Centre for Commercial Law Studies

PARIS EVENT: New crossroads for the life sciences?

24 April 2014

Time: 7:00 - 8:00pm
Venue: University of London Institute in Paris, 9-­11 rue de Constantine, 75007 Paris

Research and Development Implications of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) in France and the European Union


Dr Claudio Chiarolla - Institut du développement durable et des relations internationales (IDDRI)  


Professor Duncan Matthews - Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London


France not only provides a wealth of genetic resources, including from its metropolitan regions and overseas territories, its territorial sea and exclusive economic zone, for research and development activities worldwide. It is also a user country with advanced biotechnology capacity, several economic and industrial sectors actively participating in the bioeconomy, and a multitude of public and private research institutes directly concerned by the application of requirements concerning access to genetic resource and the sharing of benefits (ABS) to their activities.

The European Parliament has recently given its overwhelming consent – with 647 votes in favour – for the European Union (EU) to be legally bound to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) to the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Protocol was adopted by the tenth Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD in 2010 and it will enter into effect 90 days after its 50th ratification. Therefore, the recent European Parliament’s vote opens the way not only for the 30th ratification of the Protocol (by the EU as a regional integration organization), but also to ratifications by its 28 member countries – possibly prior to CBD COP 12 in October 2014.

In a nutshell, the Protocol aims to provide a level playing field to all stakeholders involved in the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge (TK), including providers, users and custodians of such resources and knowledge. It aims to do so by establishing a binding legal framework to determine minimum standards – that must be transparent, fair, equitable and legally certain – on how researchers and companies will access genetic resources and associated TK, as well as how the benefits derived from these resources and knowledge will be shared. This implements the third objective of the CBD, fair and equitable benefit sharing, which is broadly expected to promote its other two objectives, namely the conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity.

In France, there is no overarching ABS framework that is currently applicable to the entire territory – although in some overseas territories ABS issues are already regulated by local mechanisms, such as in the South Province of New Caledonia, in the Amazonian Park of Guyana and in French Polynesia. At present, notwithstanding this legislative gap, the ad hoc treatment of requests for access to genetic resources and associated TK is the responsibility of the National Focal Point on ABS, namely the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy (MEDDE). Since November 2012, a voluntary access procedure has allowed applicants to submit their access requests to the National ABS Focal Point and to conform to specific ABS conditions on a purely voluntary basis. However, this situation is expected to radically change with the upcoming adoption of the so‐called draft Biodiversity Law, which will introduce, inter alia, compulsory procedures for access to genetic resources and associated TK.

Once adopted by the French Parliament, the norms of the Biodiversity Law will be included in the Environmental Code and they will become an integral part of it. However, it is worth emphasising that French legislators have prominently focused on access to genetic resources and associated TK, since other key obligations under the Nagoya Protocol – including its user compliance pillar – will be implemented primarily through the “Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on compliance measures for users from the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation in the Union” (hereafter “the EU draft ABS Regulation”). Therefore, the latter and the relevant provisions of the draft Biodiversity Law will jointly concur to regulate ABS obligations in France.

This public lecture will present, analyse and discuss key aspects of the ABS provisions of the draft Biodiversity Law of France, the EU draft ABS Regulation and the Nagoya Protocol, with a particular focus on their implications for the life sciences and for legal practitioners in the field of intellectual property or involved in transactions associated with the conclusion of research and development agreements in the context of complex regulatory regimes.

This event will be followed by a drinks reception to which all attendees are invited. 

About the Speaker

Dr Claudio Chiarolla holds a PhD in Law from Queen Mary University of London. His PhD thesis, supervised by Professor Duncan Matthews, focused on "Intellectual Property and Environmental Protection of Crop Biodiversity under International Law". He is currently a Research Fellow on International Governance of Biodiversity at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) in Paris. He is also adjunct Lecturer and coordinator of a Master’s course on Biodiversity Policies at the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA), Sciences Po. He recently acted as Scientific Coordinator of the Conference “Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge: How can they be protected?” hosted by the Bibliothèque national de France in June 2013.

His research interests include: international environmental law, comparative law, international regulation of biotechnology, intellectual property law, open source systems of technology development and transfer, humanitarian licensing and genetic resources policy issues. Dr Chiarolla has worked, published and undertaken academic research on intellectual property, biodiversity governance, innovation policies and their respective role in sustainable development. He is trained as a lawyer and, as well as a PhD, holds a Degree in Law from the University of Milan and a Master’s Degree in Advanced International Legal Studies from the University of Verona.

Since October 2007, he has worked for the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) as an editor and writer of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin. In 2011 and 2012, Dr. Chiarolla was also maître de conférences in Public International Law at the PSIA. Previously, he was PhD Fellow at the United Nations University ‐ Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU‐IAS) in Yokohama, Japan, contributing to the Biodiplomacy Programme. He has also collaborated in different capacities with non- governmental, governmental and intergovernmental organisations, including inter alia: the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development; the UK Intellectual Property Office; the European Patent Office; the Legal Office of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization; and the UN Environmental Programme.


For directions to the venue, please refer to the map.

How to Book

There is no charge for attending this lecture. As places will be limited, please RSVP by emailing anna.gray@qmul.ac.uk.

Photography, video and audio recording

Please note that CCLS events may be photographed or video and audio recorded. These materials will be used for internal and external promotional purposes only by Queen Mary University of London. If you object to appearing in the photographs, please let our photographer know on the day. Alternatively you can email CCLS Events Manager, Katherine Zaim, on k.zaim@qmul.ac.uk in advance of the event that you are attending.