Environmental Policy Forum: access and benefit sharing

29 Sep 2010 12:00
29 Sep 2010 14:00
Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): Towards effective management of genetic resources?
S. Oberthür, R. Lefeber, M. Schloen, B. Barnes

On September, 29th 2010 the Institute for European Studies (IES) and the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) within the framework of their Environmental Policy Forum organized the event titled "Access and benefit-sharing (ABS) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) - towards effective management of genetic resources?”. The event was dedicated to the international negotiations of a new international agreement on access to and benefit-sharing from genetic resources under the Convention of Biological Diversity. The ABS negotiations are to be concluded at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the CBD to be held in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010. The Environmental Policy Forum explored the prospects of reaching such agreement as well as the role of the EU in the international management of genetic resources.

The first speaker René Lefeber – involved in the ABS negotiations as the chair of the contact-group and the representative of the Netherlands – started with the introduction to the topic presenting the issue of the biopiracy based on the teff grain case. Next he analyzed international developments related to the ABS policy as well as conceptual approaches used in this domain. After analyzing relations between different international instruments of relevance to ABS, René gave an updated look on the current stage of the negotiations and expressed his skepticism related to the timely adoption of an agreement establishing new international regime on ABS.

Marie Schloen – researcher working on access and benefit sharing from genetic resources for food and agriculture – presented the topic of the implementation of access and benefit-sharing arrangements building on the experience of the food and agriculture sector. Marie explained how the special nature of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture is addressed under the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. She also discussed implications of ABS implementation at the national level and practical advantages deriving from the multilateral solution.

The last speaker, Brendan Barnes – representing business – highlighted realities and needs related to genetic resources as well as access and benefit-sharing mechanisms from the industry perspective. Brendan described different sectors using genetic resources and analyzed how they could be affected by the adoption of new international treaty related to ABS. He pointed some difficulties like ownership, existence of many ABS agreements or retroactivity issues and proposed a vision of the business-friendly solutions possibly to be included into new regime on ABS. After the three presentations a roundtable discussion took place touching upon the matters of relationship between international agreements of relevance to ABS and hierarchy of such instruments, the ownership of genetic resources, human rights aspects related to ABS as well as the issue of strategic interest of particular actors involved in this field.

The speakers' presentations are attached at the bottom of the page