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Folder The Protocol of Nagoya on Access and Benefit Sharing

International meeting on Nagoya protocol,
Nagoya, Japan, 2010 © Delphine Morandeau

The Nagoya Protocol on ABS was adopted by 193 Parties in October 2010 during the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Its purpose is to implement the third objective of the CBD, which was ratified by France in 1994, namely: “the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and to technologies, and by appropriate funding”.

What is a genetic ressource

According to the CBD’s definition, which applies to the Nagoya Protocol, a genetic resource is material of plant (e.g. plant, seed, leaf, etc.), animal (e.g. spider, frog, etc.), microbial (e.g. bacterium) or other (e.g. fungus, virus, etc.) origin, containing functional units of heredity, which have an actual or potential value. Genetic resources may originate from wild forms, domesticated fauna or cultivated flora. They may be collected in situ (from nature and in their place of origin) on public or private property, or be found ex situ in public or private collections, botanical gardens or gene banks in the form of whole organisms or samples (seeds, genes, etc.). They are found in terrestrial (including aerial) and marine environments.

Aims of the Nagoya Protocol:
  • the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the utilisation of genetic resources and the associated traditional knowledge.
  • the building of mutual trust between the users and providers of genetic resources and the associated traditional knowledge.
  • establishment of an international framework ensuring the legal certainty of transactions, to be adapted to national legislations.
  • encourage users and providers to allocate the financial benefits and benefits in kind to the conservation and sustainable utilisation of biodiversity.

Therefore, if a user (researcher or company) wishes to exploit the genetic resources derived from the biodiversity of a provider country or from the traditional knowledge of its “indigenous and local communities” (e.g. for research or the development of medication), it must obtain an access authorisation from the authorities of the provider country and define, in the form of a contract, the conditions for sharing the benefits derived from the utilisation of these resources and this knowledge. In the event of a failure to conform to the commitments thus made, the Nagoya Protocol allows for the prosecution and punishment of fraudulent users.

Diagram: ABS mechanism according to the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol

Source: Ministry of Sustainable Development, France, 2012

For more precisions on the website of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, summary of the Nagoya Protocol (currently being updated – In French), click here

France signed the Nagoya Protocol on 20 September 2011 and plans to ratify it by 2014/2015, in coordination with the European Commission and the other European Union Member States.

Link to the CBD website, list of countries that have signed and/or ratified the Nagoya Protocol:

 Link to the EU clearing house mechanism: