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Challenge

With the increasing effects from climate change, the need to find and exchange crops and varieties that can grow in different climatic conditions is essential. In fact many major staple food crops are already experiencing significant climate-change related yield reductions – the International Panel on Climate Change predicts that agricultural production will decline by 2% every decade until 2050, with yields of major crops in Africa and South Asia declining by up to 8%.

Recent research also shows that two-thirds of the plants that are key to human nutrition in a given country originate beyond its national borders: 

Taken from Khoury et al, 2015

Bioversity International’s approach

Bioversity International works with national partners to find ways to implement the International treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Plant Treaty) and the Nagoya Protocol – two international agreements on how countries exchange plant genetic resources. Both have similar objectives: 

The Plant Treaty

The Plant Treaty is a multilateral system whereby countries agree to virtually pool and share the plant genetic resources of 64 crops and forages for food and agriculture-related purpose. It is designed to facilitate cooperation between national governments, genebanks, researchers, plant breeders, development agencies and farmers to conserve, add value to and exchange plant genetic resources and equitably share benefits associated with their use. It also recognizes farmers’ rights and the protection of related traditional knowledge.

The Nagoya Protocol on access and benefit-sharing

The Nagoya Protocol is an international supplementary agreement to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity to share benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. It favours negotiations of bilateral access and benefit-sharing agreements between providers and users of genetic resources and traditional knowledge.

Mutually supportive implementation

Although both agreements are meant to be implemented in mutually supportive ways, many actors now involved in national policy development and implementation are uncertain how to do this in practice.

In most countries, different lead agencies have responsibility for implementing the respective agreements and they do not have sufficient opportunities to coordinate activities. Many perceive gray areas where it is unclear which regulatory system should apply, and they often do not have the mechanisms that allow them to work together to address these uncertainties.

Bioversity International is working together with the ABS Capacity Development Initiative and the Secretariats of the CBD Nagoya Protocol and the Plant Treaty to increase national policy actor’s ability to implement both agreements in supportive ways to demystify the ‘gray areas’ and arrive at clear operable approaches for implementation through:

  • Capacity-strengthening workshops
  • Research papers
  • Awareness-raising
  • Decision-making tools

Download the flier

In November 2015, 11 African countries came together in Ethiopia for a 5-day workshop: Embedding mutually supportive Implementation of the Plant Treaty and the Nagoya Protocol in the context of  broader national  policy goals.  
Visit the workshop webpage to find presentations, related reading and media articles.

In December 2016, Bioversity International organized, in partnership with the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, and the Secretariats of the CBD and the Plant Treaty, a side event at the UN Biodiversity Conference (Cancún, Mexico) on the same matter. Find out more about it here

Highlights

Strengthening capacity of national partners in 8 countries

Bioversity International’s ‘Genetic Resources Policy Initiative’ is helping to strengthen the capacity of national partners in Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Nepal, Rwanda and Uganda, to combine climate data, geographic information and data on crop suitability, to identify potentially adapted genetic resources from genebank collections around the world.

These activities provide a context for the same countries to explore institutional mechanisms to participate in the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing under the Plant Treaty. Over time, as the project has grown, activities are focusing primarily on the implementation of the multilateral system for access and benefit sharing in harmony with mechanisms to implement the CBD and the Nagoya Protocol.

Read the Genetic Resources Policy blog

Putting genetic diversity to work in Benin and Madagascar

Bioversity International is working with partners and stakeholders, in Benin and Madagascar to make access and benefit-sharing agreements that contribute to pro-poor rural development and offset the cost of conserving genetic resources. The project brings together focal points from both agriculture and the environment, to jointly build in mechanisms for mutual implementation of the Plant Treaty and the Nagoya Protocol. A national steering committee, co-chaired by the National Focal Points for the Plant Treaty and the CBD, is overseeing activities.  

Find out more

This research is carried out with the support of the Darwin Initiative – a UK Government funding programme.

Publications:

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

5-day workshop: Ethiopia, 2015

Watch the video for interviews with the attendees and click here for presentations, publications and media articles

Contact

For more information about this project, contact Michael Halewood

Useful links:

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Finger millet is one of the crops covered under the Plant Treaty’s Multilateral System for Access and Benefit Sharing. Credit: Bioversity International/Y.Wachira

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Partners:

This work is carried out as part of our collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) supported by CGIAR Trust Fund Donnors, and with many partners including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources and the ABS Capacity Development Initiative.