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Access and Benefit Sharing

News on ABS/DSI

Here you will find monthly information on current developments regarding ABS and DSI.


June/July 2022

Report of the EU Consultative Forum on ABS is available:

Nagoya Protocol:

  • New States Parties to the Nagoya Protocol are The Bahamas (since 30 Mar 2022), Bahrain (since 23 May 2022), Saint Lucia (since 12 Jun 2022) and Ukraine (since 16 May 2022).  Nigeria and Morocco have also ratified and will become States Parties in the foreseeable future.

Negotiations on ABS/DSI in the context of the new Global Biodiversity Framework post 2020 (Post 2020 GBF)

  • The fourth round of negotiations on the development of a new post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), took place in Nairobi from 21 to 26 June 2022. There was agreement on the urgent need to find solutions to address three global crises: biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change. However, it is clear to all participants that much work still needs to be done in the intersessional period to increase the chances of reaching consensus. For example, it is still unclear whether the GBF should ultimately contain one, two or three different targets on access and benefit-sharing (ABS). Delegates also discussed, without reaching consensus, whether to aim for a "substantial increase" or "facilitation" of fair and equitable benefit-sharing. What remains contentious is whether to refer to DSI or genetic resources in any form, and whether benefit-sharing should be in accordance with "internationally agreed ABS instruments" or with "obligations under the Nagoya Protocol, the CBD and other relevant multilateral ABS agreements and instruments." The results can be read here: https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020/wg2020-04/documents

UN Biodiversity Conference postponed to December 2022:

  • The UN Biodiversity Conference has been postponed and is now scheduled to take place in Montreal, Canada, from 5 to 17 December 2022, under the chairmanship of the Chinese government. In the run-up to the meeting, the Open Working Group on the Post 2020 GBF is scheduled to meet for a 5th session.

Publications:

"Global Transformation in the Use of Biodiversity for Research and Development" 2022 by Evanson Chege Kamau published. The book presents the new ABS legislation and practice, shows the current status of domestic implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and offers solutions to unresolved and emerging issues in the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol


May 2022

  • Consultation Forum on ABS of the European Commission: The panel of representatives of stakeholders, member states and the Commission met on 12 May 2022. Representatives of associations generally welcomed the extended guidance on Regulation (EU) 511/2014 which was published in January 2021, but pointed to continuing complexities and legal uncertainty that make it difficult for users to comply with their due diligence obligations. It was suggested to use the international negotiations on the Global Biodiversity Framework to work towards an overall improvement of the International ABS Regime. The EU-COM presentations on recent developments can be found at this link (https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/expert-groups-register/screen/meetings/consult?lang=en&meetingId=42294&fromExpertGroups=true).
     
  • Nagoya Protocol and EU ABS Regulation:
         -   Morocco ratified the Nagoya Protocol in April and will thus officially be a State Party to the
             Nagoya Protocol from 21 July 2022 (https://absch.cbd.int/en/countries/MA), likewise Saint
             Lucia and Bahrain will soon be among the State Parties.
         -   New informational content is available on the German Nagoya Protocol HuB website
             (https://www.nagoyaprotocol-hub.de/), including a video
             (https://www.nagoyaprotocol-hub.de/video/) on how ABS compliance supports science, in
             addition to podcasts and infographics.
     
  • Further negotiation process on ABS/DSI until the UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China in summer 2022:
          -  In preparation for the upcoming negotiations on Digital Sequence Information, the German
             Federal Agency for Nature Conservation had invited a workshop in November 2021: "ABS for
             Utilization of DSI & Possible Consequences for Open Access / Open Science". The results are
             available here (PDF file)
         -   From 21-26 June 2022, the Open Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity
             Framework (GBF) will meet for a fourth time in Nairobi, Kenya.  ABS and DSI are also on the
             agenda (https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020/wg2020-04/documents)
         -   From 29.06. - 1.07.2022, there will be a technical meeting on the monitoring framework of
             the Post-2020 GBF to be held in Bonn. Indicators for the implementation of the ABS target
            are also expected to be discussed there. More information at
            (https://www.cbd.int/meetings/ID-OM-2022-01

April 2022

  •     Consultation Forum ABS of the European Commission: The meeting of this body, originally scheduled for 26 April, has been postponed to 12 May 2022. More than a year after the publication of the revised guidance document on the implementation of Regulation (EU) No 511/2014, the meeting will, among other things, provide an opportunity for stakeholders (represented by European user associations) and Member State representatives to exchange experiences. The meeting is not open to the public. However, if you have encountered questions or difficulties in your work with genetic resources for food and agriculture or would like to share positive/negative experiences, please feel free to contact us by 4 May and we will be happy to pass this on in consultation with the lead Federal Ministry for the Environment.
     
