BioTrade businesses become drivers of legal access and benefit sharing in biodiversity-rich countries

17 October 2017

A new UNCTAD tool helps policy makers and regulators align access and benefit sharing regulations and the promotion of BioTrade businesse.

BioTradeThe Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing of the Convention on Biological Diversity entered into force on 12 October 2014. Today, there are almost 100 parties to the Nagoya Protocol, and forecasts project membership will be almost worldwide by 2020.

The protocol focuses on ensuring the fair and equitable use of genetic resources and therefore has implications for BioTrade, which is the trade in sustainable plant and animal products and involves the use of biological resources.

BioTrade is growing exponentially. Export values have jumped from US$40 million in 2003 to $4.5 billion in 2015. BioTrade Companies such BioProcol S.A.S. (Colombia), Cosmo SA (Peru, Colombia and France), Eco Flora (Colombia), Traphaco SaPa (Viet Nam) and V. Mane Fils (France), and local grassroots producers in Namibia are front runners in seeking to comply with new obligations under the Nagoya Protocol and national access and benefit sharing regulations in biodiversity-rich countries.

As businesses use biological resources to develop new, higher-value products, it becomes more likely that they utilize genetic resources and biochemical components, often for research and development. And such use triggers the application of obligations under national access and benefit sharing legislation or regulations, and the obligations under the Nagoya Protocol.

The challenge then becomes to guide and support regulators in defining a regulatory framework and implementation strategy that is both BioTrade and business friendly, in order to create business opportunities on biodiversity-derived products. This is because poor regulation and burdensome administrative processes discourage the private sector from requesting access, creating market disruptions that can result in limited benefit sharing.

In support to these needs, UNCTAD is therefore launching a new tool specifically designed to respond to the needs of trade and access and benefit sharing policy makers and regulators.

The handbook, "BioTrade and Access and Benefit Sharing: From concept to practice. A handbook for policymakers and regulators", will help guide policymakers and regulators in the development and implementation at the national level of BioTrade and access and benefit sharing measures that are consistent with the Nagoya Protocol. It includes practical examples, case studies and checklists.

Providing practical examples, case studies and checklists, the handbook may be particularly relevant for countries that are in the process of defining or drafting their national access and benefit sharing frameworks, assessing contracts and permits, and seeking to attract new potential investors in biodiversity-derived products. It is also a significant contribution to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 15.6 and the Aichi Targets.