The 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 ("Nagoya Protocol") was adopted on 29 October 2010 and entered into force on 12 October 2014. It provides a legal framework for the implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Since the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol, the topic of the use of genetic resources and access and benefit sharing (‘ABS') obligations related thereto have grown rapidly in importance. Currently, many implementing (regional and national) laws have been adopted or are under discussion. On 12 October 2014, the EU Regulation 511/2014 of 16 April 2014 on compliance measures for users from the Nagoya Protocol in the Union, entered into force. It is one of the first regulations on compliance with ABS requirements to come into existence.

Many concerned organisations, big companies and SMEs, public institutions and academia, are only gradually discovering the impact of these new ABS rules on their activities and products. However, the improper handling of genetic resources and lack of compliance with all applicable ABS requirements can undermine the value of your research and development activities. This makes it essential to take all necessary actions to ensure compliance when dealing with genetic resources.

The topic of ABS is very much multi layered and contains aspects of regulatory, law, intellectual property and science. As such, it creates a new regulatory/legal environment governing access and use of genetic resources in a wide variety of sectors.