The African Biodiversity Network (ABN) aims to promote thesustainable development and conservation of biodiversity, based onlocal community rights and livelihood systems in Africa. The strategiesused to achieve this have been through influencing public policy onbiodiversity issues at international, regional and national levels andby promoting awareness of these issues and their impact on Africa.

TheABN was first conceived in 1996, in response to growing concern in theregion over threats to biodiversity in Africa, mainly due toglobalization; and the need to develop strong African positions andlegislation at the international and regional level, to defend Africa’sheritage. By 2002 it was formalised in name and structure. Regional andThematic Coordinators were designated, and the network now comprisesover 300 concerned Africans who are engaged in promoting theseactivities in Africa and strengthening alliances with like-mindedothers internationally. It is active in 11 countries: Benin, Botswana,Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania,Uganda and Zambia.

The ABN currently has a work programme involving four thematic areas:

  • SeedSecurity – the basis of food sovereignty and a critical factor inpreventing dependency, vulnerability, poverty, hunger and famine.
  • GeneticEngineering (GE/IPR/Biosafety) – the most recent manifestations ofindustrial agriculture and globalization, with negative impacts onbiodiversity and local control of sustainable livelihood systems.
  • CulturalBiodiversity (CB) – knowledge and customary practices, which enhanceand protect biodiversity, are embedded in cultural traditions.
  • CommunityEcological Governance (CEG) – a coherent approach to local rights andresponsibilities which protect the environment and communities.

The Gaia Foundation has been central in supporting the development