Terminal Evaluation for Developing and Implementing a National Access and Benefit Sharing Framework

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Evaluation Plan:
2016-2020, Malaysia
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
06/2020
Completion Date:
08/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
49,000

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Title Terminal Evaluation for Developing and Implementing a National Access and Benefit Sharing Framework
Atlas Project Number: 00074369
Evaluation Plan: 2016-2020, Malaysia
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 08/2019
Planned End Date: 06/2020
Management Response: Yes
UNDP Signature Solution:
  • 1. Resilience
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.4.1 Solutions scaled up for sustainable management of natural resources, including sustainable commodities and green and inclusive value chains
SDG Target
  • 15.1 By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements
  • 15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
Evaluation Budget(US $): 49,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 150,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Developing and Implementing a National Access and Benefit Sharing Framework
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: MSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 5593
PIMS Number: 5191
Key Stakeholders: MInistry of Water, Land & Natural Resources (prev. Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment)
Countries: MALAYSIA
Lessons
1.

1. Greater national leadership on ABS is required (and training delivered) if the progress of the UNDP project is going to be maintained. The national ABS unit needs to be legally mandated with dedicate staff and capacity. The ABS regulations are now around two years behind the ABS Act and need technical support to be finalized and passed by the government. An on-line one-stop access permit system is urgently needed for biological resource and Traditional Knowledge (TK) research on the peninsular. At present, the national level and the 11 states (including the federal territories) rely on the old system of multi-layer permissions which do not incorporate the requirements under the ABS Act
(2017).

2. There is a lack of understanding of the ABS framework, mainly by the Economic Planning Units of the 11 peninsular states designated as the Competent Authorities (CAs). ABS is complex and a detailed knowledge is required such as for issuing permits, reporting, enforcement, and expected or guideline royalty payments / revenues within ABS agreements for products developed. This is not helped by the subsidiary ABS regulation (to ABS Act 795), yet to be passed into law. Until the regulations and guidelines become approved, the peninsular states lack direction or power to act effectively.There is also a need to build the capacity of government to support specific ABS provisions relating to indigenous and local communities (ILCs) including an enhanced understanding of their customary laws and practices.

3. There are also some communication issues with peninsular states not being made aware of nationally issued permits for researchers entering their state territories, in part due to the NCA not yet being fully functional.The CAs have concerns over IP ownership (owned by state, firm or by a community?), data sharing and confidentiality – again with the national user’s guideline not yet approved for use. The peninsular state CAs also have concerns over the present multi-level access licensing requirements, which is discouraging researchers.

4. Pilot project stakeholders are aware of biodiversity value, but ‘trusting’, when it comes to ‘known’ Access Parties, who have built up long-term relationships. Concerning the drafting of ABS agreements, implementing agency - FRIM and SBC have their own lawyers for PIC and ABS, but to date villagers with TK & / or traditional forest user rights, have had to rely on the project legal consultant, which is now a post-project issue for the future.

5. Product prototypes are being ‘branded’ with community names which increases local ownership and suggests more equitable sharing of future benefits. However, ABS project ownership by ILCs on the peninsular was very low. The TE suggested their empowerment through the establishment of local cooperatives, which was taken up by the state authorities in Kedah and Perak in requesting FRIM / DIPD to accomplish such an action, so that the ILCs could be a legal entity in the registration of products under ABS agreements (e.g. ‘Kensiu village TK plants cooperative’). For such ILCs, such empowerment is important for their future development.

6. At present biological resource extraction is not sustainable. SBC have some small conflicts of interest, in being effectively able to issue research licences for themselves. They have a close relationship with their CA (the Sarawak Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources), but the latter’s ability to independently monitor sustainable use is limited. SBC need to practice better biodiversity conservation themselves, if they are going to be the effective licensing authority for all bioprospecting research in Sarawak, and in directing other researchers towards the inclusion of bio-resource conservation measures within respective extraction and ABS agreements.

7. Ex-situ propagation is being practiced by the project implementation partners – which is not always allowing equitable benefit-sharing of income generation. i.e. benefits already moving away from the communities. FRIM and SBC both have established plantations without the resource provider, the ILCs involved. At present these plantations are being established under the label of ‘for R&D’ which is step towards 3rd party production for increased supply. Thus, communities are not being supported to create a reasonable supply for commercial sale and therefore equitable benefit-sharing.

8. The ABS regulations and ordinances don’t stipulate any methods for bio-resource conservation, yet Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Nagoya Protocol are directly underpinned by such. Thus, this leaves it for any regulations still in draft, or especially to ABS guidelines still being developed to promote such conservation. This can be on two levels – in-situ or ex-situ conservation. The former means to promote on-site conservation (e.g. in the forest through managing natural regeneration, mother tree seed supply, controlling access and NTFP harvesting volumes to sustainable levels).Off-site conservation traditionally means maintaining genetic resources at a different location, typically a zoo or plant breeding station, which ultimately is less cost effective and lacks overall protection of the ecosystem integrity / biodiversity on-site.
Under ABS, where the biological resource supply needed is high, there may be a case for off-site plantation, but ultimately, if the ILCs are not empowered to be the local guardians with in-situ conservation, then it won’t happen. Thus in-situ conservation is preferred, plus ‘near-site’ conservation with propagation / cultivation in the first instance to be undertaken by the communities with support from the researcher / developer.

