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Challenges of Namibian Administrative Structure to Implement the Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing Legislation

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Watanabe, Shigeo; Farrell, Katharine N.
Conference: Commons Amidst Complexity and Change, the Fifteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Conf. Date: May 25-29
Date: 2015
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/9866
Sector: Theory
Region: Africa
Subject(s): access
genetic resources
institutions
power
sustainability
Abstract: "Starting in the 1980s discussion regarding how to manage and govern transactions of genetic resources and related traditional knowledge has been increasing. With the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN-CBD) and later the Nagoya Protocol, institutions have been developed in this area intended to regulate access to genetic resources and the sharing of associated benefits (ABS). The basic idea of ABS is to create the missing governance structure that can regulate the allocation of these valuable resources and the associated transaction flows of biotrade such that transferred benefits serve as incentives for ensuring that local communities can continue in-situ resource conservation. ABS was conceptualized as the third objective of the UN-CBD and formalised as an international agreement in the Nagoya Protocol, which mandates signatories to enforce it through national legislation. The present text addresses the case of Namibia, a lead country in ABS negotiations, considering the mechanisms by which its ABS legislation has been implemented. This study depicts the Namibian administrative context within which ABS governance policies are implemented, using the analytical framework of Hagedorn’s Institutions of Sustainability, which is based on transaction cost theory and the concept of bounded rationality drawn from Simon. We explore ABS legislation implementation as a problem of administrative resource allocation, related to rules concerning how the administrative work that is characteristics of bureaucracies is assigned and shared, including how power and resources are distributed and how this impacts actor motivations. Following Charmaz, a methodology of grounded theory with abduction was employed to collect qualitative used in the study. We find that the administrative scope and functions of the ABS legislation are regulated by numerous ministries, with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism holding asymmetric power advantages, and designed institutional performance, including the formation of multi-stakeholder administrative body, entailing problems associated with information allocation, distribution of rights and mandates, and in the allocation and distribution of human resources across ministries. Our study suggests that power asymmetries between actors, in terms of jurisdiction, control of financial resources, information, and enforcement rights, associated with different rationalities, appear to play an important role in constraining implementation. We anticipate that co-administration of a meta-agency would be the lowest cost implementation option and suggest that the mechanisms of the implementation problem encountered in Namibia can be logically explained through reference to the concepts of Hagedorn’s IoS and addressed by giving closer attention to the mechanisms involved."

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