  •     Summary of the CBD negotiations on ABS and DSI in Geneva: One of the goals in the Post 2020 GBF addresses access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing for their use.  In this context, the handling of DSI is controversial.  The EU has shown its willingness to seek a solution for benefit-sharing from the use of DSI. At the same time, it demanded that any solution must ensure that the Open Data principle, which is elementary for science and research, remains in place, i.e. also open access to DSI. However, this remains contentious among developing countries. Some demand that access to DSI should also be made dependent on the approval of the states and the indigenous population. It was therefore only possible to agree on a process to further develop and evaluate different policy options.
     
  •    The draft recommendations of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post 2020 GBF on DSI, under the Convention on Biological Diversity, are available on the CBD website.
     
  •     The Guardian magazine takes up the above discussion in an article. African countries in particular are only prepared to agree to an ambitious biodiversity agreement if a financing mechanism is established that enables financial benefit-sharing for the use of biodiversity, including in digital form.

Further negotiation process on ABS/DSI until the UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China, in summer 2022:
- At the end of June 2022, the open-ended working group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will meet for a fourth time.
- The co-chairs of the working group will also reconvene their informal advisory body to further work on DSI policy options
- From 29.06. - 1.07.2022 there will be a technical meeting on the monitoring framework of the Post 2020 GBF to be held in Bonn: see https://www.cbd.int/article/technical-meeting-indicators-global-biodiversity-framework-bonn-germany-29-june-2022).


March 2022

  • On issues related to the implementation of Regulation (EU) No. 511/2014, an "ABS Consultation Forum" will be held for the 8th time on April 26 (from 13:30 to 17:30 in a hybrid event). The event is not open to the public. European organizations representing the interests of different user groups there are invited. If you have particular concerns, there is an opportunity for you to contact one of these organizations. The list of members of this panel can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/expert-groups-register/screen/expert-groups/consult?do=groupDetail.groupDetail&groupID=3396&NewSearch=1&NewSearch=1.
  • The DSI Science Network (formed in 2020 to give science a voice in the DSI discussion) has published an Open Letter for signature (https://www.dsiscientificnetwork.org/open-letter/) and is calling on scientists to participate to highlight the essential importance of open access to digital sequence information about genetic resources. The network aims to contribute to policymakers' and other stakeholders' understanding of DSI, its applications, and its contribution to research, biodiversity conservation, and public health.
  • If you missed the March 15, 2022 event "Towards the World Conference on Nature - what course must German and European policy now take?", you can watch the recording of the event by the Biodiversity Forum Network and the German Environmental Foundation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QB18st6iZ4s.
  • For an overview of the progress of negotiations under the Convention on Biological Diversity on ABS and DSI (the preparatory bodies are currently meeting in Geneva), see the newsletter of the "International Institute for Sustainable Development" https://enb.iisd.org/cbd-sbstta24-sbi3-global-biodiversity-framework.

 


February 2022

Some people talk about the "Geneva Biodiversity Conference", which will meet from 13-29 March 2022. This refers to the monitoring bodies of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which are meeting in Geneva almost 2 years late due to the pandemic, in order to prepare decisions for the UN Biodiversity Conference in China planned for autumn 2022. So far, the bodies could only meet virtually, but negotiations did not take place virtually.

Important preliminary decisions are now expected for the Global Goal on ABS, the Nagoya Protocol and DSI. You can find out about the progress of negotiations on a daily basis via the newsletter "Earth Negotiation Bulletin" (https://enb.iisd.org/cbd-sbstta24-sbi3-global-biodiversity-framework).

On 15 March 2022, the Network Forum on Biodiversity Research Germany (NeFo) together with the German Federal Foundation for the Environment (GFF) invites you to an evening event "On the way to the World Conference on Nature - what course must be set now for German and European policy?" via live stream. In addition to a high-ranking science panel, BM'in Lemke will be a guest.

