Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (ABS Capacity Development Initiative)

Project description

Title: Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (ABS Capacity Development Initiative)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union
Countries: Africa, Caribbean, Pacific
Lead executing agency: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD)
Overall term: 2018 to 2022


Many natural resources from developing countries and emerging economies have the potential to be used sustainably by the private sector and research institutions. Genetic resources from animals, plants and microorganisms harbour particularly significant market potential. However, how such resources are accessed and utilised for commercial and non-commercial purposes is still largely unregulated in most of these countries.

This was why the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in 2010 agreed on an international environmental agreement: the Nagoya Protocol. Since the Protocol’s entry into force in 2014, it has provided a comprehensive international framework on how genetic resources are accessed and how the benefits arising from their utilisation are shared fairly and equitably between users and providers. This process is known as access and benefit-sharing (ABS). The intention of this Protocol is thus to prevent biopiracy, a practice that developing countries have heavily criticised in the past.

The ABS Capacity Development Initiative (ABS Initiative) has supported negotiations on ABS since 2006, and the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol since 2010. Its secretariat is based at GIZ’s registered office in Eschborn.


Governments have revised and developed new legislation relevant to ABS in accordance with the Nagoya Protocol. Relevant actors in Germany’s development-cooperation partner countries have developed the necessary skills and expertise to demand the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol at the national level.


The ABS Initiative supports the development of the legal and administrative framework for the Nagoya Protocol at a national level and helps actors to establish ABS compliant value chains that involve all relevant stakeholders. Indigenous and local communities, public research bodies, the private sector as well as non-governmental and international organisations are familiar with these regulations and comply with them. 

The project raises awareness of ABS among political decision-makers in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific and helps them to formulate national legal and administrative regulations governing access and benefit-sharing, while incorporating civil-society groups in these processes.

Moreover, it offers training for users and providers of genetic resources and the related traditional knowledge. It is hoped that indigenous peoples and local communities, equipped with this knowledge, will be able to conclude contracts on access and benefit-sharing in future.

The Initiative is also currently focusing its activities on selected countries in Africa. Experience, findings and results obtained from this work will be passed on to other countries in Africa as well as in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The Initiative is also working with regional organisations to set up a transnational framework for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol.

The ABS Initiative is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Institut de la Francophonie pour le développement durable (IFDD), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and the 11th European Development Fund under the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement.

SECO’s funds are earmarked for supporting specifically ABS compliant biotrade value chains in South(ern) Africa (ABioSA). Focus is set on South Africa (70 per cent) and other SADC member states (30 per cent).


With support from the ABS Initiative, the African Group ensured that its interests were reflected in the Nagoya Protocol. Preparatory meetings, government-level events and technical training sessions have enabled the representatives of the African Group to play an effective, ongoing role in global negotiations under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol.

The African Union and the Central African Forests Commission have devised guidelines and strategies for access and benefit-sharing with the support of the ABS Initiative. This support has helped some countries to develop or update their national ABS laws and regulations.

Following negotiations assisted by the ABS Initiative, ABS agreements have been signed between users and providers of genetic resources. For instance, private companies with an international profile have entered into ABS agreements in both Cameroon and South Africa.

The ABS Initiative advised the development of draft Nagoya Protocol compliant policies and regulations in countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Madagascar, Micronesia, Morocco, Namibia, Palau, Samoa und Senegal.

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