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Nagoya Agreement - A win-win for developing economies

Published 08th November 2010 - 0 comments - 1643 views -


The tenth meeting on Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nation Convention on Biodiversity was recently concluded in Nagoya, Japan. Over 1500 parties represeting 193 parties participated in the convention with the aim of reversing the biodiversity loss and share its benefits fairly. The agreement was signed by 192 participating countries and receives a warm welcome from the developing nations especially.

[ For your information on CBD, a brief from its website

Opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and entering into force in December 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 193 Parties, the Convention has near universal participation among countries. The Convention seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous and local communities, youth, NGOs, women and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a supplementary treaty to the Convention, seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 159 countries and the European Union have ratified the Protocol. The Secretariat of the Convention and its Cartagena Protocol is located in Montreal. ]

Developing nations have long been accusing foreign companies for exploiting their natural resource base to manufacture commercially successful products and not providing adequate compensation in return. This leads to their economic insufficiency and ecological imbalances compounding the ill impact on their growth activities. India, Brazil and other natural resource-rich developing nations have negotiated the closing of regulatory loopholes that allow the foreign brands to exploit their genetic resources without sharing the appropriate returns. The Access and Benefit Sharing; ABS agreement (or Nagoya agreement as it is now called) has recognised this issue and presents a set of protocol that the signatory nations must follow to restore the biodiverse ecosystem and provide return-equity among the beneficiaries. The three main aspirations of the legislation are :

  • A strategic plan for the reversal of biodiversity loss by 2020.

  • A sustainable funding channel for the plan by 2012 when it comes into action

  • A framework for sharing the commercial benefits

Keeping aside the fact that the previous 10 year plan formulated in 2002 still has some unfulfilled promises, the Nagoya protocol, which comes into effect in 2012, has broken the "Copenhagen Curse" by providing a well structured and closely knit set of frameworks and mechanism to protect the natural resources over the coming decade. The agreement has a strategic plan, called Aichi Target to arrest the biodiversity demolition and to equitably and efficiently manage its conservation. Of the long list of factors and issues based outcomes, some of the targets agreed upon as per the protocol are:

  • Now, all countries have agreed that by 2020, at least 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative, and well connected systems of protected areas, and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

  • Delegates also agreed on a plan to set up an international body to provide governments with better information and set out detailed code of conduct for making decisions that can impact on the environment. The body is to be called the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and will serve a similar function to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It only awaits approval by the United Nations General Assembly.

  • Apart from a global set up, the protocol also binds the nations to set up their own national agencies to manage the system and achieve the targets with the help of the overseeing international body.

  • The new ABS Rules mean that multinational companies will have to share their profits with local communities not only for using the original resource, but also any derivative products developed from it. For example, a pharma company which develops a new drug from ingredients found in an Indian plant will now have to give a fair share to Indian communities which nurtured the plant in the first place. It urges governments to pay developing countries — in cash, or through technology-transfer agreements — even if the crucial genetic material was obtained decades ago. The United Nations Environment Programme, which administers the CBD, says that one possible mechanism for reimbursing developing countries would involve putting a proportion of profits into a special fund that could be tapped to support conservation efforts or build scientific capacity.

  • An agreement was reached to include "natural capital" into economic factorization and national accounting systems to value the trillions of dollars provided by nature in terms of resources and services. The statement is only legitimate as a simple free natural process like cross-pollination will cost billions of dollars if needed to be replaced by a human devised mechanism. India is soon expected to take up a national study on Economics of Ecosystem and Biodiversity.

The Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan announced US$2 billion in financing while the country's minister of the environment Ryu Matsumoto, who also served as president of CBD COP 10, announced a Japan Biodiversity Fund. Additional funds were pledged by France, the European Union and Norway while US$110 million was mobilised in support of projects under the CBD LifeWeb Initiative, which targets the preservation of protected areas.

On the flipside, the largest exploiter of the global resource base, the US is not among the 192 signatories of the Nagoya agreement. The main aim of the next summit to be held in New Delhi in 2012 is to get the Americans in the mainstream.

Now, I hope that the success of the biodiversity talks can be mirrored into the International talks on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico scheduled next month.

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