FAQs | About ABSCH | Access and Benefit-Sharing Clearing-House


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Are Parties required by the Protocol to have a national ABS Clearing-House?

Developing a national ABS Clearing-House is not a requirement of the Protocol. However, if a country decides to build a national ABS Clearing-House, please keep in mind:

  • The ABS Clearing-House is designed to be interoperable with other databases and systems, in particular Parties’ databases, as well as databases of other instruments and organizations.
  • The application programming interface (API), is the main mechanism to implement interoperability,  and is meant to allow the seamless integration of the data and functions of the ABS Clearing-House into other systems in ways that best fit their own needs, workflows and technologies.
  • The API can be used to help avoid duplication in the submission of information to the ABS Clearing-House and, at the same time, create national or regional information systems that are fully compatible and streamlined with the ABS Clearing-House and obligation of the Protocol.

Can a Non-Party submit an interim national report?

Yes, Non-Parties are encouraged to submit their interim national reports and publish relevant information in the ABS Clearing-House under the same conditions as Parties.

Can I use the training website?

The Secretariat maintains a training website for the ABS Clearing-House which is functionally identical to the real ABS-Clearing-House website except that it operates in an isolated environment. The training website is meant to support trainings and workshops by providing users with a safe place where they can submit “practice” records and get familiarized with the functionalities without interfering with the real ABS Clearing-House website or real information. 

The training website is clearly identified by its orange striped background and "ABSCH TRAINING" written in bold lettering across the header of the each page. Emails sent from the training environment, as well as, records stored in the training database are also clearly identified as coming from the training environment. The unique identifier for records stored in the training database will start with "ABSCHTRG" to indicate a training record, for example, ABSCHTRG-IRCC-MX-123456-1.

Please contact the CBD Secretariat if you would like more information or access to the training website (training-absch.cbd.int).

Forgot your password?

You can click here accounts.cbd.int/password/reset. You will be asked for your email address and, if you are a registered user, an email will be sent immediately to your registered email account with instructions to reset your password.

Video instructions

How are regional or multilateral ABS measures registered?

In order to publish regional or multilateral ABS measures in the ABS Clearing-House it is recommended that one country in the regional group agree to publish the regional measures on behalf of the group of countries in the regional organization.  This country must be communicated to the Secretariat along with confirmations from the NFPs of the countries in the regional group. When a regional measure is published, each of the countries included in the group will have the measure displayed  for their country in the search and in their country profile.

How can I ensure the document authenticity and security of the internationally recognized certificate of compliance (IRCC)?

In order to ensure the authenticity of an IRCC, all downloadable certificates include a link to the relevant online record which is maintained in the ABS Clearing-House. The use of the ABS Clearing-House as a third party server that keeps an original copy of the document allows anyone utilizing the document to instantly confirm the authenticity of its contents and view the latest most up-to-date version of the IRCC. Therefore, when doing any verification it is important to check the online version of the IRCC on the ABS Clearing-House.  

How do I decide which institution to designate as CNA?

The Nagoya Protocol gives flexibility to countries to decide who is the most suitable authority or authorities to grant access to genetic resources within its jurisdiction (Article 13 of the Protocol). Therefore, a country can decide to establish one CNA to grant access to all genetic resources within the country or to designate more than one CNA for granting access to different types of genetic resources.  Where a Party designates more than one CNA, it shall provide relevant information on the respective responsibilities of those authorities.  

Those responsible can  be setup with the national authorized user role so they can sign in to the ABS Clearing-House and prepare draft records, such as information on national ABS permits, for publication by the publishing authority.  If the country has in place a database or IT system for managing permits, you may want to think about using the ABS Clearing-House's interoperability mechanisms to link your country's system directly to the ABS Clearing-House. Please contact the Secretariat for more information (email: absch@cbd.int).

How do I designate a Publishing Authority or National Authorized User?

Designate an ABS national focal point (NFP): The national focal point (NFP) on access and benefit-sharing can only be designated or modified offline through an official written communication addressed to the Executive Secretary. 
NFP designation form (offline)

Designate a publishing authority (PA): In order to publish national records in the ABS Clearing-House the NFP must designate a single publishing authority (PA) for their country. If desired, the NFP can designate themselves as the PA. The designation of the PA can be added, removed or changed easily at any time online through the ABS Clearing-House user management or offline through written communication to the Secretariat. 
User management (online)   |   PA or NAU designation form (offline)

If needed, designate one or more national authorized users (NAUs): Either the PA or NFP can designate one or more NAUs. NAUs can be added, removed or changed easily at any time online through the ABSCH user management or offline through written communication to the Secretariat. 
User management (online)   |   PA or NAU designation form (offline)

I am not a Party - can I still publish information on the ABS Clearing-House?

