Conducting International Research? What to Know About Access, Benefit‐Sharing, & the Nagoya Protocol

Conducting research in other countries and collaborating with colleagues internationally can enrich the careers of ecologists and give them opportunities to contribute to important questions in environmental policy and conservation. However, researchers working internationally must comply with a variety of requirements of both international agreements and local laws. The Nagoya Protocol, part of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international agreement that calls for sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources, came into force on 12 October 2014 and aims to ensure that countries and indigenous peoples share in the nonmonetary and monetary benefits of biological research on their lands and waters, promoting conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The Protocol calls upon each country to establish its own requirements governing access to genetic resources and to traditional knowledge associated with those resources. Key to these requirements is the need for researchers to obtain Prior Informed Consent (PIC) under Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) for each country where they work. The CBD (2010) defines PIC as “the permission given by the competent national authority of a provider country to a user prior to accessing genetic resources, in line with an appropriate national legal and institutional framework” and MAT as “an agreement reached between the providers of genetic resources and users on the conditions of access and use of the resources, and the benefits to be shared between both parties.”

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