Cambodia’s specific geographical location and long history and complicated topographical, ecological and social features has resulted in it becoming a prosperous, rich and diverse plant genetic resource country. While diverse climatic conditions diversified the country’s flora with both tropical and temperate plants, thousands of years of agricultural practice by ethnic groups enriched its crop genetic resources with large numbers of local cultivars and land races. In terms of medicinal plants, the high level of genetic diversity makes Cambodia an attractive country for bio-prospecting, especially given that there are approximately 800 known medicinal plants, many of which have associated traditional knowledge. However, Cambodia faces a wide range of issues that threaten its biological diversity and ecological security. These threats emanate from the transition from a subsistence-based agrarian economy to a consumption-based cash economy, competing land use from urbanization and infrastructure development, poaching of wild plants and animals, localized overharvesting of timber, fuel wood and non-wood forest products, human-wildlife conflicts, and climate change. Because of the threat to biological resources, the traditional knowledge of local communities that is associated with genetic resources is disappearing rapidly, due to the change of traditional lifestyles. A large volume of traditional knowledge, such as medicinal use of biological resources, is being replaced by modern technology. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) of Cambodia was adopted in 2002. The NBSAP identified equity as the most important thing biological resources sustainably in the long run and calls for consideration of poor and economically disadvantage group to secure their access to common resources.
To counter the various threats to biodiversity, the country has planned various strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources for socio-economic development. However, making use of its biodiversity and traditional knowledge for the promotion of bioprospecting and of access and benefit- sharing (ABS) national regime that is constrained by several factors. Cambodia has no existing policy or legislation on ABS, the government recognizes the importance of establishing innovative schemes to derive equitable benefits through economic activities that are linked to sustainable utilization of natural resources and the institutional and personal capacity to carry out bio-prospecting beyond basic level and develop and manage ABS schemes that are compliant with Nagoya Protocol.
The project aims at strengthening human resources, legal frameworks and institutional capacities on access and benefit sharing of genetic resources to facilitate the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing. The above objective would be achieved through two components, namely
Component 1: Creating an enabling national policy, legal and institutional framework for ABS consistent with the CBD and its Nagoya Protocol
Component 2: Developing capacity and administrative measures for the implementation of the national ABS legal framework.