WIPO Marks Milestone with Genetic Resources Treaty Approval

June 4, 2024
WIPO Treaty on Intellectual Property

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has achieved a historic breakthrough with the ratification of a landmark treaty on intellectual property (IP), genetic resources, and associated traditional knowledge. This groundbreaking agreement, adopted after decades of negotiations, was officially approved by WIPO member .

A New Era for Protecting Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge

The newly ratified treaty, titled the Treaty on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (TKDL), establishes a new international legal framework for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. This is a significant step forward for several reasons:

  • Protecting Biodiversity: The treaty promotes the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources, which are vital for developing new medicines, food products, and other innovations. By ensuring proper access and benefit-sharing, the treaty incentivizes countries rich in biodiversity to conserve their resources.
  • Recognition of Traditional Knowledge: Indigenous communities and local populations hold a wealth of knowledge about the properties and uses of genetic resources. The TKDL recognizes the critical role of traditional knowledge and ensures these communities are fairly compensated for their contributions to scientific advancements.
  • Transparency in Patent Applications: The treaty introduces a new disclosure requirement for patent applicants who utilize genetic resources or associated traditional knowledge in their inventions. This promotes transparency and helps to ensure that indigenous communities and local populations are properly acknowledged and compensated.


A Collaborative Effort Reaches Fruition

The TKDL treaty represents the culmination of decades of discussions and negotiations between WIPO member states, indigenous peoples’ organizations, and civil society groups. The final agreement reflects a delicate balance between the interests of countries rich in genetic resources, the knowledge holders, and those seeking to utilize these resources for research and development.

Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO, stated: The adoption of the TKDL Treaty marks a historic moment for international cooperation on intellectual property. This treaty will contribute to the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, while promoting innovation and the conservation of biodiversity.

The ratification of the TKDL treaty represents a significant step towards a more equitable and sustainable future for the management of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. With this new framework in place, countries can now work together to ensure that the benefits of scientific advancements are shared fairly with those who hold the key to unlocking these resources.

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