlemen, to most people, 'biodiversity' is a misunderstood concept. In simple terms, Biodiversity is all plants and animals that we have and all their interactions and the differences between them. These interactions, which also includes human beings, provide us with a number of essential natural services that we call ecosystem services — such as food production, soil fertility, climate regulation etc: these are the foundation of human well-being. Biodiversity provides us, among other things, with food, material for shelter, clean air and water, medicines as well as places for healing and enrichment.
The South African benefits of biodiversity or ecosystem services, or the natural capital as it is known, are estimated at 73 billion Rands contributing to 7 percent of South Africa's GDP per annum. The biodiversity economy, which is part of our Green Economy, is therefore our competitive edge in growing our economy and addressing climate change adaptation. It is indeed the basis for human and socio-economic development.
Ladies and gentlemen, a survey by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that 80 percent the people in Africa depend on traditional medicineas the main source of their health care needs and that 1 billion people worldwide depend on drugs derived from forest plants for their medicinal needs.
It is clear that medicinal plant species must be cultivated on a large scale if wild populations of these plants and the biomes where they occur are to be conserved. As evidenced here in Komaggas, there is clearly a need and opportunity for commercially cultivating indigenous medicinal plants in order to meet the increasing demand and pressures from non-sustainable harvesting.
At the same time, there is a growing appreciation of the value of medicinal plants and their related traditional knowledge by the modern industries such as Pharmaceuticals. It is estimated that 25 percent of all prescribed medicines contain some ingredients derived from plants. Many widely used cosmetics produced by modern industries are derived from medicinal plants, and many of these plants are indigenous and endemic to South Africa.
An issue of particular contention relates to the fact that the considerable benefits which modern industries has gained from the medicinal plants and associated traditional knowledge of South Africa's communities have resulted in none of the benefits being returned to the communities from whom knowledge was obtained.
All these scenarios, calls for a need to manage and conserve medicinal plant resources and their associated traditional knowledge for the benefit of current and future generations. We must build on a shared appreciation of the importance of medicinal plants resources to human health and well-being and a shared concern about the conservation and sustainable use of these resources.
There is firm evidence that traditional knowledge of medicinal plants can make a significant contribution to sustainable development. This contribution, which is made through conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants, goes far beyond the role of holders of traditional knowledge as natural resource managers. Their skills and techniques will provide a useful model for medicinal plants management as evidenced here in Komaggas where the provincial government has joined hands with the District Municipality, the Local Council and the community to sustainably manage this important Kraalbos resource for the benefit of all of us.
Since the birth of our democracy in 1994, a number of major policies, strategies, programmes and legislations that encourage conservation and sustainable utilization of biological diversity including medicinal plants have been developed. They are currently administered by the three spheres of government. For instance, the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 and its regulations have been developed within the framework of the National Environmental Management Act, 1998. This regulatory framework emphasises the need for management, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and stresses the importance of fair and equitable sharing of benefit with communities arising from commercial utilization of indigenous biological resources and associated traditional knowledge. This legal framework provides a huge opportunity for economic growth, sustainable development and poverty alleviation.
It is also worth noting that in this regulatory framework, the issue of equity is a cornerstone of governance as well as sustainability. Conditions for conservation are greatly enhanced when the owners and stewards of medicinal plants receive equitable benefits arising from the use of these resources, and feel that they are properly compensated for the level of effort involved in their contributions.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you may be aware, in June we celebrated Environment Month in Mangaung under the theme “Green Economy: Does it include you?” We must acknowledge that Green Economy is a growing economic development model based on the knowledge that aims to address the interdependence of economic growth and natural ecosystems and the adverse impact that economic activities can have on the environment. We recognize the significance of the green economy in creating decent green jobs, ensuring real sustainable economic growth and preventing environmental degradation. A global transition to a low carbon and sustainable economy can create large numbers of green jobs across many sectors of the economy, and indeed can become an engine of development.
The Green Economy provides a platform to clarify the economic value of biodiversity and ecosystem services, its role in poverty alleviation, as well as its contribution to the Millennium Development Goals. Our objective therefore aims to raise awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity for the human well-being, promote the understanding of the economic value of biodiversity, enhance public knowledge of the threats to biodiversity and means to conserve it and to engage all of society. We must celebrate the achievements, reflect on challenges, and use the momentum gained to trigger even more action for biodiversity.
