International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Benefit-sharing Fund

Governance and Policy

The Benefit-sharing Fund is an essential element of the Funding Strategy and of the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing. It is the operational mechanism for receiving, utilizing and sharing the monetary benefits arising from the Multilateral System, as specified in Article 19.3.f of the International Treaty. Through Resolution 3/2019, the Governing Body adopted the Funding Strategy of the International Treaty for the period 2020–2025, which sets out the policy and governance of the BSF in its Operations Manual. For the first time, the Operations Manual (Annex 2 of the Funding Strategy) brings together details of the Fund’s resource mobilization, allocation and disbursement in an integrated manner.

The Benefit-sharing Fund comes under the direct control of the Governing Body of the International Treaty, which has delegated the authority for operations of the BSF to the Standing Committee on the Funding Strategy and Resource Mobilization  The Funding Committee is composed of up to three representatives from each FAO region. 

The Funding Committee is assisted by an independent Panel of Experts, which undertakes the screening of pre-proposals and conducts the final review of full project proposals. The panel is designated, from a roster, by the Bureau in consultation with the regions. It consists of two experts from each FAO region. The independent Panel of Experts works without remuneration and with resources provided under the core administrative budget of the International Treaty for any necessary meetings. The terms of reference of the panel are made public when finalized by the Funding Committee. 

The division of tasks between the Governing Body, the Funding Committee, the Bureau, and the Panel of Experts is further detailed in the BSF Manual in its section III, Operational Procedures.

Benefit-sharing Fund reports

Reporting on the Benefit-sharing Fund is made on a regular basis in accordance with the rules and procedures stipulated by FAO and any procedures adopted by the Governing Body. This is done at project level and programme level. The Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Framework is the main tool developed by the Secretariat to enable reporting at project and programme levels.

For reporting at project level, each project executing institution is required to submit progress and financial reports periodically to the Secretary of the International Treaty, in accordance with the monitoring mechanisms and reporting requirements set out in project contracts.

The International Treaty Secretariat aggregates results at programme level and reports to the Governing Body, the Funding Committee and donors on the use of financial resources, progress and performance, risks, lessons learned and best practices. The programme-level reports are published annually and biannually.

Policy evolution

The Benefit-sharing Fund is an evolving mechanism, and since its first Session, the Governing Body has regularly reviewed and enhanced the governance and operations of the BSF. The following provides some highlights of how policies of the BSF have evolved since it was established.


Through Resolution 1/2006, the Governing Body established an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee to draft priorities, eligibility criteria and operational procedures for the allocation of funds under the direct control of the Governing Body. Based on the work of the Committee, the first operational procedures for the Benefit-sharing Fund were adopted by the Governing Body in 2007


Through Resolution 3/2009, the Governing Body welcomed the Strategic Plan for the implementation of the Benefit-sharing Fund of the Funding Strategy and requested the Standing Committee on the Funding Strategy and Resource Mobilization to further advise on resource mobilization and operations for the Fund. At this session, the Governing Body also decided that plant genetic resources for food and agriculture resulting from projects funded by the BSF and listed in Annex 1 of the International Treaty would be made available according to the terms and conditions of the Multilateral System. By 2011, the Governing Body had enhanced procedures for the reporting, monitoring and evaluation of projects funded, as well as for fund disbursement (Resolution 3/2011).  


Further improvements were adopted by the Fifth Session of the Governing Body. Through Resolution 2/2013, the Governing Body reviewed and endorsed the Operational Procedures of the Fund, as well as a Policy on Conflict of Interest and Related Standards of Conduct.  


By 2015, the Governing Body had decided to review the overall Funding Strategy, including strengthening the programmatic approach of the Benefit-sharing Fund and promoting synergies between the Benefit-sharing Fund and the Funding Strategy, of which it is a part. By 2019, the review process culminated in the adoption of the updated Funding Strategy.

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