Realizing Access and Benefit Sharing from Use of Genetic Resources Between Diverging International Regimes: The Scope for Leadership

International Environmental Agreements, Online 09.12.2014. DOI: 10.1007/s10784-014-9271-4, 2014, 18 p.

This article examines how access and benefit sharing (ABS) in international transactions with genetic resources can be achieved and how Norway contributes to their realization. Regarding the first question, progress on the ground has been slow, but important principles have been agreed within the convention on biological diversity (CBD) and its Nagoya Protocol (NP). Although domestic legislation is adopted, key user countries remain reluctant. They argue that the ABS regime needs to be supplemented with sector approaches within forums such as the Food and Agriculture Organization. In principle, this may sound logical, but sector approaches may risk undermining the ABS regime of the CBD/NP. The principle of access is more user-oriented and benefit sharing is weaker in the relevant FAO negotiations. Against this background, the future practical significance of the ABS regime remains uncertain. Norway has played an important leadership role in ABS within the CBD/NP framework. This stems in part from ‘fortunate circumstances’, as Norway has relatively few stakes in this issue area, but also includes strong normative elements: The Norwegian position has also been solidified by good coordination and strong institutional capacity among the actors involved. However, there are indications of a growing split in the Norwegian position along sector lines. We do not yet have sufficient empirical evidence that this is the case; but if it is, achieving an effective ABS regime may be even more difficult.