BY EDMUND SMITH-ASANTE
Next month, governments from 193 countries around the world will gather in Nagoya, Japan to make three key decisions that will determine whether current and future generations will continue to benefit from nature’s riches.
The 193 countries which will be at the world gathering in Japan known as COP10, are all parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), an international law that was created at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992
According to a press statement announcing the all important meeting - issued last week Wednesday in Montreal, Canada by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), on the table is a comprehensive ten-year strategy that – if enacted – would revolutionise the way all manage and interact with the world about us, and bring immense social and economic benefits to people worldwide.
Expatiating further on the Nagoya gathering, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said “The three big outcomes of the COP10 meeting in Nagoya would be global agreement on a new strategy, the mobilisation of the finance needed to make it happen, and a new legally-binding protocol on access and benefit sharing.”
“The decisions we take now will affect biodiversity for the coming millennium. We can’t have one outcome without the others. The COP10 meeting is all or nothing,” he added.
The upcoming meet comes on the heels of a warning by scientists that such action is urgent to prevent tipping points, such as the collapse of fisheries, a widespread dieback of the Amazon rainforest and cascades of extinction triggered by invasive species.
Also up for agreement in Nagoya, the statement says, are large flows of finance that will be needed to enact the strategy — for instance, to support developing countries that are asked to protect large areas of wilderness for the good of all of humanity.
The UN Convention on Biodiversity maintains that although the costs will be high, the returns on the investment will be far greater, “as biodiversity provides an important variety of goods and services that benefit humankind, from ensuring food security and clean water supplies to stabilising our climate.”
The third component of the talks, according to the statement, is a new set of international rules that would provide transparent access to the biological resources of the world, while ensuring that countries and communities get a fair share of any benefits that arise from their use — such as when companies develop commercial medicines from plants or other life-forms.
“This new ‘protocol’ on access and benefit-sharing could create major incentives for countries to protect their forests and other natural capital, while enabling businesses to use biological resources to develop useful new products in a sustainable way,” the UNCBD asserts.
Since creation of the CBD, there has been growing awareness of how important nature is to human health, livelihoods and national economies, while ironically, the state of the natural world has continued to decline steeply, as revealed in the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 report which was released in May 2010.
The UNCBD says even though in 2002 governments agreed to reduce significantly the loss of biodiversity by 2010, they failed in large part because they did not address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss – such as a lack of awareness of the true value of biodiversity and a failure to include the true costs of biodiversity loss in policies and plans.
The Nagoya meet is seen as a new, more ambitious and better-designed strategy for governments to have another chance to create a global agreement to preserve and wisely use the earth’s living resources in ways that bring benefits to all.
“But the meeting in Japan could be a missed opportunity if governments cannot reach agreement on key issues,” the statement stresses.
COP 10 will be preceded by a special High Level Meeting on Biodiversity of the United Nations General Assembly on 22 September 2010.
Through a series of interactive panel discussions, governments will discuss the strategic plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the role of biodiversity in sustainable development and in the fight against climate change, and the relationship of biodiversity to the Millennium Development Goals.