How to Celebrate ABS on the CBD’s Silver Jubilee? Move Forward on the GMBSM

Organised by
26 November 2018
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

Twenty-five years of experience in “access to genetic resources” and “the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilization” (ABS) demonstrate that a system based on bilateral contracts is neither efficient nor equitable. Its extension to the Global Multilateral Benefit-Sharing Mechanism (GMBSM) (Article 10 of the Nagoya Protocol) is debated. 

An economic approach to ABS justifies “bounded openness” as the modality of the GMBSM, whereby the meaning ascribed to “genetic resources” is “natural information.” Seen thus, the discussion on “digital sequence information” (DSI) is obviated while the “-omics” disciplines fall within scope. Indeed, sequences are just one type of natural information and digitization, one means of communication.  

This side-event will take place during the Fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Sharm el-Sheikh. The meeting aims to take stock of experience with establishing policy and international cooperation frameworks to ensure fair and equitable access and benefit sharing in using genetic resources, promoting discussion around an economically feasible approach and weighing up various issues surrounding “bounded openness over natural information” from economic, legal and scientific perspectives. 

Manuel Ruiz Muller is a Lawyer with a Masters in Intellectual Property and Competition Law from the Catholic University of Peru. He has been working on environmental law and policy since 1990. His activities have included legal research and technical assistance in natural protected areas conservation, environmental policy orientation to public and private entities as well as training in environmental law. Mr. Ruiz is Director and Principal Researcher in the International Affairs and Biodiversity Program of the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA). He has become actively involved in the process to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at the national, regional and international levels. His current position includes providing legal analysis on issues such as access to genetic resources, intellectual property rights, biosafety, indigenous peoples traditional knowledge and rights, biotechnology and general environmental law, among others. He has also participated as a speaker in events regarding these issues in numerous countries. He has also been a consultant to FIELD, UNCTAD, UNDP, FFLA, IDB, ICTSD, IUCN, South Center, Andean Community, UNDP, FAO, UK Food Group, IPGRI, World Resources Institute, Bioversity International, WIPO, among others.

Joseph Henry Vogel is Professor of Economics at the University of Puerto-Río Piedras and has been a sponsored lecturer at over 250 venues worldwide. He has served as a technical advisor on the Ecuadorian delegation to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological  Diversity (CBD) and the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC).  Since launching Genes for Sale (Oxford 1994), Vogel has written extensively on the application of the economics of information to the CBD. Vogel has also applied “the general theory of second best” to the FCCC as justification for paying economically poor-but-carbon-rich countries not to exploit carbon reserves. The resulting book The Economics of the Yasuní Initiative: Climate Change as if Thermodynamics Mattered (Anthem Press, 2009) is also available in Spanish as La economía de la Iniciativa Yasuní-ITT.

Vogel has consulted in numerous projects funded by the UNDP, USAID, IADB, World Bank and various NGOs. He works broadly on the policy implications of the economics of appropriation, be they genetic resources, the atmospheric sink or even movie locations. “Geopiracy” is Vogel’s neologism for the falsification of location in the visual arts. Because many policy debates reduce to the balancing of rights, Vogel has advocated the establishment of a “Museum of Bioprospecting, Intellectual Property and the Public Domain” in an edited volume by the same title. The study of piracy in all its forms has also resulted in innovation. On 5 June 2012, Vogel was awarded US Patent #8195571 for a “Web-Based System And Method For Preventing Unauthorized Access To Copyrighted Academic Texts,” which was recognized in 2011 as significant of the expansionary policy of the USPTO toward what is patent eligible.

Nicolas Pauchard is a PhD candidate and a teaching assistant in Public Policy and Sustainability at the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration of the University of Lausanne. His PhD thesis is based on case studies, through which he examines “access and benefit sharing” for utilizations which do not require accessing genetic resources in the country of origin. The conceptual framework draws on Institutional Resource Regime, which combines public-policy analysis with the institutional economics of property rights. As an undergraduate, Nicolas Pauchard studied political economy, biology and philosophy at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland).


Dr. Amber Hartman Scholz is the Deputy to the Director at the Leibniz Institute DSMZ, the German Collection for Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, in Braunschweig, Germany. She headed the team that led to the DSMZ becoming the first Registered Collection under the Nagoya Protocol in the European Union, demonstrating the collection's voluntary and stringent compliance with EU Regulation 511/2014. Her broader work at the DSMZ focuses on internationalization, strategic development, and science policy. Dr. Scholz has broad experience in science and policy through her work in the United States at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) as Executive Director to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology from, the National Cancer Institute as a Policy Advisor, and as a Policy Consultant to the California State Senate Environmental Quality Committee. She received her PhD in Biology with a focus on microbiology and genomics in 2009 from the Johns Hopkins University.