Towards more equal footing in north-south biodiversity research : European and sub-Saharan viewpoints
Ferguson, J. Willem H.; Habel, Jan Christian; Eggermont, Hilde; Günter, Sven; Mulwa, Ronald K.; Rieckmann, Marco; Koh, Lian Pin; Niassy, Saliou; Gebremichael, Gelaye; Githiru, Mwangi; Weisser, Wolfgang W.; Lens, Luc
Research collaboration between developed countries from the northern hemi- sphere and developing countries in the southern hemisphere is essential for the under- standing 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 pos- sible 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 poli- cies 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.