Nagoya Protocol – access and benefit sharing of biodiversity

The Nagoya Protocol specifies the third objective of the Convention of Biodiversity (CBD), namely the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. This objective is specified in the Nagoya protocol, which was adopted in 2010 and entered into force this October 2014.

The two key elements of the Nagoya protocol are 1) prior informed consent 2) mutually agreed terms. Prior informed consent means that the state providing genetic resources must be informed about and give its consent to the intended utilization of these resources. “Mutually agreed terms” have to be set out in a contract, which specifies amongst other things the benefits that will be provided in return for the access to the genetic resources.

The Nagoya protocol is a binding document for the citizens of all those countries, which ratified it (like Switzerland). Sylvia Martinez explained that this protocol “creates greater legal certainty and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources by establishing more predictable conditions for access to genetic resources [and by] helping to ensure benefit-sharing when genetic resources leave the contracting Party that provides the genetic resources.” The protocol is based on the assumption that genetic resources belong to the state in which they grow. According to the Nagoya protocol, researcher or companies who wish to utilize genetic resources of another country need to enter official access and benefit-negotiations with this country before they access the resources. The country that provides the genetic resources specifies what exactly counts as “utilizing genetic resources”. Each country has a national focal point that can be contacted in order to get information about its requirements.

Anna Deplazes