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What has been done on digital sequence information on genetic resources?

COP 14 and COP-MOP 3 (November 2018)

The issue of digital sequence information on genetic resources was considered by COP 14 and COP-MOP 3 to the Nagoya Protocol and each adopted a decision: COP decision 14/20 and COP-MOP decision NP-3/12.

In decision 14/20, Parties recognized the importance of digital sequence information on genetic resources for the three objectives of the Convention which are mutually supportive, although further work is needed to provide conceptual clarity on digital sequence information on genetic resources. Parties also recognized that access to and use of digital sequence information on genetic resources contributes to scientific research as well as to other non-commercial and commercial activities in areas such as biological diversity, food security and human, animal and plant health.

Parties recognized also that further capacity to access, use, generate and analyse digital sequence information on genetic resources is needed in many countries, and encouraged Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to support capacity-building and technology transfer, as appropriate, to assist in the access, use, generation and analysis of digital sequence information on genetic resources for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and benefit-sharing.

The Conference of the Parties also noted that, as there is a divergence of views among Parties regarding benefit-sharing from the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources, Parties commit to work towards resolving this divergence through the process established in the decision, with the aim of strengthening the fulfillment of the third objective of the Convention and Article 15, paragraph 7, without prejudice to the circumstances to which this article applies.

In this regard, the decision established a science and policy-based process on digital sequence information on genetic resources for further work on this topic in the 2019-2020 intersessional period. The process entails the submission of views and information, the commissioning and peer review of four studies as well as work by an ad hoc technical expert group (AHTEG).

The outcomes of the AHTEG will be considered by the open-ended inter-sessional working group established under decision 14/34 to support the preparation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Recommendations by the open-ended inter-sessional working group on how to address digital sequence information on genetic resources in the context of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will be considered by Conference of the Parties at its fifteenth meeting. Decision NP-3/12 also requested the open-ended inter-sessional working group to submit the outcome of its deliberations for consideration by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol at its fourth meeting.

Twenty-second meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (July 2018)

The twenty-second meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-22) was held from 2 to 7 July 2018 in Montreal, Canada. The meeting considered a document containing the outcomes of the work of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Digital Sequence Information on Genetic Resources. Following extensive deliberations, SBSTTA agreed to recommendation 22/1 containing a draft decision to the fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP-14) and a draft decision to the third meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol (COP-MOP 3). While both draft decisions are entirely in square brackets, the discussions during SBSTTA-22 helped to build understanding on the issue and the different perspectives. The draft decisions will be considered by COP-14 and COP-MOP 3 at their meetings in Egypt in November 2018.

Meeting of the AHTEG (February 2018)

The meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Digital Sequence Information (DSI) on Genetic Resources was held from 13 to 16 February 2018 in Montreal, Canada. The meeting was convened thanks to the financial support of the Government of Canada and the European Union. The AHTEG considered the synthesis of views and information submitted by Parties, other Governments, relevant organizations and stakeholders, as well as a fact-finding and scoping study commissioned by the Executive Secretary. The Expert Group discussed the terminology and different types of DSI on genetic resources as well as any potential implications of the use of DSI on genetic resources for the three objectives of the Convention and the objective of the Nagoya Protocol. Among other things, the experts agreed that more discussion on the terminology associated with this issue is required to find the balance between terminology that is adaptive and dynamic enough to accommodate scientific, technological, market and other change, and at the same time is clear and solid enough to provide legal certainty. The experts also agreed on the importance of “DSI” for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity while emphasizing that the three objectives of the Convention are interlinked and mutually supportive. The report will be considered by SBSTTA-22.

COP 13 (December 2016)

At its thirteenth meeting, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) considered the issue of digital sequence information on genetic resources and adopted decision XIII/16, in which it decided to consider, at its fourteenth meeting, any potential implications of the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources for the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

In the decision, Parties, other Governments, indigenous peoples and local communities as well as relevant organizations and stakeholders are invited to submit views and relevant information to the Executive Secretary on any such potential implications. The Executive Secretary is requested to compile and synthesize the views and information submitted, as well as information from other sources, and to commission a fact-finding and scoping study to clarify terminology and concepts and to assess the extent and the terms and conditions of the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources in the context of the Convention and the Nagoya Protocol.

The decision also established an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) which is to:

  1. Consider the compilation, synthesis and the study referred to above in order to examine any potential implications of the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources for the three objectives of the Convention and the objective of the Nagoya Protocol and implementation to achieve these objectives;
  2. Consider the technical scope and legal and scientific implications of existing terminology related to digital sequence information on genetic resources;
  3. Identify the different types of digital sequence information on genetic resources that are relevant to the Convention and the Nagoya Protocol.

The AHTEG will submit its outcomes for consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). SBSTTA will consider these outcomes and make a recommendation on the potential implications of the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources for the three objectives of the Convention for the consideration of the COP at its fourteenth meeting.

COP-MOP 2 (December 2016)

At its second meeting, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol (COP-MOP) adopted decision NP-2/14, mirroring CBD decision XIII/16, and decided to consider, at its third meeting, any potential implications of the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources for the objective of the Nagoya Protocol. In the decision, the COP-MOP invited Parties, other Governments, indigenous peoples and local communities, organizations and stakeholders to include information relevant to the Nagoya Protocol in the submission of their views and information.

In the decision, the Parties decided that the AHTEG on digital sequence information on genetic resources would also serve the Nagoya Protocol by considering the information relevant to the Nagoya Protocol in the compilation, synthesis and study prepared further to decision XIII/16. SBSTTA is also requested to make a recommendation on the potential implications of the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources for the objective of the Nagoya Protocol for consideration by the third meeting of the COP-MOP.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme