On May 24th, 2021, national competent authorities of India and Costa Rica exchanged experiences and views on ABS labels and certifications schemes, during an open dialogue supported by the Global ABS Community.
The discussion raised many ideas that are worth to be shared with the members of the Global ABS Community, since ABS labeling is an issue for many countries and companies that want to showcase compliance with ABS measures and encourage other private sector players to meet local ABS frameworks.
This debate – that followed Costa Rica´s presentation on the ABS label that the government has put in place in 2018, and India´s presentation on the scheme that the National Biodiversity Authority is currently developing – focused on the advantages of ABS labeling and the challenges that both systems are facing.
Particular characteristics of each scheme aside, several advantages of ABS labeling were highlighted. Among others, it incentives conservation of biodiversity, it puts in value biodiversity, adds value to a product and provides a market advantage, it gives visibility to benefit sharing and contributes to provide valuable information for consumers.
The road to ABS certification at the national level is not exempted of challenges. Three main issues were discussed. The first one is companies´ perception on audits and bureaucracy. ABS labeling requires careful audits, and it might discourage companies already facing audit fatigue. Simplified and cost-free schemes can be a solution to this issue.
Linked to the previous issue, the second one is effective communication. It is one of the core challenges, not only because of its implications in the perception that ABS players have of the certification procedures but also because the concept of ABS is still unknown by the general public. In addition, having few products in the market with ABS badge, does not contribute to demonstrate the many advantages of complying with the regulations.
The gap between bioprospection and commercialization of products impacts in the number of products in the market. As per Costa Rica, funding and building alliances between players is the recommended way to proceed.
In your opinion, what are the advantages and challenges of ABS labeling and certification schemes? How would you face the challenges?
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