Commercialising Sarawak’s biodiversity
KUCHING: Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) has been urged to continue to pioneer ways of integrating local communities in the process of discovering new uses for Sarawak’s biodiversity with a view to commercialising the products.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said engaging the indigenous communities to become integral partners in the commercialisation process is important since Malaysia is a party to the international ‘Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing’ last February under the convention on biological diversity.
“I am proud to say that Sarawak through SBC is in the forefront of sharing benefits with our indigenous communities through the signing of an agreement last March 20,” he said.
Abang Johari’s text of speech was read by Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong during the 21st anniversary dinner of Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) themed ‘SBC Moving Towards Global Prominence’ at Pullman Hotel last Friday night.
He said the state is moving towards sustaining the use of its biodiversity by working directly with indigenous communities to manage their bio-resources and implement benefit-sharing of the commercialisation of the resources.
“Sarawak is blessed with rich biodiversity that have yet to be exploited or decoded. And as we move towards a developed state status by 2030, we also need to take care of and manage our biodiversity in ways that preserve it for future generations,” he said, adding that it can be achieved by putting emphasis on renewable resources, restoration and regeneration,” he said.
He pointed out that sustainable development of biodiversity entailed a delicate balance between the need for economic growth, social progress, political stability and preservation of the environment.
“Therefore, while we venture into bio-economy and Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), we must work together to put in place synergic measures and actions across agencies and industrial sectors to ensure protection, preservation, conservation and sustainable use of our biodiversity,” he said.
On his part, SBC chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot said the launch of LitSara personal care products marked the beginning of the commercialisation of Sarawak’s biodiversity.
He noted that the LitSara project demonstrated the good spirit of ‘Access and Benefit Sharing’ which utilised the acquisition of ‘Prior Informed Consent (PIC)’ from five native communities.
The communities involved are the Bidayuh of Kampung Kiding in Padawan, the Lun Bawang of Long Telingan and Long Kerebangan in Lawas, and the Kelabit of Pa’Ukat and Pa’Lungan in Bario.
“The journey of essential oils from the jungle to the market has been remarkable. We are looking into creating a value chain for LitSara products to promote the unique scent from Sarawak and empower the ‘Access and Benefit Sharing’ with the indigenous communities,” he said.
He said through such collaboration, to date a total of 6,330 plants from 20 indigenous communities in the state had been documented. “Some 21 years ago, we saw the potential of harnessing biological resources in Sarawak which is one of the mega biodiversity hotspots in the world. So, for the next 21 years from now, we will embark on commercialisation of our research findings,” he said.