|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol
on Liability and Redress to Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was a “major breakthrough” in global environmental negotiations, correspondents were told today at a Headquarters press conference held after the new treaty was opened for signature.
Charles Gbedemah, Senior Environmental Affairs Office in the Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity, said the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, adopted in 2000, laid down rules and procedures to ensure safety for the handling and transfer of living modified organisms. The Supplementary Protocol, adopted in October 2010 by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol, further reinforced those rules and procedures and also ensured liability and redress if, as a consequence of such transboundary movement, damages to the environment occurred.
Calling the ceremony held today to open the Supplementary Protocol for signature a “historic occasion”, Hidenori Murakami, Adviser to Japan’s Minister of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries, said the Supplementary Protocol was the “missing link” in the Cartagena Protocol. There was now a system that could work as a “safety net” for possible damage caused to the environment by transboundary movements of living modified organisms.
He said the new treaty, named after the two cities where the final rounds of negotiations on its elaboration had been held, could also build confidence for the application of biotechnology. Four countries — Colombia, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden — had signed the Supplementary Protocol today, and Japan would sign soon. He hoped the Protocol would enter into force as soon as possible. Japan’s presidency of both the Cartagena Protocol and the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol would work hard for broad implementation of the treaties.
Also at the press conference, Jimena Nieto of Colombia, Co-Chair of the Nagoya meeting, said that despite many differences, consensus on the “legally sound treaty” had been reached after a six-year long negotiation process. The fact that Colombia was one of the first States to sign the Supplementary Protocol reflected the country’s commitment to the sustainable use of biodiversity. Explaining the difference between the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol and the in 2010 adopted Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, she said the Nagoya Protocol was a “son” to the Convention on Biodiversity, the Supplementary Protocol was the “grandson”, coming forth from the Cartagena Protocol.
René Lefeber of the Netherlands, also Co-Chair of the negotiations, said he hoped that the adoption of the Supplementary Protocol would “rekindle the flame of environmental negotiations”. The Supplementary Protocol was an important step in the implementation of principle 13 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development [Compensation for Victims of Pollution and Other Environmental Damage] that addressed the issue of liability.
He said that in the Supplementary Protocol, a unique and new approach had been formulated to deal with liability for environment damage. Calling the Supplementary Protocol a “major breakthrough”, he hoped it would set a precedent for other environmental conventions and negotiations. It was now no longer left to victims of environmental damage to seek reparation, but for Governments to intervene when damages occurred, and ensure that the areas that had been harmed were restored to their previous condition.
Answering a correspondent’s question, Ms. Nieto said that 40 ratifications were needed for the Supplementary Protocol to enter into force. She had high hopes that those signatures would be collected soon.
Mr. Murakami added that he expected the 40 signatures within a couple of months. Ratification, however, might take a couple of years as implementation of the Supplementary Protocol into national legislations took some time. Japan would organize a symposium on the new treaty next week and hold a series of workshops over the coming months.
In response to another question, Mr. Lefeber explained that the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety included procedures for moving a living modified organism across borders. The Supplementary Protocol addressed what should happen if, subsequent to such a transboundary movement, that living modified organism caused damage to the biodiversity in the new environment. In that case, the Government must intervene and ensure that the importer or user of the living modified organism took adequate measures to prevent further damage. If natural recovery did not occur, the importer or user must restore the environment to its original state or, if that did not work, to a comparable state.
* *** *