Rachel Wynberg

Rachel Wynberg
University of Cape Town | UCT · Department of Environmental and Geographical Science

MSc MPhil (CT) PhD (Strath)

About

137
Publications
52,872
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2,026
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Introduction
Rachel Wynberg is a Professor in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science at the University of Cape Town where she holds a SARChI Research Chair focused on Environmental and Social Dimensions of the Bio-economy. With training in both the natural and social sciences, her interdisciplinary research spans topics relating to bio-politics and the biodiversity-based economy, social and environmental justice, natural resource governance, agroecology and sustainable agricultural futures.
Additional affiliations
January 2013 - present
University of Cape Town
Position
  • DST/NRF Research Chair
Education
January 2000 - January 2005
University of Strathclyde
Field of study
  • Environmental policy

Publications

Publications (137)
Technical Report
Full-text available
The multiple sectors of food and agriculture globally operate within a rapidly changing environment of legislative, administrative and policy measures on access and benefit-sharing (ABS). These regulate access to, and use and transfer of, genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with them, including genetic resources for food and ag...
Article
Full-text available
Contestations about the way in which digital sequence information is used and regulated have created stumbling blocks across multiple international policy processes. Such schisms have profound implications for the way in which we manage and conceptualize agrobiodiversity and its benefits. This paper explores the relationship between farmers' rights...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Le rapport est axé sur les points suivants : - Comprendre les mécanismes de renforcement des acquis APA pour les communautés, la recherche en matière de biodiversité, la conservation et l’utilisation durable ; - Explorer comment ces efforts permettraient d’atteindre des objectifs plus larges de conservation des écosystèmes et des habitats ; - Éclai...
Article
Technological changes embedded in the processes of agrarian modernization have profoundly reshaped agricultural environments , practices, discourses and institutions worldwide. This article explores how social-ecological relations shift in agricultural practices following the introduction of modern seed varieties , including hybrid and genetically...
Article
The risk assessment of genetically modified (GM) crops is assumed to be a benign regulatory tool due to its perceived objectivity and freedom from the morals and values that pervade society. Yet, against the current backdrop of ecological, social and political volatility, issues that cannot be resolved using the existing framework in South Africa a...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The report centers on: - Understanding how to strengthen the gains for communities, biodiversity research, conservation and sustainable use from ABS; - Exploring how broader objectives of ecosystem and habitat conservation might be achieved through these efforts; - Untangling the relationship between traditional knowledge (TK) and biodiversity cons...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The report centers on: - Understanding how to strengthen the gains for communities, biodiversity research, conservation and sustainable use from ABS; - Exploring how broader objectives of ecosystem and habitat conservation might be achieved through these efforts; - Untangling the relationship between traditional knowledge (TK) and biodiversity cons...
Article
Full-text available
Patents can be used as a measure of innovation and to illustrate the commercial potential of plant and fungal biodiversity. The proportion of plant species named in patents represents only 6.2% of plant species, whereas the proportion of fungi is likely less than 0.4%. Fungi clearly justify further research. Innovation on a species usually drives m...
Book
Full-text available
Kew’s State of the World’s Plants and Fungi project provides assessments of our current knowledge of the diversity of plants and fungi on Earth, the global threats that they face, and the policies to safeguard them. Produced in conjunction with an international scientific symposium, Kew’s State of the World’s Plants and Fungi sets an important inte...
Article
Life has evolved in the ocean for 3.7 billion years, resulting in a rich ‘ocean genome’, the ensemble of genetic material present in all marine biodiversity, including both the physical genes and the information they encode. Rapid advances in sequencing technologies and bioinformatics have enabled exploration of the ocean genome and are informing i...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The ‘ocean genome’ is the foundation upon which all marine ecosystems rest and is defined here as the ensemble of genetic material present in all marine biodiversity, including both the physical genes and the information they encode. The dynamics of the ocean genome enable organisms to adapt to diverse ecological niches and changing environmental c...
Article
Full-text available
Several UN policy processes are embracing a calcified approach to conservation and equity in science
Article
Full-text available
Developing a governance framework for Marine Genetic Resources (MGRs) is a crucial element of the proposed treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). Negotiating countries' positions on MGRs, including questions on the sharing of benefits from their use, range from no regulati...
Technical Report
Full-text available
“Access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits” (ABS) has become, arguably, the most studied and reflected upon concept in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) process since 1992. But despite all of this attention, it is still not clear what is included under the scope of ABS. In other words: what does ABS actua...
Article
Full-text available
Urbanization and scarce income-earning opportunities have led to increasing commercialization of non-timber forest products in southern Africa, including the nutritious mopane worm Imbrasia (=Gonimbrasia) belina. The mopane worm contributes substantially to incomes and food security in households across the region, but little research has addressed...
