About the ABS Clearing-House
The Access and Benefit-sharing Clearing-House (ABS Clearing-House, ABSCH) is a platform for exchanging information on access and benefit-sharing established by Article 14 of the Nagoya Protocol, as part of clearing-house mechanism under Article 18, paragraph 3 of the Convention. The ABS Clearing-House is a key tool for facilitating the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol by enhancing legal certainty, clarity and transparency on procedures for access and for monitoring the utilization of genetic resources along the value chain. By making relevant information regarding ABS available, the ABS Clearing-House helps users access genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, and providers fairly and equitably share in the benefits arising from their utilization.
The primary goal of the ABS Clearing-House is to share information in order to:
- Assist users in finding information on how to access genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge; and
- Assist providers in receiving information related to the utilization of their genetic resources once they leave the provider country’s jurisdiction.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) was negotiated in order to provide greater legal certainty and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge by:
- Establishing more predictable conditions for access to those resources; and
- Helping to ensure benefit-sharing when genetic resources leave the contracting Party providing the genetic resources.
Researchers and businesses need legal clarity, certainty and transparency when accessing genetic resources and/or associated traditional knowledge. Without such legal certainty, potential users of genetic resources and/or associate traditional knowledge could be less eager to invest in bioprospecting and researching activities, as their activities may lead to controversy and allegations of misappropriation or misuse of these resources or knowledge.
Providers of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, on the other hand, want to ensure that benefits arising from the utilization of their resources are shared in a fair and equitable manner once the resource or knowledge leaves the country.
The ABS Clearing-House can help everyone get what they want
What Providers want:
- Control over access to their own genetic resources (GR) and traditional knowledge (TK)
- Ensure that users comply with all conditions set in mutual agreed terms (MAT)
- Assurance that the entitled benefits arising from utilization are received in accordance with MAT
What Users want:
- Access to GR and associated TK
- A clear understanding about how to access GR and TK
- Legal certainty for utilizing GR and TK when due process has been followed
What everybody wants:
- Fair and equitable sharing of benefits
- Sustainable use of biodiversity
- Conservation of biodiversity
The Nagoya Protocol's provisions on access, benefit-sharing and compliance provide a framework that aims to address the concerns of both users and providers. However, in order to translate the Nagoya Protocol into practice, Parties need to create the necessary conditions and take the measures required by the Protocol to ensure that a national framework is in place to implement ABS at the national level and enable the development of ABS agreements for the benefit of all involved in the process. It is in this context and with this aim that Parties to the CBD included Article 14 in the Nagoya Protocol, which establishes the ABS Clearing-House.
The Nagoya Protocol establishes the ABS Clearing-House, as part of the clearing-house mechanism of the Convention, as a means for sharing information related to access and benefit-sharing, and in particular its goal is to provide access to information made available by each Party relevant to the implementation of the Protocol.
The ABS Clearing-House allows countries to share information on procedures for accessing genetic resources and monitor the utilization of the resources along the value chain. The ABS Clearing-House plays a key role in enhancing the legal certainty and transparency that both providers and users of genetic resources, as well as associated traditional knowledge, are looking for.
The ABS Clearing-House is helping to make the "ABC's" of ABS a reality
The "ABC's" of ABS:
- Access – Enhancing legal certainty, transparency and clarity on how to access genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.
- Benefit-sharing – Contributing to increase opportunities for sharing benefits from the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.
- Compliance – Assisting to ensure compliance with ABS measures and transparency in monitoring the utilization of genetic resources through the value chain.
A fully functional ABS Clearing-House also represents a major step in achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 16, which provides that by 2015, the Nagoya Protocol is in force and operational, consistent with national legislation.
- The ABS portal on the CBD website
- Key developments related to the ABS Clearing-House
- Relevant decisions and documents on the ABS Clearing-House
- Text of the Nagoya Protocol and courtesy translations
- How to become a Party: States and regional economic integration organizations that are Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity are eligible to become a Party to the Nagoya Protocol. The United Nations Secretary-General acts as depository for the Nagoya Protocol through the United Nations Treaty Section in New York.
- Information on the current membership of the COP-MOP Bureau
- Nagoya Protocol COP-MOP Decisions
About the Competent National Authority (CNA)
Under Article 13 of the Nagoya Protocol, each Party shall designate one or more competent national authorities (CNAs) on access and benefit-sharing and under Article 14, Parties are required to make information on these CNAs available to the ABS Clearing-House. Competent national authorities shall, in accordance with applicable national legislative, administrative or policy measures (ABS measures), be responsible for granting access or, as applicable, issuing written evidence that access requirements have been met and be responsible for advising on applicable procedures and requirements for obtaining prior informed consent (PIC) and entering into mutually agreed terms (MAT). The information on the competent national authority can help potential users of genetic resources and/or associated traditional knowledge in identifying who the responsible government entity is for granting access to these resources.
If there is more than one CNA in the country, each CNA should be published as a separate record with their specific responsibilities clearly explained. It is important to keep the contact information up-to-date and the description of responsibilities clear and concise in order to provide potential users with accurate information.