Sunday, October 28, 2012

Biodiversity protection needs community input

T.V. Padma in A pledge to increase support for biodiversity targets in developing countries is welcome, but care for indigenous people is vital too. This month's meeting of the 11th Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Hyderabad in India, came as a reality check on the capacity of the international community to implement pledges on biodiversity made two years ago in Nagoya, Japan.

At that landmark meeting in Nagoya, countries agreed on 20 global biodiversity targets for 2010–2020 (called the Aichi Targets, after the province in which Nagoya is located) and outlined a protocol on access and benefit sharing to ensure that local communities benefit from profits made by governments or companies from their resources. But Nagoya had an unfinished third agenda that Hyderabad inherited — the mobilisation of financial resources to meet the Aichi targets. India also endeavoured to use the meeting to focus on links between biodiversity and livelihoods.

Unlike the climate change meetings of the past few years, high-level negotiations on biodiversity are not closed-door sessions. The result is more input from civil society organisations (CSOs) and less drama — even if only some of the CSOs' concerns are addressed.

For example, CSOs and some official delegations, notably from Bolivia and the Philippines, called for a moratorium on tests in synthetic biology and geo-engineering. Scientists observed that this would neither fill knowledge gaps nor lead to more informed decision-making in these emerging and controversial fields. The meeting finally called for precaution and more scientific evidence before large-scale deployment of these technologies. There now seems to be a broader understanding, reflected at the meeting, that biodiversity is a cross-cutting issue, and UN agencies and international centres that focus on plants, food, fish, livestock and health need to talk to each other....

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