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Focus Group: Natural Resources and Environment
Natural Resources and Environment

Research Theme
Biodiversity Law and Governance

Study Title
International Governance of Biodiversity: Inquiry on Inclusion of Indigenous People in ABS Regime

The Grassroots Institute and the Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia Central University, New Delhi have been doing a Study on Inclusion of Indigenous Peoples and their Rights in ABS Regime (Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from Access to and Utilization of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge) including Nagoya Protocol. Under this study the GI is executing, apart from other instruments & tools, an Opinion Survey of the international organizations/forums, civil society groups, academic & research institutions, associations of indigenous people, tribal movements, and individuals who are directly or indirectly concerned with the ABS issues. Today, the genetic resources are no longer considered the common heritage of mankind and cannot be treated as freely accessible commodities. Parties to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have negotiated since 1998 (in COP4) to evolve an international regime called ABS or "access to fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources". Article.15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) provides a framework for national governments to implement ABS (access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing) mechanisms to regulate and protect traditional knowledge and genetic resources in order to facilitate access and ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits that can contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development. At seventh meeting of Conference of Parties (COP7), held in February 2004 at Kuala Lumpur, the Parties engaged in extensive discussions about the mandate and terms of reference of ABS Working Group that would "elaborate and negotiate an international regime on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing with the aim of adopting an instrument/ instruments to effectively implement the provisions of Article 15 and Article 8(j) of CBD". After prolonged deliberations lasting over 6 years, the access and benefit sharing Nagoya Protocol with regard to genetic resources was adopted during the COP10 at Nagoya, Japan by 180 countries. By promoting the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, and by strengthening the opportunities for fair and equitable sharing of benefits from their use, the Nagoya Protocol is supposed to create incentives to conserve biological diversity, sustainably use its components, and further enhance the contribution of biological diversity to sustainable development and human well-being. A key governance issue in ABS is the rights of indigenous people and communities who are the local custodians of biodiversity. Of particular concern is their right to participate in decision-making, to access the biological resources on which they depend, and to receive an equitable share of the benefits of using these resources. The CBD’s Articles 8(j) and 10(c) recognize the special role of indigenous and local communities in conservation and sustainable use, as does the Preamble. Article 8(j) requires parties to respect and maintain traditional knowledge, innovations and practices and promote their wider application “with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge”; while 10(c) requires Parties to protect customary use by communities. Thus the evolution and implementation of ABS laws and policies are surrounded by array of issues including the lack of adequate recognition & participation of indigenous people and routine undermining of their rights by corresponding national ABS laws/policies. With the above backdrop, the study encompasses on the following Objectives:
  1. To study the Nagoya Protocol on ABS in relation to establishing equity and justice over the utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
  2. To study the legal validity of FPIC and customary rights of indigenous people in national ABS laws of selected developing countries.

Study Coordinators
Dr. Hasrat Arjjumend (Grassroots Institute)
Dr. Sabiha Alam (Academy of International Studies)

Call for Participation
To take part in the study, please respond to the Opinion Survey on ABS in any of the following formats. Deadline to submit the filled-in format is 15 December 2012; however, the completed formats could be received till end of February 2013.

> Q1-INT.ABS             > Q3-IND.ABS

Outcome of the Study
The findings of the study will be available as and when put in public domain in the various forms. Please also keep on checking our Publications section.

This pioneer work has been conducted between 2011 and 2019. Various papers and articles are published under this initiative. Some are as belows: