2 February 2011
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Opening for Signature of Protocol to Biodiversity Convention

 


The opening for signature of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing was an example of what the United Nations was capable of accomplishing when Member States worked together, even when holding different opinions, senior officials from Japan and Colombia said today.


Tatsushi Terada, Japan’s Vice-Minister for Global Environmental Affairs, and Sandra Bessudo, Presidential High Adviser for Biodiversity, Climate Change and Environmental Management of Colombia, made the observation during a joint Headquarters press conference.  Accompanying them was Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.


Mr. Terada said the signing of the Protocol had great meaning not only for biodiversity, but also as a good example that even countries with different opinions could get together to ensure a great outcome.  That would not have been possible without the full support of all those countries that had been closely engaged in the negotiations leading to the opening of the Protocol for signature.  In his capacity as the representative of the presidency of the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Japan had a great responsibility to effect and implement the Protocol in the coming two years, he said.


Ms. Bessudo said the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol was a key step in stopping biodiversity loss and a prime example of what multilateralism could achieve in addressing the “greatest global challenges of our time”.  The successful culmination of the negotiations on the Protocol had taken into account the interests of all parties involved, and had established a platform for compromise on implementation, particularly on everything related to measures to ensure its enforcement.


Earlier in the day, Colombia had become the first country to sign the Protocol, she said, adding that it was a sign of the importance that her country attached to the Protocol that it had wanted to be the very first signatory.  Colombia and other “mega diverse” countries and negotiating partners were firmly committed to implementing in a very integral manner the Biodiversity Convention’s three objectives: conservation, sustainable use and just and equitable distribution of benefits, she said.


She described the Protocol’s adoption as an unequivocal testament to the importance of the balance between the use of genetic resources and respect for the sovereign rights of those countries where such resources originated.  Guaranteeing the just and equitable distribution of their benefits was the way to ensure incentives and tools for the conservation and sustainable use of those resources, she said, describing the struggle against “biopiracy” as a fundamental concern shared by all.  Another common concern was the interest in ensuring that the illegal appropriation of genetic resources or their derivatives, and the traditional knowledge associated with biodiversity, were checked at all costs.


Mr. Djoghlaf described the Protocol as one of the most important legal instruments in the history of the environmental movement, saying it was about gaining access to genetic resources wherever they were and sharing their benefits with the “owners” of biodiversity.  “With the opening for signature today, we are operationalizing the third objective and one of the most important objective without which the other objectives cannot be achieved,” he emphasized.


In addition to Colombia, other signatories today included Yemen, Brazil and Algeria, he said, expressing confidence that many others would follow suit in the coming weeks and months.  The Protocol would remain open within the Secretary-General’s Office until 1 February 2012, he said, further expressing confidence that its entry into force would come about before the Conference of Parties to be hosted by India in October 2012.


Asked why his country had not been among the first to sign the Protocol, Mr. Terada said that as the Chair of the Tenth Conference of Parties, Japan would have liked to sign the Protocol as soon as possible, but the country was currently working on the necessary procedures for its implementation domestically.  A decision had been made to establish a follow-up committee comprising the relevant ministries and agencies, and that body was expected to proceed with preparations for recommendations ratification, he said.


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For information media • not an official record