Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

The Nagoya Protocol could backfire on the Global South

Regulations designed to prevent global inequalities in the use of genetic resources apply to both commercial and non-commercial research. Conflating the two may have unintended consequences for collaboration between the Global North and biodiverse countries in the Global South, which may promote global injustice rather than mitigate it.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    Cock, M. Nature 467, 369 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Comizzoli, P. & Holt, W. V. Reprod. Fertil. Dev. 28, 1145–1160 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Jinnah, S. & Jungcurt, S. Science 323, 464–465 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Martinez, S. I. & Biber-Klemm, S. Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain 2, 27–33 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Schindel, D. E. Nature 467, 779–781 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Schindel, D. E. & du Plessis, P. Nature 515, 37 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Medaglia, J. C. in International Environmental Law and the Global South (eds Alam, S. et al.) 192–213 (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 2015).

  8. 8.

    Gross, T. National Study on ABS Implementation in Brazil (ABS Capacity Development Initiative, 2014);

  9. 9.

    Study to Analyse Legal and Economic Aspects of Implementing the Nagoya Protocol on ABS in the European Union (Institute for European Environmental Policy, 2012);

  10. 10.

    Dedeurwaerdere, T., Melindi-Ghidi, P. & Arianna, B. Environ. Sci. Policy 55, 1–10 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    KFPE A Guide for Transboundary Research Partnerships 2nd edn (Swiss Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries, 2014);

  12. 12.

    Biber-Klemm, S. & Martinez, S. I. in Research and Development on Genetic Resources—Public Domain Approaches in Implementing the Nagoya Protocol (eds Chege Kamau, E. et al.) 175–180 (Routledge, London, 2015).

  13. 13.

    Pogge, T. in World Poverty and Human Rights (ed. Pogge, T.) 202–221 (Polity Press, Cambridge, 2002).

  14. 14.

    Bleisch, B. & Schaber, P. Weltarmut und Ethik (Mentis, Paderborn, 2007).

  15. 15.

    Nijar, G. S., Louafi, S. & Welch, E. W. Int. Environ. Agreem. 17, 607–621 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank C. Schauz and S. I. Martinez for comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the UZH Research Priority Program on ‘Global Change and Biodiversity’. F.A. was also supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant number PP00P3_150698).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anna Deplazes-Zemp.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Deplazes-Zemp, A., Abiven, S., Schaber, P. et al. The Nagoya Protocol could backfire on the Global South. Nat Ecol Evol 2, 917–919 (2018).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing