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Access and benefit-sharing(ABS) mechanisms

 GS Paper 3

Source: DTE


Context: Access and benefit sharing, one of the three objectives of the United Nations Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD), is set to be discussed at its upcoming 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15).


What is ABS?

  • Access and benefit sharing refers to the way in which genetic resources may be accessed, and how users and providers reach an agreement on the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits that might result from their use.
  • Article 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) sets out rules, which govern access and benefit sharing. Under these rules, the governments of countries have two key responsibilities:
  1. To put in place systems that facilitate access to genetic resources for environmentally sound purposes
  2. To ensure that the benefits resulting from their use are shared fairly and equitably between users and providers


Why are access and benefit sharing important?

  • Access to genetic resources can lead to benefits for both users and providers.
  • Access and benefit sharing ensures that the way in which genetic resources are accessed and used
    • maximizes the benefits for users, providers, and the ecology
    • help communities where they are found.
  • To deliver a range of benefits; from basic scientific research, such as taxonomy, to developing commercial products which contribute to human wellbeings, such as pharmaceuticals.



Key agreements

  • Prior informed consent (PIC): Permission given from the CNAs (Competent National Authority) of a provider country to a user prior to accessing genetic resources, in line with an appropriate legal and institutional framework.
  • Mutually agreed terms (MAT): An agreement reached between the providers of genetic resources and users on the conditions of access and use of the resources, and the benefits to be shared between both parties.


About CBD: The CBD is a multilateral treaty aimed at conserving biodiversity, its sustainable use and ensuring “fair and equitable sharing” of the benefits obtained through bioresources.


India’s participation:

  • India became a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1994. 
  • In 2002, India became one of the first countries to enact a law, the Biological Diversity Act, to implement the treaty within its borders. This Act is decentralized for implementation.


Recent Issues:

Only 25 countries have provided 4,344 internationally recognized certificates of compliance (IRCC) to access resources in accordance with CBD guidelines as of November 15, 2022.


Insta Link: Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)


Mains Link:

Q. Critically evaluate the implementation of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 which is meant to fulfil the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. 15M


Prelims Link:

  • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Access and Benefit Sharing
  • Nagoya Protocol
  • Biological Diversity Act,2022