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Side Event

Negotiating biodiversity, trade and IP: Implications of free trade agreements

International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Date and Time
23 January 2008 13:15 - 14:45

Sixth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (WG ABS 6)

The significant impact of trade and intellectual property (IP) rights on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is well recognized. A number of multilateral discussions and negotiations are indeed now addressing issues at the interface between biodiversity, trade and IP. In addition to the negotiations on an international access and benefit-sharing regime at the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), for example, the relationship between the CBD and the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) remains an outstanding implementation issue at the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is considering related issues in many of its committees and bodies, particularly the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore (IGC). All these discussions and negotiations are closely linked, as has been increasingly acknowledged by the various stakeholders and is reflected in their increased efforts to ensure adequate coordination and mutual supportiveness between these different processes. In this context, the relevance and implications of bilateral and regional free trade agreements on the relationship between biodiversity, trade and IP has received less attention. In effect, past years have been characterized by an increase in the number of these agreements, most of which contain detailed IP provisions. These provisions tend to go beyond, either in scope or level of protection, of the minimum standards at the multilateral level, and are thus referred to as “TRIPS-plus.” As a result, a range of concerns have been raised on the potential negative effects on sustainable development of the increased levels of IP protection. In particular, the implications of such provisions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as the equitable sharing of benefits resulting from such use, are considered to be significant. The side event on “Negotiating biodiversity, trade and IP: Implications of free trade agreements,” organized by ICTSD in the context of the sixth meeting of the CBD Ad-Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharing, will provide a platform for the analysis of provisions relating to biodiversity, trade and IP in recent bilateral and regional free trade agreements. In addition, the event will provide the opportunity to consider and discuss the implications of these provisions for relevant biodiversity, trade and IP discussions at the multilateral level. Panelists and participants will include representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society.