After two weeks of talks and much late-night wrangling, delegates to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, reached agreement on a new roadmap for protecting biodiversity (Guardian, BBC). The agreement seeks to reduce biodiversity loss by expanding protected areas on land and in the oceans while creating a new framework for managing genetic resources – and sharing any economic benefits that stem from their exploitation – with developing nations.
UPDATE: Posted on behalf of Anjali Nayar
The Nagoya biodiversity plan breaks new ground on the thorny question of who profits from a nation’s genetic resources – the plants that yield new medicines, for example. Coined Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS), the issue has been a sticking point in negotiations since the Convention was adopted 18 years ago.
On Friday morning, after two weeks of talks, it looked like the ABS issue might have to be put aside until the next series of meetings. Countries were unable to reach a compromise on whether the derivatives of genetic resources should be included, or how stringent the certification process to use genetic resources should be. Some nations were also calling for compensation for genetic resources that were used in the past to create everything from medicines to agricultural products.
With so much disagreement, observers worried the meeting would wind up without a strong agreement, similar to the 2009 climate negotiations in Copenhagen. In the corridors of the meetings, the Nagoya talks were nicknamed “COP10-hagen.”
But early on Friday morning, intervention from the chairs of the ABS discussions, as well as the hosts Japan, helped smooth over the problems and establish a consensus.
“They waved their magic wand and managed to get a deal,” said Jane Smart, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Director of Conservation Policy. “It was really a classic piece of negation.”
Both sides came out of the negotiations feeling like “they got what they wanted,” said Smart. “You could see it on their faces.”
“We were optimistic from the beginning and are happy with the end result,” said Russ Mittermeier, President of Conservation International. “I won’t say it’s a miracle that we achieved this agreement, but it is surely historic.”
In terms of laying aside protected lands, the negotiating nations agreed to work toward a global target of 17% of terrestrial environments, up from current levels of 13%, by 2020. For the oceans, countries agreed on a goal of 10%, a ten-fold increase over the current 1% of marine environments that are currently protected. “We are very happy” with the progress made in marine and freshwater ecosystems, said Sue Lieberman, Director of International Policy at The Pew Environment Group.
The terrestrial goal was less ambitious than some organizations had hoped, however. “We still believe that much higher targets are necessary to maintain the full range of critical ecosystem services essential for human well-being,” said Mittermeier. His colleague Fred Boltz, Senior Vice President for Global Initiatives, added “but it’s still a step in the right direction.”