Final Meeting of the Access and Benefit Sharing Working Group kicks off in Colombia

Around 600 delegates representing Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), non-governmental and international organizations, and partners, are currently gathered in the sunny city of Cali in Colombia to give the final push to the negotiations on the international regime to regulate access to genetic resources and the distribution of the benefits derived from their use.

Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian Fig Opuntia) is a species of cactus and a long-domesticated crop plant important in agricultural economies throughout arid and semiarid parts of the world, Matehuala, Mexico

This is the ninth and final meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) before the tenth Conference of the Parties of the Convention (COP10). The Working Group has been mandated to finalize its work and deliver an ABS international regime to be adopted at COP10 in Nagoya, Japan later this year. The clock is thus ticking but despite the pressure, delegates seem positive about a favourable outcome of the meeting.

During the opening of the meeting on Monday 22nd March, the co-chairs of the Working Group, Canadian Timothy Hodges and Colombian Fernando Casas, suggested basing the negotiations on non-papers of a draft protocol and a draft decision. The delegates agreed to move forward as proposed. On Tuesday, four contact groups were opened with specific terms of reference to provide solutions for different issues by keeping the original text in the draft protocol proposed by the co-chairs, amending the text or suggesting additions to it. The co-chairs also made a special plea to all delegations to avoid using bracketed text, following the experience of the Montreal Annex (the result of the last two meetings of the Working Group) which contained some 3800 brackets!

Key issues under discussion include the relationship of the ABS protocol with other existing instruments and processes, issues of jurisdictional scope and temporal application of the protocol, flexibility for sectoral approaches, relationship between ABS activities and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, diversity of national circumstances and customary laws, monitoring, reporting and tracking, use of genetic resources, as well as derivatives and the relationship between benefit sharing and technology transfer. With respect to the scope of the regime, some delegations have mentioned the need for a holistic view within the protocol and refer to access to genetic resources and biological resources and the distribution of their benefits as a whole. However, this discussion has not been taken forward and the majority of delegations taking the floor have been referring only to genetic resources, paraphrasing the wording in the Convention’s text.

IUCN has been following the negotiations closely and sees this process as intimately related to the process of revising and updating the CBD Strategic Plan and the post-2010 targets. The Union would like to see a strong ABS regime to be proposed for adoption at the Nagoya Conference of the Parties. IUCN stands ready to provide its support and technical advice to the Parties to make this possible.

The meeting ends on Sunday, 28th March.

For more information contact:
Sonia Peña Moreno
Biodiversity Policy Officer
t: +4122 999 0281


Work area: 
Global Policy
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