Access And Benefit-Sharing (ABS) Initiative To Continue Cooperation With WIPO 28/06/2017 by Elise De Geyter for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The Access and Benefit Sharing Capacity Development Initiative (ABS Initiative) and the World Intellectual Property Organization will continue their cooperation and produce “further good events,” it became known during a recent event organised by WIPO. The initiative relates to genetic resources. A side event was organised at WIPO on 12 June on the topic of access and benefit-sharing (ABS). Information was provided about the ABS Initiative and the different seminars and practical workshops organised by WIPO on IP and genetic resources (GRs), traditional knowledge (TK), and traditional cultural expressions/folklore (TCEs). Access and Benefit Sharing Hartmut Meyer, consultant at the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), said that the third aim of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of 1992 is “the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out the utilization of genetic resources.” The CBD states as its first and second aim the conservation of the biological diversity and the use of its components in a sustainable way. The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which entered into force in 2014, extends the CBD, said Wend Wendland, director of the Traditional Knowledge Division at WIPO. Wendland told the audience that the Nagoya Protocol adds the ABS system to the CBD and a mechanism for the international implementation of the protocol and a mechanism for compliance at national level. The beneficiaries of genetic resources are the users of the resources who obtain a monetary and non-monetary benefit, according to Meyer. The benefits together with the technology should be shared with the provider of the genetic resources, he said. ABS Initiative The ABS Initiative was founded in 2006 as a global initiative, Meyer said. The objective is to support the development and implementation of national ABS regulations, according to its website. The ABS Initiative aims at contributing to the establishment of ABS agreements between providers and users, it said. The activities of the ABS Initiative are located in the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States as well as in other African countries, Meyer said. The initiative is funded by several governments and international organisations and managed by GIZ, he added. Traditional Knowledge Division of WIPO Wendland said that the objective of program 4 of WIPO’s program and budget is to facilitate negotiations in the Intergovernmental Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), and to facilitate capacity building and technical assistance. Program 4 facilitates international, regional and national policy and legislative development, according to Begoña Venero, senior counsellor in the WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division. The program also aims at raising awareness, providing information on experiences, identifying key issues and explaining options and policy choices, she said. Hands-on practical training is provided together with support on selected topics, Venero added. WIPO possesses a number of specific tools such as online databases and registries of TK and GRs and an online distance learning program on IP, TK and TCEs, Venero said. WIPO furthermore sends out e-updates and has a traditional knowledge documentation toolkit, she added. Venero said WIPO has made every effort to provide information, but the member states ultimately decide what they do with the information. Seminars and Practical Workshops The WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division organises seminars and practical workshops on IP and GRs, TK, and TCEs, Venero said. The seminars and workshops aim at creating opportunities for member states to discuss policy issues and exchange experiences, according to Venero. Government officials, indigenous people and local communities participate in the workshops, she said, adding that the workshops do not result in formal outcomes. Four workshops, organised on request of the member states, on IP, TK and TCEs have already taken place, Venero said. From 18-20 November 2015, a workshop was organised jointly by WIPO and the Intellectual Property Office of Panama in Panama City, she said. The workshop was mostly addressed to indigenous people and local communities. Then a practical workshop in Apia, Samoa, took place from 8-10 December 2015, with the objective of strengthening legal awareness about how IP interacts with TK, TCEs and GRs, she added. A practical workshop took place from 17-20 August 2015 in Windhoek, Namibia and another practical workshop was organised from 5-8 September 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco, Venero said. The program, list of participants and reports of the meetings are available on the website of WIPO, according to Venero. Importance of Awareness and Sufficient Knowledge It is important that local communities and indigenous people have knowledge of the general IP instruments in order to be able to articulate and protect their rights, Venero said. It is not only important to explain IP rights to participants who are not familiar with IP, but also to create links, and facilitate an exchange between the different participants, Venero said. Indigenous people need to understand that there are places where they can get help in the protection of their intellectual property rights, Venero said. There are huge differences between countries and there is no single receipt for all the different countries, a speaker said. The major starting point is bringing people together and starting a dialogue, according to Venero. Indigenous people are often not aware of what is happening in national IP policies and are often far away from the policymaking centres, a speaker said. A lot of people who live in the same country have never spoken with each other before, several speakers said. Ruth Okediji, William L. Prosser Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School, said from the audience that in order for the protection of TK to become a priority on national legislative level, “an advocator” is needed, someone who understands the importance of the subject. A lot of people do not know about the topic, but they would care about it if they knew, Okediji said. She suggested that the mainstreaming of ABS training could become a standardised work of the WIPO secretariat. A WIPO official, replying to the question of Okediji, said that WIPO does not have the capacity to undertake a big initiative and that WIPO needs to remain neutral. Elise De Geyter is an intern at Intellectual Property Watch and a candidate for the LLM Intellectual Property and Technology Law at the National University of Singapore (class 2017). Image Credits: ABS Initiative, ABS Canada Organisation Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Elise De Geyter may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."Access And Benefit-Sharing (ABS) Initiative To Continue Cooperation With WIPO" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.