Building a harmonized system to increase fair and equitable benefit sharing from the use of Digital Sequence Information


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The integrated use of digital sequence information (DSI) is key to scientific progress and technological innovation in areas as diverse as food security, green energy production, medicine, and biodiversity conservation.

DSI analyses are routinely performed in such a way that sequences from all living organisms such as plants, bacteria, or humans are incorporated as an integral part of the research process in virtually every field, including plant research and breeding, biology, ecological research, and biotechnology.

In the international debate on the development of a benefit-sharing framework for DSI, the scientific community favours a harmonized system or systems for access to and benefit-sharing of DSI in order to ensure open access, interoperability, legal certainty, technical feasibility and to avoid hampering the functioning of science at a fundamental level.  As new norms for benefit-sharing of DSI are addressed in different UN fora, there is a risk that they will adopt different approaches that are not “in sync” and ultimately undermine research and development.

The purpose of this side event is to highlight the importance of coordinated decisions across multiple fora in determining mechanisms for authorizing and distributing benefits derived from the use and generation of DSI. Speakers will present case studies of how research uses DSI, highlight the implications for the decisions on DSI being negotiated at the Tenth Session of the Governing Body of the ITPGRFA, discuss reasons why harmonized, mutually supportive ABS systems for DSI are crucial, and will outline possible steps towards them.

The event will provide an opportunity for Parties and other stakeholders to hear from those working with DSI how the proposed solutions on ABS for DSI have a concrete impact on the feasibility, efficiency, and effectiveness of research and development; and to explore what decisions and pathways might be available for the Tenth Session, in the light of the experience of the negotiations at the science-law-policy interface on DSI in other fora, and when they exist, outcomes reached.

The use of DSI underpins work in all areas of agriculture, conservation biology, and sustainable resources, as well as many areas beyond. It is essential to ensure a fair and equitable share of the benefits derived from the use of DSI, wherever they arise, without hampering research’s efforts to address the interlinked challenges of unsustainable food systems, threats to biodiversity and the climate crisis.