Government proposal on access to genetic resources and their utilisation

Press release 2015-11-19 at 16:05

The Finnish Government today approved the Government proposal on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation. Finland does not currently have general legislation governing access to genetic resources.

With the approval of the proposal, Finland ratifies the Nagoya Protocol, which supplements the United Nations' Convention on Biological Diversity. The Nagoya Protocol is the first general and legally binding international agreement on access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits. It is aimed at ensuring the conservation of genetic material for future generations and safeguarding the fair and equitable sharing of benefits between providers and users.

The legislation would be applied to genetic resources derived from plants, animals and microbes occurring in Finland, and to the traditional Sámi knowledge associated with the genetic resources, when these resources are procured for research and development purposes. According to the Nagoya Protocol, each contracting party can decide on access to its genetic resources and the sharing of benefits. Under the Government proposal, access to Finnish genetic resources for research and development purposes would remain relatively open and not require a permit.

The legislation would also be applied when imported genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge held by indigenous communities are used in Finland, if their procurement is subject to a permit based on the legislation of another country. Providers importing genetic resources subject to the obligations of the Nagoya Protocol would have to notify the competent authority.

The Nagoya Protocol includes obligations concerning access to and utilisation of traditional knowledge held by indigenous and local communities. To this end, the proposal suggests establishing a database to promote access to traditional Sámi knowledge associated with genetic resources. The database would be administered by the Finnish Sámi Parliament.

The Government proposal would also implement some of the obligations of the EU regulation on genetic resources requiring the issuing of national regulations. Related to this are provisions on naming the Natural Resources Institute Finland and the Finnish Environment Institute as competent national authorities. The Natural Resources Institute Finland would govern genetic resources in the fields of agriculture and forestry, while the Finnish Environment Institute would govern other, natural genetic resources.

Separate provisions on the entry into force of the legislation will be issued by government decree.

Inquiries:

Director of Legislative Affairs Riitta Rönn, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi, tel. +358 (0)2952 50255