Access and Benefit Sharing

Access and Benefit Sharing

The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) was agreed at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in November 2010. The Nagoya Protocol regulates access and benefit sharing relating to genetic resources and associated knowledge (traditional knowledge) of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Natural Justice was involved in the negotiation of the Nagoya Protocol, which successfully resulted in reference to the concept of community protocols. Specifically, the Nagoya Protocol now states under Article 12 on Traditional Knowledge Associated with Genetic Resources:

“1. In implementing their obligations under this Protocol, Parties shall in accordance with domestic law take into consideration Indigenous and local communities’ customary laws, community protocols and procedures, as applicable, with respect to traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources…

3. Parties shall endeavour to support, as appropriate, the development by Indigenous and local communities, including women within these communities, of:

(a) Community protocols in relation to access to traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of such knowledge…”

Natural Justice now attends the Intergovernmental Committee on the Nagoya Protocol, advises (sub-)national governments, and works with local communities to continue to define and implement the Protocol in ways commensurate with local values and internationally agreed standards. Particularly, we focus on how communities’ use of biocultural community protocols assists in this regard to help convey and uphold customary laws and procedures. We also provide technical services to organizations such as UNESCO and engage with international campaigns.

In light of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS and an emerging number of national ABS frameworks as well as an overall increased awareness on ABS, a new set of opportunities for communities to benefit from their role as custodians of genetic resources, and holders of traditional knowledge (TK) is likely to emerge. To prepare and respond to these new opportunities and challenges a new partnership was recently established between the ABS Capacity Development Initiative (a multi-donor initiative, implemented by GIZ), GEF SGP, implemented by UNDP, and Natural Justice, each contributing a unique set of expertise and networks. The newly established collaboration aims to support the design and implementation of a new generation of national and local-level ABS partnerships.

Read IISD reports and analysis from past negotiations of the Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity.



Community Protocols and Access and Benefit Sharing (Jonas et al., 2010)
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Towards a People’s History of the Law: Biocultural Jurisprudence and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (Bavikatte and Robinson, 2011))
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Shifting Sands of ABS Best Practice: Hoodia from the Community Perspective (Bavikatte et al., 2009)
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Protected Planet Report (UNEP-WCMC, 2012)
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Beyond Access: Exploring Implementation of the Fair and Equitable Sharing Commitment in the CBD (Tvedt and Young, 2007)
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Rhetoric, Realism and Benefit Sharing in the Hoodia Case: Use of Traditional Knowledge of Hoodia Species in the Development of an Appetite Suppressant (Wynberg, 2004)
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Biocultural Community Protocols: Articulating and Asserting Stewardship (Moving Images & Natural Justice, 2012)
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Rooibos Robbery: A Story of Bioprospecting in South Africa (Steps Southern Africa, 2012)
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Maldhari Biocultural Community Protocol Photo Story (Sahjeevan & Natural Justice, 2012)
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Latest Publication

Biocultural Community Protocols: A Toolkit for Community Facilitators
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