Saturday, May 31, 2008

Good intentions eclipse funding at UN biodiversity meeting

Stephen Leahy in IPS takes a sour look at the recent biodiversity meeting in Bonn. Well worth a read: The world community took some ever-so-careful steps towards slowing the biodiversity crisis at a major U.N. meeting in Bonn, while emphasising the need for urgency and action. Agreement on the need for more protected areas in tropical forests and oceans was universal, but only Germany offered any new funding. On the contentious issue of biofuels and their impacts on food and biodiversity, members agreed at the last minute that biofuels production ought to be environmentally sustainable and not impact biodiversity. There was also an agreement on a de facto moratorium on ocean fertilisation schemes.

And, after 16 years of meetings, the 168 nations that have ratified the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) agreed to a final two-year timetable to establish an asset and benefit sharing (ABS) regime. ABS is about access to biodiversity and equitable sharing of benefits resulting from its use. The intent is to end "biopiracy" -- the exploitation of indigenous plants and animals for profit without permission or compensation -- and reverse countries' denial of access to any native species for scientific or commercial purposes. Half of all synthetic drugs have been derived from plants or insects.

…"Without a legally binding ABS regime, we cannot build tomorrow's green economy," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme....

A Howard Pyle painting of a pirate. Maybe he's a bio-pirate, too, though he looks a little too dashing to go around stealing the developing world's biological riches. From Pyle's Book of Pirates, Wikimedia Commons.

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