The Second Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ICNP-2) is being held in New Delhi from 2-6 July, 2012. The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) is an international treaty which was adopted under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan on 29th October, 2010, after six years of intense negotiations.
The CBD, one of the two agreements adopted during the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, is the first comprehensive global agreement which addresses all aspects relating to biodiversity. The Convention, while reaffirming sovereign rights of nations over their biological resources, establishes three main goals: (i) conservation of biological diversity, (ii) sustainable use of its components, and (iii) fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources.
A framework for implementing the third objective of the CBD, which is generally known as access and benefit sharing (ABS) is provided for in the Convention. All living organisms such as plants, animals and microbes, carry genetic material that has potential uses for developing a wide range of products and services for human benefits, such as in development of medicines, drugs, cosmetics, enzymes, agricultural and horticultural products, environmental techniques etc. ABS refers to the way in which genetic resources may be accessed, and the way in which benefits that result from their use are shared between the people or countries using the resources (users) and the people or countries that provide them (providers).
Prior to the CBD, biological resources were considered as common heritage of mankind. The CBD, while reaffirming sovereign rights of States over their natural resources, stipulates that the authority to determine access to genetic resources rests with the national Governments and is subject to national legislation. Further, access where granted, has to be on mutually agreed terms (MAT) and subject to prior informed consent (PIC) of the Party providing such resources.
Each Party is also required to take measures to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits on MAT arising from the commercial and other utilisation of genetic resources with the Party providing such resources. The CBD recognises the importance of traditional knowledge associated with biological diversity, and stipulates that Parties (subject to their national legislation) respect, preserve and maintain this traditional knowledge, and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of holders of their knowledge and encourage equitable sharing of benefit arising from use of such knowledge.
India, as a megadiverse country rich in biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge, and with a rapidly advancing biotechnology industry, has contributed effectively in ABS negotiations.
The objective of the Nagoya Protocol, namely, the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, is also one of the three objectives of the CBD. The Nagoya Protocol on ABS establishes a clear framework on how researchers and companies can obtain access to genetic resources and to traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, and how benefits arising from the use of such material or knowledge will be shared.
The Nagoya Protocol sets out clear obligation for Parties to provide that users of genetic resources within their jurisdiction respect the domestic regulatory framework of Parties from where the resource has been accessed.
The first meeting of ICNP was held in June, 2011, in which India had been elected as one of the two Bureau members to represent Asia Pacific region. This is helping India to steer the discussions under ICNP. The second meeting of ICNP is being hosted by India in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi from 2-6 July, 2012.
The Nagoya Protocol has been signed by 92 countries, and as on date ratified by five countries. India signed the Protocol on 11th May, 2011, and is in the process of completing interministerial consultations necessary for ratifying the Protocol. The Protocol will enter into force 90 days after its 50th ratification. The first meeting of the governing body of the Protocol (CoP-MoP) will be held concurrently with the next meeting of governing body of the CBD (CoP).
The ICNP-2 will discuss issues such as capacity building of developing countries for implementation of the Protocol, awareness raising, modalities of ABS clearing house, procedures and mechanism to promote compliance with the Protocol, agenda for the first CoP-MoP, rules of procedure for CoP-MoP, and global multilateral benefit sharing mechanism.
About 600 delegates from all countries of the world representing Governments, academia, UN bodies, civil society organizations, and indigenous and local communities are expected to attend the New Delhi meeting which will be inaugurated by India's Minister of Environment & Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, on 2nd July, in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
The recommendations of the ICNP meetings will be considered by the CoP-11 to the CBD being hosted by India in Hyderabad in October 2012.