The Convention of Biological Diversity is a multilateral treaty signed in the year 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This convention has three main objectives-
· Conservation of biodiversity or biological diversity
· Sustainable use of components in the biodiversity and
· Fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
Later, two other supplementary agreements were extended to the convention, namely the Cartagena protocol in the year 2000 and the Nagoya protocol in the year 2010. The Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing (ABS) is also known as the Nagoya Protocol on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from our utilization to the convention of biological diversity.
The aim of this Protocol is derived from the goals listed in the CBD convention. Its objectives are-
· to ensure transparency between the parties while sharing the genetic resources and
· to guarantee there is a fair distribution of benefits derived from the genetic resource between the parties.
When there is a sharing of a particular genetic resource, parties also conserve the same because of the possibility that it might be of greater benefit to mankind in the future. Thus, sharing genetic resources also leads to the conservation of biodiversity. The Protocol was signed on 29th October 2010, and it came into force on 12th October 2014. There are 36 articles in the Nagoya protocol, each elaborating on different rules and regulations.
The Protocol seeks to set an international legally binding framework to promote a transparent and effective implementation of the (Access and Benefit Sharing) ABS concept at different levels. In simpler words, if a country is using the genetic resources of another country, there has to be a transparent legal protocol for both the countries. The benefits arising from the said genetic resource should be shared equally between them.
Mechanism of ABS-Clearing house
An important element of the protocol is the Access and Benefit Sharing Clearing House (ABS-CH). It is an online portal where you find information about the genetic resources which are listed by a particular country; for instance, India’s genetic resources would be listed on India's ABS clearinghouse. The information uploaded by a particular country becomes accessible to other countries and people across the globe.
The government of a particular country designates NFP National Focal Point - a person or a board that is the focal point for Nagoya Protocol in that country. After the designation of NFP, this NFP will further appoint Competent National Authorities (CNA’s). The NFP and CNAs are the points of contact for people across the globe to access information or resolve any other query. The NFP will appoint the Publishing Authority (PA’s). which will publish the information on ABS Clearinghouse. It will upload, verify and update the traditional information regarding the particular genetic resource.
The PA’s also appoint the National authorized Users (NAU’s). These users have functions similar to that of the publishing authorities. They share the workload of PA’s where there is a lot of information to be uploaded. If required, the PA can also further appoint more NAU’s to share the workload. After the completion of the above process, the email address, contact, name, place of the NFP is emailed or faxed to the Executive Secretary of the Nagoya ProtocolThis way, the Executive Secretary of Nagoya Protocol has all the country’s NFP’s and their related information which is then used for sharing purposes.
Example to illustrate the above mechanism
Taking the scenario of India’s ABS Clearing House- The online portal will have information about all the genetic resources and the traditional knowledge associated with that particular resource. Let’s assume Canada is going through India’s ABS-CH and it needs information regarding a particular species. It will go through ABS-CH to gain all the information related to it. If in case it doesn't find any information, it will contact the NFP or CNAs of India. In accordance with the national legislation of India, Canada will obtain prior informed consent (PIC) which will outline the nature and the intended goal of the planned research and utilization of that particular species. Once all the related information is given to Canada, both countries will come together to form mutually agreed terms (MAT) to outline the method and manner of distribution of benefits derived from that particular genetic resource.
ABS simply means that a country can access that resource, research, and develop on it as per their intended goal. But the benefit derived from that shared resource has to be shared with the providing country in a fair manner. These benefits can be monetary, or non-monetary such as intellectual property rights/patents or any license fee or any royalty (given because they invented something). That advantage needs to be shared with the providing country equally as listed in the MAT irrespective of other considerations.