On March 4, 2021, Brazil ratified the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (“Nagoya Protocol” or “Protocol”). Starting on June, 2, 2021, the country becomes a party to the Protocol and will be able to actively take part in discussions and decision-making, including by participating in the next Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol (COP-MOP 4) scheduled for October 2021.

Brazil is the most biodiverse country in the world, and the ratification comes 10 years after the signing of the Protocol on February 2, 2011. In the meantime, the country passed its own regulations on biodiversity, notably Law 13,123 of May 20, 2015 (Brazilian Biodiversity Law), which provides for access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge, as well as benefit-sharing mechanisms. The Brazilian Biodiversity Law is the national legislation for implementing the Nagoya Protocol and one of the key access and benefit-sharing (ABS) legislations, which places benefit-sharing obligations on manufacturers of finished products developed from Brazilian genetic resources (regardless of who previously accessed the resources).

The Protocol reaffirms the sovereign rights of states over their natural resources, which is why it requires parties to comply with each other’s domestic legislation or regulatory requirements on ABS. This is what, for example, the European Union has set up with its own Regulation 511/2014 on ABS. With Brazil’s ratification of the Protocol, other countries have to ensure that their companies, when sourcing and utilizing Brazilian natural resources (genetic resources) and associated traditional knowledge, comply with the Brazilian Biodiversity Law and develop compliance strategies that encompass their supply chain.

Other consequences of the ratification may include new domestic regulations governing access to biodiversity from other countries following Brazil’s lead, the strengthening of legal security for users and providers of genetic resources, and an increase in opportunities for Brazilian biodiversity, fostering innovation and advancements in biotechnology.