Legal Framework & Equity

Please comment on the need for and scope of the equitable legal framework to make an action center work. Assigning interpretative methods to collections generates ownership and potentially repatriation issues, especially if if collections were unjustly acquired from indigenous or other nations. What rights framework is appropriate for an action center?

There seems to be a widespread political misconception that biodiversity data directly makes lots of money, leading to protectionist approaches that interfere with research. Support for taxonomic research, especially by workers from underrepresented backgrounds, and open availability of the results will enable all communities to benefit from biodiversity. Promoting cooperation (e.g., calling on international research to include training of local workers) will be valuable. Perhaps there would be a way to require that any commercial applications benefit the communities where the organisms live; this could help to assure governments that they are not losing out if a researcher from another country is working on specimens from their country. Comparison of taxa from different places is valuable, so we should not push for all specimens from a particular county/state/nation have to be housed there. Support for institutions that can preserve and showcase local diversity and also educate about the rest of the world will enhance the ability of indigenous people to have a larger role in caring for their local biodiversity.


The Action Center can coordinate our community efforts in building an equitable legal framework with respect to the following areas:

  • establishing and implementing a professional code of conduct for communities the Action Center serves and reaches out;

  • developing community-wide ethics and equity guidelines for collections-based research and collections/data stewardship as active components of global open science ecosystems;

  • providing continuing education and guidance about legal, ethical and equitable considerations in research conduct and collections/data stewardship;

  • encouraging active participation by and transparent communication with indigenous communities, international collaborators, and other stakeholders in developing best practices;

  • coordinating efforts in designing, documenting, and monitoring benefit-sharing and cost-sharing programs across communities and evaluating their impacts on society in measurable terms;

  • developing model form agreements, templates, equitable licensing terms, standard policies and procedures as practical tools to facilitate sustainable stewardship, access, and transactions of collections/data including repository arrangements, ethical deaccessioning and transfer of collections/data;

  • maintaining updated due diligence checklists to ensure international, national, state, and other regulatory compliance;

  • building knowledgebases to provide solutions to common legal challenges and ethical dilemmas faced by community constituents while being considerate of privacy and sensitivity of individual matters.

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The Convention on Biological Diversity’s Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) adopted last December at COP-15 spans open in its preamble a framework (Section C) that brings together the principles which should guide the implementation of the GBF. This framework might provide inspiration for the Action Center and other regional centers worldwide.

  • Contribution and rights of indigenous peoples and local communities
  • Different value systems
  • Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach
  • National circumstances, priorities and capabilities
  • Collective effort towards the targets
  • Right to development
  • Human rights-based approach
  • Gender
  • Fulfillment of the three objectives of the Convention and its Protocols and their balanced implementation
  • Consistency with international agreements or instruments
  • Principles of the Rio Declaration
  • Science and innovation
  • Ecosystem approach
  • Inter-generational equity
  • Formal and informal education
  • Access to financial resources
  • Cooperation and synergies
  • Biodiversity and health

The previous posts have already noted important dimensions, which are also found in and part of the GBF framework.