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Monday, Nov. 29, 2010


Following up on biodiversity

The COP10 biological meeting in Nagoya, which ended Oct. 30, produced the Nagoya Protocol (governing access to genetic resources) and the Aichi Targets (aimed at greatly reducing biodiversity loss). Japan, the COP10 chair, and other countries will have to take steps to flesh out these achievements.

Japan must enact related laws that will serve as models for other parties to the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It also must quickly ratify the protocol.

In working out the protocol, developed and developing countries clashed on how to equitably distribute profits derived from the production and sale of medicines and chemicals that utilize genetic resources from plants or animals.

The protocol, although a product of compromise, makes it clear that parties wishing to use genetic resources, such as pharmaceutical and biotech companies, must get informed consent beforehand from the party that provides such resources. Developing countries are rich in such resources, while the companies that seek to exploit the resources are mainly from developed countries.

Details on how to distribute the profits between developed and developing countries will be taken up at followup international meetings in which Japan will serve as chair.

Japan should lead discussions on the creation of a system that will satisfy both developed and developing countries while preventing biodiversity loss. A desirable system should ensure increased protection of biodiversity that leads to greater economic benefits for developing countries. The CBD parties also should enact laws to create organizations that monitor firms and research institutes to make sure that they do not illegally use genetic resources.

The Aichi Targets have increased biodiversity protection zones to 17 percent of the world's terrestrial areas and inland water areas, up from the current 13 percent, and to 10 percent of coastal and marine areas, up from the current 1 percent. The CBD parties will need to change their use of natural resources and development projects. Japan may have to reduce its consumption of some types of fish, including tuna.

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