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Working Group on Access & Benefit Sharing

The Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (Working Group) was established by the Conference of the Parties at its fifth meeting, in May 2000, in Nairobi, Kenya. As set out in decision V/26, the initial mandate of the Working Group was to develop guidelines and other approaches to assist Parties and stakeholders with the implementation of the access and benefit-sharing provisions of the Convention.

The Bonn Guidelines on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their utilization, developed by the Working Group, were adopted by the Conference of the Parties at its sixth meeting in The Hague, in 2002. The Working Group was then reconvened in order to further examine outstanding issues, including use of terms, other approaches, measures to support compliance with prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms, and capacity-building needs (COP decision VI/24).

The Working Group was given a new mandate at the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties, in Kuala Lumpur, 2004. Following the call for action by Governments at the World Summit on Sustainable Development to negotiate an international regime for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, the Conference of the Parties decided “to mandate the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and benefit-sharing with the collaboration of the Ad Hoc Open ended Inter-sessional Working Group on Article 8 (j) and related provisions, ensuring the participation of indigenous and local communities, non-governmental organizations, industry and scientific and academic institutions, as well as intergovernmental organizations, to elaborate and negotiate an international regime on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing with the aim of adopting an instrument/instruments to effectively implement the provisions in Article 15 and Article 8 (j) of the Convention and the three objectives of the Convention.” The COP also agreed on the terms of reference for the Working Group, including the process, nature, scope and elements for consideration in the elaboration of the regime (COP decision VII/19).

At its eighth meeting, in Curitiba, in 2006, the Working Group on ABS was requested by the Conference of the Parties to continue the elaboration and negotiation of the international regime and instructed to complete its work at the earliest possible time before the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties. Two meetings of the Working were to be held prior to COP 9.

The Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing held its fifth meeting in Montreal, Canada, from 8 to 12 October 2007, and its sixth meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from 21 to 25 January 2008. In line with decision VIII/4 of the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, the Working Group continued the elaboration and negotiation of the international regime on access and benefit-sharing. Recommendations to the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties on the way forward are included in the report of the sixth meeting. Click here for the respective reports of the fifth and sixth meeting.

At its ninth meeting in Bonn, in May 2008, in decision IX/12, paragraph 2, the COP reiterated its instruction to the Working Group to complete the elaboration and negotiation of the international regime at the earliest possible time before the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties. In paragraph 3, the Conference of the Parties further instructed the Working Group to finalize the international regime and to submit for consideration and adoption by the Conference of the Parties at its tenth meeting an instrument\instruments to effectively implement the provisions in Article 15 and Article 8(j) of the Convention and its three objectives, without in any way prejudging or precluding any outcome regarding the nature of such instrument\instruments. The Conference of the Parties also decided that the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing should meet three times prior to the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

In line with decision IX/12, the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on ABS continued the elaboration and negotiation of the international regime. The Working Group convened its seventh meeting in Paris, France from 2-8 April 2009, its eighth meeting in Montreal, Canada from 9-15 November 2009 and its ninth meeting in Cali, Colombia from 22-28 March 2010. At its ninth meeting, the Working Group accepted a draft Protocol tabled by the Co-Chairs as a basis for further negotiations. However, the Working Group was not able to finalize the text at this session and decided to suspend the meeting at the end of the seven days and to resume the ninth meeting of the Working Group in order for it to complete its mandate.

The first session of the resumed ninth meeting of the Working Group (WG-ABS 9 Resumed) was held in Montreal, Canada, from 10 to 16 July 2010. Following a proposal by the Co-Chairs, the Working Group convened an Interregional Negotiating Group (ING) to continue negotiations of the draft Protocol. Parties made significant progress in reaching a common understanding on core issues, such as the compliance, access, benefit-sharing including derivatives, as well as the relationship of the Protocol to other international instruments. However, the Working Group was unable to finalize the text and recognized that further work was needed in order to meet its objective of submitting a draft Protocol for adoption by the tenth Conference of the Parties. The Working Group therefore decided to reconvene the ING and that the ninth meeting of the Working Group would resume prior to COP-10, to endorse the work of the ING and forward recommendations to Parties.

Following the recommendations from the Working Group, the ING resumed its work in Montreal, Canada, from 18 to 21 September 2010, and in Nagoya, Japan, from 13 to 15 October 2010. Significant progress in the negotiations of the draft Protocol was made during both ING meetings, but the group was not able to finalize the negotiating text. The second session of the resumed ninth meeting of the Working Group was held on 16 October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan, during which it endorsed the work of the ING and forwarded a draft Protocol on ABS for the consideration of Parties at COP-10.

At the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held in Nagoya, Japan from 18 to 29 October 2010, Parties adopted the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity in decision X/1.

For information on the Nagoya Protocol, please visit the ABS home page at www.cbd.int/abs/.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme