Access and benefit sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol

The EVA GLOBAL consortium stands behind the principles of the three goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and supports the fair and equitable sharing of benefits as conceived under the Nagoya Protocol. The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) is an international agreement that aims at the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization (research and/or development) of genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge associated to them. Pathogen genetic resources fall under the scope of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Nagoya Protocol (NP), with the notable exception of pandemic influenza strains, and associated sequence data, that fall under the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework. Since coming into force on the 12th of October of 2014, the Nagoya Protocol has been implemented in stages as countries continue to either ratify or become a party to the Protocol, so far of 140 Parties . Compliance obligations under the Nagoya Protocol are implemented and regulated in the European Union through the EU ABS Regulation 511/2014 and aim at establishing clear obligations and legal certainty for both users and providers of genetic material. The consortium is actively implementing a step-by-step ABS strategy among its partners to foster compliance with potential obligations.

The ABS compliance strategy aims to support EVA partners and end-users to fulfill their ABS and Nagoya Protocol obligations, primarily under the legal context of the EU ABS regulation 511/2014. Note that under the EU regulation collection holders themselves, if they do not engage in utilization, do not have due diligence obligations. Workpackage 7 of the EVA-GLOBAL project is the team leading the compliance strategy for all material on offer on the EVA catalogue collection.

Our ABS strategy encompasses, an ABS awareness raising campaign for partners and users, a dedicated Help-Desk for our EVA members to foster compliance and a continuous curation of material in the EVA catalogue.

ABS awareness raising
For our EVA partners, we have a 2 hour ‘Nagoya for Beginners’ workshop available in the members-only section of the EVA website. Once in the consortium section, you can find the video and presentations in PDF format.
For non-EVA partners and users of EVA material, we have a publicly available ‘Nagoya for Newbies ’ webinar in collaboration with the German Nagoya Protocol HuB project . If you are a beginner and are interested in the topic and whether is relevant for your research, check it out! The GNP-HuB website provides all kinds of material regarding ABS (i.e. videos, fact sheets, infographics, etc). If you are having trouble understanding the ABS world and all of its components, check out their interactive infographic (web version only) or have a look at their ABS stories if you want to see how ABS works in various Countries.

The proactive compliance from our EVA partners will greatly enhance the usability and legal certainty of the viruses and products in the EVA-GLOBAL catalogue for our users, for providers, and for the broader scientific community. EVA-GLOBAL members commit to a significant effort to become Nagoya-compliant, to the best of their respective capabilities, over the project period and to make this information available in the public catalog to ensure transparency, trust, and fairness.

Help-desk services for our EVA community
Because many EVA-GLOBAL consortium members are actively involved in viral outbreak situations and on the „front lines” in-country, the consortium takes an active role in supporting Nagoya compliance obligations for these consortium members where and when new outbreaks occur. Our dedicated provides case-by-case guidance and support.

Catalogue curation
We are continuously improving information needed by users to help them assess and determine whether they have any obligations, especially for our end-users in the EU and potential due diligence obligations under the EU ABS regulation. The first phase of the catalogue curation consisted on providing country of origin and date of collection information to all biological items (i.e. virus, nucleic acid and protein) in the EVA catalogue. The upcoming phase will focus on indicating whether the material has any benefit-sharing obligations, and if documents are available, provide them to the end-user. These efforts are still on-going and have not been fully implemented.

EVA GLOBAL contributions and work in the context of ABS during the COVID19 pandemic has been highlighted in our 2021 Lancet Microbe publication. By June 2021, EVA had distributed more than 2300 products to 109 countries ( list countries here* ) and continues to support pathogen research during pandemic and inter-pandemic times.

We believe that ‘together we are stronger‘, especially during these times of global urgency and are pleased that international cooperation has led to a silver lining and spirit of teamwork around the world. Here is a letter from the Government of Guatemala that exemplifies this cooperation.

The consortium is also actively engaged with capacity building in collections in countries with less developed economies where viral outbreaks have a particularly acute and devastating role. The consortium is extending its network to countries where virus biobanking is poorly developed and to Developing Countries (DC), by association with institutes to help them start, develop and maintain a virus collection. There is a mutual benefit in this objective as independence of each endemic country for the control of emerging viral disease relies on its capacity to access to viral strains, but also to viral sequence, to rapidly design efficient diagnostic tools, and to have access to reference material, to assess their diagnostic and surveillance capacities or to develop research program in biology and control of infectious diseases, etc. Providing this capacity to those institutes will constitute a shared benefit. It will also help towards the creation of an adequate work environment for local scientists to perform research in their own countries. For EVA-GLOBAL, the goal is to extend the diversity of the resource offered in our catalogue by integration of new institutes from countries where major virus outbreaks already occurred and in those where the probability of emergence is high.