Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing

For many decades, the natural resources in the Pacific have been exploited for pharmaceutical, biotechnology and agricultural research. However, in many cases, the resources are taken without the knowledge of the resource owners, developed and sold for millions of dollars.
Communities need to be aware of what is being taken out of their communities and for what purposes. They need to ensure that a contract is signed and that the benefits are mutually agreed to. Benefits can vary from short term to long term.

How will ABS policies/legislations help?
With an ABS policy or legislation in place, national governments will have more authority and control over the accessing of genetic resources, legally. An ABS system should clearly state a proper procedure to follow for potential bio-prospectors and clarify at what level consent should be sought from.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the only international agreement that covers ABS. In 1992, it was opened for signing at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit and ratified later that year. There are 42 articles altogether, of which, article 15 is on ABS.

The article states that States have sovereign rights over their natural resources and are responsible for creating conditions to facilitate access to their genetic resources. However, there is no protection for resources that were collected before the CBD, human genetic resources and resources found beyond the jurisdiction of a country.

This article also requires that prior informed consent should be obtained from resource owners and that there is mutual agreement to the type and quantity of benefits to be received by all parties concerned.
The Aquarium industry is a good example of an industry that commercialises genetic resources. / ©: WWF
The Aquarium industry is a good example of an industry that commercialises genetic resources.
© WWF

ABS and WWF

WWFSP has held national workshops in 6 countries. / ©: WWF
WWFSP has held national workshops in 6 countries.
© WWF
The ABS project is being carried out in 3 WWF offices - Colombia, Cameroon and the South Pacific and is funded by BMZ, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The main focus of the project is to enhance the capacity of key stakeholders to implement the access and benefit sharing provisions of the CBD.
ABS in the Pacific
In the Pacific, WWF SPP has held national workshops in 6 countries and a regional workshop in partnership with other NGOs, IGOs and the host countries. The workshops provided an opportunity for participants to participate in the ABS processes and articulate their concerns and opinions.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required