More information at https://www.dbu.de/550artikel39282_2440.html

We would also like to draw your attention to current publications on ABS and DSI:

Info for Users:

Kervella A.E. et al (2021). Seek, Keep & Transfer - A Step-by-Step Guide to ABS Compliance When Utilizing Marine Genetic Resources.https://www.embrc.eu/sites/default/files/publications/A-step-by-step-guide-to-ABS-compliance-when-utilizing-marine-genetic-resources.pdf

Rojas, P.A. et al (2021) Handbook for Access to Genetic Resources and their By-Products in Colombia. absch.cbd.int/api/v2013/documents/12047C68-DD45-A6AB-A8B5-A7A48592C24D/attachments/HANDBOOK%20FOR%20ACCESS%20TO%20GENETIC%20RESOURCES%20AND%20THEIR-BY%20PRODUCTS%20IN%20COLOMBIA.pdf

On the International Negotiations:

Scholz, A. H. et al. (2022) Multilateral benefit-sharing from digital sequence information will support both science and biodiversity conservation. Nature Communicationshttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-28594-0

Sara, R. et al. (2022). Open access: a technical assessment for the debate on benefit-sharing and digital sequence information. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5849643

Sara, R., A.L. Hufton, and A. H. Scholz. (2021) Compatible or Incompatible? "DSI, Open Access, and Benefit-Sharing." SocArXiv. doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/nw8g9

"Nature in Common, about the Nagoya Protocol" by the French National Research Institutes IRD and MNHN analyses how benefit-sharing under the Nagoya Protocol has become a sticking point in the CBD negotiations (full fee only, en.ird.fr/ird-and-mnhn-publish-book-nature-common-beyond-nagoya-protocol).

 


January 2022

  • The 24th Session of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24), the third session of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) and the third session of the open-ended working group (OEWG 3) for the Post 2020 GBF is scheduled for March 13-29, 2022 in Geneva (Switzerland). Due to the pandemic situation as hybrid event with reduced number of participants on site.
    For more information see: https://www.cbd.int/article/2022-january-geneva-meetings-postponed
  • In preparation of those meetings, the CBD secretariat is hosting introductary webinars. A webinar on Digital Sequence Information is scheduled for March 3, 2022 in order to present the working documents for negotiations. For more information, see https://www.cbd.int/article/pre-geneva-2022-webinars.

December 2021

  • The CBD is postponing the meetings of its two Subsidiary Bodies and the Working Group on the post 2020 Biodiversity Framework. The physical events of the resumed meetings of the 24th Session of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24), the 3rd Session of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) and WG2020-3, originally scheduled for Geneva, 12-28 January 2022, will be held at a later date in 2022. The Secretariat is currently exploring options for dates in March and will provide more information in due course. More information at: https://www.cbd.int/article/2022-january-geneva-meetings-postponed
  • DFG publishes explanatory notes on the Nagoya Protocol for scientific institutions: The paper aims to provide universities and other research institutions with a guide to compliance with the legal requirements for research on genetic resources. In particular, the document aims to provide an overview of the different legal levels. The publication "Explanations on how to deal with the legal requirements of the Nagoya Protocol and Regulation (EU) No. 511/2014 in universities and other research institutions" was published by the Permanent Senate Commission on Fundamental Questions of Biodiversity of the German Research Foundation and can be accessed here: https://www.dfg.de/dfg_profil/gremien/senat/biologische_vielfalt/
  • New / updated ABS info offer from BfN: https://www.bfn.de/nagoya-protokoll
  • The Nagoya Protocol HuB information platform has also updated its content and is also celebrating its first anniversary. The platform provides information in various formats, such as podcasts, videos, or infographics.
  • Article on the DSI debate: https://www.laborjournal.de/editorials/2381.php

November 2021

  • On 23/11/2021 (15:00 - 17:00 in Germany), the CBD Secretariat will host a webinar on "Proposed headline indicators for access and benefit-sharing: Goal C and Target 13 of the draft post-2020 global biodiversity framework". This webinar is in the context of the negotiations of a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and specifically on the supporting set of indicators. It focuses on indicators for the ABS-related targets of the framework.
  • Recordings of recent webinars on DSI:
    • The interplay between open science, open access to data, database conditions, and potential options for tracking and tracing (October 13, 2021 https://youtu.be/F_iSEW9mKRA)
    • Traceability of Digital Sequence Information on Genetic Resources (DSI) (November 2, 2021, https://youtu.be/Rq1aZWkdwu0
  • In preparation for the 15th Conference of the Parties to the CBD as well as the meetings of the associated protocols in May 2022, the preparatory bodies, which have so far only started virtually, will be continued from 12 January 2022 in Geneva. The negotiation documents for this must be published 6 weeks in advance. On DSI, the co-chairs of the Open Working Group have formed an informal consultative body to analyze potential policy options on DSI, identify areas of consensus as well as areas of dissent in positions. The results of these consultations are expected in early December.
  • The International Nucleotide Sequence Data Collaboration (INSDC) announced yesterday that by the end of 2022, INSDC databases will ensure that all new incoming sequences are annotated spatiotemporally. To this end, new requirements for new sequence submissions will be introduced successively. Users will also be asked for feedback on this. For more information, please visit https://www.insdc.org/spatio-temporal-annotation-policy-18-11-2021.

