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Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010

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Long dialogue: COP10 conference participants appear fatigued from their extended talks Friday in Nagoya. KYODO PHOTO

COP10 goes extra mile for a deal

Indigenous peoples unlikely to be satisfied but general biodiversity-protection pact draws near

Staff writers

NAGOYA — As thunder rumbled in the distance and a typhoon neared Nagoya, delegates to COP10 raced Friday to conclude new agreements on preserving biodiversity over the next decade and on access to genetic resources and how to distribute the money they make.

After a long Thursday night and early Friday morning marked by acrimonious debate over the access and benefit-sharing agreement in particular, the remaining disagreements were near resolution as the final plenary session gathered, and would, delegates hoped, be formally approved with only a few changes. COP10 was to end Friday evening, but the talks ran into the night.

Two documents, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization, and a strategic plan for the post-2010 period, which includes specific targets for the conservation of biodiversity, were made available Friday.

The Nagoya Protocol, once adopted, will apply both to genetic resources and the benefits from using such resources. It will also apply to traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources to the benefits arising from such knowledge.

This issue of "scope" was one of the most contentious of the entire conference. Indigenous people's groups had pushed for more specific definitions, including whether the new protocol should include benefits, or use of genetic resources arising before the entry into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

There was strong opposition to this definition by developed nations with pharmaceutical and biotech industries that feared this would open the door for lawsuits by indigenous people's groups against firms that commercialized products based on plants and organisms taken from indigenous lands decades ago.

In the end, specific references to scope were struck from the final agreement in favor of more general language, and several delegates said they expected the issue would be taken up again at COP11 in two years' time.

A strategic plan for the 2011-2020 period, including 20 targets to reduce biodiversity loss, was also close to final approval Friday evening. Delegates were debating whether to demarcate 15, 20 or 25 percent of inland water bodies, and six, 10 or 20 percent of coastal and marine areas as protected zones.

The issue of whether to include those areas within and beyond national jurisdiction was the subject of last-minute debate.

Agreements were also expected to be reached on funding mechanisms and other financial issues that developing countries have insisted they need to formulate effective plans at the national level to meet the strategic goals and targets for biodiversity protection over the next decade that the Nagoya talks will endorse.

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The Japan Times

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