What are we regulating? The scope of access and benefit sharing (ABS)
March 5, 2020. 09:00 EST
Conveners: Manuel Ruiz, Sarah Laird, Rachel Wynberg
Moderator: Manuel Ruiz
Coordination: Gabriela Alvarez and Jaci van Niekerk
Samples for drug development, a bulk plant ingredient used in a cosmetic product, herbal teas, or microorganisms that contribute to biotechnological processes …. do all of these fall under ABS law? A lot of confusion surrounds the activities and products covered by ABS. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) addresses “genetic resources” and “biological resources”, but what does that mean in practice to local groups, researchers, indigenous peoples, companies, and even governments? Stakeholders tend to view ABS in many different ways, and partly this is because what ABS applies to – that is, its scope – has become exceedingly broad. A quick look at some existing national and international frameworks shows ABS covering biological materials, genetic resources, derived products, indigenous peoples´ traditional knowledge, biotrade, and more recently “digital sequence information”.
ABS policy has provided a home for numerous orphaned ethical issues associated with biodiversity, traditional knowledge, genetic resources, and advanced science and technology. It has been all things to all people and convened invaluable dialogues over the last few decades. But its implementation has always lagged behind its promise, and one of the challenges can be found in the ambiguity around what it actually regulates. This is a pressing matter today as policy makers and others grapple with the implications of DSI for ABS. This webinar will review the origins of scope within the CBD, how it evolved over the following few decades, and where we find ourselves today. Contributors will share views on the appropriate scope for national laws, some of the lessons learned, and possible approaches to addressing challenges today.
The webinar will run for 1 hour 15 minutes. The moderator will set the stage with an overview, and two presenters will follow:
- “How did we get here? Original concepts of scope within the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and developments over the decades” – Manuel Ruiz Muller, Peruvian Society of Environmental Law
- “Key ABS issues over time, with a focus on scope” – Timothy Hodges, Institute for the Study of International Development, McGill University, Canada
- “Experiences of scope in Malawi: biotrade, bioprospecting, basic research and other challenges” – Mphatso Martha Kalemba, ABS Focal Point, Malawi