Research involving genetic resources - The Nagoya Protocol

The Nagoya Protocol determines binding rules on accessing genetic resources as well as associated traditional knowledge and defines rules to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation. It implements the access and benefit-sharing obligations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and took effect in Germany on 12.10.2014.

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FAQ on implementing the Nagoya Protocol at LUH

  • What is the purpose of the Nagoya Protocol?

    The Nagoya Protocol was adopted in the context of the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in order to ensure the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation (including research) of genetic resources. The protocol aims to reconcile the interests of the countries of origin of such resources and the countries where such resources are utilised. The English term for this is “Access and Benefit Sharing", or ABS.

    Another goal of the agreement is the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

  • Does the Nagoya Protocol apply to my research?

    Anyone conducting research on non-human genetic resources or associated traditional knowledge must be familiar with the Nagoya Protocol. In this context, “genetic resources” are defined as genetic material of actual or potential value as long as it is of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity. For example, this includes animals and plants or parts of them, seeds, seedlings, fungi, bacteria and other single-celled organisms as well as cell cultures, spermatozoa, ova, chromosomes and DNA.

    The protocol does not apply to human genetic resources.

  • How are the provisions of the Nagoya Protocol formally implemented in Germany?

    In 2016, Germany committed to implement the Nagoya Protocol as well as the related EU Implementation Regulation (EU) 511/2014. This means: If you intend to conduct research on genetic resources originating from another country in Germany, you need to check whether this country has implemented individual regulations on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and whether these regulations apply to your research.

    If this is the case, you are obliged to complete the ABS process, as stipulated in the requirements of the country of origin, prior to commencing the project. It may be necessary to conclude a contract with the national authorities regulating access to the material or its utilisation.

    Irrespective of specific ABS requirements of the country of origin, you are also required to fulfil due diligence obligations in accordance with the EU regulations if the Nagoya Protocol applies in the country of origin of the resources. For this purpose, you need to document that you have endeavoured to obtain information on ABS to the best of your knowledge, and that you have used this information as a basis for decision-making. If you are in receipt of third-party funding, you will also be required to submit due diligence declarations during the project term. In order to submit these declarations, you need to access the EU’s DECLARE portal.

  • Where do the provisions of the protocol apply specifically?

    Whether the provisions of the Nagoya Protocol apply to your research depends on the following factors, which must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis:

            the type of biological material used,

            its origin,

            the time of removal, as well as

            the type of conducted research.


    A detailed checklist can be found on the website of the Nagoya Protocol HuB.

  • The Nagoya Protocol probably applies to my research - how do I proceed?
    • Contact the relevant authorities in charge of ABS in the provider country and obtain information on requirements for accessing the resources, as well as on the process for utilising them. If there are no ABS rules, no further action is required.
    • If the ABS regulations include fees for the utilisation of genetic resources, please clarify with the funding body whether these can be covered within the scope of project funding.
    • Document all measures you have taken with regard to ABS regulations, so that they are transparent in case you should leave the project or if the biological material in question is passed on to other persons or facilities (retention period: 20 years!). Among others, this includes the following documents: Declaration of consent of the provider country for conducting research, agreement on utilising the genetic resource, material transfer agreement, certificate of compliance.
    •  In addition, document metadata regarding the genetic resource, its storage, utilisation, securing etc.
    • Prepare the due diligence declarations to be submitted via the EU’s DECLARE portal after the launch of the project and before the project is completed. These documents will be checked by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).
  • Who at LUH is responsible for ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Nagoya Protocol?

    In general, researchers at Leibniz University Hannover are responsible for complying with the regulations of the Nagoya Protocol. University management provides information regarding the procedure on this website and will soon implement a point of contact offering guidance in case of doubt.

  • Why is it important to comply with the rules of the Nagoya Protocol?

    Depending on the regulations of the provider country, failure to comply with ABS regulations may result in regulatory consequences, such as a research ban in the affected country. Violations of the European and German implementation acts of the Nagoya Protocol may result in the confiscation of the biological material and further utilisation may be prohibited. Moreover, a fine of up to €50,000 may be imposed. Other non-regulatory damages resulting from sanctions in the context of violations of the Nagoya Protocol include reputational damage as well as limited cooperation or publication opportunities.

  • Who do I contact in case of any queries?

     The German Nagoya Protocol HuB in Braunschweig provides in-depth guidance on regulations.

     Moreover, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation offers guidance and various information events focusing on the Nagoya Protocol.

Contact person at LUH

Dr. Sonja Detay
Welfengarten 1
30167 Hannover
Welfengarten 1
30167 Hannover