Biodiv Sci ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (7): 708-715.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2019073

• Special Feature: Traditional Knowledge Associated with Biodiversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

China’s strategy for incorporating traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity into international multi-lateral agreements

Zhang Yuanyuan()   

  1. State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Regional Eco-process and Function Assessment, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012
  • Received:2019-03-13 Accepted:2019-05-06 Online:2019-07-20 Published:2019-08-20
  • Contact: Zhang Yuanyuan


The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Nagoya Protocol (NP) on Access and Benefit Sharing, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Trade Organization’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (WTO/TRIPS), and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) all incorporate biodiversity-related traditional knowledge to some extent. However, the definitions and implications are not unified and their focuses are different. China is a multi-ethnic country blessed with mega-biodiversity. Throughout history, Chinese people have developed systems of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices that are relevant to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. As a party to multiple international agreements concerning associated traditional knowledge, China is responsible to provide in-depth understanding and definitions of the relevant agreements for traditional knowledge. The country’s international obligations under these agreements are to promote synergies on traditional knowledge and to deliver a unified voice in international negotiations, so as to better defend the interests of the country and the local communities. We explored a variety of definitions of biodiversity associated traditional knowledge within relevant multi-lateral agreements, organizations and international bodies. We then summarized the progress being made by the international system in this regard, and proposed five specific countermeasures for China to deal with the issue of biodiversity associated traditional knowledge in negotiating and implementing those agreements. This was done while taking into account the status and features of China’s associated traditional knowledge system, the existing policies and measures. These include: (1) Take legislative, administrative and policy action; (2) Strengthen relevant research in order to improve technical support; (3) Strengthen capacity building regarding protection of traditional knowledge; (4) Strengthen coordination with other international agreements concerning traditional knowledge during implementation; (5) Step up publicity efforts in international forums, to promote China’s traditional knowledge.

Key words: International multi-lateral agreements, biodiversity, genetic resources, traditional knowledge, China’s strategy