Final push to the negotiations on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing

15 July 2010 | News story

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity are meeting in Montreal from 10 till 16 July to agree on the details of a new global legal agreement to regulate the provision and use of the world’s genetic resources. The results of these negotiations, to be presented to the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention to take place in Nagoya, Japan in October this year, will significantly improve the management of the genetic diversity of our planet contributing to the three objectives of the Convention and - ultimately - to human well-being.

Back in 2006, Governments meeting in Brazil for the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties, agreed to finalize negotiations on this issue as soon as possible and no later than 2010.

“The adoption of the Aichi Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing will make a major contribution to achieving not only the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, but also the Millennium Development Goals, as well as to promoting sustainable development. It will also be a major contribution to achieving and celebrating the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Access and benefit sharing (ABS), the third pillar of the CBD, is intrinsically linked to the other two pillars – conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. This link has been part of the Convention’s design of the third objective from the beginning: Through contractual benefit sharing arrangements ABS is supposed to allow for the direct flow of (additional) financial and other resources from users, particularly private companies, to indigenous and local communities, enabling them to continue conserving and sustainably using their biological diversity. More broadly, ABS is thus to work as an incentive for conserving biodiversity – recognizing those who maintain their rich biological diversity and increasing awareness about biodiversity as a valuable asset.

Expectations are very high for the negotiations to come out with a 'clean' draft protocol text which can be adopted at the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit by Ministers present. Some delegations have strongly voiced their desire to see the ABS Protocol finalized and adopted in Japan along with the ten year Strategic Plan of the Convention which will set the new biodiversity targets for the post-2010 period and the Resource Mobilization Strategy. Back in May, when Parties met for three weeks in Nairobi, Kenya, for the meetings of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and the Working Group on Review of Implementation (WGRI), developing countries in particular were explicit about these three issues – ABS, the post-2010 Strategic Plan, and the Resource Mobilization Strategy – being part of the same 'package' and thus implying that if one would fall the other two would follow.

The negotiations on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing aim at the effective implementation of the access and benefit-sharing provisions of the Convention, as well as Article 8(j) of the Convention related to the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.

All eyes are therefore on the ABS Working Group meeting in Montreal, which is expected to live up to its mandate and finalize its work.