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Framework for Sharing Biodiversity Information through the CHM

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Brief insight of the Report

Uganda is a Party to the global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) having signed the Convention on 12th September 1992 and ratified it on 8th September 1993. The Convention has three objectives, namely: conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of components of biodiversity and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from utilization of genetic resources. As Party to the Convention, Uganda is required to implement the various articles of the Convention as well as the relevant Decisions of the Conference of the Parties (COP), among them, the establishment of a CHM to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation. One of the main challenges facing Uganda and the global community is sharing biodiversity information.

Biodiversity is under threat globally due to unsustainable use of biological resources. It is, therefore, important that a framework is in place to enable all stakeholders have access to information on biodiversity so that they can understand the status and trends of biodiversity nationally, regionally and globally. That framework is the Clearing House Mechanism (CHM) established by Decision 1/3 of COP1 Decisions pursuant to Article 18 (3) of the Convention that states: The COP at its first meeting shall determine how to establish a Clearing House Mechanisms (CHM) to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation.

The COP made subsequent Decisions on the CHM and these are contained in Decisions II/3; III/14; IV/2, V/14; VI/18; VII/23; VIII/11; IX/30 and X/15. CHM is not only critical for sharing information on biodiversity; it also contributes to the implementation of the CBD in general.During COP10 that took place in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, Parties adopted the mission, goals and objectives of CHM for the period 2011- 2020.


The mission of the CHM for the period 2011 - 2020 is to contribute significantly to the implementation of the CBD and its Strategic Plan for the period 2011-2020, through effective information services and other appropriate means, in order to promote and facilitate scientific and technical cooperation, knowledge sharing, and information exchange, and to establish a fully operational network of Parties and partners.

In order to have a functional framework for implementing the CHM for Uganda (UG-CHM), a team of technical persons was constituted and analyzed the policy, legal and institutional framework on biodiversity information management and sharing, the existing CHMs, gaps and challenges to biodiversity information sharing at institutional, national, regional and global levels and finally highlighted the action areas for implementation of CHM for Uganda.

Key challenges for Uganda included, among others, heterogeneous information units scattered in various departments, sectors and individuals across the country; inadequate infrastructure since most institutions do not possess the state of the art internet facilities; capacity building gap; and few biodiversity specialists, including taxonomists, curators, biodiversity informatics. Intellectual Property rights also posed a critical challenge as regards to differentiating between copyrightable material and plagiarism. In addition, there were no specific regulations on biodiversity information sharing and usage.

Based on the technical persons analysis of the existing information sharing frameworks and the gaps, the following actions are recommended to ensure a strong and effective implementation of the CHM in Uganda:

i. Sources of information and data under the UG-CHM should include ex situ conservation areas such as germplasm banks, botanical gardens, zoos and animal orphanages. Other sources should include in situ conservation areas and research institutions.

ii. Data collection methods should include regular assessments involving stakeholders, sector specific expert interviews and studies and, integration of spatial data and GIS information.

iii. Metadata should be provided to increase the usage and interpretation of the information in the UG-CHM.

iv. Access to information should take into account that access is subject to a number of factors. For instance, commercial information, including proprietary information is protected by law; scientific or technical information is protected where the disclosure is likely to cause harm to the interests or proper functioning of the public body; information supplied in confidence by a third party is protected where the disclosure could reasonably be expected to put that third party at a disadvantage in contractual or commercial negotiations or to prejudice that third party in commercial competition. The UG-CHM should, therefore, ensure non-disclosure of such information unless already publicly available; consented to by the owner and if the disclosure would mitigate a serious public safety, health and or environmental risk.

v. Treatment of copy rightable information. Persons should exercise prudence in using material that is copy righted or able to be copy righted. Such material may include computer programs and electronic data banks and other accompanying materials; and any work of science in whatever manner delivered, known or to be known in the future. The UG-CHM should emphasize that use of such information may be for fair personal use only, and that such material may be reproduced or quoted only to the extent that is necessary but with acknowledgement of authorship.

vi. Standards and protocols for information sharing including the terminologies for exchange, modalities, formats, structure, updating, retrieving, feedback and dissemination of information should be emphasized to ensure quality and authenticity of the information in the UG-CHM.

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