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Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010

Japan's biodiversity pledge: $2 billion

Indigenous peoples losing hope for talks to yield results


By ERIC JOHNSTON and SETSUKO KAMIYA
Staff writers

NAGOYA — As Japan pledged $2 billion Wednesday to preserve biodiversity in the developing world, negotiators at COP10 reported progress toward concluding an international agreement on access to genetic resources and establishing biodiversity preservation targets over the next decade.

News photo
Can do: Prime Minister Naoto Kan addresses the COP10 biodiversity conference in Nagoya Wednesday. KYODO PHOTO

But questions over whether to include derivatives of genetic resources and human pathogens in the final agreement, and financing of whatever preservation targets are agreed upon, continue to divide delegates.

Indigenous peoples' groups, angry that COP10 delegates stripped the draft text of language that would offer strong protection of their land rights, began leaving the conference Wednesday, vowing to fight their countries' ratification of whatever comes out of Nagoya.

Over 120 senior ministers, including five heads of state, are in Nagoya for the final three days. Expectations were growing that disagreements that have long prevented adoption of a protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity on access and benefit-sharing (the ABS protocol) will be concluded before COP10 ends Friday.

"Negotiations are especially difficult in the area of ABS because there is not enough good will among ministers sitting around the table," said Janez Potocnik, European environment commissioner.

"The issues are derivatives of genetic resources, compliance, and how actually to provide the things we agree upon," he said. "We are short on time, and we're meeting not only the Brazilians but other delegations with one purpose. To get the deal done."

Delegates meanwhile welcomed the financial pledges by Japan and the EU. Financing of projects to halt biodiversity loss in the developing world over the next decade has been the third issue of contention at COP10.

Japan said it will provide $2 billion over the next three years to support efforts made by developing countries to stem biodiversity loss.

The European Commission pledged to contribute 1 million euro to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for its work on protected areas.

"It is essential to agree upon a post-2010 target. To reach an agreement on a global common goal, I ask for the cooperation of every one of you," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in his speech at the opening ceremony of the High Level Segment.

Japan's financial assistance will be provided in the area of sustainable use and management of natural resources, based on the "Satoyama Initiative" that Japan hopes will serve as the model for biodiversity loss prevention.

Access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources will be another focus for the funding, through the utilization of Japanese technologies to preserve and cultivate micro-organisms.

The money will be used to support efforts to meet the goals of a post-2010 strategic plan to halt biodiversity loss that environment ministers and delegations must conclude by Friday, he said.

According to the government's Biodiversity Outlook, released in May, between 2003 and 2005, Japan provided $160 million in official development assistance for various biodiversity projects, and $77 million for biosphere protection.

Parallel to the bureaucratic negotiations, an unofficial meeting of environment ministers, hosted by Japan, took place Wednesday. The goal of the meeting, which continues Thursday, is to create a political consensus that will give direction to the negotiations, which were not moving forward on a variety of issues, a senior Environment Ministry official said Wednesday evening.

All 17 countries commenting at Wednesday's meeting urged parties to agree to an ABS protocol and a new strategic plan running to 2020, although some also mentioned other issues, including funding, he said.



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