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History of IPEN
In 1996, the issue of access to genetic resources has been discussed within the Association of Botanic Gardens (Verband Botanischer Gärten e.V., VBG) in German speaking countries for the first time, initiated by an expert meeting held by the Klimabündnis e.V. ("Climate Alliance", German NGO). As a result of these discussions, the VBG became the first national network of botanic gardens to develop a "Declaration on Biological Diversity" based on the CBD. At the same time, the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation funded a project on "Botanic Gardens and Conservation of Biodiversity" at Bonn Botanic Gardens in order to define the potential role of botanic gardens in implementing the CBD. Initiated by this project, in 1997, a working group "CBD" was founded within the Association of Botanic Gardens (VBG).
The working group developed a common Code of Conduct for botanic gardens and a standardised Material Supply Agreement. To implement this Code of Conduct an "Exchange Circuit for Botanic Gardens" was founded in 2001. This so-called "German model" was recommended as basis for ABS-policies by the Consortium of Botanic Gardens in the European Union in April 2001. Driven by BGCI-Netherlands, the model was enhanced and presented at the Conference of the Parties to the CBD in The Hague in April 2002.
In December 2002, IPEN was endorsed by the EU-Consortium and a "task force" for its implementation was constituted. In 2003, it was presented to all EU-gardens at the Third European Botanic Gardens Congress (EUROGARD III). The participants of the Congress endorsed IPEN as an appropriate model to meet the requirements of the CBD on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing (Resolution 2 of the EUROGARD III, in: Robbrecht & Bogaerts 2004).
Since then there have been workshops on IPEN in France, Switzerland, Italy and Greece and IPEN has been presented in a session at the International Botanical Congress in Vienna in July 2005. The number of IPEN members is increasing continually (see list of current IPEN members).