Technical Report
Full-text available
News article in the Mail & Guardian analysing the rooibos benefit-sharing agreement
Technical Report
Full-text available
A brief about ongoing research focused on farmer-led seed systems in Zimbabwe
Technical Report
Full-text available
Explores the ethical issues associated with agricultural research in resource-poor settings
Chapter
Full-text available
The research and development of any “new” agricultural crop created using genetic modification technologies, even if undertaken with the best of intentions, is accompanied by novel human health, environmental, social, economic and other risks. To date, much of the research that has accompanied the release of genetically modified (GM) crops has focu...
Code
New global code of research ethics. Also available in other languages from the Code website http://www.globalcodeofconduct.org/
Article
Like many other countries, South Africa has come under public pressure to introduce mandatory labelling for genetically modified (GM) foods. Although there is increased understanding of the social and political implications of GM labelling in developed countries, implications for the Global South are still poorly understood. South Africa, as a coun...
Research
Full-text available
This report from the EC-funded TRUST provides guidance on community engagement in research operating globally, from the perspective of the 4 TRUST values: fairness, respect, care and honesty. These values were identified by a global group including representatives from vulnerable research populations. They form the cornerstone of equitable research...
Article
The world is entering a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, where humans are believed to be responsible for having as much of an impact on the e arth’s system asgeological processes themselves.1 Given rapid anthropogenic change, scientists havedefined a “safe operating space” for planetary systems, referred to as the nineplanetary boundaries, t...
Article
Full-text available
Available examples of multifunctional landscapes are derived from developed countries, and do not typically shed light on the spatial clashes and synergies between traditional subsistence and commercially intensive production activities in developing countries. This paper explores the relationships between multiple land uses in a rural South Africa...
Article
Investigations into natural resource use and access are often limited to rural areas; such use is not considered an integral part of urban livelihood strategies, especially amongst the poor. With growing urban food insecurity, poverty, and unequal access to services, natural resource use may provide a viable alternative to cash-based resources, thu...
Chapter
South Africa is one of few African countries to have a comprehensive legal and policy framework in place for access and benefit sharing (ABS). Indeed, discussions about ABS were initiated more than twenty years ago, in line with the country’s transition to a democracy and together with the revision of its biodiversity policy to incorporate provisio...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Fact-finding and scoping study on digital sequence information on genetic resources in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol. Prepared for the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity to inform the ad-hoc technical working group on digital sequence information on genetic resources
Article
Full-text available
Local seed systems that are developed, managed and maintained by farmers are a fundamental practice in small- holder crop production, supporting more than 80% of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and feeding more than 70% of its population. The resilience of such systems is under threat from poverty, climate change, drought, increased pests and diseas...
Article
New rules for access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge have been established by the Nagoya Protocol but have not kept up with rapid scientific and technological advances in biodiscovery. This suggests the need for innovative, transdisciplinary approaches to regulate ABS and emerging technologies.
Article
Millions of small-scale farmers on the African continent save and exchange the seed of their traditional crops, yet the social and cultural values of these systems remain under-researched. Through ethnographic research conducted in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa, this study set out to improve understanding about the mechanisms and signi...
Chapter
Hoodia gordonii, an indigenous plant used by San peoples in southern Africa to suppress their appetites, is just one of many indigenous plants that corporations and other organizations have sought to discover, patent, and market. Such efforts to co-opt and commercialize the traditional medicinal knowledge of indigenous peoples have been called "bio...
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing demand to incorporate social, economic and ethical considerations into biotechnology governance. However, there is currently little guidance available for understanding what this means or how it should be done. A framework of care-based ethics and politics can capture many of the concerns maintaining a persistent socio-political...
Article
Full-text available
Non-timber forest product (NTFP) commercialisation can have both detrimental and positive effects on the livelihoods of indigenous peoples yet there is a paucity of empirical studies from which to draw conclusions, especially when economic activities are linked to traditional use and knowledge. Based on research conducted in arid areas of north-wes...
Article
Over the past decade, a series of controversies has arisen about equity and justice in the rooibos industry, centred both on the biological resource and on the traditional use and knowledge that fostered the growth of this lucrative trade. Accusations of biopiracy, meaning the misappropriation and patenting of genetic resources and knowledge withou...
Article
Full-text available
This paper reviews the location of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approaches within the access and benefit sharing (ABS) policy spaces of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Nagoya Protocol. We describe how a range of dialogues on ethical research practices found a home, almost inadvertently, within the ABS policy process. H...
