Bioprospecting under the Nagoya Protocol: a conservation booster?
Claudio Chiarolla et al
IDDRI Policy Brief no 14/2013

Some proponents of access and benefit sharing (ABS) mechanisms believe that bioprospecting, if better regulated under ABS legislation and the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), will incentivize and fund biodiversity conservation. By combining economic and legal analysis, the authors of this brief challenge this view. First, the Nagoya Protocol was not primarily designed to conserve biodiversity. Second, the provisions that call upon the Parties to allocate the advantages arising from bioprospecting towards the conservation of biodiversity are hortative in nature. Nevertheless, beyond its relatively narrow focus on the utilization of genetic resources and associated tradition knowledge, the Nagoya Protocol can be helpful to empower stakeholders, whose rights, duties and responsibilities are crucial for the conservation of biodiversity. Read the brief …

BSF Projects – Progress Update
ITPGR release, December 2013

ROME, ITALY: The 19 projects sponsored by the second round of the Benefit-Sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) are currently in implementation in 31 countries across Asia, Africa, the Near East, and Central and South America. The projects place particular importance on farmers’ traditional knowledge, their socio-cultural systems and institutions, and the role of local communities in securing access to agricultural biodiversity. Farmers are involved in the collection, characterization, evaluation and development of new varieties in crops like rice, maize, potato, wheat and barley, as well as in the compilation of information on existing crop diversity. These activities are also consistent with national strategies and priorities. The Treaty’s BSF projects also emphasize the importance of gender differentiated traditional knowledge and the adoption of gender-equitable approaches. To help secure local seed systems and facilitate sharing of information on seed development, the projects have set up Seed Clubs. Similarly, biodiversity fairs and farmer exchange visits have been taking place in Bhutan, Guatemala, India, Jordan, Iran, Morocco, Tunisia and Peru, thus providing excellent opportunities for exchanging knowledge, building on established good practices and giving farmers the opportunity to showcase seed collections representative of their selection and conservation practices. Read the update …

Regional Capacity-building Workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean on Traditional Knowledge under the CBD
9-11 December 2013 (Cochabamba, Bolivia)

Organized by the Secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), this workshop will provide an overview of the CBD, including its Strategic Plan for Biological Diversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi targets, and focus on issues related to: the participation of indigenous and local communities in the work of the Convention; CBD Articles 8(j) (traditional knowledge) and 10(c) (customary sustainable use) and current work in preparation for the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD; the interlinkages between biological and cultural diversity; and the dialogue among diverse knowledge systems: connecting traditional knowledge systems and science. Visit the meeting’s webpage, including links to additional information material and tools for capacity building …

Eighth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity
 7-11 October 2013 (Montreal, Canada)

The Working Group on Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge) and related provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) forwarded a number of recommendations to the Conference of the Parties (COP), including: a draft plan of action on customary sustainable use; a process for developing voluntary guidelines for the repatriation of traditional knowledge; and a process for advancing work on several tasks that will contribute to work under the Convention and the Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing (ABS), including guidelines on prior informed approval for use of traditional knowledge, fair and equitable benefit-sharing, and reporting and prevention of unlawful appropriation of traditional knowledge.

The Working Group also addressed a progress report on the implementation of the work programme on Article 8(j) and related provisions, and mechanisms to promote the effective participation of indigenous and local communities in CBD work; sui generis systems for the protection, preservation and promotion of traditional knowledge; and recommendations from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).

An in-depth dialogue focused on connecting traditional knowledge systems and science, such as the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), including gender dimensions. Delegates also discussed whether to change the terminology “indigenous and local communities” used under the Convention to “indigenous peoples and local communities” used in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Rio+20 Outcome Document, and requested the Secretariat to prepare an independent analysis, including by seeking advice from the UN Office of Legal Affairs, to facilitate further consideration of the matter at COP 12.

Visit the meeting website, including links to documents … Read the CBD press release … Read the IISD Reporting Services daily reports …

Decision: Matters Concerning the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore
23 September – 2 October 2013 (Geneva, Switzerland)

The General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) renewed the mandate of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) for the 2014-2015 biennium, and agreed on a schedule of sessions and a work programme for 2014. Under its renewed mandate, the IGC will continue to expedite its work with the objective of reaching agreement on a text(s) of an international legal instrument(s), which will ensure the effective protection of genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. The IGC is requested to submit the text(s) of the international legal instrument(s) to the 2014 General Assembly which will, with a view to finalizing the text(s) within the biennium, take stock of and consider the text(s), progress made and decide on convening a Diplomatic Conference. The General Assembly took note of the possibility for members of the IGC to request studies or provide examples to inform its work, noting, however, that such examples and studies were not to delay progress or establish any preconditions to the negotiations.

