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National Focal Point (NFP) on Access and Benefit-Sharing of the Netherlands

The ABS Focal Point of the Netherlands provides information on access and benefit-sharing (ABS), in particular the Nagoya Protocol and the EU ABS Regulation. It gives guidance for seeking access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources from the Netherlands and abroad and background information on international rules and Dutch policy.

About Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS)

Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) refers to the international and national regulation of access to and use of genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, and the sharing of benefits stemming from this use between providers and users.

Until some decades ago, collecting living organisms and taking these across national borders was normal practice, without obligations or restrictions on the use of the collected material. As awareness increased that genetic resources may have actual or potential value, countries have increasingly asserted their rights over these resources. In this context, the concepts of national sovereignty over genetic resources and Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) were firmly established in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), adopted in 1992. As a result, free access to plants, animals and micro-organisms (and traditional knowledge associated with these genetic resources) cannot be taken for granted nowadays: often permission is required from the country where the genetic resource is obtained, and benefits from the use of such resources may need to be shared.

The Nagoya Protocol and the EU ABS Regulation
The Nagoya Protocol is aimed at providing a transparent legal framework for ABS and entered into force on 12 October 2014. It is implemented in the European Union through the EU ABS Regulation (Regulation (EU) 511/2014), which entered into force on the same date. On 27 August 2016, a Guidance document was published by the European Commission on the scope of application and the core obligations of Regulation (EU) 511/2014. On 12 January 2021, a revised Guidance document was published by the EC, providing more detailed information and practical examples on the scope of application and the core user obligations of Regulation (EU) 511/2014.

About access to Dutch Genetic Resources

Access to Dutch genetic resources is not regulated in the framework of the Nagoya Protocol, as the Dutch government considers it unnecessary to exercise its sovereignty regarding access to Dutch genetic resources in national legislation (section 6.2.1 of the Explanatory Memorandum of the Nagoya Protocol (Implementation) Act of the Netherlands). This means that there are no ABS obligations related to accessing and using Dutch genetic resources.

Of course, the above only applies if the genetic resources are really Dutch genetic resources, i.e. they are not genetic resources obtained from another country and transferred to the Netherlands. In case the genetic resources are obtained from another country, access regulation of that country may apply.

While there are no ABS access requirements in the Netherlands, there may be other regulations in place, for example in the field of species protection, territorial protection, and phytosanitary measures for animal and plant diseases . The collection and transfer of privately owned genetic resources requires the consent of the owner. Collection holders may set conditions (e.g. in the form of a Material Transfer Agreement), which are often dependent on the conditions under which the collections themselves acquired the materials.

About the ABS Focal Point website

The ABS Focal Point is the National Focal Point (NFP) of the Netherlands. The ABS Focal Point website not only provides information on ABS, in particular the Nagoya Protocol and the EU ABS Regulation, but also explores the practical implications of ABS for users of genetic resources. On this website you can find Frequently Asked Questions, an interactive ABS help tool, information on Dutch ABS policy, our newsletters and more. For questions about the Nagoya Protocol, the EU ABS Regulation or other aspects of ABS, feel free to contact us.

For further questions about ABS you can use the e-mail address NagoyaNL@wur.nl.