14 October 2014
Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing enters into force
After decades of negotiations the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing received its final necessary ratification and entered into force, enhancing opportunities for the equitable sharing of benefits of the world’s biodiversity.
The Protocol establishes rules for accessing, trading, sharing and monitoring the use of the world’s genetic resources that can be used for pharmaceutical, agricultural and cosmetic purposes.
By establishing this framework, the Protocol, which falls under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), seeks to ensure that genetic resources are not used without the prior consent of the countries that provide them, and that the communities that possess the traditional knowledge associated with the use of these resources also enjoy the benefits of sharing them with the rest of the world. Benefits received in exchange for access to genetic resources can be monetary or non-monetary, including, for instance, technology transfer, joint research or capacity-building activities.
Before the Nagoya Protocol there was no overarching international framework to document the use of genetic resources, and it is hoped that with its implementation there will be more legal certainty and transparency when researchers approach countries about using their genetic resources for various purposes. ‘The Nagoya Protocol is the first international instrument to recognize that indigenous and local communities have the right to receive benefits from the resources found in their lands and knowledge that they have about these,’ said Maria Eugenia Choque Quispe, who is also an Expert Member on the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Even though the Protocol has entered into force, it will take some time before it is fully operational, as many countries still need to implement national measures that comply with the accord’s terms of agreement. ‘There is an imbalance of knowledge between the North and South, so for example, African countries requested the German and Dutch governments at the time to support them in the negotiation phase,’ said Suhel Al-Janabi, co-manager of the ABS- Capacity Development Initiative, which supports countries and stakeholders in developing national Access and Benefit Sharing systems. He stressed that one of the key components of ABS systems is that they need to involve all relevant stakeholders to share benefits in an equitable way.