ICC: Access and benefit sharing must embrace business diversity

  • 20 May 2008

An international regime on access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources must consider the wide variety of ways business sectors use these resources, the International Chamber of Commerce said today, speaking at the 9th Conference of the Parties (COP-9) of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD).

“Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to an access and benefits sharing regime, negotiators must develop a practical strategy that takes a sectoral perspective, to address the diverse ways businesses manage genetic resources,” said International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Secretary General Guy Sebban. “Business stands ready to clarify and inform the access and benefit sharing debate here in Bonn.”

COP-9 represents a critical stage in the creation of an international access and benefit sharing regime. Negotiators here will determine the basis for talks to create such a global regime, which must be concluded before COP-10 meets in Japan in mid-2010.  The ABS discussions are due to begin on 21 May.

Discussions over the next two years should set the scope of an international ABS regime and focus on practical issues, define key terms, and determine the risks, costs, and benefits of different solutions proposed, ICC counseled.

Business plays an essential role in helping ensure social and economic benefits are created from genetic resources, and that these resources are used and preserved in a sustainable manner. As a key stakeholder, business is poised to contribute its expertise on all aspects of the ABS discussions.

The business delegation will emphasize the need for a nuanced, practical, and informed approach, which takes into account the complexities of how genetic resources are moved and utilized, and how  interdependent all countries are in the use of these resources.

Business will also advocate for a regime that is fair and transparent, and that provides legal certainty and non-discriminatory access to genetic resources.

An event hosted by ICC, the Access and Benefit Sharing Alliance and the Biotechnology Industry Organization on the evening of 21 May will showcase a Malaysian example of how access and benefit sharing arrangements with business can help build local capacity and technological skills.

ICC is the main representative body for world business at COP-9.  Through its CBD and ABS Task Forces, ICC has been contributing business views throughout the CBD negotiations.