What if information for the checkpoint communiqué (CPC) or internationally recognized certificate of compliance (IRCC) contains confidential information?
It is the role of the publishing authority to ensure that no confidential information is entered into the ABS Clearing-House. When mandatory or required information for the checkpoint communiqués (CPC) or an internationally recognized certificate of compliance (IRCC) does contain confidential information, the submission forms for the CPC and IRCC have been designed to be flexible enough to still allow the publication of the record without giving away confidential information. The mandatory fields for these forms either will include a checkbox that can be used to declare the information is confidential and therefore not required or the field will be a free text field which allows the submitter to use their discretion and provide some useful information that is not confidential. This is particularly important for the CPC, since the more specific the information that is provided, the easier it will be for the relevant authorities and providers of the genetic resource to understand the information and to assess whether the user of the genetic resource is using the genetic resource in accordance with PIC and MAT, to locate the national permit when one exists, and to see whether benefits are being duly shared.
Why is important to provide courtesy translations of the information submitted?
The purpose of including information in the ABS Clearing-House is mainly for:
- providing information to users of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge on the procedures for access; and
- facilitating the monitoring of the utilization of genetic resources worldwide.
It is in the interest of the country to provide the information in several languages in order to reach out to the biggest number of users of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge and to help ensure that they can understand the rules for accessing such resources. As internationally recognized certificates of compliance and checkpoints communiqués are meant to facilitate the monitoring of the utilization of genetic resources in an international environment, it is important that checkpoints and national authorities dealing with these records are able to understand their content.
How does the ABS Clearing-House benefit the indigenous and local communities and how can they contribute?
Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) may use the ABS Clearing-House to share information on how to access traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources. In order to do so, it is just necessary to open a ABS-CH account.
Community protocols and procedures, customary laws, model contractual clauses and competent authorities on ABS are some examples of the information IPLCs can publish on the ABS Clearing-House.
Indigenous peoples and local communities also contribute to the ABS Clearing-House with awareness-raising and capacity building materials on the Nagoya Protocol. It is possible to share materials in indigenous languages.
Where can I find which countries have published their national measures in the ABS-CH?
There are a couple ways you can find national measures in the ABS Clearing-House:
- In the "Search the ABS-CH" https://absch.cbd.int/search, you can select “National Records” and then “Legislative, Administrative and Policy Measures” to view all measures; or
- You can browse country profiles https://absch.cbd.int/countries: Click “MSR” and all countries who have published their measures will appear at the top of the list in the order of the number of publications.
The most convenient way to find national information on the ABS Clearing-House is through the country profiles (https://absch.cbd.int/countries/). However, many Parties are in various stages of developing their legal framework for ABS and making that information available on the ABS Clearing-House. In the case that you do not find the national information that you are searching for, we suggest to contact the country's ABS National Focal Point. The ABS National Focal Point is designated to liaise with the Secretariat and make information available on procedures for accessing genetic resources and establishing mutually agreed terms.
Where can I find sample ABS Guidelines/Directives/Regulations?
There are various ways to find sample ABS measures. First, you can browse national measures in the Country Profiles (https://absch.cbd.int/countries). Click “MSR” in the grey bar above the country list and you will see all countries that have published legislative, administrative and policy measures relating to ABS. Country profiles contain all the information on ABS made available by a country, and can be useful for understanding the national legal framework and the specific institutional structures in place.
In addition, you can find related information in the Reference Records, in the section called "Model contractual clauses, codes of conduct, guidelines, best practices and/or standard": https://absch.cbd.int/search/referenceRecords?schema=modelContractualClause.
Why is important for Governments to publish national information in the ABS Clearing-House?
By publishing national information on the ABS Clearing-House, Parties to the Nagoya Protocol and other governments help both users and providers of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.
Users can find the information they need to access genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. Providers of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge will find the necessary tools to monitor the utilization of these resources. By sharing reliable and complete information on national ABS measures and requirements through the ABS Clearing-House, countries can help users of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge understand and follow ABS rules and thus enhance compliance with national legislation. The ABS Clearing-House is thus creating opportunities for the development of ABS agreements and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits coming from the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.
Also, through a centralized and standardized system, the ABS Clearing-House helps providers monitor how their genetic resources are being used throughout the value chain. When a provider country grants access to a genetic resource and publishes information on the permit or its equivalent, the ABS Clearing-House automatically generates an internationally recognized certificate of compliance (IRCC). The IRCC helps national checkpoints collect and communicate the information on the use of genetic resources through the ABS Clearing-House to all those involved in the process. The form for communicating the information collected or received by checkpoints is called checkpoint communiqué.
Non-Parties to the Protocol are encouraged to share all relevant ABS information through the ABS Clearing-House in the same conditions as Parties do.
How does the ABS Clearing-House benefit the indigenous people and local communities and how can they contribute?
