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Fair share: UEBT outlines what benefit sharing will mean for cosmetic companies

By Michelle Yeomans , 08-Nov-2012
Last updated on 03-May-2013 at 10:40 GMT

The Union for Ethical BioTrade has outlined in a technical report what global cosmetic companies will face in regards to the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) Nagoya Protocol benefit sharing principles (ABS).

The Union's brief comes after the European Commission put forward a draft regulation based on the rights of countries accessing genetic resources in research and developmental stages, last month.

"The objective of the principles is to outline the benefits of fair sharing from genetic resources while also addressing appropriate access for international companies at research and developmental stages."

Genetic resources can be used for a wide range of purposes, in regards to the cosmetics industry, companies call on them when developing products on the basis of naturally occurring biochemical compounds.

Proposed due diligence system

The EC's draft outlines a system of due diligence, which the UEBT says will generate and circulate basic information on benefiting and sharing principles along biodiversity-based value chains.

As a result of this, the Union says cosmetic companies will now be required to introduce policies and procedures to gather and share information as to whether acquisitions are taking place in accordance with legal requirements in each providing country.

"Monitoring and examination of compliance with due diligence would take place through declarations required from companies and other users of genetic resources at specific points in the value chain, as well as the risk-based inspection of measures taken and documentation retained by users."

'Monitoring will vary, depending on user'...

In regards to diligence, the EC further notes that exact measures will vary depending on the type of user, its capacity to take action, or sectoral characteristics.

"Due diligence could be described as a best endeavors obligation; companies and other organizations would need to 'do their best' to take all reasonable measures and to ensure compliance with ABS requirements."

Finally, UEBT brief explains that the EC will require each country to designate one or more authorities to monitor and communicate the information back to the European Commission.

"Competent authorities would also carry out checks to verify if users comply with due diligence requirements. These checks would be determined on the basis of risk, but could also be conducted on the basis of substantiated concerns provided by third parties."

Penalties, according to the EC's draft, for lack of compliance with due diligence and declaration requirements include fines, suspension of specific use activities, and confiscation of illegally acquired resources.

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