Nagoya Glossary

What is ...?

Our "Nagoya ABC" explains important terms and provides background information.


The Access and Benefit Sharing Clearing House Mechanism (ABSCH) is an information platform on national laws, competent authorities and focal points for the Nagoya Protocol. Visit the website

Biological diversity

According to article 2 of the "Convention of Biological Diversity" biological diversity means "the variability among living organisms from all sources including, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems."

Biological resources

According to article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity the term "biological resources includes genetic resources, organisms or parts thereof, populations, or any other biotic component of ecosystems with actual or potential use or value for humanity".

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty that has three main objectives: (1) the conservation of biological diversity, (2) its sustainable use and (3) the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. The Nagoya Protocol is a protocol to the CBD. 

Country of origin

According to article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity the country of origin is the country "which possesses the genetic resources in in-situ conditions".

Due Diligence

Due Diligence means that users of genetic resources must act with reasonble, appropriate diligence to document transfer and use of genetic resources. Users can be checked of compliance to due diligence by national compentent authorities.

EU Regulation 511/2014

The "REGULATION (EU) No 511/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014
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 Utilization in the Union" is the legal basis for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol in the European Union.


According to article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity ex-situ conservation means "the conservation of biological diversity outside their natural habitats", e.g. in genomic libraries, botanical gardens...


According to article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in-situ conservation means "the conservation of ecosystems and natural habitats and the maintenance and recovery of viable populations of species in their natural surroundings". That means that genetic resources are protected on site e.g. in natural environments, on farms, in gardens,...

Internationally Recognised Certificate of Compliance (IRCC)

The Nagoya Protocol establishes that domestic access permits shall constitute "internationally recognised certificates of compliance". The certificate must be recognized as evidence of acquisition in line with applicable rule of the genetic resource covered.

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The objectives of the 'International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture' (ITPGRFA)are the conservation and sustainable use of all plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of all the benefits of their use. This should be harmonised with the Convention on Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security.

Material transfer agreement (MTA)

With this agreement genetic resources can be transfered compliant to the Nagoya Protocol. Under the ITPGRFA a sMTA (standard material transfer agreement) is used to provide plant material in a multilateral system. The sMTA cannot be changed or adopted. For the ARCHE NOAH network a new MTA has been developed: the mMTA (model material transfer agreement). It will be used within the network to transfer genetic resources easily and to protect them from genetic engineering and claims on intellectual property rights.

Mutually agreed terms (MAT)

"Mutually agreed terms" are an important Nagoya-principle and the basis of transferring genetic resources. They determine transfer and use conditions (including commercial use and benefit sharing). These MAT are often agreed by using an "material transfer agreement" (MTA). ARCHE NOAH developed a model material transfer agreement (mMTA) for the plant material in the ARCHE NOAH network.

National sovereignty

National sovereignty is the idea that independent nations, which have declared their independence, have an organized government and are self-contained, have a right to exist without other nations interfering.

In the case of CBD and Nagoya, genetic resources are generally a matter of national sovereignty. In Austria and Germany this right is not exercised. So, for a third party to gain access to genetic resources, the entitled Person must grant this access. However, the situation varies between countries. A short overview of how EU-states of how national sovereignty are pursued, can be found in our country checklist.

An example:

If the country, you live in, decides to regulate access to genetic resources by law, you can give someone an apple of your garden but you can’t grant him permission to use the genetic resources of the apple. The permission could only be permitted by the responsible authority.


Prior informed consent (PIC)

This is an important Nagoya principle:

It refers to the administrative permit given by the competent national authority or entitled person of a provider country to a user, prior to accessing genetic resources. However, the term is also used in relation to the right of indigenous and local communities to take a free and informed choice on whether they wish to give access to genetic resources or traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.

For documentation, the PIC forms created by ARCHE NOAH can be used.

So, if you want to collect plant material, check for the consent of the entitled person: According to the country, this is 1) the owner or 2) the competent national authority

In case 1) the owner should sign a PIC form or there should be a well-documented verbal agreement.

In case 2) the competent national authority must be contacted.

Several countries have introduced more rigorous laws to stop unlicensed access to genetic resources – for example Brasil or Turkey.

Traditional knowledge

Traditional knowledge is the knowledge of indigenous communities. It is also protected by the Nagoya Protocol.