Article 24 of the Protocol provides that Parties shall encourage non-Parties to adhere to the Protocol and to contribute appropriate information to the ABS-Clearing-House. Non-Parties to the Protocol can publish records in the ABS-Clearing-House, but that country’s status as a Party or non-Party is clearly indicated in the record.

I have limited internet access - how can I participate in the ABS Clearing-House?

It is preferable that the information is registered online through the "Submit information" page. However, users with limited Internet access may complete offline common formats and submit them, duly-signed by the publishing authority, to the Secretariat by email or fax (however, common formats should only be faxed if sending them by email is impossible). The Secretariat would then register offline submissions of information in the ABS Clearing-House on behalf of Parties. Please note that these options are available only to users with no Internet access or poor Internet connectivity.

To obtain a permit/certificate, should I apply to the provider country or the country where the genetic resources are being utilized?

Users should apply for a permit from the country providing the genetic resources. Under the Nagoya Protocol, countries who regulate access to their genetic resources are required to issue a permit as evidence the genetic resources have been accessed legally and in accordance with the ABS requirements such as obtaining prior informed consent (PIC) and establishing mutually agreed terms (MAT) from the providing country. When a permit is granted, Parties are required to publish part of the this information on the ABS Clearing-House in order to generate a certificate (IRCC). The ABS Clearing-House automatically emails a copy of the certificate to the user (when the user contact information is not confidential).  

For more information on how to access to a genetic resource from a country we encourage you browse the available national information on the ABS Clearing-House and to contact the ABS national focal point in the country providing the genetic resources. You can find the contact details of the ABS national focal point as well as information on relevant national information in the country profile pages on the ABS Clearing-House: https://absch.cbd.int/countries/.

What are the ABC's of ABS

The ABS Clearing-House helps 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.

What are the minimum requirements to use the ABS Clearing-House?

The ABS Clearing-House works best with the most recent internet browsers (Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). Please make sure you have the most recent version of your favourite browser installed on your computer.

Recommended browsers:

If you experience problems installing a new browser version on your computer, one option could be to try downloading "Chrome Portable" which does not require installation.

What do I do if I find incorrect information in the ABS Clearing-House?

In an effort to keep records reliable, records can be reported the CBD Secretariat when they contain out-dated, inaccurate information or broken links. To report a record, click on the "report record" link found at the bottom of each expanded record and complete the short submission form providing your reason for reporting the record. The Secretariat receives all reported records and addresses them in consultation with the country’s PA or NFP only as appropriate. Please note that the Secretariat will never modify any national information without the explicit permission of the country's PA.

What does the ABS Clearing-House do with a Checkpoint Communiqué after it is published?

After publication on the ABS Clearing-House, the Checkpoint Communiqué (CPC) becomes publicly available, and is automatically sent to the following entities, as appropriate:

  • (a) The designated national authority/ies of the user country as determined in the common format on checkpoints;
  • (b) The national focal point and the competent national authority/ies of the country providing of the genetic resource; and
  • (c) The person or entity that was granted prior informed consent, if this information is not confidential.

Although, each entity receiving the CPC has the option to take steps in order to determine if the utilization taking place is being done in accordance with the original permit (or its equivalent) and domestic ABS requirements of the provider country, the provider country is best placed, and ultimately responsible to assess the information received in the CPC and determine whether access to the genetic resource was properly obtained and being used and in accordance with the mutually agreed terms. 

 

 

What if the provider country of the genetic resources is not Party to the Nagoya Protocol, but the invention is developed in a country that is Party to the Protocol?

Regardless of whether a country is a Party to the Nagoya Protocol, all countries have sovereign rights over the natural resources within their jurisdiction and they may have relevant ABS measures, rules and procedures in place. Even though a country may not be a Party to the Protocol they may have ABS rules in place which may require users to obtain a permit and sign a benefit-sharing agreement.

Following Article 15 and 16 of the Nagoya Protocol, many countries 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, you may wish to contact your ABS national focal point for more information. You can find all relevant information and contact details in the country profile pages of the ABS Clearing-House : https://absch.cbd.int/countries/

What is a unique identifier (UID)?

