The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) by India.
The Nagoya Protocol would also contribute to the other two objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) relating to conservation and sustainable use, since benefits accruing from utilization of genetic resources would act as incentive to biodiversity-rich countries and their local communities to conserve and sustainably use their biodiversity.
India would be hosting the next Conference of Parties (CoP) to the CBD in October 2011. This will give India an opportunity to consolidate, scale up and showcase its strengths and initiatives on biodiversity before the world. As the incoming Presidency of CoP, India would be involved in setting the global agenda on biodiversity for the next few years.The ABS Protocol is open for signature from 2nd February 2011 to 1sl February 2012. So far six countries have signed the Protocol including three megadiverse countries (namely Brazil, Mexico and Colombia). As the incoming President of CoP-11, it is expected that India would be one of the early signatories to the ABS Protocol.
India is one of the identified megadiverse countries rich in biodiversity. With only 2.4% of the earth’s land area, India accounts for 7-8% of the recorded species of the world. India is also rich in associated traditional knowledge, which is both coded as in the ancient texts of Indian systems of medicines such as Ayurveda, Unani and Sidha and also non-coded, as it exists in oral undocumented traditions.
The genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge can be used to develop a wide range of products and services for human benefit, such as medicines, agricultural practices, cosmetics etc.
India is a Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which is one of the agreements adopted during the Rio Earth Summit held in 1992. One of the three objectives of the CBD relates to ABS, which refers to the way in which genetic resources may be accessed, and benefits resulting from their use shared by the users with the countries that provide them. The CBD prescribes that access to genetic resources is subject to national legislation. Accordingly, India after extensive consultative process had enacted Biological Diversity Act in 2002 for giving effect to the provisions of the CBD. However, in the near absence of user country measures, once the resource leaves the country providing the resources, there is no way to ensure compliance of ABS provisions in the country where it is used. Towards this, a protocol on access and benefit sharing has been negotiated under the aegis of CBD, and adopted by the tenth Conference of Parties (CoP-10) held in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010. India has participated actively and contributed meaningfully in the ABS negotiations which formally started about six years back. The objective of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS is fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies.
It is expected that the ABS Protocol which is a key missing pillar of the CBD, would address the concern of misappropriation or biopiracy of its genetic resources.