The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa published under section 100 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA), the draft amendment regulations on Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing (BABS) in Gazette No. 37331 of 17 February 2014.
These amendments were introduced in the BABS Regulations which were published for implementation by the then Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism in the Government Gazette, No.30739 on 08 February 2008.
Following the regulations in 2008, the President further published for implementation the National Environmental Laws Amendment Act, 2009 (Act No. 14 of 2009) (NELAA) in the Government Gazette No.32267 on 27 May 2009 and the National Environmental Laws Amendment, 2013 (Act No. 14 of 2013) which incorporate amendments to Chapter 6 of NEMBA.
In addition, on 10 January 2013, South Africa ratified the Nagoya Protocol on ABS and became the 12th country to deposit its instrumentation of ratification therefore requiring to be incorporated into the national legislative framework.
The experiences gained in the past 5 years since the implementation of the regulations, have assisted to identify a number of gaps and limiting provisions which require a review and substantial amendment in order to achieve the objectives of the regulations. These include concerns often raised by stakeholders on some of the legislative provisions.
These developments have resulted in an extensive stakeholder consultation process to develop draft BABS amendment regulations to close the gaps and limitations identified, give effect to the provisions of 2009 NEMLAA and 2013 NEMLAA as well as accommodate few elements of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefit Arising from their Utilization.
The noted key amendments in the draft regulations are: the differentiation between bio-prospecting and bio-trade activities, timeframes for the permit application process and it is further stated that the permits will be differentiated.
It is proposed that the requirements be sector specific, in particular on the required agreements and reporting. There are also changes in terms of the issuing authority responsibilities to also provision support to the applicants. To make it less challenging, the procedure for Prior Informed Consent (PIC) has been simplified and there will be structured fees based on annual turnover of different regulated sectors.
The stakeholders, the public and other interested parties are invited to participate by submitting their written comments to the Minister within 30 days of publication of Gazette No. 37331.
Written comments or inputs can be delivered by hand, mail email or telefax transmission within 30 days of publication of the notice.