Poster
Full-text available
Indigenous seed, knowledge and agricultural systems are vital for small-scale farmers in South Africa: they enhance food security, strengthen social cohesion, maintain cultural integrity, and build climate resilience. Increasingly, however, such systems are under threat from rural flight and urbanisation, changed lifestyles and eating habits, degra...
Article
Full-text available
Concerns about ecological sustainability and inequality are driving increased formalization of the natural product trade, including both biotrade of bulk, raw materials (or nontimber forest products [NTFPs]) and bioprospecting for genetic resources. However, there has been little interrogation as to whether the policy tools used to achieve sustaina...
Article
Biofuels are controversial because of uncertain environmental benefits and reported social drawbacks, including ‘land grabs’ and threats to food security. The present study investigates the relevance of these concerns for a proposed bioethanol project in Cradock, South Africa. The proposed project is anticipated to lead to economic upliftment and c...
Article
Full-text available
This paper aims to enhance understanding about the influence of governance arrangements in non-timber forest product value chains on ecological sustainability and equity outcomes. This is done through the lens of two plant species endemic to southern Africa: Hoodiagordonii, succulent plants developed as appetite suppressants based on traditional kn...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of benefit sharing has seen growing adoption in recent years by a variety of sectors. However, its conceptual underpinnings, definitions, and framework remain poorly articulated and developed. We aim to help address this gap by presenting a new conceptual approach for enhancing understanding about benefit sharing and its implementation....
Data
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Data
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Book
Full-text available
Understanding the governance of complex social-ecological systems is vital in a world faced with rapid environmental change, conflicts over dwindling natural resources, stark disparities between rich and poor and the crises of sustainability. Improved understanding is also essential to promote governance approaches that are underpinned by justice a...
Chapter
Full-text available
Zimbabwe has undergone a number of intense governance changes as it has pro-gressed from the colonial to the postcolonial period. These include initiatives to centralize, decentralize, recentralize and democratize the governance of natural resources, as well as economic and land reform policies that have had far-reaching effects. Despite a multitud...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter aims to enhance understanding about the influence of different governance arrangements in NTFP value chains on ecological sustain-ability and equity outcomes. We do this through the lens of two plant species endemic to southern Africa. In the first case, we explore the commercialization of Hoodia gordonii, a succulent plant developed a...
Book
Coastal resources are vital for communities in developing countries, many of whose coastal-dwellers live in severe poverty. These resources also hold significant value for a number of different sectors of the economy, such as mining, fisheries, forestry and tourism, which supply expanding global consumer markets. Although these activities provide o...
Book
Full-text available
Understanding the governance of complex social-ecological systems is vital in a world faced with rapid environmental change, conflicts over dwindling natural resources, stark disparities between rich and poor and the crises of economic, social and ecological sustainability. Improved understanding is also essential to promote governance approaches t...
Article
The current global warming controversy has sparked vigorous research activity, the ultimate aim of which is to understand the effects of predicted climatic changes on both natural and managed ecosystems. In the search for reliable and appropriate models of ecosystem response, the evidence of climate and vegetation change from the past has frequentl...
Article
Full-text available
Historically, the trade benefits of medicinal plants have been skewed towards technologically advanced Northern countries, despite originating from the biologically rich South. Since the 1990s, attempts at rectifying this situation have been stepped up globally. In southern Africa, a substantial industry has developed around the use of the endemic...
Article
Full-text available
Sclerocarya birrea (marula) forms an integral part of the diet, tradition and culture of rural communities in southern Africa and also is central to various commercial initiatives. This second part of a review on the species provides an overview of current commercial activities, the policy framework within which commercialisation occurs, and future...
Article
Full-text available
A wide range of sectors are engaged in the research and development of commercial products from genetic resources. They include the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, seed, crop protection, horticulture, cosmetic and personal care, fragrance and flavor, botanicals, and food and beverage industries. Each sector is part of a unique market, undertakes res...
Article
Full-text available
Environmental systems are in constant flux, with feedbacks and non-linearities catalysed by natural trends and shocks as well as human actions. This poses challenges for sustainable management to promote human well-being. It requires environmental understanding and application that can accommodate such fluxes and pressures, as well as knowledge pro...
Chapter
Full-text available
Products from the wild, also known as non-timber forest products (NTFPs), are used as medicines, foods, spices, fibers, and fuel and for a multitude of other purposes. They contribute substantially to rural livelihoods and generate revenue for companies and governments, and their use has a range of impacts on biodiversity conservation. However, thr...
Technical Report
Full-text available
A policy brief focused on laws and policies for more equitable and sustainable non-timber forest product use