Lead Chief Investigator: Brad Sherman, The University of Queensland

Collaborating Chief Investigators: Robert Henry, Peter Waterhouse, Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos, David Jordan, Jim Weller, Ian Wright


Over the past 30 years or so, the nature of the international legal framework that governs the collection, circulation, and use of genetic resources has changed radically. Gone are the days where genetic resources were considered the common heritage of humankind. 

Instead, genetic resources are now governed by a growing number of multilateral treaties, the most important of which are: 

  • the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 
  • the 2001 International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Plant Treaty) 
  • the 2012 Nagoya Protocol.  

One of the consequences of this new regulatory environment is that researchers working with plant genetic resources face several challenges.  

Our aim is to develop workable solutions to ensure ongoing access to genetic resources for the Centre’s researchers. 

Our approach

We will provide guidance on ABS laws and develop best practices for researchers. We will also work towards developing global best practice in relation to historical collections.  

We will build a platform for scientific norm-building among plant scientists, funders and publishers internationally, which will be useful for all researchers who work on plant genetic materials. It may also prove useful for researchers who work on sequence data and related information. 

Our research will be conducted under 3 sub-projects: 

  • The fate of historical collections under the Nagoya Protocol 
  • Access and benefit-sharing for Digital Sequence Information 
  • Understanding the overlap between the CBD, the Nagoya Protocol, and the Plant Treaty.