Indigenous people and local communities (IPLCs) may use the ABS Clearing-House to share information on how to access traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources. In order to do so, it is just necessary to open a CBD account.
Community protocols and procedures, customary laws, model contractual clauses and competent authorities on ABS are some examples of the information IPLCs can publish on the ABS Clearing-House. This information can be published as a reference record and when this information is part of the national legal framework it should be published through the publishing authority as a national record.
Indigenous and local communities also contribute to the ABS Clearing-House with awareness-raising and capacity building materials on the Nagoya Protocol. It is possible to share materials in indigenous languages.
Who can issue an IRCC?
Under the Protocol, competent national authorities (CNAs) are the entities designated to be responsible for granting access or, as applicable, issuing written evidence that access requirements have been met. When a CNA issues a permit or equivalent as evidence that prior informed consent (PIC) has been granted and mutually agreed terms (MAT) have been established, information on the permit or equivalent is then made available (published by the country's publishing authority) on the ABS Clearing-House as an Internationally Recognized Certificate of Compliance (IRCC). Once an IRCC is published on the ABS Clearing-House a copy is sent automatically to the user of the genetic resources (when not confidential) and to the provider country’s CNA responsible for issuing the permit and ABS national focal point.
Why do I see regional measures in my country profile, but not in my Records Management Centre?
Regional regulations show up in the Country Profile of all Parties in the respective region. For example, the EU regulations show up in the Country Profiles of all EU Member States under Legislative, Administrative and Policy Measures (MSR), in addition to any national records. This is in order that a user may see all applicable legislation in one place, both domestic and regional. The regional measures can only be edited by the country who has the regional authority to published the measure, in this case the EU.
My country has a national ABS system, database or clearing-house, how can I make the information available on the ABS-CH and vice-versa?
It is possible to directly exchange information between the ABS Clearing-House and your national system, database or clearing-house for a particular country. The ABS Clearing-House has an application programming interface (API), which is the main mechanism for exchanging information between computer systems. Using the API a computer programmer can set up a system where information placed or updated on a national database (or clearing-house) will automatically be added/updated in the ABS Clearing-House, or vice-versa.
If you are a programmer and would like to link your national ABS system to the ABS Clearing-House, please contact the Secretariat at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CBD Secretariat API documentation can be found here: https://scbd.github.io/. We also have an example repository on GitHub which includes all API schema definitions https://github.com/scbd/api-examples.
- All ABS schemas can be found under ABS folder at: https://github.com/scbd/api-examples/tree/master/schema-definitions/Abs
- We have some common definitions for all schemas which are under custom-definitions: https://github.com/scbd/api-examples/tree/master/schema-definitions/custom-definitions
- You will also need to reference the Thesaurus API which is used to load the predefined list for e.g. Permit Usages, Permit Keywords etc. The Thesaurus call is grouped by common format. Please see https://github.com/scbd/api-examples/blob/master/schema-definitions/thesaurusAPICalls
For testing purpose, your developers will need to register with https://accounts.cbddev.xyz. We will then provide the user account with appropriated development roles. The developers should use https://api.cbddev.xyz/ service URL for testing; for production it will be https://api.cbd.int/. The ABS Clearing-House is an open-source project which is available on https://github.com/scbd/absch.cbd.int. The Clearing-House website uses its own API to transmit all information to the CBD Secretariat's database.
I wish to access genetic resources in a foreign country that is not Party to the Nagoya Protocol. What are my obligations?
Although a country may not yet be Party to the Nagoya Protocol, they may have relevant ABS rules and procedures in place regarding access to their genetic resources and/or associated traditional knowledge. Potential users are encouraged to contact the ABS national focal points in that country to find more information and the requirements to access genetic resources and/or associated traditional knowledge.
In addition, users that are based in countries that are party to the Nagoya Protocol should make sure that their activities comply with their national ABS legislation. For example, many country have compliance measures in place to ensure that users of genetic resources within its jurisdiction comply with the ABS requirements of countries providing the genetic resources. In this regard, users are also encouraged to browse the information on the ABS Clearing-House and contact their national focal point for more information.
The contact details of the ABS national focal points, as well as, relevant national information can be found on the ABS Clearing-House country profile pages: https://absch.cbd.int/countries/.
Do I need to acquire an IRCC before I patent a product based on a genetic resource from a country that is not a Party to the Nagoya Protocol?
Regardless of whether a country is a Party to the Nagoya Protocol or not, countries have sovereign rights over the natural resources within their jurisdiction in accordance with Article 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Even though a country may not be Party to the Protocol they may have ABS rules in place and may require users to obtain a permit and agree to a benefit-sharing agreement.
Users should practice due diligence and ensure they have legally met the ABS requirements to access and utilize the genetic resources and/or associated traditional knowledge in the provider country. Users are encouraged, as a first step, to look for relevant information on the ABS Clearing-House and contact the ABS national focal point for more information. Relevant information can be found on the ABSCH country profile pages at: https://absch.cbd.int/countries.