EMBRC co-organised the EU Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) Networking event held on 14 June 2021. The event enabled the ABS community to come together to discuss what has been done to support users of genetic resources and the way in which things are (or could be) moving. In all, 120 people from the ABS user community in Europe, including academic and business stakeholders, attended.

The event was hosted by the Leibniz Institute DSMZ-German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures (DSMZ)/German Nagoya Protocol HuB. In addition to EMBRC, co-organisers included the Dutch National Focal Point (hosted by Wageningen University and Research), ABS-int, the Union for Ethical Biotrade (UEBT), and the Natural History Museum London.

The programme included:

  • Presentations from various actors who support users of genetic resources with ABS;
  • An audience poll and Q&A;
  • A short panel discussion with actors from the user community about their perspective on challenges and ongoing needs;
  • An expert panel discussion about what opportunities exist for the future.

Anne Emmanuelle Kervella of EMBRC was one of the members of the expert panel. The panelists provided several recommendations and insights. They noted that the ABS framework currently addresses individual scientists and said that it could be beneficial to provide incentives and frameworks for better partnership between users and provider countries. Large organisations could consider setting up framework agreements with different countries  so that individual researchers do not have to deal with individual ABS permits. ABS issues could be included in research cooperation agreements between organisations in different countries. Governments could potentially adopt framework arrangements to promote joint partnerships/research programmes in key sectors that use genetic resources and include ABS measures. In such global agreements, European research infrastructures, like EMBRC, could be instrumental in facilitating sustainable benefit-sharing solutions with providing countries. Ultimately, the panel concluded that ABS should be seen as an opportunity for both users and providers.

All the panellists agreed that a continuous dialogue on ABS is needed between countries, the European Commission, and stakeholders, from the scientific community using the genetic resources, their organisations / universities, biological research infrastructures, biobanks, collections and policymakers.

For the full event report, see here

Sabrina Gaber
Communication Officer

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