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Addressing inequalities in biodiversity governance? Access and benefit sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity

Environmental Policy
International
Qualitative
EP3
Guilherme de Queiroz Stein
University of Münster
Karen M. Siegel
University of Münster

Thursday 15:00 - 16:30 GMT (07/12/2023)

Abstract

Speakers: Guilherme de Queiroz-Stein and Karen Siegel The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), signed in 1992, attempted to establish a better balance of North-South relations regarding sharing the benefits generated by accessing genetic resources and information. Historically, countries in the global north have exploited natural resources in areas of high biodiversity in the global south, developing a greater capacity to produce science and technology. In turn, countries of the global south have claimed sovereign rights over their genetic resources and a fair and equitable distribution of the economic, technological, and scientific benefits generated. Another conflictual issue was recognizing the role of indigenous peoples and local communities in conserving and using biodiversity, safeguarding their rights. The CBD sought to address these matters with particular attention to inclusiveness. It established the legal principles to achieve three distinct objectives, which are not always easy to reconcile: the conservation of biodiversity, its sustainable uses, and the sharing of benefits. However, thirty years later, there is no benchmarking on how to balance these different objectives. Countries have adopted different strategies, and significant design and implementation challenges remain. So far, there is little research on which governance structures are most effective for achieving the different aims of the CBD. We present a theoretical model to examine different regulatory approaches and their inclusiveness. We apply it to analyse how biodiversity governance in Brazil has changed over time, drawing on data from stakeholder interviews, policy papers, and quantitative data on access and benefit sharing. We argue that by adopting the new Biodiversity Law in 2015, Brazil became a pioneer globally as it sought to streamline biodiversity-based business and provide legal certainty for bioprospecting activities, establishing precise mechanisms and legal parameters for benefit sharing. Nevertheless, important implementation problems and imbalances remain as economic objectives have priority over social inclusion and biodiversity conservation.