Resource centre > Description of IPEN
Description of IPEN
The idea behind the International Plant Exchange Network was to develop a model for the acquisition and the exchange of living plant material within the botanic gardens community in respect of the ABS requirements of the CBD. IPEN is a voluntary registration system intending to facilitate the botanic gardens plant exchange in accordance with the CBD provisions. IPEN is characterized by the following aspects:
The backbone of the network is the IPEN Code of Conduct, a three-page document stating the unified policy of the IPEN member gardens (seeIPEN Code of Conduct ). It covers acquisition, maintenance and supply of living plant material by the gardens as well as benefit-sharing. One key element is the above mentioned documentation system with the so-called IPEN-numbers (see "Documentation and IPEN numbers"). The Code further provides a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) to be used for exchanges with institutions that are not member of the IPEN network.
Only botanic gardens that commit themselves to act according to the Code of Conduct can become member of the IPEN network. This commitment is expressed with the signature of the IPEN Code of Conduct (see registration).
Main principles of the IPEN Code of Conduct are the following:
If a botanic garden has become IPEN member, the most important thing to do is establishing a computer based documentation system that allows to introduce the IPEN numbers or to modulate the existing system. The system must allow the introduction of IPEN numbers for all plants that shall be distributed.
All plant material supplied within IPEN by an IPEN member needs to be accompanied by an IPEN-number that remains connected with that material and its derivatives through all generations to come. With the aid of this number it is possible to trace back where and under which conditions the plant material entered IPEN. So, the first IPEN member garden that supplies a specific plant sample within IPEN has to provide this material with an IPEN-number (see IPEN number).
The IPEN number consists of four elements:
Within IPEN the supply of plant material is very easy, as all member gardens share the same policy on access and benefit-sharing and through the IPEN-number one can always easily trace back the origin of the material. If the recipient is not member of IPEN, he will have to sign the IPEN Material Transfer agreement, which will bind him to the same terms and conditions.
If at one point an IPEN garden wants to start a commercial use with a given plant material, this material will leave IPEN. Therefore the garden will first have to get the Prior Informed Consent of the country of origin (found in the IPEN number) and find a bilateral agreement with that country on the terms of benefit-sharing. Only then the commercial use may be started.
Material can only be provided to an institution for commercial purposes, if this institution has the Prior Informed Consent of the country of origin and has negotiated a bilateral agreement regarding access and benefit-sharing.
Thus, IPEN is a closed network of botanic gardens committed to respect and enforce the provisions of the CBD. As all member gardens follow the same policy of the IPEN Code of Conduct, plant material can be exchanged freely between them, but of course only for non-commercial use.