Therefore, it is through an appropriate policy mix, that a transition towards a green economy will derive benefits of a growth path that is resource efficient, low-carbon and pro-employment. The positive impacts will include among others sustaining the biodiversity economy and the natural capital in order to accelerate the implementation of the sustainable development agenda.
In an attempt to tackle the global problem of continuing plundering of biological and or genetic resources and their associated traditional knowledge without prior consent and sharing of benefit thereof with the countries of origin, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was the first international agreement that explicitly recognized the genetic resources found in a country as belonging to that country, however weak that country might be.
Ladies and gentlemen, South Africa is a contracting party to various international multilateral agreements relating to the conservation and management of biodiversity, and in particular the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD. As party to the CBD, South Africa is committed to its obligations. The Convention has three objectives namely the conservation of biological diversity; sustainable use of the biological diversity; and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. Fair and equitable sharing of benefits is a central pillar to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. South Africa has since signed the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits that arise from their Utilisation which is supplementary to the CBD.
Historically, a lack of bioprospecting policy framework and legislation both at national and international level, has permitted an almost unconstrained access to South African indigenous biological resources and indigenous knowledge, with biological and genetic resources being harvested, sometimes in destructively excessive quantities, and being exported for research and development at institutions abroad for innovative value addition, and off-shore financial benefit. Consequently, traditional knowledge holders and providers of indigenous biological resources were not benefiting from the use of our indigenous biological resources and the associated indigenous knowledge.
According one of the Chapters of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act, Act 10 of 2004 (NEMBA) no person may without a permit conduct commercial bioprospecting on any indigenous biological resource, or export any indigenous biological resources from South Africa for bioprospecting or any other kind of research.
The Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing or BABS Regulations were developed and promulgated to regulate the permit system set out in NEMBA in so far as that system applies to bioprospecting involving any indigenous biological resources. Export from South Africa of any indigenous biological resources for the purposes of bioprospecting or any other kind of research must be permitted. In addition, the BABS Regulations set out the contents of, requirements and criteria for benefit-sharing and material transfer agreements. The BABS Regulations entered into force on 1 April 2008.
Through this permit system, the Regulations govern the utilization of indigenous biological resources /or associated traditional knowledge targeted for research and development (bioprospecting) with an intention to commercialize the end product. In addition, the Regulations protect the interest of those whose knowledge of or discoveries about the indigenous biological resources to which the bioprospecting project permit application relates, are to be used for the proposed bio-prospecting.
Ladies and gentlemen, since the coming into effect of the Regulations, my department has successfully processed eight permit applications which were found to be in compliance with the legislative requirements of the NEMBA and the BABS Regulations.
As we are gathered here in Komaggas, allow me to shed more light about the important shrublet called Kraalbos. The Kraalbosis a yellow-green, soft woody shrublet, which sometimes grow to 1 meter tall. It grows naturally in the Northern Cape and it is distributed widely in Namaqualand.The Kraalbosis an active invader, and is especially abundant in areas around kraals, along roads and on trampled veld. This plant is not only an indicator of disturbance, but is also a pioneer plant, being the first perennial to regrow after soil disturbances.
Alternatively, it can be the only remaining species after the veld has been heavily overgrazed. The system of nomadic migration between winter and summer rainfall regions results in hungry animals having to eat the only available plants along the way. However such plants are often undesirable. The extensive farming practices sometimes compel stock to remain in and around pens for protracted periods, and when finally put out to graze, the famished animals are highly susceptible to poisoning.
A decoction or mixture of Kraalbos is used as a lotion for healing wounds in humans and animal by local communities in the Northern Cape Province. The Khoisan people chew the plant to relieve toothache and it is used in the treatment of venereal diseases, lotion for skin diseases and for the relief of inflammation of the eyes.
Rapitrade 670 has concluded forty-five (45) notable Material Transfer Agreements and two (2) remarkable Benefit Sharing Agreements with indigenous and local communities residing in Komaggas and the Khoi Heritage Foundation as required by the legislation. These agreements provides for fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the project. This is a clear reflection of the understanding of the issue of equity, benefit sharing and sustainable utilisation of our natural resources that they are a cornerstone for economic growth and sustainability development by these permit holders. This is in line with our pro-poor, pro-development and pro-job creation objectives of the Green Economy we embrace as government.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Komaggas community will derive the following benefits from its relationship with Rapitrade 670:
Ladies and gentlemen, I am aware that some of you could be wondering as to what transpired since the official handing over of the first bioprospecting permit, by my predecessor to HG&H Pharmaceuticals on the 1st October 2010. I am pleased to inform you that the representatives of this initiative, both from the company and the beneficiary community are here among us today and that this project is now at an advanced stage. Its product Zembrin, has just received Medicines Control Council approval and it will be marketed in South Africa under the name Elev8with the main indications being reducing stress, elevating mood and improving concentration. This is a proudly South African product that has acknowledged the rights of the indigenous communities through prior informed consent and benefit sharing agreement which has the full endorsement of the South African San Council. In addition, the permit holder has completed Phase 1 clinical safety study to US Food and Drug Administration-Good Clinical Preactice (FDA-GCP) on Zembrin product.
