#2 Follow-up exchange on “ABS and BioTrade” – following our recent Webinar on the same topic!
Dear friends and colleagues,
It was our great pleasure to host the recent Webinar on BioTrade and ABS, which was jointly organized by the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project and UNCTAD in partnership with FLEDGE.
We are very pleased to inform you that all presentations and the recordings of the webinar are available on the ABS Community of Practice website. We wish take advantage of this follow-up exchange to continue the conversation with our world-renowned experts on BioTrade and ABS with a view to addressing some important questions that were raised by the participants during the webinar.
Dr. Balakrishna Pisupati from FLEDGE highlighted that with over 115 Parties to the Nagoya Protocol, many countries are now developing national ABS frameworks to implement their obligations. While these countries are considering a range of issues related to ABS such as intellectual property rights, gender, financing and others, there is still some confusion about clarifying the concept of commercial utilization of genetic resources. One area than needs further clarity is for countries to define the difference between bioprospecting and trade in biological resources. Dr. Pisupati argued that trade in biological resources should be dealt with separately by countries and should not be confused with prospecting for ABS purposes. Hence, his presentation focused on explaining the key differences between BioTrade and Bioprospecting.
Mr. David Vivas Eugui and Mr. Frederic Perron-Welch of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) delivered a joint presentation. Since its launch by UNCTAD in 1996, the BioTrade Initiative has been promoting sustainable BioTrade in support of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Initiative has developed a unique portfolio of regional and country programmes. UNCTAD is currently implementing the Global BioTrade Programme: Linking trade, biodiversity and sustainable development, a four-year programme that aims to provide key stakeholders with the ability to seize and capitalize upon trade opportunities by from linking biodiversity and sustainable development. Against this backdrop, Mr. Vivas Eugui’s intervention further discussed the concept of BioTrade and how it can promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Then, Mr. Perron-Welch stressed that the objective of promoting the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources has taken on increasing prominence since the entry into the force of the Nagoya Protocol in 2014 and adoption of SDG 15.6. In developing implementation measures, it is important to draw a clear distinction between the use of biological resources, and the utilization of genetic resources. His presentation addressed the differences and complementarities between BioTrade and ABS, and how they can be promoted concurrently to support the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
Finally, Ms. Veronique Rossow of the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project, underscored that when implementing the Nagoya Protocol, countries are facing a several challenges, including mainstreaming current industries practices and dynamics within their own ABS legal frameworks. To benefit from the potential of their genetic resources and associated Traditional Knowledge, providers are more and more often considering themselves as users as well. Through a bottom-up approach, where national ABS country teams are in the driver’s seat, the UNDP-GEF Global ABS project is supporting several countries to set up domestic ABS valorization strategies in the attempt to develop potential ABS value chains. Ms. Rossow introduced the forthcoming REACTION Valorization Tool, featured in the Valorization Workbook initiated by the Global ABS Project, and illustrated the strong interlinkages between BioTrade and ABS, and how a knowledge-based approach can trigger partnerships and attract investors.
In the ensuing Q&A, the participants wished to further discuss, among other things, the following questions:
- What would the panel suggest being the most appropriate domestic tool to regulate BioTrade? ABS legislation? Or a domestic legislation on access to, exploitation and commercialization of NTFPs [non-timber forest products] which integrates BioTrade and ABS principles?
- Seed companies access genetic resources held in national and international genebanks and without doing any substantial research on them they multiply them and commercialize them. Since there is no breeding (i.e. research and development) involved, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, the Nagoya Protocol on ABS and many national laws implementing both conventions do not apply, in theory. How should this utilization of plant genetic resources be considered? Can it be considered BioTrade? Could principles of BioTrade be applied to these uses? Should ABS laws be applied even when they do not consider this use as “utilization” in the sense of the Nagoya Protocol or the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources?
We warmly welcome the continuation of our online discussion on the above topics!