Nagoya Protocol: landmark treaty on genetic resources to enter into force in October

Treaty mandates sharing of benefits from utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge with local communities

By Jyotika Sood
Published: Wednesday 16 July 2014


With the required quorum of 51 nations ratifying the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization  will come into force from October 12 this year.

The move will give legal backing and transparency to both providers and users of genetic resources. It enables to create a framework to promote the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge along with making it mandatory to share benefits arising from them with the community and individuals who have been saving it. In simple terms, if a company or a person is accessing genetic resources like germplasm of plants, other genetic resources or traditional knowledge for commercial purpose, they would be bound to share a part of their earning and profits with the community which has been conserving it.

Implication for Bt brinjal case

The development is going to strengthen India’s Bt brinjal biopiracy case  where it was alleged that seed company Mahyco along with research institutions had accessed local brinjal germplasm without mandatory approvals from the communities growing those brinjal varieties. Till date, absence of legal framework had been hindering the case.

According to a press release issued by the United Nations, with the signing of CBD by Uruguay on July 15, the required quorum was achieved. In the past few weeks, 12 countries – Belarus, Burundi, Gambia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Niger, Peru, Sudan, Switzerland, Vanuatu and Uganda – had ratified it. They said that the protocol will create new incentives to conserve biodiversity, sustainably use its components and enhance the contribution of biodiversity to sustainable development and human well-being

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon said, “Practical tools such as the Nagoya Protocol are critical for the sustainable and equitable use of biodiversity. I commend the Member states that have ratified this important international legal instrument. By fulfilling the promise made at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, they have made a significant contribution to the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.” As a result, the first meeting of the Conference of Parties to CBD would meet to discuss the protocol from October 13 to 17 this year concurrently with 12th meeting of the CBD in Pyeongchang in Korea.

The development means that by 2015, Nagoya Protocol to Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization is in force and operational, consistent with national legislation.

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar said, “The Nagoya Protocol on ABS gives practical effect to the equity provision of the CBD. I’m happy that this landmark treaty received requisite number of ratifications for its entry into force. I congratulate my counterparts for making this happen. A new era is now ushered in for implementation of CBD that would contribute to achieving sustainable development and glorious future for all living beings inhabiting our mother Earth.”

The Nagoya Protocol was adopted at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2010, in Nagoya, Japan.


 Governments fulfil their commitment: Access and benefit-sharing treaty receives required  number of ratifications to enter into force

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