Does your research involve biological materials? The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefits Sharing was adopted in 2010 as part of the international treaty known as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The aim of the Nagoya Protocol is to ensure that the benefits associated with genetic resources, and also with traditional knowledge of biodiversity, are shared fairly and equitably. If you export biological materials from one of the 100 countries party to the Nagoya Protocol, you will need a Genetic Resource Access Permit. Continue reading to learn how you may be affected.
Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefits Sharing
The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefits Sharing is part of the international treaty known as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD was opened for signature at the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil, and entered into force in 1993. The Nagoya Protocol is a Supplementary Agreement to the CBD that was adopted in 2010.
In spite of the 17-year gap between the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol, the purpose of the Nagoya Protocol – the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources – has been one of the goals of the CBD since its inception.
Aim and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol
The aim of the Nagoya Protocol is to ensure that the benefits associated with genetic resources, and also with traditional knowledge of biodiversity, are shared fairly and equitably. The Protocol formalizes the idea that countries in which genetic resources and traditional knowledge originate should have the option of retaining some rights over those resources and knowledge. Another underlying principle of the Nagoya Protocol is the idea that Access and Benefits Sharing is critically important for conservation and for the sustainable use of biodiversity.
By providing countries with fair and equitable access to benefits from the genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity, the Protocol provides incentives for both conservation and research.
The Nagoya Protocol has been ratified by more than 100 countries. Scientists who export biological materials from one country to another need to be cognizant of the country-specific requirements of the protocol, even if their home country is not a party to it. Penalties for non-compliance in the countries that are parties to the treaty can be stiff.
Key points to know
- You will need a Genetic Resource Access Permit if you work with materials from a country that is party to the Nagoya Protocol.
- Any shipment of genetic resources across international boundaries may be subject to the Nagoya Protocol.
- If you send materials to or from a party country, no matter where the materials originated, you must comply with the regulations of the party country.
- What is covered by the treaty: Genetic resources, defined as material containing functional units of heredity (plant, animal, microbial, or other origin). These genetic resources may be of actual or potential value, where value can include commercial, educational, academic, or scientific value.
- What is not covered by the treaty: Materials covered by other treaties (e.g., agricultural materials); Human materials; Materials that are legally purchased and used as a commodity
- Many countries have a ‘no third-party sharing’ requirement for a Genetic Resource Access Permit. This means that you cannot share the genetic resources with non-Permit holders. Implementation and interpretation of this requirement varies by country.
- Collection of materials subject to the Nagoya Protocol may require that you obtain Prior Informed Consent (PIC) for collecting biological materials. PIC requirements vary by country, but often involves consent by the community that ‘owns’ the material.
Resources for learning more about the Nagoya Protocol
- The Access and Benefit-Sharing Clearing-House (ABSCH) includes valuable general information about the Nagoya Protocol, as well as detailed country-specific information. Under the ‘Country Profiles’ link, 198 countries are listed. Their status with respect to the Protocol is indicated (party versus non-party), as well as each country’s national point of contact for information about the protocol, the national authority that oversees the implementation of the protocol, and a range of other useful information. https://absch.cbd.int/help/about
- The Convention on Biological Diversity, the umbrella treaty under which the Nagoya Protocol falls, has a comprehensive website with basic information, news links, updates, and program information. https://www.cbd.int/
- Knowledge about the Nagoya Protocol is highly variable across universities and museums. Consider contacting the central research administration office at your institution to learn what they know, and what types of support they can offer to researchers. If they are new to the Nagoya Protocol, you can give them the information provided here, and also point them to the following link, with information on access and benefit sharing geared towards administrators. https://scbd.unssc.org/course/index.php?categoryid=4