UN Biodiversity Convention Seeks Expedited Entry Into Force Of Benefit-Sharing Protocol 29/11/2010 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)As the end of 2010 nears, bringing with it the end of the otherwise unremarkable international year of biodiversity, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity is calling for countries to ratify the newly agreed protocol on biodiversity access and benefit sharing as soon as it opens for signature in February. The so-called Nagoya Protocol, recently adopted by the CBD, has been described by some as a landmark decision, while others say the text could be the subject of interpretation and thus are waiting to see how it is implemented. On 24 November, the Geneva Environment Network, a cooperative partnership of environment-related organisations, hosted a debriefing session of the 10th Convention of the Parties to the CBD (COP10), presented by Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD executive secretary. COP10 was held in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture, in Japan, from 18-29 October. The CBD convention of the parties is held every two years. During this session of the convention, over 40 decisions evaluating progress and supporting the implementation of the convention were adopted. Among them was a decision on the strategic plan for the CBD for the years 2011-2020, a decision on resource mobilisation strategy, and the Nagoya Protocol. In the briefing, Djoghlaf described the alarming rate of biodiversity loss and the need to address it. He said the strategic plan for 2011-2020, called the Aichi target, is different from one approved in 2002 in Montreal. In that one, parties committed themselves “to a more effective and coherent implementation of the three objectives of the convention, to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level,” but missed the target. According to a CBD press release, “the ‘Aichi target’ will be an overarching framework on biodiversity, not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but for the entire United Nations system. Parties agreed to translate this overarching international framework into national biodiversity strategy and action plans within two years.” “We will not wait until 2020 to realise that we have failed,” Djoghlaf said. Separately, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization was adopted on the last day of COP10, 29 October, after the president of the convention submitted a consensus text. The protocol is meant to facilitate access to genetic resources, ensure there is no unlawful appropriation of those resources, and that the providers get a fair share of the benefits that might arise from the use of those resources. The president’s text was submitted as “a take it or leave it” package, Djoghlaf said (IPW, Biodiversity/Genetic Resources/Biotech, 29 October 2010). The protocol is “sustainable development at its best,” according to Djoghlaf. It now needs to be ratified by at least 50 countries before it can enter into force. The roadmap for the protocol will start on 2 February 2011 in New York on the occasion of the launch of the international year of forests. Some head of states are expected to be present and the CBD is hoping that some of them will sign the protocol at that time, said Djoghlaf. A similar ceremony will be organised on 11 May, also in New York during the high level segment of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development for “those not ready” in February, he said. The protocol will then be transferred to Rio de Janeiro during the “’Rio+20” UN Conference on Sustainable Development in May 2012 in case not enough countries have signed the protocol by then. The convention was opened for signature on 5 June 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (the so-called Rio “Earth Summit”). “We want to make sure that the protocol does not wait 20 years,” to be implemented, Djoghlaf said. The CBD has the “full commitment” of Japan, which is current president of the Conference of the Parties, and the full commitment of the next president, Jairam Ramesh, the Indian minister of environment and forests, to help expedite the process. “We are committed to the entry into force of the protocol before COP 11 in India,” he said. The 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity will be held in India from 8-19 October 2012, with a high-level segment from 17-19 October. Djoghlaf said he called on countries that have advocated the protocol, in particular the mega-diverse countries, to be the first to sign the protocol. “It would be a tremendous political message,” he said. The unedited documents from COP 10 are available here. Meanwhile, some stakeholders are preparing analyses of the protocol, such as the nonprofit Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT), with a particular focus on companies working with biodiversity-based ingredients in the food and personal care sectors. The Nagoya Protocol “requires companies working with biodiversity to review relevant policies and practices along the supply chain,” the UEBT technical brief analysing the protocol said. “Early adoption of benefit sharing practices will reduce the growing reputation and regulatory risks of non-compliance that come with the Nagoya Protocol.” Some representatives of civil society, such as Chee Yoke Ling of the Third World Network (TWN), said in a paper that in the protocol, “many provisions are qualified with ‘as appropriate’ and ‘where applicable’ leaving much to be interpreted at the national implementation level.” She also said that “the future of the Protocol and its impact in preventing biopiracy and ensuring that the CBD objective of fair and equitable benefit sharing will continue to be fought out in the coming years.” The TWN magazine will feature an analysis of the protocol in December, Chee said. Industry has also voiced concerns. The Biotechnology Industry Organization said that it has “significant concerns that some of the language of the text would result in retroactive application of the protocol,” without specifying which language. The International Chamber of Commerce said “The protocol leaves several critical issues open to interpretation and national implementation will be crucial to determine its impact,” and asked for legal certainty. But again, it did not specify which issues it is referring to. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."UN Biodiversity Convention Seeks Expedited Entry Into Force Of Benefit-Sharing Protocol" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.