In 1997, the Sarawak State Government enacted the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre Ordinance and set up the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) the following year to initiate programmes for the conservation, utilization, protection and sustainable development of biodiversity in the State.
The State Government also enacted the Sarawak Biodiversity Regulations in Year 1998. Back then, the Centre’s role was primarily inventory and regulatory – often known as the gatekeeper to Sarawak’s rich biodiversity to those who wanted access to and collection of biological resources in the State for research or commercial purposes.
Between the setting up of the Centre in Year 1998 and Year 2003, the State took cognizance of yet another potential in its rich biological resources – the potential for intensive biotechnology based research and product development from this vault of diverse biological resources. In December 2003, the State Legislative Assembly passed the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (Amendment) Ordinance 2003 and reviewed and passed the revision of the Sarawak Biodiversity Regulations in Year 2004. The amendment relieved the Centre of its role of conducting general biodiversity inventory and regulating general biodiversity research. The Centre is now entrusted to initiate intensive biotech based research and development on the State’s biological resources – particularly those that have been utilized by indigenous communities and to facilitate the documentation of the fast disappearing traditional knowledge of indigenous communities on the utilization of biological resources.
In Year 2014, the State Legislative Assembly passed the Sarawak Biodiversity Ordinance (Amendment) 2014 to strengthen rules and procedures on Access and Benefit Sharing.