 


October 2021

  • The FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture commissioned a study to analyze the extent to which countries take into account the specificities of genetic resources for food and agriculture in their ABS regulations. It contains useful links to ABS legislation that may be of interest to you. To view the study: https://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/cb6525en. At its 18th meeting, held virtually from 27/09-01/10/2021, the Commission also decided to hold an international workshop, together with the secretariats of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources (Plant Treaty) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to raise awareness about the specificities/challenges of implementing ABS measures in genetic resources for food and agriculture. More information will follow when this date is firmed up.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently considering an alternative ABS instrument for pathogens which, unlike the Nagoya Protocol, would not only allow but require that pathogens can be exchanged in a timely manner. The EU supports such a pandemic prevention treaty. For more information, see https://www.consilium.europa.eu/de/policies/coronavirus/pandemic-treaty/#
  • A webinar on "Traceability of DSI on Genetic resources" will be held on November 2. More details at https://absch.cbd.int/articles/61799004b9cfc70001893c3f
  • The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has published a brochure on "Theory to Practice under the Nagoya Protocol" with funding from the Global Environment Fund (GEF), see also https://absch.cbd.int/articles/616e20f95f8f430001b781aa.

August/September 2021

  • Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in Germany: The report of the workshop "Nagoya Protocol: Supporting Consultancy for the Academic Research Sector", which took place on June 17-18, 2021, is now available online at https://www.nagoyaprotocol-hub.de/library/#hub-documents.
  • At the virtual kick-off meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post 2020 global Biodiversity Framework (OEWG-3), held from August 23 to September 3, 2021, CBD Parties and registered observers exchanged views for the first time on whether and how to address DSI in the Post 2020 GBF. No negotiation took place. Text suggestions made were collected and included in the reports from the sub-working groups that took place. Negotiations on the topic will not take place until the 2nd part of the working group meeting currently scheduled for mid-January in Geneva. For the period leading up to the on-site negotiations, the Open Working Group co-chairs have formed an informal advisory panel to analyze potential policy options on DSI, identify areas of consensus as well as areas of dissent in positions, and finally, issues that still need to be addressed in the period between OEWG-3 (Part 2) and the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP-15, Part 2).
  • The UN Biodiversity Conference (i.e. the Conference of the Parties to the CBD and its protocols), will be opened in October (11-15-October 2021) with a High Level Event, initially virtually, in order to then start the actual negotiations in a 2nd part on site in Kunming (China) from April 25 to May 8, 2022. These negotiations will incorporate the negotiation results expected in January from the preparatory bodies that have so far only started virtually. More information can be found on the CBD website https://www.cbd.int/.
  • The results of a series of informal dialogue events on DSI presented in the global webinar ("Preparing for the CBD negotiations on DSI" on July 26, 2021) through mid-2021 are available via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEa4_i6DX0s.
  • An article by Dan Leskien on "The 'green gold' and the consequences of digitalization" appeared in the journal "World Food" in June 2021 (see www.welthungerhilfe.de/welternaehrung/rubriken/klima-ressourcen/gruenes-gold-im-digitalen-zeitalter/ or in English at https://www.welthungerhilfe.org/news/latest-articles/2021/green-gold-going-digital/

 


July 2021

  • The first detailed draft of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework has just been published, as well as a separate negotiation paper on DSI. These documents form the textual basis for the international negotiations at the upcoming third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG-3) from August 23 to September 3, 2021. Further information can be found at https://www.cbd.int/article/draft-1-global-biodiversity-framework and concrete negotiation texts at https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020/wg2020-03/documents.
  • Regarding user checks in Germany: In our last newsletter, we already referred to the podcast of the Nagoya Protocol HuB, which shed more light on the purpose and process of the controls. Despite various awareness-raising efforts, there are still uncertainties regarding the fulfillment of the due diligence obligations of the users of genetic resources, which is why we are taking up this point again.
  • In case of non-compliance with due diligence, for example, a research institute may face various consequences, depending on the facts of the case. These include:
    • the prohibition of use of the genetic material and its results, as well as its confiscation;
    • the prohibition to publish the related research results;
    • a fine of up to 50,000 euros.

To prevent this, the concept of "due diligence" is about thoroughness and best efforts to obtain necessary information related to the genetic resource. Specifically, this means that justifications and evidence should also be kept as to why materials do not fall within the scope of the EU Regulation.