The Nagoya Protocol brings fairness, equity, and sustainability to the new global agenda for biodiversity
In six months, the world’s governments will convene in Kunming, China and commit to the most important plan in the history of the Convention on Biological Diversity, known as the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF). Why is taking urgent and coordinated action now so important? Simply put—the world’s biodiversity, nearly everything in nature from the striking Siberian tiger to the resilient blue whale, from ancient sequoia trees to life-sustaining coral reefs, fungi and microorganisms, is in danger. Not only is the death of vast animal and plant populations a threat to their own species and their ecosystems’ survival, but we are also now, for the first time in history, faced with environmental changes that directly threaten our human societies and existence.
"What is at stake is the future of nature but also the future of nature's contributions to people — and therefore human well-being."
— CBD Deputy Executive Secretary David Cooper
Human life is deeply entwined with the survival of nature, and if we are to preserve our way of life, we urgently need to transform this relationship by stopping the drastic loss of biodiversity, the cultures, and livelihoods it sustains, and we need to act now. The post-2020 GBF aims to galvanize the urgent and transformative action needed by governments and all of levels of society towards this goal. In this context, access and benefit-sharing (ABS) will play a key role.
The “the ABS we ALL need” campaign (#theABSweALLneed), launched on 29 October and running until the first week of January 2022, is an opportunity to show the way in which we can make our world a more equitable and fairer place in the context of the new global agenda for biodiversity, one ABS agreement at a time, and in a just manner for all involved.
Part of the transformational agenda for the post-2020 period will focus on the third objective of the Convention: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources. Over 10 years ago, governments came together and adopted the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing to provide a more practical and implementable framework that could work as a tool to advance conservation and sustainable development. The Protocol is a landmark international environmental agreement which embodies a commitment to fairer and more equitable relationships around the use of genetic resources, and the use of the associated traditional knowledge (aTK) held by indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). These principles are key building blocks for a truly transformational post-2020 GBF that will be effective in changing our relationship with nature and ensuring that everyone benefits fairly from the use of its resources. This is all the more important as countries also discuss, in the context of the post-2020 GBF, the place of digital sequence information on genetic resources and the benefits from its use.
As an ABS instrument, the Nagoya Protocol promotes an equitable balance between the interests of users and the providers of resources and knowledge. For users of genetic resources or aTK, the Protocol aims to ensure they have the legal certainty they need to develop non-commercial or commercial products. Users need to comply with a country’s rules and procedure for access, which can also include rules and procedures determined by IPLCs, and negotiate terms to share any benefits equitably and fairly. For providers of genetic resources or aTK, the Protocol empowers stewardship over their own resources, helps to ensure that the users comply with all conditions set in mutually agreed terms and that the benefits arising from utilization are received as agreed. In this narrative, the benefits are key. Benefits can be monetary such as compensation from the development of new products, or non-monetary, such as increased scientific capacity and knowledge. The Protocol encourages benefits to be reinvested in a fair and just manner into conservation and sustainability practices to benefit biodiversity, in line with the mandates of the Convention.
The post-2020 GBF is a key opportunity to further the implementation of this important Protocol and of the third objective of the Convention more broadly. Implementing ABS means that genetic resources are sourced fairly, ethically, responsibly, and respectfully of the environment and the people involved. This means that:
- When traditional knowledge is involved, the IPLCs are involved in decisions regarding its use.
- Business interests are not prioritized above those of the local communities, and opportunities, for women, youth and other vulnerable groups are created along the value chain.
- Research is conducted ethically and collaboratively across borders.
- Traditional knowledge is respected, preserved and maintained.
- Benefits from scientific innovation and knowledge and new products are shared equally, fairly and justly with the biodiverse-rich countries and with IPLCs to enhance sustainable development outcomes for all, including biodiversity.
Through this campaign we will highlight the role the Nagoya Protocol has played in improving people’s livelihoods and, crucially, as an equity and power-shifting mechanism which can help set us on a path to achieve not only sustainable development but also environmental and social justice for nature and people. As we develop the post-2020 plan for biodiversity, the spirit and principles of the Nagoya Protocol remain as relevant as ever in discussions around future targets related to genetic diversity, food and agriculture, business, consumption, IPLCs, traditional knowledge, integration, mainstreaming, and resource mobilization. The Nagoya Protocol can, thus, serve as a vehicle for sustained positive change and transformation in the post-2020 era, for both biodiversity and people.
This campaign is supported by the Government of Japan through the Japan Biodiversity Fund.