The federal cabinet has approved accession to the Nagoya Protocol (NP) on access to genetic resources and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation.
After approval from cabinet, the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) has requested to the foreign ministry to deposit the instrument of accession with the treaty section of the office of legal affairs at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
“After accession to Nagoya Protocol, Pakistan will be able to extract benefits from the utilisation of genetic resources as well as subsequent applications and commercialisation shall be shared in a fair and equitable way with the contracting party, providing genetic resources on mutually agreed terms,” the MoCC Biodiversity Director Naeem Ashraf Raja told The Express Tribune.
Raja said that besides addressing benefit sharing with regard to genetic resources that are held by indigenous and local communities, as well as traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, the Article 9 of NP also encourages direction of the benefits towards the conservation of biological diversity and sustainable use.
He said, according to the NP’s Article 10, the parties shall consider the need for the modalities of a global multilateral benefit sharing mechanism, for genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge in trans-boundary situations or for which it is not possible to grant Prior Informed Consent (PIC).
Raja said the protocol applies when genetic resources are accessed and used to conduct research and development on the genetic or biochemical composition of genetic resources and it covers genetic resources within national jurisdiction with some notable exceptions.
“For instance, it does not apply to genetic resources covered by specialised access and benefit sharing agreements such as the International Treaty on Plant, Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. It is also not applied to human genetic material resources that were acquired before the protocol comes into effect,” he said.
Under the NP obligations, the contracting parties would have to take measures providing that genetic resources utilised within their jurisdiction have been accessed in accordance with prior informed consent and that mutually agreed terms have been established as required by another contracting party.
Whereas, the parties will have to take measures regarding access to justice and monitoring the utilisation of genetic resource after they leave a country, including by designating effective checkpoints at any stage of the value chain, research, development, innovation, pre- or post-commercialisation.
Pakistan is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was signed and ratified by Pakistan on June, 1992 and July 26, 1994 respectively.
The convention is the only international instrument that addresses biological diversity with objectives of conservation of the biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation of genetic resources.
The NP provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD. Nagoya Protocol on Access on Benefit Sharing (ABS) was adopted on October 29, 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2015.