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Developing Ethical Governance Systems for Benefit Sharing Trusts

In 1992 the international community adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which aims to protect biodiversity whilst still making it accessible to researchers. Benefit sharing provisions within the CBD framework recognise that the custodians of biodiversity - often indigenous communities in developing countries - are entitled to a share in the benefits of its development. Often this takes the form of royalties paid into trust funds, for example in the cases of the San peoples of Southern Africa, and the Kani people in India.

However such trusts often face considerable practical difficulties, including governance issues.

Project aims

  1. To investigate the depth of the problems facing such trusts, using the Hoodia Trust of the San peoples in the Kalahari as an example, and
  2. to formulate a road map towards developing ethical governance systems for such trusts.

The project will:

  • Compile a list of CBD benefit sharing trusts worldwide and literature relating to potential challenges.
  • Consult policy advisors and experts in New Delhi (Kani Trust) and Australia (mining trust funds)
  • Meet Hoodia Trust members and stakeholders in Southern Africa to discuss early findings and a potential way forward.

Project Lead

Prof. Doris Schroeder, Centre for Professional Ethics, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.

Project Staff

Dr David Coles, Centre for Professional Ethics, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.

Partners

Roger Chennells, San legal advisor, South Africa.

Funders

This research project is funded by the Wellcome Trust [087301].

Timeline

April 2009 - February 2010

Project Activity

Interviews April - May 2009

The project team carried out interviews in Australia, Botswana and Namibia.

Roger Chennells and Doris Schroeder with Kuela Kiema, Director of San Museum Botswana

Roger Chennells and Doris Schroeder with Kuela Kiema