Biocultural Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities
Protecting Culture and the Environment
Traditional societies have always held the right to use their traditional knowledge to benefit from their natural resources.
But, until the signing of an historic Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) agreement as part of the Nagoya Protocol in 2019, these rights were overlooked.
Biocultural Rights: Protecting Culture and the Environment
Today, African indigenous peoples and local communities are using these global frameworks and agreements, which link the commercial exploitation of a genetic resource with those who hold the traditional knowledge associated with its use, to claim and protect their biocultural rights.
Among them, are South Africa’s indigenous KhoiKhoi and San peoples. They fought to ensure they derived commercial benefit from the rooibos plant that is today used to make an internationally popular tea and other products.
Resource Africa CEO, Lesle Jansen, herself a member of the KhoiKhoi community, was involved in a landmark, nine-year battle to ensure these peoples achieved industry-wide ABS agreements securing their rights to benefit from the commercial exploitation of rooibos. Together with Resource Africa’s Rayna Sutherland, Jansen contributed to a book entitled Biocultural Rights, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities – Protecting Culture and the Environment, helping to blaze a pathway for other indigenous peoples and local communities to pursue their biocultural rights in benefit sharing agreements.