About the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (WG ABS)

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 β€œto 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 fifth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing took place from 8 - 12 October 2007 in Montreal, Canada. In line with decision VIII/4 of the eighth Conference of the Parties, the Working Group continued the elaboration and negotiation of the international regime on access and benefit-sharing (Click here for the report).

The sixth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing will take place from 21 to 25 January 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme