COP10--Biodiversity / Japan's COP10 plan shows 'leadership'

NAGOYA--Japan's performance as host of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) in Nagoya has been "historical," CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf said Friday, praising a last-ditch compromise proposed by Environment Minister and COP10 President Ryu Matsumoto as "living demonstration of leadership."
Djoghlaf spoke in an interview with The Daily Yomiuri soon after the release of a draft decision submitted by Matsumoto for a protocol concerning access and benefit-sharing (ABS) of genetic resources. Prepared in an effort to bridge the gap between still-divided parties on the final day of COP10, the draft included such changes as the removal from the main body of the text numerous disputed references to derivatives of genetic resources and the traditional knowledge of indigenous and local peoples.
However, it also agrees on the establishment of an intergovernmental committee for the ABS protocol that will conduct further negotiations on such issues as "measures to raise awareness of the importance of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, and related access and benefit-sharing issues."
"This is a package," the executive secretary said. "This is the draft, but you have a process to continue the negotiations. We cannot solve everything overnight; this is a very complex issue."
"Really, I want to pay tribute to Japan, whatever I can say to thank the government of Japan, the people of Japan," he said. "This text is a living demonstration of leadership."
Djoghlaf said he expected the COP10 parties to agree to the draft decision and had harsh words for any who might block it: "Whoever will disagree means that he doesn't want the protocol, because it's a fair compromise. Whoever will have an objection will bear a historical responsibility, because the person or the group or the country will be responsible for the failure."
"Instead of rushing and posing a decision which will never be implemented, or taking 20 years like the Law of the Sea to be ratified, this protocol will be ratified within two years, which is also part of the package," he said.
"We want to have the first COP-MOP [Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol] back to back with COP11, which will be historical. Meanwhile, we will have the signature of the protocol in New York on the 2nd of February, which will coincide with the launch of the [U.N.] International Year of Forests. The first meeting of the preparatory committee will be in June, not 2020: June next year."
A native of Algeria, Djoghlaf became executive secretary of the CBD in 2006, having previously served as assistant executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme.
He praised the efforts made by many different segments of Japanese society during the conference, including legislators and members of the business community. Among those Djoghlaf mentioned was Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura for his part in the City Biodiversity Summit 2010, a gathering of leaders from more than 200 local authorities around the world, held concurrently with COP10 from Sunday to Tuesday.
Participants adopted a declaration that was submitted to the high-level segment of the conference, pledging support for their respective governments in implementing at the local level the objectives of the CBD and other multilateral environmental agreements related to biodiversity.
Djoghlaf also reiterated the economic value of safeguarding biodiversity, a key theme of the Nagoya conference. Until recently, he said, scientists or nongovernmental organizations met together and "preach[ed] among the converted that biodiversity is important. For the first time, we have also brought the other side of the problem, because the green aspect of biodiversity is known but the economic aspect is undermined."
"You can create a job for two or three years" by depleting natural resources, he said, "but the companies that are destroying the environment will close.
"The green economy takes time, but it's sustainable and it's long-term."
(Oct. 30, 2010)
Heather Howard / Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer

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