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Access and Benefit Sharing in the CBD. History of negotiations. The Convention on Biological Diversity. Concluded at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and ratified by New Zealand in 1993 Article 15 of the Convention is “Access to Genetic Resources” Key principles are:

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Access and Benefit Sharing in the CBD

History of negotiations


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The Convention on Biological Diversity

  • Concluded at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and ratified by New Zealand in 1993

  • Article 15 of the Convention is “Access to Genetic Resources”

  • Key principles are:

    • Parties have “sovereign rights” over their genetic resources; and

    • Access to genetic resources is subject to the prior informed consent of the Contracting Party providing them.


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Effect of the CBD

  • Reinforced existing rights to legislate control over genetic resources at national level;

  • Created a presumption that “prior informed consent” was required;

  • But did not provide specific guidance on how to achieve this, or how it should be enforced

  • How to enforce legislation once GR were removed from a country has been identified as a particular problem


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The Bonn Guidelines

  • Agreed in 2002 at COP6;

  • Non-binding guidelines for the development of national regimes;

  • Little or no guidance on enforcement;

  • No obligations on end-users of genetic resources.


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An international regime?

  • The 7th Conference of Parties created a mandate for the negotiation of an international regime on access and benefit sharing;

  • That mandate does not specify whether the regime is to be binding or non-binding, or a deadline;


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The “Grenada” Text

  • Negotiated in Grenada, Spain in January 2006;

  • Not endorsed by COP8 as a basis for negotiations;

  • Key problems with the text:

    • Limited technical justification;

    • Heavily bracketed;

    • Effectively a compilation of proposals;

    • Structured as a single legally-binding Protocol.


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The COP8 outcome

  • Agreed on a deadline for negotiations – COP10, due to be held in 2010;

  • Appointed standing co-chairs;

  • Transmitted the Grenada text with an ambiguous status (“as a contribution to negotiations”)


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Since COP8

  • Two meetings of the Working Group in October 2007 (ABS5) and January 2008 (ABS6);

  • Significant time spent repeating the COP8 debate over the Grenada text, and arguing over whether the regime will be legally binding;

  • A breakthrough of sorts at ABS6 in January – a text that highlights areas of agreement and disagreement on substance;

  • The process remains very fragile.


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