Documents considered by the Committee on 24 April 2019 Contents

3Genetic Resources: Access and Benefit-Sharing

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny (decision reported on 13/03/2019)

Document details

Report from the Commission on the Regulation (EU) No 511/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on compliance measures for users from the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization in the Union.

Legal base

Department

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Document Number

(40350), 5925/19 + ADD 1, COM(19) 13

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

3.1The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recognises that any benefits arising from the use of genetic resources9 should be shared with the country providing those resources. This is the concept of “access and benefit sharing” (ABS). In 2010, 92 signatories agreed the “Nagoya Protocol”10 establishing a clear, legally-binding framework determining how researchers and companies can obtain access to the genetic resources of a country and to the traditional knowledge associated with these resources. It also explained how the benefits arising from the use of these genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge will be shared.

3.2The Commission’s report assessed implementation of the EU ABS Regulation,11 which brought EU law into line with the Nagoya Protocol. We first considered the document at our meeting of 13 March 2019. While we cleared it from scrutiny, we raised a series of issues to which the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Dr Thérèse Coffey MP) has responded.12

3.3Concerning the post-Brexit reporting obligations adopted under UK secondary legislation,13 the Minister explains that what appeared to us to be two separate obligations (the first being to report domestically on implementation of the Regulation and the second to report internationally on compliance with the Protocol) is in fact one single international reporting obligation. This is directed to the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol (COP-MOP).

3.4Once the reporting obligations are reduced to this single requirement, says the Minister, the UK will report measures taken to ensure compliance with the Protocol. For the UK, after leaving the EU, this will be reporting against implementation of the EU ABS Regulation (as amended by the Statutory Instrument) and on complimentary compliance activities such as awareness raising and capacity building activities.

3.5The Minister goes on to explain that the international reporting process uses a reporting template prepared by the Secretariat of the CBD. Parties respond to a number of questions across a range of areas such as institutional structures for implementation, legislative, administrative or policy measures put in place. These questions help the Secretariat set a baseline for progress of implementation across all Parties and highlights individual Parties’ progress, successes and challenges in implementation.

3.6When the next National Report (due in 2023) is approved by Ministers, it will be uploaded to the Access and Benefit Sharing Clearing House (ABSCH), the primary platform for sharing information regarding the implementation of the Protocol. The report will appear on the UK’s national profile and be open to public scrutiny.

3.7Turning to the support provided to UK stakeholders to support compliance, the Minster explains that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is responsible for monitoring and enforcing UK user compliance in the UK. BEIS prioritises providing assistance and education to UK users in the first instance to help increase overall compliance in the UK. In collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), a number of teach-ins, presentations and workshops have been given to stakeholders on how the Protocol affects them, how to determine if a country they are accessing resources from is a Party, how to approach such Parties and how to demonstrate compliance here in the UK.

3.8DEFRA acts as the UK National Focal Point and has provided advice, assistance and occasionally mediated on behalf of UK users when accessing resources from Parties to the Protocol that have access legislation in place. It also hosts the UK ABS Stakeholder Forum.

3.9Turning to action being taken by the UK in the areas identified by the Commission as requiring further work, the Minister highlights the following actions undertaken by the UK:

3.10Responding to our query about the work undertaken by the Commission in drafting guidance on sector-specific needs in relation to the notion of utilisation, the Minister commends the Commission’s efforts. She confirms that the UK is well equipped to take over these efforts, further engage with UK stakeholders and develop revised guidance that is directly applicable to UK legislation and approaches.

3.11On applications for recognition of best practice, the Minister says that BEIS will assume responsibility for assessment of such applications post-Brexit. After exit, the UK will pursue domestically any outstanding applications for best practice.

3.12We consider the Minister’s response to be comprehensive and helpful and so we report it to the House for information.

3.13Our key concern related to the reporting requirements. We note that there will be one single reporting requirement—to the relevant international body—but that there is no statutory requirement to report domestically on implementation. This, we observe, is a change to the current circumstance where the UK reports to the Commission, which then publishes a report which is subject to scrutiny by this Committee. While this is potentially a reduction in formal oversight, we consider it likely that a Government submitting a National Report in the future would opt to draw it to the attention of Parliament in any case.

3.14We have no further queries. The document has already been cleared from scrutiny.

Full details of the documents

Report from the Commission on the Regulation (EU) No 511/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on compliance measures for users from the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization in the Union: (40350), 5925/19 + ADD 1, COM(19) 13.

Previous Committee Reports

Fifty-ninth Report HC 301–lvii (2017–19), chapter 11 (13 March 2019).


9 All living organisms that carry genetic material.

10 Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

11 Regulation (EU) No 511/2014.

12 Letter from Dr Thérèse Coffey MP to Sir William Cash MP, dated 25 March 2019.

13 The Nagoya Protocol (Compliance) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018.




Published: 30 April 2019