Each record published in the ABS Clearing-House is assigned a distinct code called a unique identifier (UID). A UID is a combination of characters and numbers used to uniquely distinguish the records on the ABS Clearing-House. For example, it looks something like this: ABSCH-IRCC-MX-123456-1. Each time a record is updated the last number of the UID, called the revision number, is also increased by 1 indicating a new version. This allows amendments to records to be tracked and provide greater transparency. The UID can be a useful way to locate and keep track of records, as well as to link ABS Clearing-House records to information contained in a separate database. This can be helpful, for example, to make links between an IRCC and a national permit or its equivalent, which can contain additional and confidential information not available on the ABS Clearing-House.

Searching by Unique Identifiers

A unique identifier (UID) can be typed into the search and used as a filter either to find a particular record or to get a list of records that reference a particular record. For example, this can be useful if you were looking for all IRCCs issued by a specific CNA. To carry out this particular search you could select the national record type: “Internationally Recognized Certificate of Compliance” from the set of predefined national record filters and enter the UID of the competent national authority as a free text filter. The UID can be entered with or without the revision number (the last set of digits that make up the UID). If the revision number is included then only the records that reference that specific version of the CNA will be returned. When the revision number is omitted from the search filter then all records that make reference to any published version of that CNA will be returned.

What is the ABS measures matrix?

The ABS measures matrix is located on a country's profile page inside the section on legislative, administrative or policy measures on ABS (ABS measures). Expanding this section will reveal all the country's published ABS measures, as well as,a table of information that lists key ABS elements and where the related references to those elements can be found in all published measures. This can help provide an overview of a country’s legal framework on ABS and can be a useful tool to help users of genetic resources understand and comply with a country's ABS requirements.

In addition to indicating the locations of specific references, sections or provisions related to a key element, the ABS measures matrix can also highlight relationships between measures, such as amendments or related measures. The ABS measures matrix can be a useful tool to help understand a countries legal framework on ABS, especially when information is spread out across several different measures. The ABS measures matrix also allows the user to select which ABS measures they wish to view in the matrix

What is the relationship between the ABS Clearing-House and the clearing-house mechanism of the CBD?

The ABS Clearing-House is established as part of the clearing-house mechanism (CHM) of the Convention. The CHM (http://chm.cbd.int) has been developed as a single and unified platform which also supports the dedicated clearing-houses of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (BCH) and the Nagoya Protocol (ABS-CH). You can access all clearing-houses with the same CBD account that you can get from (http://accounts.cbd.int).

However, each of the clearing-houses has a dedicated portal for searching and registering information in order to respond to the specific needs of the Parties with regards to implementation of the different treaties.

The CHM of the Convention was established in accordance with Article 18(3) of the Convention to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation on all biodiversity issues. The ABS Clearing-House, on the other hand, was established under Article 14 of the Nagoya Protocol with a special focus on the information that must be exchanged under the Protocol. The ABS Clearing-House plays a key role in supporting implementation of the Protocol by contributing to transparency and certainty on procedures for access and monitoring of the utilization of genetic resources. Because of this role, the ABS-CH has some characteristics, features and functions which are specific to this portal.

Another major difference between the CHM and the ABS Clearing-House is that, with regards to the latter, Article 14 of the Protocol enumerates a variety of categories of information which Parties to the Protocol are legally obliged to provide through the ABS Clearing-House. There are no such legal requirements for Parties to the Convention to make information available through the CHM.

Common formats and rules of operation need to be compatible and, where possible, harmonized across the clearing-houses. The common formats developed for the ABS Clearing-House make use, as much as possible, of predefined text or controlled vocabularies that are compatible with the controlled vocabularies of the CHM and the BCH.

What is the role of a Nagoya Protocol Checkpoint?

Checkpoints are to be set up in places along the value chain (from research to commercialization) that interact with users in the process of utilizing of genetic resources in your country. Their role is to collect or receive information provided by users in your country related to the utilization of genetic resources as described in Article 17 of the Protocol. The information collected or received by the checkpoints is meant to inform and alert relevant authorities, and above all, authorities in the provider country as to how their genetic resources are being used. The information collected or received at checkpoints is made available as a record on the ABS Clearing-House in a format called a Checkpoint Communiqué (CPC). Some possible examples of checkpoints are the places where a user would need to go to and provide pertinent information when undertaking research and development on a genetic resource, when claiming a right in relation to the innovation made from such research and development, or when commercializing any resultant product.

Possible examples of Checkpoints:

  • Patent offices
  • Funding institutions
  • Publishers
  • Market authorization authorities

 

What is the role of the Publishing Authority?

To publish information on the ABS Clearing-House, it is the responsibility of the national focal point to assume the role of the Publishing Authority or designate this role to the appropriate person. This role can be easily changed any time.

