Nations agree historic deal to protect nature

An Expert's View about Sustainability in Japan

Posted on: 31 Oct 2010

Nearly 200 nations agreed at Nagoya on measures to mitigate biodiversity loss and a deal to share benefits of genetic resources that may unlock billions of dollars for developing countries.

30 October 2010 Nations agree historic deal to protect nature Monte Cristi National Park in the Dominican Republic. Photo: UNEP Nations from around the world adopted historic decisions at Nagoya Biodiversity Summit on Saturday that will permit the community of nations to meet the unprecedented challenges of the continued loss of biodiversity compounded by climate change. Governments agreed on a package of measures that will ensure that the ecosystems of the planet will continue to sustain human well-being into the future. The meeting achieved its three inter-linked goals: *adoption of a new ten-year Strategic Plan to guide international and national efforts to save biodiversity through enhanced action to meet the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity; *a resource mobilization strategy that provides the way forward to a substantial increase to current levels of official development assistance in support of biodiversity; *and a new international protocol on access to and sharing of the benefits from the use of the genetic resources of the planet. "History will recall that it was here in Nagoya that a new era of living in harmony was born and new global alliance to protect life on earth was established. History will also recall that this would not have been possible without the outstanding leadership and commitment of the government and people of Japan," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biodiversity. "If Kyoto entered history as the city where the climate accord was born, Nagoya will be remembered as the city where the biodiversity accord was born." Strategic Plan with 20 targets The Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity or the "Aichi Target", adopted by the meeting includes 20 headline targets, organized under five strategic goals that address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, reduce the pressures on biodiversity, safeguard biodiversity at all levels, enhance the benefits provided by biodiversity, and provide for capacity-building. Among the targets nations: *Agreed to at least halve and where feasible bring close to zero the rate of loss of natural habitats including forests by 2020; *Established a target of 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas; *Through conservation and restoration, Governments will restore at least 15 percent of degraded areas; *and will make special efforts to reduce the pressures faced by coral reefs. The "Aichi Target" will be the overarching framework on biodiversity not only for the biodiversity- related conventions, but for the entire United Nations system. Parties agreed to translate this overarching international framework into national biodiversity strategy and action plans within two years. Financial support for the Strategic Plan will be provided under the framework of the resource mobilization strategy. "Natural capital" into national accounts Agreement on parts of the deal has taken years of at times heated negotiations, and talks in the Japanese city of Nagoya were deadlocked until the early hours of Saturday after two weeks of talks, writes Reuters. They also agreed to take steps to put a price on the value of benefits such as clean water from watersheds and coastal protection by mangroves by including such "natural capital" into national accounts. Services provided by nature to economies were worth trillions of dollars a year, the head of the U.N. Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, said in a statement, adding businesses from banks to miners were key in halting rapid loss of ecosystems. "These goals recognize and value the irreplaceable benefits that nature provides to people in the form of food, fuel, fiber, fodder and freshwater that everyone depends on," Andrew Deutz, director of international government relations for U.S.-based The Nature Conservancy, told Reuters. Sharing genetic resources - a real victory The third part of the deal, the Nagoya Protocol on genetic resources, has taken nearly 20 years to agree and sets rules governing how nations manage and share benefits derived from forests and seas to create new drugs, crops or cosmetics. The protocol could unlock billions of dollars for developing countries, where much of the world's natural riches remain. "The protocol is really, really a victory," Brazil's Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira told reporters. It will also mean changes for businesses. "This isn't a boring protocol. It will regulate billions of dollars for the pharmaceutical industry," said Tove Ryding, policy adviser for biodiversity and climate change for Greenpeace. Karl Falkenberg, head of the European Commission's environment department, said it would also fight poverty. "We finally have something that is going to give great results for the environment, for the poor people," who will be able to earn money in exchange for access to genetic materials, he said after the talks ended. Positive signal to UN climate talks in Mexico Delegates and greens said the outcome would send a positive signal to troubled U.N. climate negotiations that have been become bogged down by a split between rich and poor nations over how to share the burden in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. U.N. climate talks resume in Mexico in a month. "We're delighted there's been a successful outcome to these long and tortuous negotiations and I think it shows that these multilateral negotiations can deliver a good result," said Peter Cochrane, head of Australia's delegation in Nagoya. Delegates and greens had feared the ill-feeling that pervaded climate negotiations after last December's acrimonious meeting in Copenhagen would derail the talks in Nagoya. "There's been a mood of change. I think the failure of the Copenhagen meeting last year perhaps has meant a new realization that we need to more flexible in negotiations," said Jane Smart, director of conservation policy for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, according to Reuters. "This is a day to celebrate in terms of a new and innovative response to the alarming loss of biodiversity and ecosystems. And a day to celebrate in terms of opportunities for lives and livelihoods in terms of overcoming poverty and delivering sustainable development," said Achim Steiner, according to UN News. "It is also an important moment for the United Nations and the ability of countries to put aside the narrow differences that all too often divide in favour of the broader, shared issues that can unite peoples and nation," he added. Sources: Convention on Biological Diversity Reuters UNEP News Related: New tool to bridge business and biodiversity UN: World needs urgent action to stop species loss UN talks: Nations closer to a set of climate decisions
Posted: 31 October 2010

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