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Mutually supportive implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and the Plant Treaty: Scenarios for consideration by national focal points and other interested stakeholders

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The scenarios presented in this collection are designed to help national focal points, competent authorities and other stakeholders work through areas of uncertainty, so that they can develop clearly articulated, mutually supportive, national level approaches to implementing the Plant Treaty and the Nagoya Protocol. 

The objectives of the CBD and the Plant Treaty are basically identical – the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources and the equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use. However, the access and benefit sharing (ABS) systems that these agreements require member states to implement are very different in orientation. The Plant Treaty creates a multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing (MLS) whereby countries agree to virtually pool and share the genetic resources of 64 crops and forages listed in Annex 1 of the Plant Treaty for agriculture and food-related purposes. The CBD and its Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (NP) create mechanisms for the negotiation and enforcement of bilateral ABS agreements.

Although both agreements are meant to be implemented in mutually supportive ways, many actors involved in national policy development and implementation are uncertain about how to do this in practice. In most countries, different lead agencies have responsibility for implementing the respective agreements and they have not had sufficient opportunities to coordinate their activities. The agency responsible for implementing the CBD/NP often has a low level of familiarity with the Plant Treaty and vice versa. Many policy actors perceive ‘grey areas’ where it is not clear which regulatory system should apply, and the different lead agencies often do not have mechanisms in place to allow them to work together to address these uncertainties in their day-to-day operations.

Each scenario teases-out issues that frequently arise when countries are putting systems in place to operationalize both the agreements. New and revised scenarios will be published, based on additional research and capacity building activities.

Mutual implementation of Nagoya Protocol and Plant Treaty

These scenarios were developed by Michael Halewood, Andreas Drews, Kathryn Garforth, Tobias Kiene and Isabel López Noriega, as part of the Joint Capacity Building Programme for Developing Countries on Implementation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and its Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing (Joint Capacity Building Programme).

Bioversity International has supported national implementation of the Plant Treaty multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing for several years under the aegis of the Joint Capacity Building Programme. The ABS Capacity Development Initiative has supported national implementation of the ABS provisions of the CBD and its Nagoya Protocol since 2006. The two organizations have joined together, in close collaboration with the Secretariats of the CBD and the Plant Treaty, to support countries to develop mechanisms for the mutually supportive national implementation of both agreements.  More recently, they have also been working with regional organizations such as the African Union and the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity.


Michael Halewood, Bioversity International, and Andreas Drews, ABS Capacity Development Initiative,

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The development of the publication was supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands, and is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the CGIAR Genebank Platform, which are supported by CGIAR Trust Fund Donors.