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Managing Genetic Resources: International Regimes, Problem Structures, National Implementation

Rabitz, Florian. 2017. Managing Genetic Resources: International Regimes, Problem Structures, National Implementation. Earth System Governance Working Paper, No. 37. Lund: Earth System Governance Project


Numerous regimes regulating access to genetic resources and the sharing of the benefits arising out of their utilization have sprung up over the last years, are under negotiation or subject to initial discussions. This text evaluates the effectiveness of three operational regimes: the Multilateral System under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the Nagoya Protocol to the
Convention on Biological Diversity and the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework under the World Health Organization. I assess effectiveness in terms of the regime-induced incentives and capacities of providers and users of genetic resources, as well as the available data on accessed resources and shared benefits. I explain effectiveness in terms of institutional design, conditioned by issue area-specific
problem structures and national implementation. Major conclusions are: a) regime coverage and the configuration of sources from which materials of interest can be obtained determine whether shareable benefits will be generated or whether access will be diverted to unregulated sources; b) the viability of different approaches to the monitoring of user compliance hinges on the transfer volumes of genetic resources from sources over intermediaries to end users; c) subscription models obviate the need for monitoring and may be preferable as a means of benefit-sharing due to their greater attractiveness for prospective users; and d) inadequate national implementation, particularly in developing countries, is a major barrier to access and thus to benefit-sharing.

Keywords: genetic resources; access and benefit-sharing; biological diversity; institutional design; regime effectiveness.

The Working Paper is available here (pdf).

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