Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pacific still to sign agreement on biodiversity benefits

18 May Nadi Fiji - The Pacific island countries are yet to sign on to an international agreement that that aims at sharing the benefits that come from using genetic resources, in a fair and equitable way. 

After six years of negotiations, there is now an international agreement adopted by the international community at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya last year. 

Participants at the Pacific biodiversity meeting in Nadi this week
The protocol is now open for signature by Parities to the Convention 60 signatories from countries are required by 1 February next year before the Protocol can come into effect, to date there are 21 countries that have signed on.

The Government of Fiji has announced they intend to sign the Protocol before February next year, with a timeline to help raise awareness and understanding of the Nagoya Protocol.

“Fiji intends to establish an interdepartmental committee to specifically undertake preparations towards the signing of the Nagoya protocol,” said Eleni Tokaduadua from the Fiji Environment Department.

“This process will involve a lot of consultations to inform all stakeholders on the various issues relating to ABS and ensure better understanding at all levels of the decision making process.”

Eleni Tokaduadua, Fiji
The international agreement guarantees balanced access to genetic resources on the basis of prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms.  The Nagoya Protocol also ensures the fair and equitable sharing of benefits while taking into account the important role of traditional knowledge. 
A hypothetical example of this is if an international pharmaceutical company discovered a native plant in Samoa which could lead to a drug that cures, then that company would now be obliged to share the profits arising with Samoa.
“Fiji is keen to see that our local communities and resource owners get a fair share of the benefits gained from the utilization of their natural resources.  Signing the protocol will allow Fiji to access resources to put in place effective and reliable mechanisms towards this.”

India is host to the eleventh international biodiversity conference in 2012, it is planned this will also convene the Nagoya Protocol’s first meeting of the Parties.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) will work with partners to assist them with the Nagoya Protocol.

For more information on this please visit the Convention on Biological Diversity website - http://www.cbd.int/abs/

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