Status and trends
Agreements on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing have been observed across all the regions, and also appear to concentrate in those countries that have high biodiversity richness. In a sample of 44 countries with agreements on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing, 65 percent of them are located in the top 40 countries (about one fifth of CBD membership) of the GEF benefits index for biodiversity. Latin America has seen higher frequency of agreements on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing than other regions, but the Caribbean is not well known for such contracts. In Africa, Northern Africa is less known to have agreements on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing than other African sub-regions. In Asia, Western Asia has not seen as many agreements as other Asian sub-regions. Not many agreements on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing have been observed in the European continent, particularly Southern Europe.
Monetary benefits of access to genetic resources and benefit sharing agreements/contracts can be multiple. Certain benefits may be available when such agreements are reached, for instance, access fees/fee per sample collected or otherwise acquired, up-front payments, milestone payments, special fees to be paid to trust funds supporting conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, research funding, salaries and preferential terms where mutually agreed. Most agreements on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing offer financial payments in the range between a few ten thousands dollars and near one million dollars. The total upfront financial payment so far from all known contracts on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing may not exceed US$50 million, and only a portion of this sum has been returned to biodiversity conservation.
Other financial benefits can be difficult to track and estimate, such as payment of royalties, licence fees in case of commercialization, joint ventures, joint ownership of relevant intellectual property rights. To document cash flows from benefit sharing agreements over a longer period of time can be very costly. However, large deals resulting from benefit sharing agreements often generate a reasonable level of publicity, and news monitors continue to be a good source of information associated with various benefit sharing agreements. Whenever financial benefits are sizable, income statements and balance sheets of involved organizations and businesses should also provide good indication of returns from benefit sharing agreements.
Ideas of mobilization
- National strategies and policies for industries that use genetic resources as input are encouraged and supported with favorable fiscal terms
- Access to genetic resources and benefit sharing are integrated into national industrial strategies and policies
- Favorable tax and other measures are introduced for those revenues resulting from access to genetic resources and benefit sharing and that are returned to conservation and sustainable use projects and activities
- Capacity building and technical cooperation are promoted between countries that have developed experiences in access and benefit sharing agreements and those that lack such experience
- Better flow of information on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing including national policy frameworks will facilitate the replication of best practices on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing