Community Protocols for ABS

“Community protocols” is a term that covers a broad array of documents generated by communities to set out how they expect other stakeholders to engage with them. They may reference customary as well as national or international laws to affirm their rights to be approached according to a certain set of standards. Articulating information, relevant factors, and details of customary laws and traditional authorities helps other stakeholders to better understand the community’s values and customary laws.

Community protocols provide communities an opportunity to focus on their development aspirations vis-a-vis their rights and to articulate for themselves and for users their understanding of their bio-cultural heritage and therefore on what basis they will engage with a variety of stakeholders. By considering the interconnections of their land rights, current socio-economic situation, environmental concerns, customary laws and TK, communities are better placed to determine for themselves how to negotiate with a variety of actors.

By drawing on international and national laws that call for free prior informed consent to carry out development activities on communities land or to use their traditional knowledge, communities can ensure that any interventions are undertaken according to their customary laws and cultural norms.

Community protocols can address any number of community issues. While many of the protocols on this site aim to regulate the actions researchers, they can also set a number of concerns important to communities, such as how they intend to:

    • Conserve biodiversity;
    • Sustainably use plants and animal genetic resources;
    • Manage and benefit from local biodiversity;
    • Use, protect and benefit from traditional knowledge;
    • Provide free, prior and informed consent to access lands, natural resources of traditional knowledge for any number of reasons including commercial and non-commercial research and by the media;
    • Ensure environmental and other laws are implemented according to customary laws;
    • Oppose unsustainable development on their lands; and
    • Engage with governmental or other support.


Community Protocols
TK Commons
Case Studies
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