Today is therefore an auspicious day in the history of our land, for the handing over of the seven bioprospecting permits which will provide benefits to our communities. I am positive that many more bioprospecting permits will be issued to applicants that fulfil the requirements of the legislation. Accompanying the Permits, are copies of the South Africa’s Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing Regulatory Framework: Guidelines for Providers, Users and Regulators. These guidelines are for providers, users and regulators of the use of biological and genetic resources as well as the associated traditional knowledge, and they outline a practical approach for compliance with the legislation. The guidelines endeavour to assist different stakeholders to understand the legal requirements and their rights in terms of the law.
The seven permits and the new Regulations are issued to the following:
The purpose of this project is to describe the extent of genetic polymorphism of vervet monkeys, Chlorocebus aethiops, to assist in the international collaborative effort to establish Chlorocebus as the leading non-human primate (NHP) model system for genomics-driven research. This is pure research aimed to generate scientific information that can be considered in taking the research further into commercialization. It includes research on the Chlorocebus genome that contains allelic variants which protect infected animals from becoming immune-deficient. Identifying such variants could provide vital information in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
The beneficiaries are the University of Free State (lecturer and post-graduate students); the broader national and international research community in particular for HIV/AIDS related research, provincial conservation agencies and departments (Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape).
The purpose of this project is to sell Aloe ferox sap, extracts and crystals on national and international markets for bioprospecting.The beneficiaries are the local communities working as harvesters to collect Aloe sap and crystals which are then purchased (upfront payment) by the permit holder in Matjieskraal Farm in Kommadagga Alicedale in Eastern Cape.
The purpose of this project is to sell Pelargonium sidoides and Aloe ferox, raw materials in various formulations on national and international markets for bioprospecting. The beneficiaries to this project are the local communities working as harvesters to collect materials of Aloe sap / crystals/ leaves, and Pelargonium roots which are then purchased (upfront payment) by the permit holder in Alice communal land in Eastern Cape Province.
The purpose of this project is cultivation, primary processing, selling and exporting of Aloe ferox, Helichrysum odoratissimum, Pelargonium reniforme andPelargonium sidoides in different formulations on national and international markets for bioprospecting. The beneficiaries to this project are the local communities employed at the cultivation site and also as harvesters in Amathole Community in Eastern Cape Province.
The purpose of this project is cultivation, processing and marketing of herbal products containing active ingredients from Forty (40) indigenous biological resources.The beneficiaries to this project are the local communities employed at the cultivation site and also as harvesters in Edakeni Community in KwaZulu-Natal Province.
The purpose of this project is the development of Sclerechiton illicifolius (monatin, molomo monate) as a natural sweetenerin collaboration with aninternational client calledCragill RSA (Pty) Ltd based in Johannesburg. The beneficiaries to this project are the Seleka and Shongwane communities in Lephalale Municipality, Limpopo Province.
The purpose of this project is making extraction and purification of chemical compounds of Galenia Africana (Kraalbos) for commercial use in the agro-food chemical and pharmaceutical market. The beneficiaries to this project are the Komaggas community and the Khoi Heritage Foundation in
Northern Cape Province.The bioprospecting project by Rapitrade 670 (Pty) Ltd is the host for this event.
Ladies and Gentlemen it is incumbent upon us to debunk the myth that environment management hinders development, by positioning the sector as a major contributor to job creation and the fight against poverty. We have shown that indeed biodiversity management does contribute to our Green Economy objectives.
To quote the late great Wangari Maathai: “The environment and the economy are really two sides of the same coin. You cannot sustain the economy if you don’t take care of the environment because we know that the resources that we use whether it is oil, energy, land … all of these are the basis in which development happens. And development is what we say generates a good economy and puts money in our pockets. If we cannot sustain the environment, we cannot sustain ourselves.” End quote.
I thank you!
Province Or State