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Debriefing on Access and Benefit Sharing

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement which aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. It entered into force on 12 October 2014 has thus far gained over 70 ratifications.

Access and benefit-sharing (ABS) refers to the way in which genetic resources may be accessed, and how the benefits that result from their use are shared between the people or countries using the resources (users) and the people or countries that provide them (providers).

Genetic resources include all living organisms; plants, animals and microbes, carry genetic material that could be potentially useful to humans. These resources can be taken from the wild, domesticated or cultivated. They are sourced from environments in which they occur naturally (in situ), or from human-made collections such as botanical gardens, genebanks, seed banks and microbial culture collections (ex situ).

Providers of genetic resources are governments or civil society bodies, which can include private land owners and communities within a country, who are entitled to provide access to genetic resources and share the benefits resulting from their use. The access and benefit-sharing provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are designed to ensure that the physical access to genetic resources is facilitated and that the benefits obtained from their use are shared equitably with the providers. In some cases this also includes valuable traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources that comes from ILCs. The benefits to be shared can be monetary, such as sharing royalties when the resources are used to create a commercial product, or non-monetary, such as the development of research skills and knowledge. It is vital that both users and providers understand and respect institutional frameworks such as those outlined by the CBD and in the Bonn Guidelines. These help governments to establish their own national frameworks which ensure that access and benefit-sharing happens in a fair and equitable way.

Source: Convention on Biological Diversity, https://www.cbd.int/abs/ retrieved on June 13, 2016

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