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Access and Benefit Sharing
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Under the Biodiplomacy Programme, the Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS) activities involve facilitating and informing processes relevant to the development of the international regime on benefit–sharing as set out in the World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of Implementation and relevant decisions of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. This also involves attention to the wider objectives of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Plan of Implementation, which includes poverty reduction, changing unsustainable consumption patterns, and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development. 

The research outputs tend to address three key areas:

  1. Evaluation of the effectiveness of existing international ABS governance, and options for further development;  
  2. Identification of critical capacity development needs to implement ABS policies and principles;
  3. Development of research and policy tools to assist informed decision making.

These outputs normally feed into practical, and timely advice to the Convention on Biological Diversity on implementation of its ABS provisions and other bodies interested in neutral, policy relevant research.  


Expert Advice to the various ABS Experts Working Groups: ABS Expert programme staff participate in meetings and submit Information Papers to support the CBD negotiations and consultation processes.

Most recently the BI was commissioned by the CBD Secretariat to undertake a study on issues for consideration in the establishment of the Access and Benefit-sharing Clearing-House established under the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization.  The paper 'Issues for Consideration in the Establishment of the Access and Benefit-Sharing Clearing House: Document UNEP/CBD/ABS/EM-CH/1/2, UNEP 2011 was presented at a CBD experts workshop.

Two events were convened with the University of Lancaster at the 1st Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Nagoya Protocol (ICNP-1) in Montreal June 2011.  The ABS Patent Index (ABSPAT) was launched and the paper on Orphan Genetic Resources was presented.

Revision of the 'ABS Management Tool: Best Practice Standard and Handbook for Implementing Genetic Resource Access and Benefit Sharing Activities'.  This was done with the Stratos with the support of Swiss and German governments for use by the  Global Environment Facility and other development aid bodies, national governments, researchers and industry.

Development of the Bioprospecting Database: This is an information resource across the regions and areas including the Antarctic, Pacific, Marine, and Arctic.  This online resource provides searchable databases which include details of research and commercialised products arising from biological samples that were sourced from the various regions.  In 2011 the Bioprospector was further developed to enable companies and research organizations to upload information directly making the Bioprospector inter-operable with other relevant databases, such as international patent libraries and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, providing species location mapping through the use of Geographic Information Systems technologies.

Compilation of Protocols and Analyses for the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (GRTKF) Toolkit.

Most recently, the paper 'Defusing Disclosure in Patent Applications: Strengthening Legal Certainty in the International Regime on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-Sharing' was presented at the 17th Session of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources Traditional Knowledge and Foklore (IGC) in December 2010.

At the 19th Session of the WIPO IGC in July 2011, a presentation was made on the work of various partners (UNU, Cesagen and University of Lancaster) to develop and Access and Benefit Sharing Patent Index of Species appearing in patents based on text mining 8 million patents for 1. million species names.

Contribute to the development of the ABS legislation. Information and policy advice has been provided for the development of New South Wales (Australia) Biodiscovery Legislation and on methodologies for the development of new ABS laws to the Governments of India, China, and Brazil.  Most recently in June 2011 supported the Ministerio Do Meio Ambientesecretaria De Biodiversidad E Florestas Departamento Do Patrimonio Genetico International Workshop on 'Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing' in Brasilia, Brazil.
An Industry ABS Dialogue: The value of an active dialogue with industry lies in the fact that the technological and business basis for genetic resources utilization is rapidly changing. Recent trends in science and technology have affected the demand for genetic resources from nature in both positive and negative ways. ABS measures have often been drafted with insufficient grounding in the market, legal, scientific and technical realities of this complex, and rapidly changing, area of research and commercialization.  This meeting therefore provided a valuable platform and recommendations to the Working Group Meetings which lead up the the negotiations of the Regime at CBD COP10 in Nagoya.

ABS Case Study Analysis with Equator Initiative: This work, in partnership with the Equator Initiative, will identify benefits (monetary and otherwise) desired by enterprising communities in different ecosystems and modes of distribution, in the light of the global discussions on components of benefit sharing.

Academic Research Support to the Antarctic Bioprospecting Discussions: Expert programme staff  participated in the International Experts Meeting on Biological Prospecting in the Antarctic Treaty Area in Baarns, Netherlands Feb 2009 and supported the Indigenous Peoples Global Summit  Anchorage, Alaska April 2009; Continued Expansion of the Antarctic Bioprospector.

Development of Intellectual Property Protocols for Indigenous Peoples:  This is being done in partnership with the Aboriginal Rainforest Council (ARC).


1. Learning for the Practitioners - Benefit Sharing Perspectives from Enterprising Communities
2. Benefit Sharing in ABS: Options and Elaboration

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