Biodiversity Negotiators Seek To Finalise Draft Access, Benefit-Sharing RegimePublished on 22 March 2010 @ 5:56 pm
By Kaitlin Mara, Intellectual Property Watch
Delegates to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity today begin the last formal meeting before a late-2010 deadline to negotiate an agreement ensuring fair and equitable access to and benefits from the world’s scarce biological resources.
Several on-the-ground participants were optimistic that breakthroughs this week seem likely, as two informal meetings and several guiding papers from the working group’s chairs have laid out a path forward through what might otherwise be a daunting number of disagreements.
The event is the ninth formal meeting of the “Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing,” tasked with developing an international regime on access and benefit-sharing. It is taking in Cali, Colombia from 22-28 March; the international regime is meant to be adopted at the decision-making CBD Conference of the Parties in Nagoya, Japan 19-29 October, 2010.
While the last formal meeting in November succeeded in uniting a series of divergent views into a single text, delegates worried about the “thousand brackets” – that is, remaining areas of disagreement – that still pepper the official text [pdf] (IPW, Biodiversity, 24 November 2009).
But since November, there have been two informal meetings: a “friends of the co-chairs” gathering from 26-29 January and an “co-chairs informal inter-regional consultation” from 16-18 March. Separate regional and inter-regional consultations took place 20-21 March.
[Update: delegates are currently agreeing on a process for organising negotiations [pdf] this week, which includes a “no brackets” approach, a source has told Intellectual Property Watch]
There is still critical work to do, and issues such as the legal nature of the regime – i.e. the parts of it which will be legally binding – as well as how intellectual property will fit into the regime are going to take some discussing.
More details are expected to be available as the negotiation progresses.
Kaitlin Mara may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.