|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on Biodiversity by Minister for Environment of Brazil
The conservation and sustainable use of biological resources was not only crucial in ensuring that local and indigenous communities continued to reap their benefits, but also in creating opportunities for sustainable development and poverty eradication, Izabella Teixeira, Minister for Environment of Brazil, said at a Headquarters press conference today.
Speaking in her capacity as Chair of the Group of Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries — a largely developing-world grouping that hosts most of the planet’s biological diversity — she presented a joint communiqué highlighting issues of urgent and common concern. It was based on an update to the Brasilia Ministerial Declaration of the Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries, released in March.
Accompanying Ms. Teixeira were other members of the Group: Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for the Environment and Forests of India; Victor Makwenge, Minister for Public Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo; and Carlos Castaño, Vice-Minister for the Environment of Colombia. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado of Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations served as moderator.
Underlining the central message of the communiqué, Ms. Teixeira said the continuing loss of biodiversity had major and severe implications for the current and future well-being of humankind. A balanced and enhanced implementation of the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity — conservation of biodiversity, its sustainable use, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from such use — was an essential precondition for reversing biodiversity loss, she stressed, noting that the success of any post-2010 international commitment to the Convention would rely heavily on implementing effective tools and international norms.
Those tools and norms must recognize the value of biological resources and associated traditional knowledge, she continued. They must also ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of biodiversity resources through financial and non-financial mechanisms. Lastly, they must harmonize ambitious levels in establishing targets for biodiversity and financial cooperation between developed and developing countries.
“We must take the opportunity given by the Tenth Conference of the Parties [to the Convention on Biological Diversity], COP 10, in Nagoya, Japan, to take action on the three indivisible issues,” Ms. Teixeira said, stressing, however, that three additional issues must be adopted as a package in Nagoya. First, there must be a successful conclusion of negotiations on the protocol on access and benefit sharing, she said, calling for political will and engagement at the highest levels in order to make that a reality.
Second, there must be agreement on a strategic plan for the Convention in the post-2010 period in order to discern how the Group could support national efforts to stop biodiversity loss, she said. Lastly, an agreement was needed on a robust and effective resource-mobilization strategy to map out what was needed to implement the Group’s strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
Those fundamental issues must be addressed as a single undertaking in Nagoya, she reiterated. “Only with the three elements of this package can we aim for comprehensive and effective implementation of the Convention’s threefold objectives.” Those objectives, as well as those of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico, later this year — should be met in a “mutually supportive and reinforcing way”. Opportunities to meet all objectives within the Nagoya and Cancun meetings, in preparation for the Rio+20 Earth Summit to be held in Brazil in 2012, should not be missed, she stressed.
Mr. Ramesh said countries like India and Brazil were often victims of “biopiracy” and therefore needed a self-protection mechanism. Traditional knowledge was often taken from countries of origin and placed under the protection of international intellectual property rights. Furthermore, those responsible for removing forest bioresources for commercial use did not share their value with their original owners.
He went on to emphasize that no developing country was asking for a blanket ban on access through the Convention, but “the use of resources must be done sustainably and according to legally accepted protocols”. Access must be balanced with compliance, he added.
Asked how the Group planned to convince Governments opposed to the part of the Convention relating to access, Ms. Teixeira stressed the importance of negotiation and political involvement, noting that the Convention’s objectives made a new protocol on access and benefit sharing absolutely necessary.
Mr. Ramesh added that negotiators had done all they could do and it was now up to Governments to find political solutions to issues addressed in the Convention. There were important links between the Convention and climate change, and between the Convention and the World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). Despite differences of national opinion on the Convention, it was to be hoped that the United States would sign up sooner rather than later, he said, pointing out that its commitment to the treaty would be crucial for implementing its objectives.
Mr. Castaño said the Group aimed to raise political impetus and awareness around biodiversity. It was important to highlight the connections linking sustainable development, poverty eradication and biodiversity, particularly in developing countries hosting the vast majority of the world’s remaining biodiversity.
To that end, Mr. Makwenge stressed, it was the necessity of political synergy among megadiverse countries, since such constraints as a country’s size often made it difficult to protect native populations
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