The Publishing Authority is responsible for:

  • Authorizing the publication of all national records registered in the ABS Clearing-House;
  • Ensuring that the information made available on the ABS Clearing-House is complete, relevant and kept up-to-date;
  • Ensuring that no confidential information is published in the ABS Clearing-House; and
  • Managing the designation of the national authorized users (NAUs).

What is ultimate goal of the Checkpoint Communiqué?

The ultimate goal of the Checkpoint Communiqué is to provide information related to utilization back to the provider country.  Although each entity that receives the Checkpoint Communiqué has the option to take steps in order to determine if the utilization taking place is being done in accordance with the original permit (or its equivalent) and domestic ABS requirements of the provider country, the provider country is best placed and ultimately responsible to assess the information received in the Checkpoint Communiqué and determine whether access to the genetic resource was properly obtained and being used and in accordance with the mutually agreed terms. 

When the Checkpoint Communiqué contains a reference to an IRCC or a national permit (or its equivalent) and the information on how the genetic resource is being used, the provider country will be able to look up and consult the original national permit (or its equivalent) containing any confidential information and compare this information against the information provided by the Checkpoint Communiqué and then decide to take appropriate measures or contact the user in case of doubt or discrepancy.

Where and how can I compare information submitted by countries through their interim national reports?

The national report analyzer is a tool that allows you to select specific sections or questions of the national report and to display the results by country/region. Users can also target the analysis based on specific sections of the report by using the filter options.

In addition, an analysis of the interim national reports submitted by Parties was done by the Secretariat and is available for your reference at: https://www.cbd.int/doc/c/767b/a3b0/e4934613a1a3fd1116b1c89a/sbi-02-inf-03-en.pdf.  Please note, however, that since the publication of the report, several other countries have submitted information.

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.

Which countries are to designate Checkpoints?

The Protocol does not distinguish between provider and user countries. All Parties are required to establish effective Checkpoints.  The Protocol applies to all Parties, including provisions related to monitoring utilization and  compliance with domestic legislation or regulatory requirements according to Articles 15, 16 and 17

Who is the ABS Clearing-House for?

Parties and Non-Parties

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, while providers will find tools to monitor the utilization of these resources. Parties have an obligation to use the ABS Clearing-House to share certain information of particular importance to the implementation of the Protocol. Non-Parties to the Protocol are also encouraged to participate and use the ABS Clearing-House to share the same information required by Parties.

Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs)

IPLCs can use the ABS Clearing-House to share information on how to access traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, such as community protocols and procedures and customary laws. They can also access and contribute to the ABS Clearing-House with awareness-raising and capacity-building materials on ABS in their own indigenous languages.

Private sector and research institutions

Private sector and research institutions utilizing or seeking access to genetic resources can also benefit from the ABS Clearing-House by finding reliable and up-to-date information on how to access genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. They can also use the ABS Clearing-House to share information on the model contractual clauses, codes of conduct, guidelines and best practices that they have developed.

Organizations involved in capacity-building for the Nagoya Protocol

Organizations involved in capacity-building for the Nagoya Protocol can share capacity-building resources and materials and information on their projects or activities, including lessons learned from their implementation. In exchange, they are able to access information on projects or resources registered by other actors, and therefore, create opportunities for capitalizing best practices and developing coordinated approaches to building and developing capacity.

International and non-governmental organizations and others

International and non-governmental organizations and others can raise awareness and promote capacity building on ABS through the ABS Clearing-House. The ABS Clearing-House offers a space to share materials, general literature and learning material related to ABS and the Nagoya Protocol. These resources can contribute to promote ratification and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, as well as increase opportunities for collaboration among the ABS community.

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.

Why is it important to submit the Interim National Report?

Article 29 of the Nagoya Protocol provides that each Party shall monitor the implementation of its obligations under the Protocol, and shall, at intervals and in the format to be determined by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP-MOP), report to the COP-MOP on measures that it has taken to implement the Protocol.

The information received through these reports will assist the COP-MOP in reviewing the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and to make the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation. Information submitted through the interim national report, as well as through the ABS Clearing-House, will be taken into account by the Executive Secretary in the preparation of documentation for consideration by the Compliance Committee, the second meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation, and the third meeting of the COP-MOP..

In addition, submitting the interim national report can help Parties, as well as Non-Parties to:

  • Assess the level of implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and identify gaps in implementation;
  • Serve as a checklist of the obligations of the Protocol;
  • Identify gaps and needs in terms of capacity, and thus contribute to a more effective design of capacity-building activities and resources;
  • Share experiences, challenges and solutions among countries in relation to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, and therefore help Identifying good practices and constraints in implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.