Global Strategies

The Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity:
Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS)
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 193 countries signed onto the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which enjoys near-universal participation. CBD Article 15 provides that countries have sovereign rights over their natural resources, including genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge found within their borders, and that access to such resources and associated traditional knowledge is to be granted under mutually agreed terms and subject to prior informed consent of the providing country. In addition, one of the three objectives of the CBD is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.
The Nagoya Protocol was adopted in October 2010 and outlines a framework of rules with implications for users that conduct R&D on plant/animal genetic resources (DNA/RNA), extracts, and compounds (e.g., oils, sugars/starches, vitamins).
The Protocol also has implications for companies that use this R&D in subsequent applications, such as product commercialization.
In 2011, the Personal Care Products Council developed a guide to raise our industry’s awareness of the ABS issue, so companies can take measures to ensure compliance, facilitate smooth access to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, and protect themselves from the legal, financial, and reputation risks associated with being singled out for alleged “biopiracy.” 
ABS is a complex issue with no easy answers. Companies will need to decide, based on their own risk and resource assessments, what level of due diligence they will seek. Therefore, this Guide is an introduction. It is not intended to serve as a comprehensive roadmap or set of answers for companies.
That said, this Guide is likely the beginning of a series of resources provided by PCPC to assist the industry in meeting the challenges associated with new ABS regimes being developed in countries all around the world. 

Additional Resources:
In order to raise awareness, the United Nations Secretariat has developed a webpage that provides various communication materials that can be used to assist stakeholders in understanding the Nagoya Protocol.
Since the CBD entered into force in 1993 some countries, especially those rich with genetic resources, have implemented national laws and regulations to prevent biopiracy. Many of those national laws and regulations can be found on this webpage (please note that laws and regulations may not be up-to-date or fully accurate).  When accessing genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge users should check national laws and regulations by contacting the country’s CBD National Focal Point (accessible here: or by consulting a legal expert in that country. National laws and regulations may impose penalties for failure to comply, up to and including imprisonment.