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Background

Issues relating to technology transfer and cooperation are addressed in Articles 16, 17, 18 and 19 of the Convention. Technology transfer as a means of achieving the equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources is mentioned in Article 19. In addition, training and research activities, so essential for establishing national capacities to diffuse and adapt technologies, are addressed in Article 12.

As explained above, the basic obligation of all Parties regarding access to and transfer of technology is set out in paragraph 1 of Article 16 of the Convention. Article 16 also establishes a number of conditions regarding technology transfer:

  • Its paragraph 2 stipulates that access to and transfer of technology to developing countries "shall be provided and/or facilitated under fair and most favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms where mutually agreed, and, where necessary, in accordance with the financial mechanism established by Articles 20 and 21".
  • In the case of technology subject to patents and other intellectual property rights, paragraph 2 of Article 16 states that access and transfer shall be provided on terms that recognize and are consistent with the adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights.
  • Paragraph 3 of Article 16 requires Parties to take legislative, administrative or policy measures with the aim that Parties which provide genetic resources, in particular those that are developing countries, are provided access to and transfer of technology which makes use of those resources, on mutually agreed terms, including technology protected by patents and other intellectual property rights, where necessary, through the provisions of Articles 20 and 21 and in accordance with international law.
  • Lastly, paragraph 4 of Article 16 requires Parties to take legislative, administrative or policy measures with the aim that the private sector facilitates access to, joint development and transfer of technology for the benefit of both governmental institutions and the private sector of developing countries.

Article 18, on technical and scientific cooperation, requires Parties to promote international cooperation in the field of conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; develop methods of cooperation for the development and use of technologies, including indigenous and traditional technologies; and promote the establishment of joint research programmes and joint ventures for the development of technologies relevant to the objectives of the Convention. Article 19, on biotechnology, requires Parties to establish legislative, administrative or policy measures to provide for the effective participation in biotechnological research activities of Parties, especially developing countries, which provide genetic resources for such research; and to take practicable measures to promote and advance priority access by such Parties, on a fair and equitable basis, to the results and benefits arising from biotechnologies based upon the genetic resources provided.

Several other provisions in the Convention are also relevant to technology transfer. Article 17 on exchange of information is pertinent since, on the one hand, information exchange is key for the identification of opportunities for technology transfer, and, on the other hand, information exchange is often an essential ingredient of technology transfer. Article 17 therefore provides that exchange of information shall include not only the exchange of information as such, but also exchange of information in combination with technologies referred to in paragraph 1 of Article 16.

Finally, Article 15 contains important elements regarding technology transfer in the context of access to genetic resources and benefit sharing. Paragraph 6 requires each Party to endeavour to develop and carry out scientific research based on genetic resources provided by other Contracting Parties with full participation of, and where possible in, such Contracting Parties. Joint and in-country research is therefore considered an important avenue for the development of technological capabilities of Parties providing genetic resources. The transfer of technology has also been identified as a benefit-sharing option in Appendix 2 of the Bonn Guidelines on Access to Genetic Resources and Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising out of their Utilization. Paragraph 7 of Article 15 further requires each Party to take legislative, administrative or policy measures, as appropriate and in accordance with Articles 16 and 19, with the aim of sharing in a fair and equitable way the results of research and development and the benefits arising from commercial and other utilization of genetic resources with the Contracting Party providing such resources.

Overview of CBD Activities

At its third meeting, the Conference of the Parties requested the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to conduct its work on technology transfer within sectoral themes related to the priority issues under its programme of work. Aspects of technology transfer and cooperation were subsequently integrated into relevant thematic programmes of work and programmes of work of relevant cross-cutting issues.

In 2004, at its seventh meeting, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention adopted a programme of work on technology transfer and technological and scientific cooperation. This programme of work spells out a number of strategic considerations to be taken into account in its implementation by the various actors. Grouped under four programme elements, it also spells out a number of operational targets and related activities required from Parties, other governments, international organizations and the Secretariat.

A strategy for practical implementation of the programme of work was developed by an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Technology Transfer and Scientific and Technological Cooperation in September 2007. The group also identified and analysed ongoing tools, mechanisms, systems and initiatives to promote the implementation of Articles 16 to 19. COP at its ninth meeting took note of the strategy as a preliminary basis for concrete activities by Parties and international organizations.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme