traditional knowledge

  • Access & Benefit Sharing (ABS)

    Access to Biological Resources and Benefit Sharing

    What is Access & Benefit Sharing (ABS)?

    Access to biological resources, refers to the utilization of biological resources from its natural habitats or the place where the resources were found, stored, or grown for research and development purposes on any genetic resources, derivatives, or biochemical compounds consisting of or contained in the biological resources.

    Why ABS is Important?

    Access and benefit sharing of biological resources can ensure that the method of accessing and utilization of biological resources will maximize the benefits to the users, providers and the ecology and communities where the biological resources are found.

    ABS is an important issue under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), where one of the three objectives of the convention on ABS which is in line with preservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components. CBD recognizes that biological resources is an absolute right of a country.


    The Lun Bawang community of LongTelingan

    Issues in Regulating ABS

    Nagoya Protocol on ABS is a new international treaty adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan on Oct. 29, 2010. The objective is to share the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources are shared fairly and equitably, which will contribute to the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and further meet the three objectives of the CBD.

    Demonstration Project on the Utilization of Genetic Resources associated with TK for the Development of Health and Personal Care Products in Sarawak

    • To demonstrate an ABS mechanism through creating a value chain leading to the development of products for the healthcare, personal care and cosmeceutical industries from traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources in Sarawak.
    • To promote benefit sharing with ethnic communities so that they are able to improve their livelihoods and preserve their traditional knowledge while promoting the sustainable use of biological resources for the State of Sarawak.


    Good Wild Craft Harvesting of Litsea cubeba 

  • Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Protocol

    What is Prior Informed Consent (PIC)?

    The consent that is given by the community based on sufficiency of information and time before the initial plan for the project is developed in detail.

    Why is it Important?

    Malaysia is one of the parties in the International legal obligation:

    • Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD)- 1992
    • Bonn guidelines - 2002
    • UNDRIP - 2007
    • Nagoya Protocol - 2010
    • Customary International Law


    Why do we need PIC?

    • To enable the community to make decision on the proposed project.
    • To be the keeper in managing the biological resources in the village.
    • The community will know and understand the proposed project especially the potential and effects (social economy, biological resources) to the village.
    • The community will be able to negotiate for benefit sharing.

    When to Obtain PIC?

    Collection of biological resources associated with traditional knowledge.

    Timeline for obtaining PIC

    In accordance with the community’s requirements and practice or shall not be less than two weeks and shall not be more than two months.

    Benefit Sharing Agreement

    The parties shall then negotiate and enter into fair & equitable benefit-sharing agreement:

    • For the supply of raw material and processing; or
    • Relating to the commercialisation of products.

    SBC's approach to obtaining PIC:

    1. Meeting with Community Leaders
    To obtain permission from the community leaders during the consultative meeting at Resident offices, district offices and sub-district offices to conduct TK Documentation project in their villages.

    2. Traditional Knowledge Documentation Workshop
    Permission to conduct TK Documentation Workshop through presentation on methods of documentation through field notebook, digital recorder and digital camera are carried out before hands-on field documentation and collection.

    3. Permission from Community
    Permission to bring back the plants to SBC and each plant is recorded in Plant Specimen Form (as an agreement with the community)

  • Traditional Knowledge (TK) Documentation

    Sarawak has more than 28 ethnic groups which can be broadly categorized into the following groups: Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Melanau, and Malay. Each of these ethnic groups has inherited a rich array of traditional knowledge from their ancestors, much of which has not been documented.  This knowledge includes centuries of practice on how to grow food and to survive in their environment. Such utilization and management of natural resources by indigenous people, perfected over a period of time is known as traditional knowledge.

    Plant collection during the Traditional Knowledge workshop

    While many of the older generation in these communities still retain traditional knowledge, there is a concern about the loss of knowledge as a result of changing lifestyles, priorities, the availability of modern amenities and the diminishing dependence of indigenous communities on natural resources. This has made it increasingly important that Traditional Knowledge is documented by the respective indigenous communities and retained as heritage so that it will not be lost.

    With the rush for natural products development and bioprospecting from the world’s natural resources, it has become even more important to document Traditional Knowledge to ensure that the indigenous communities who have practiced such knowledge over the centuries are duly acknowledged should their knowledge be used in the development of natural products or bioprospecting.

    Indigenous elder describing plant to SBC officer

    The main objective of the Traditional Knowledge Documentation Programme carried out by the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre is to facilitate the local indigenous communities in the State in preserving their Traditional Knowledge through proper recording or documenting techniques.  Such efforts are carried out through capacity building workshops that provide the local communities with necessary skills such as documentation techniques, propagation, and management of useful indigenous plants.

    The project also encourages local indigenous communities to cultivate useful indigenous plants for their own uses, as landscape for their surroundings and for awareness and appreciation purposes.

    Summary of Plants Collected by Communities

    Community No. of Plants Documented
    Bidayuh (10 Sites) 1,183
    Iban (27 Sites) 1,467
    Kelabit (4 Sites) 500
    Lun Bawang (7 Sites) 640
    Penan (8 Sites) 1,112
    Kayan (4 Sites) 251
    Kenyah (5 Sites) 303
    Melanau (6 Sites) 252
    Selako (1 Site) 112
    Kedayan (Mixed with Iban & Lun Bawang - 1 Site) 85
    Tabun (1 Site) 51
    Bisaya (2 Sites) 30
    Punan (1 Site) 39
    Malay (9 Sites) 198
    Beketan (1 Site) 35
    Sa'ban (1 Site) 79
    Sekapan (1 Site) 33
    Tanjong (1 Site) 24
    Tagal (1 Site) 20
    Berawan (1 Site) 22
    Total 6,430
    No. of Plant Species (Identified) 1,713