Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 23, Issue 12, pp 3143–3148 | Cite as

Towards more equal footing in north–south biodiversity research: European and sub-Saharan viewpoints

  • Jan Christian Habel
  • Hilde Eggermont
  • Sven Günter
  • Ronald K. Mulwa
  • Marco Rieckmann
  • Lian Pin Koh
  • Saliou Niassy
  • J. Willem H. Ferguson
  • Gelaye Gebremichael
  • Mwangi Githiru
  • Wolfgang W. Weisser
  • Luc Lens
Commentary

Abstract

Research collaboration between developed countries from the northern hemisphere and developing countries in the southern hemisphere is essential for the understanding and protection of the major proportion of biodiversity located in the tropics. Focusing on the case of sub-Saharan Africa, we here assess the real involvement of northern versus southern contributors, and caution against unequal academic benefit sharing arising from non-commercial biodiversity research that may ultimately hamper sustainable knowledge transfer and long-term biodiversity conservation. We discuss possible drivers that may have led to a business of raw biodiversity data. While we fully support the current efforts to stamp out biopiracy through international biodiversity policies and agreements, we illustrate that such legislative frameworks may further constrain biodiversity research, especially in countries where regulations are poorly streamlined and bureaucracy remains rather inert. We therefore ask for workable solutions towards more equal footing in north–south biodiversity research, and propose a number of steps to transgress the current barriers towards a more fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from biodiversity research.

Keywords

Benefit sharing Biodiversity access Biopiracy Colonialism Knowledge transfer 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Christian Habel
    • 1
  • Hilde Eggermont
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sven Günter
    • 4
    • 13
  • Ronald K. Mulwa
    • 5
  • Marco Rieckmann
    • 6
  • Lian Pin Koh
    • 7
  • Saliou Niassy
    • 8
  • J. Willem H. Ferguson
    • 9
  • Gelaye Gebremichael
    • 10
  • Mwangi Githiru
    • 5
    • 11
  • Wolfgang W. Weisser
    • 1
  • Luc Lens
    • 12
  1. 1.Terrestrial Ecology Research Group, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem ManagementTechnische Universität MünchenFreising-WeihenstephanGermany
  2. 2.OD Nature – Belgian Biodiversity PlatformRoyal Belgian Institute of Natural SciencesBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Limnology Unit, Department of BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  4. 4.Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education CenterCartagoCosta Rica
  5. 5.Department of ZoologyNational Museums of KenyaNairobiKenya
  6. 6.Institute for Social Work, Education and Sport SciencesUniversity of VechtaVechtaGermany
  7. 7.Environmental InstituteUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  8. 8.ICIPE - African Insect Science for Food and HealthNairobiKenya
  9. 9.AfroMont, Centre for Environment StudiesUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  10. 10.Department of Biology, College of Natural SciencesJimma UniversityJimmaEthiopia
  11. 11.Wildlife WorksVoiKenya
  12. 12.Terrestrial Ecology Unit, Department of BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  13. 13.Thünen Institute of International Forestry and Forest EconomicsHamburgGermany

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