ABS Policies in Canada

1) Promoting the Conservation and Sustainable Use
     of Canada's Biodiversity

In Canada, sustainable development is increasing in prominence and good ABS policies can make an important contribution. ABS will contribute to meeting sustainable development objectives by supporting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Canadian industries based on biological resources will continue to be able to access the genetic resources they need to be competitive, whether this is the enzymes needed to improve the pulping process or the genetic material needed to produce new pharmaceutical applications. Access measures will protect ecosystems through ensuring conservation of species prior to "biodiscovery" 3 activities (especially where sensitive ecosystems or endangered species may be affected).

Benefit-sharing arrangements of these developments will ensure that public sector capacity to steward biodiversity is supported, either in monetary and non-monetary ways. Non-monetary benefits, which are likely to be much more common, include training of personnel, pro bono research, development of local infrastructure, and sharing of knowledge that feeds into or supports conservation management and education efforts. Monetary arrangements with commercial "bioprospectors"4 can generate needed funding for conservation activities, such as park research and management, specimen collections in universities and museums, efforts to protect the traditional knowledge of Aboriginal communities or improved management measures in production landscapes like forests.

One of the most promising benefits of ABS is the potential generation and sharing of taxonomic information about the biodiversity in areas (or collections) that are researched by bioprospectors. This is an easily shared benefit, and will provide the foundation for better conservation by integrating genetic resource conservation considerations into biological resource management strategies. From a bio based economy perspective, the conservation of genetic diversity within species is important because different sub species often have unique traits, each of which could have different applications. For example, one variety of Echinacea may be the best for the nursery trade while another variety may produce higher yields of chemicals for herbal products.


3 "biodiscovery" means the collection of biological specimens for further analysis in the laboratory.

4"bioprospecting" means the collection of biological specimens for further analysis in the hope of developing a commercial product.