Botanic Gardens Conservation International
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ABS information and tools


Convention on Biological Diversity and Nagoya Protocol on ABS

CBD website: provides links to the Nagoya Protocol and many resources, such as the ABS Information Kit and factsheets and online courses including Introduction to Access and Benefit-Sharing.

ABS Clearing House: (also part of the CBD website) provides information on national ABS authorities and laws, and a wide range of other resources such as guides, codes of conduct and model contracts (including those on this list); the ‘About’ section provides useful background on ABS.

IUCN Explanatory Guide to the Nagoya Protocol (2012): provides a comprehensive analysis to the text of the Protocol and some negotiating history

ABS Capacity Development Initiative: established to support development and implementation of national ABS regulations; website provides public awareness tools, publications and multimedia resources including 5-minute animation ‘ABS Simply Explained’

ABS resources for botanic gardens collections and researchers

ABS Learning Modules offer a step-by-step guide to the role of the CBD, the history of the Nagoya Protocol and important articles of the Protocol, as well as providing essential information for preparation and practical implementation.

BGCI’s website hosts two policy tools for botanic gardens,
the Principles on ABS and the International Plant Exchange Network (IPEN)

The International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation (2nd edition) (2012) and CBD Manual for Botanic Gardens (2008) contain user-friendly information and general guidance on practical ABS implementation for gardens. A CBD checklist for botanic gardens can be downloaded here.

Chapter 4 in 'From Idea to Realisation - BGCI’s Manual for Planning, Developing and Managing Botanic Gardens' (2016) introduces a range of global environmental agreements, relevant to botanic gardens, including the Nagoya Protocol.

Swiss Academy of Sciences:
Utilization of genetic resources in academic research: a good practice guide (2016) offers concise introductory background, case studies for different types of research, and step-by-step practical recommendations on how to proceed; includes tables and flowcharts to help researchers determine when ABS issues apply for in situ and ex situ situations, and when the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture may apply.

Agreement on Access and Benefit Sharing for Non-Commercial Research (2016) provides a toolbox for users and providers to develop an ABS agreement to cover non-commercial research, with a wide range of optional clauses for different situations.

Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF): includes several major European botanic gardens; has developed the CETAF Code of Conduct and Best Practices (2016) to guide institutional ABS implementation. It includes model material transfer agreements and a model Statement of Use, describing an institution’s typical uses of material, useful when requesting prior informed consent from providers. The Code itself is based on the Principles on ABS but updated for Nagoya considerations such as associated traditional knowledge and genetic sequencing. Best Practices emphasise the role of data management and institutional policies.

Global Genome Biodiversity Network (GGBN): international network of institutions that share an interest in long-term preservation of genomic samples; includes major botanic gardens around the world and offers a range of ABS resources including a GGBN Code of Conduct and Best Practice (2016) consistent with the CETAF code.

The Asociación Mexicana de Jardines Botánicos (AMJB; Mexican Association of Botanic Gardens) has developed the Código de Conducta para el Acceso y Uso de la Biodiversidad Vegetal en los que participen los jardines botánicos de México y Compendio de Buenas Prácticas de Acceso y Uso de la Biodiversidad Vegetal, a code of conduct and compendium of good practices, to guide their collection and use of plant resources. Mexico does not consider that Mexican botanic gardens ‘access’ genetic resources, but the Code follows the spirit of the Nagoya Protocol, guiding Mexican botanic gardens’ work in communities, promoting exchange of knowledge on plant conservation between gardens and holders of plant resources and traditional knowledge, and offering examples of benefits that gardens can share with communities.

ABS for food and agriculture

When plant resources are being supplied for reasons related to food or agriculture, some different rules may apply. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) uses a multilateral system for access and benefit sharing (with a standard agreement) to cover exchange of certain food/forage crop species for purposes of food and agriculture.

ITPGRFA website: official website of the Treaty; includes training resources.

IUCN Explanatory Guide to the ITPGRFA (2005): provides comprehensive analysis to the text of the ITPGRFA.

Bioversity International: global research-for-development organisation focused on safeguarding agricultural biodiversity; ABS-related tools include a wide range of training materials (manuals/courses on collecting/conserving/managing plant genetic resources).

Traditional knowledge

According to the CBD, Traditional Knowledge (TK) refers to the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities around the world. Associated traditional knowledge refers to knowledge that is linked to a particular genetic resource. It tends to be collectively owned and takes the form of stories, songs, folklore, proverbs, cultural values, beliefs, rituals, community laws, local language, and agricultural practices, including the development of plant species and animal breeds.

CBD Traditonal Knowledge Information Portal provides links to a range of resources on TK.

The International Society for Ethnobiology has developed a Code of Ethics affirming ‘the commitment of the ISE to work collaboratively, in ways that: support community-driven development of Indigenous peoples’ cultures and languages; acknowledge Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights; protect the inextricable linkages between cultural, linguistic and biological diversity; and contribute to positive, beneficial and harmonious relationships in the field of ethnobiology’.

The Sociedad Latinoamericana de Etnobiología (SOLAE) and national Latin American ethnobiological associations have developed the Código de Ética de SOLAE, based on the ISE Code of Ethics but adapted for the Latin American context.

Sustainable and ethical biotrade

Biotrade is not clearly covered by the Nagoya Protocol unless it involves ‘research and development on the genetic or biochemical composition of genetic resources’, but international voluntary standards that include ABS considerations have been developed for the sustainable and ethical collection, use and transfer of natural ingredients. Botanic gardens involved in developing biotrade projects should be aware of them.

FairWild Foundation: worldwide framework for implementing a sustainable, fair and value-added management and trading system for wild-collected natural ingredients and products, based on the FairWild Standard.

Union for Ethical BioTrade: a non-profit association that promotes ‘sourcing with respect’ of ingredients that come from biodiversity, using the Ethical BioTrade Standard; ABS factsheets and case studies are available.