Access and Benefit Sharing


Countries have the right to regulate how biodiversity is accessed and used, as defined by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) signed in 1992. The landmark agreement established guiding principles for access and benefit sharing (ABS), including prior informed consent, mutually agreed terms, respect for traditional knowledge, and the fair and equitable sharing of resulting benefits.

In 2010, the Nagoya Protocol built upon these ABS principles, clarifying their scope, which now includes research and development (R&D) related to biochemical compositions and not just genetic material. The Nagoya Protocol also established measures to ensure compliance around the world with ABS principles. To date, 100 countries have committed to implementing the provisions of the Nagoya Protocol. Moreover, the Nagoya Protocol has prompted a growing number of laws and regulations establishing ABS requirements and outlining permitted systems and sanctions for cases of non-compliance.

ABS rules apply to companies that use biodiversity to develop new products. Laws and regulations around the world increasingly require permits and agreements for R&D in natural ingredients for food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. For instance, the EU requires companies to adopt ABS due diligence systems. 

UEBT guides and verifies compliance with rules and best practices in ABS, which are included in our standard. In addition, UEBT provides training and advisory services to help companies comply with regulations.

A series of ABS guidance documents is available on the UEBT resources page


Read UEBT Deputy Director Maria Julia Oliva's opinion piece in Sustainable Brands magazine

Brazil has lost 20 years: strict ABS rules meant pharmaceutical companies were afraid to work with Brazilian biodiversity. With the new ABS law, the situation has improved, but there are still issues to be addressed.
— Peter Andersen, CEO of Centroflora Group