The CIESM Charter on Access and Benefit-Sharing

A Charter for access to knowledge to everyone and to prevent the abuses of the ocean global commons

The CIESM Charter favours the sharing of scientific knowledge with concerted handing of data, traceability, nature conservation and environmental respect. The Charter developed on the basis of extensive consultation with scientists and legal experts (thanks are due in particular for the key comments of Dr Lyle Glowka, CBD Secretariat) lists nine ethical guidelines aimed at providers, enquirers and end-users regarding the use of marine resources. It emphasizes essential core values, such as fair and equitable sharing of benefits, transparency, reciprocal relations, thus maintaining and protecting the access to knowledge to everyone and preventing abuses of the ocean global commons. The CIESM Charter goes beyond biological approaches and extends beyond the strict perimeter of the Mediterranean/ Black Sea Region. It is applicable to large scientific initiatives such as oceanographic campaigns in the world oceans.

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Signature of the CIESM Charter on ABS

21 June 2014 saw the formal signature at CIESM Headquarters (see video of the CIESM Charter on Access and Benefit Sharing. This event took place in the context of the Ocean Sampling Day and involved 185 scientific teams who took samples of marine waters world-wide for coordinated environmental studies. In the following days, hundreds of marine researchers from over 50 countries signed the CIESM Charter. Research institutes engaging in collaborative campaigns with our Commission must adhere to the key principles of the Charter in all their sampling activities.

The CIESM Charter is built upon 9 core values :

Core value 1 - Equity and Fairness

Share fairly and equitably with and within the Provider State any monetary or non-monetary benefits arising from the utilization of Genetic resources including associated knowledge and derivatives. Regarding non-monetary benefits, include, where appropriate, capacity development with the Provider State with such mechanisms as sharing technological expertise, facilitating access to the ship, to technological platforms, training etc;

Ensure that negotiating power is not unbalanced in the favour of one party, with disadvantages/damages for the other; and If there is a trade, ensure that the price, determined for the access/transfer or utilization of the Genetic resources is defined/negotiated on a fair and equal basis;

When the initial utilization of the genetic Resources in the original agreemen evolves, engage a re-negotiation process with the Provider State at the time when downstream commercialization is foreseen and do not alter the utilization without such agreement.

Core value 2 - Certainty of Property Rights - IPRs assignments

Ensure with certainty the existing property rights and assign new intellectual property rights, when/if appropriate, to the Genetic Resources and derivatives fairly and equitably, design their clear allocation and exchanges. Identify traditional knowledge related to access to Genetic Resources, if any.

Core value 3 - Legality / liability

Clearly identify regulations and laws governing access to and utilization of Genetic Resources collected under national jurisdictions and comply with domestic laws, Access and Benefits Sharing laws and regulations: comply with PIC, MAT defined in the Nagoya Protocol if applicable, any other agreements entered into with and within the country of origin;

Honour the spirit of the CBD, The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Nagoya Protocol and other relevant international agreements.

Core value 4 - Transparency

Communicate the scientific objectives and the proposed research that will be carried out to access and utilize the Genetic Resources and associated knowledge; Ensure common definition and harmonization of terms with Provider State when agreeing in contracts, and/or PIC and MAT.

Communicate and agree with Provider State Policies/regulation of access to data repositories and biorepositories; and clearly communicate about Third Parties who will be involved and their role in the proposed research and inform the Provider State about any changes in third parties involvement in case of commercial use.

Identify and list the potential benefits, monetary or non-monetray, likely to arise from commercial or non-commercial utilization of the Genetic resources and associated knowledge;

Use written agreements setting out the terms and conditions under which the Genetic resources may be accessed or otherwise acquired, utilized and any resulting benefits to be shared; Supply to third parties, where appropriate, the Genetic resources only on terms and conditions consistent with reached agreements.

Core value 5 - Traceability

Apply standardization process and standardized protocols when existing, if appropriate. Keep records of genetic resources sampling and analysis processes, including repositories location (data and bio) and any third parties involved. Develop and maintain database and data management to record and make available information on the Genetic resources and associated knowledge.

Communicate, properly acknowledge and cite any information about the project on any communication supports used: report, publication, web pages, 

Core value 6 - Reciprocal Relations

Cooperate with and involve scientific communities from the Provider State in all aspects of research projects in a mutual relationship; identify and discuss together/negotiate with the Provider State the best way to share non-monetary Benefits, exchange on mutual benefits.

Core value 7 - Concerted Handling of Commons

Ensure that the contributors share responsibilities for data preservation, delivery and management. When utilization is non- commercial, share simultaneously with all the active partners in the proposed research, Third parties and Provider, deposit the data in the public domain; make the associated genetic knowledge and derivatives accessible to the community, as soon as possible, in a way consistent with the agreement.

Any information related to the access and utilization of Genetic resources, handled by one party should be shared with the other parties so as to facilitate the mutual exchange for genetic resources access and analysis, data and associated knowledge analysis or for implementation of any further research.

Core value 8 - Nature Conservation and environmental respect

Ensure that the sampling sites are not damaged and conservation of marine biodiversity is not impeded by the research, in cooperation with the Provider State; Ensure priority is given to non-destructive sampling techniques and, in case of environmental damage, provide means for restoration.

Core value 9 - Efficiency

Ensure Transaction cost are minimized in governance structures, including control, enforcement and monitoring consistent with good practice and effective delivery: which institutions analyse and store the Genetic resources; Prepare for all proposed research, and agreed protocol stating how the parties will implement the core values of this Charter and communicate it to relevant stakeholders.


Definition of terms

Genetic Resource refers to the collected Marine Genetic Resources (MGRs), prokaryotes (archea and bacteria), eukaryotes, their replicable parts and other derived materials (genomes, plastids, cDNA, RNA) containing functional unit of heredity

Proposed research refers to research that a scientist want to carry out including access to GR, transfer, processes and data management (sequencing, annotation, ex situ collection).

Provider State refers to the State/country providing access to its genetic resources under its National Jurisdiction.

Associated knowledge refers to metadata, i.e. environmental information (data / images obtained from biogeochemical parameters analysis, hydrological and climatic parameters measurement related to the Genetic Resource.) and Contextual information (Provider State, geographic location, date, etc.).

Third Parties refers to entity affiliated with the project such as partners implicated in Genetic resources collection, transfer and analysis including Derivatives process. This term includes public bodies from governments, research institutes, and/or private companies and multinationals.

Transfer of Genetic resources refers to the different steps following the sampling/collection of the Genetic resources and includes the different steps for the analysis of the Genetic resources, genetic data and associated knowledge. It includes bio reprositories and data repositories storage.

Derivative means anything derived from or utilizing the Genetic Resources, including Genetic Data and published information, but also improvements, developments, modifications, structural or functional analogs and homologs of the Genetic Resources; expression products, replicates and progeny of any of them and  polynucleotides coding for any of them.