Even though the concept of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) is one of the three goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and, in this context, occupies an important place in it, other forums have also contributed to the debate on this topic.

A "default" instrument: the Nagoya Protocol

The Nagoya Protocol was negotiated in the framework of the CBD and adopted by the 193 member countries (Parties) in 2010. It pertains to the genetic resources coming under the jurisdiction of the Parties to the convention in accordance with Article 15 of the CBD, "Access to genetic resources", which, as a basic principle, recognises the right to sovereignty of States over their natural resources and thereby their power to determine access to their genetic resources, according to their national legislation. Therefore, its scope of application can be very wide. The goal of the Nagoya Protocol is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources, thus creating an incentive to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Other ABS instruments

There are several other frameworks governing the ABS. Some of them pertain to specific sub-categories of genetic resources while others address the issue of access to genetic resources located in well-defined geographical areas. In all cases, different instruments are designed to complement and reinforce each other.

Among the complementary ABS instruments, undoubtedly the best known is the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture of theFAO (Food and Agriculture Organization).

The topic has also been the subject of many discussions in forums such as theWTO (World Trade Organization), WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and WHO (World Health Organization).

Moreover, at an international level, some initiatives have emerged in the wake of the adoption of the CBD. These include the IPEN (International Plant Exchange Network) and the MOSAICC Code of Conduct (Micro-Organisms Sustainable use and Access Regulation International Code of Conduct).