The IGC is expected to meet in February, April and July 2014. IGC 26, in February 2014, will be a five-day session on genetic resources, and is expected to be preceded by an Ambassadorial/Senior Capital-Based Officials meeting to share views on key policy issues relating to the negotiations to further inform and guide the process. IGC 27, in April 2014, will be a ten-day session focusing on traditional knowledge and then traditional cultural expressions. IGC 28, in July 2014, will be a three-day cross-cutting session, addressing all three themes, which will take stock of progress made and make a recommendation to the General Assembly in September 2014.

Despite agreement on the IGC mandate and other issues including the convening of a diplomatic conference for the adoption of a revised Lisbon Agreement on appellations of origin and geographical indications in 2015, Member States were unable to agree on WIPO’s programme and budget, including the establishment of new external offices, and some other issues. An extraordinary meeting is expected to convene in December 2013, to conclude outstanding items before the end of the current biennium.

Download the decision on the IGC mandate [pdf] … Read WIPO’s press release on the Assemblies … Read an IP Watch article of 3 October 2013 …

Fifth session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
24-28 September 2013 (Muscat, Oman)

The meeting launched an intersessional Ad Hoc Working Group to Enhance the Functioning of the Multilateral System (MLS) of Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS), which is mandated to develop measures to increase user-based payments and contributions to the Benefit-sharing Fund, as a priority, as well as “additional measures” to enhance the functioning of the MLS. Delegates described this outcome as pivotal for the future development of the Treaty, noting that the process will provide much needed direction towards enhanced implementation, in view of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Nagoya Protocol on ABS. In addition, the meeting adopted a work programme on sustainable use and a resolution of farmers’ rights that were welcomed as significant progress towards implementation; and resolved outstanding issues on compliance, rendering the Treaty’s compliance mechanism fully operational.

Farmers’ rights were the subject of intensive debate, and are addressed in the resolutions on implementation of Article 6 (sustainable use) and implementation of Article 9 (farmers’ rights). In the resolution on Article 9, the GB requested the Secretariat to: review knowledge, views and best practices, including from farmers’ organizations, to systematically derive examples as options for national implementation, as appropriate and according to national legislation, for GB 6 consideration; report on discussions related to farmers’ rights within FAO fora, including the Committee on Food Security; invite UPOV and WIPO to identify possible areas of interrelations among their respective international instruments; and facilitate support to parties in building capacity for the implementation of farmers’ rights, upon their request. Parties are invited to take the initiative to convene regional workshops on farmers’ rights, and consider: developing national action plans for the implementation of Article 9, as appropriate and subject to national legislation; reviewing and, if necessary, adjusting national measures affecting the realization of farmers’ rights; and providing financial and technical support for the implementation of farmers’ rights in developing countries, and enabling farmer organization to attend Treaty meetings.

In the resolution on sustainable use, the GB requests parties to promote, as appropriate, access of all farmers to genetic resources in the MLS and the widening of genetic diversity of crops in use. It requests the Secretariat to work with parties, networks and partners to promote the conservation and use of local and locally adapted varieties, underutilized crops and their knowledge systems, crop cultures and associated landscapes; and decides to reconvene twice the intersessional committee on sustainable use of PGRFA, to provide advice to the Secretariat on coordination of the work programme and the development of the toolbox on sustainable use, and prepare a set of options for parties’ consideration in national implementation of farmers’ rights. Visit the meeting webpage … Read the IISD Reporting Services summary and analysis of the meeting …

WIPO Assembly Approves New Work Mandate on GR, TK Protection
IP Watch, 30 September 2013

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: The World Intellectual Property Organization General Assembly renewed the mandate of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC). The full membership approved a deal reached on the renewal of the mandate and details of the IGC work programme in an informal session on 27 September. According to the document adopted by the Assembly, the WIPO IGC should report to next year’s General Assembly so that it can take stock of progress made in 2014 and decide on convening a diplomatic conference. It is still unclear whether there will be one instrument for all subjects or three separate ones. Whether it will be considered legally binding or not also remains in question. Member States’ statements reaffirmed their positions and their divergences. Read the article …

ITPGRFA: Options to Promote the Wider Application of Article 6.11 of the SMTA and the Enhance Benefit-Sharing
Legal opinion by Carlos Correa
Berne Declaration, Development Fund, July 2013

Issued on the occasion of the fifth session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR), this legal opinion argues that the Treaty’s current Multilateral System (MLS) of access and benefit-sharing is unable to fulfill its objective of fair and equitable benefit-sharing. It shows that within the framework of the Treaty, parties are given some flexibility to change the standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA), in order to raise the share of benefits. In particular, an increased applicability of a crop-based option, like the current Art. 6.11 of the SMTA, should play an important role in this regard. As a next step, the options will have to be double-checked by means of an economic analysis which estimates the realistic income that would be generated through a revised benefit-sharing mechanism. Download the legal opinion [pdf] …

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