9.Technical support by FRIM and SBC for in-situ conservation or village-based local propagation / cultivation is weak. It is a significant failing of the project and ABS implementation process so far. Continued extraction and off-site plantation is being preferred. This begs the question whether ABS agreements are ‘biodiversity conservation friendly’.
There is a need to continuously engage and empower the communities through capacity building on the topics of: sustainable harvesting; propagation; and understanding ABS (SBC Implementation Report November 2018).
Thus, SBC understand the issue, but not necessarily practice the needed solutions. The ILCs lack the modern skills for in-situ conservation in the face of high resource pressure, or for production on their farm when particular horticulture techniques are needed. The TE was asked at every village visited (~10) if the project could supply plant nursery expertise to help the ILCs grow the particularly important plants. This was also partly because they
knew stocks would diminish with continued collection, but also due to the dangers and difficulties of forest collection.


Findings
Recommendations
1

The national ABS unit needs to be legally mandated with dedicate staff and capacity. It needs to show leadership as the NCA [KATS]

2

The ABS regulations need technical support to be finalized and passed by the government [KATS to commission]

3

An on-line one-stop access permit system is urgently needed for biological resource and TK research on the peninsular [the in-house KATS software designers need to be assessed for competency – the designers of the Sabah and Sarawak systems could be engaged]

4

The peninsular CAs require a training programme based on the ABS regulations, the ABS User Guidelines (both to be approved), and national one-stop research permitting

5

The peninsular CAs need to establish financial accounting / Trust Fund accounts for the royalties of ABS [peninsular CAs]

6

The national ABS unit needs to be legally mandated with dedicate staff and capacity. It needs to show leadership as the NCA [KATS]

Management Response Documents
1. Recommendation:

The national ABS unit needs to be legally mandated with dedicate staff and capacity. It needs to show leadership as the NCA [KATS]

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/10] [Last Updated: 2020/03/10]

1) A proposal on the establishment of the national ABS unit (National Biodiversity Centre) has been discussed with the Division of Human Resource Development, KATS. This proposal will be submitted to the Public Service Department’s for further consideration.
2) A proposal on the establishment of the NCA has been prepared and will be submitted to the top management for approval

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1) To follow up the progress with the Division of Human Resource Development, KATS. 2) The NCA is estimated to be established in 2020
[Added: 2020/03/10]
KATS 2020/12 Initiated
2. Recommendation:

The ABS regulations need technical support to be finalized and passed by the government [KATS to commission]

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/10] [Last Updated: 2020/03/10]

The ABS regulations were finalized by the Attorney’s General Chambers on 22 November 2019.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The ABS regulations will be gazetted and enforced together with the Act once all implementation mechanisms are in place tentatively in the first half of 2020.
[Added: 2020/03/10] [Last Updated: 2020/07/01]
KATS 2021/12 Initiated a) KeTSA conducted five consultations with Competent Authorities (Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang) from Dec 2019 – Feb 2020) to discuss on the implementation of Act 795. b) In May 2020, KeTSA had a consultation session with the Disease Control Division (DCD), Ministry of Health Malaysia to discuss on the need for additional procedures for the access of pathogen under the ABS Act. DCD highlighted a few issues which will be addressed by KeTSA. c) National Competent Authority (NCA) was established in June 2020. The establishment of the NCA and its Advisory Committee and secretariat was specified in Act 795 and essential in ensuring efficient and effective implementation of the Act. d) ABS Act (Act 795) and its regulations were initially targeted to be enforced by mid-2020. However, due to recent change in government which resulted in the changes of the Ministry's structures and functions and COVID 10 pandemic, all implementation mechanisms and enforcement of the act is likely to take place in 2022 subject to political and institutional development. The due date has been extended to Dec 2021 for another round of updates. History
3. Recommendation:

An on-line one-stop access permit system is urgently needed for biological resource and TK research on the peninsular [the in-house KATS software designers need to be assessed for competency – the designers of the Sabah and Sarawak systems could be engaged]

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/10] [Last Updated: 2020/03/10]

1) The development of the online one-stop access permit system is done by a team consisting of officials from the Division of Biodiversity and Forestry Management and the Division of Information Management, KATS.
2) A national steering committee and a technical committee to oversee the development of the system have been established.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1) The development of the online one-stop access permit system is done by a team consisting of officials from the Division of Biodiversity and Forestry Management and the Division of Information Management, KATS. 2) A national steering committee and a technical committee to oversee the development of the system have been established.
[Added: 2020/03/10]
KATS 2021/12 Initiated
4. Recommendation:

The peninsular CAs require a training programme based on the ABS regulations, the ABS User Guidelines (both to be approved), and national one-stop research permitting

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/10] [Last Updated: 2020/03/10]

1) A number of training programmes have been planned to be conducted in 2020 according to zones in Peninsular Malaysia.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The first training programme will be held after the development of the online permit system is complete and before the Act is enforced.
[Added: 2020/03/10]
KATS 2020/12 Initiated History
5. Recommendation:

The peninsular CAs need to establish financial accounting / Trust Fund accounts for the royalties of ABS [peninsular CAs]

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/10] [Last Updated: 2020/03/10]

1) The plan is to use the existing National Conservation Trust Fund (NCTF) to serve as the ABS royalties’ trust fund during the first 5 years of the implementation of the Act.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
This matter needs to be discussed further with all CAs.
[Added: 2020/03/10]
Peninsular Competent Authority 2020/12 Initiated
6. Recommendation:

The national ABS unit needs to be legally mandated with dedicate staff and capacity. It needs to show leadership as the NCA [KATS]

Management Response: [Added: 2020/03/10]

1) A proposal on the establishment of the national ABS unit (National Biodiversity Centre) has been discussed with the Division of Human Resource Development, KATS. This proposal will be submitted to the Public Service Department’s for further consideration.
2) A proposal on the establishment of the NCA has been prepared and will be submitted to the top management for approval

Key Actions:

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