After two weeks of negotiations, yesterday, on the final day of the big UN biodiversity conference in Nagoya, Japan, countries agreed on a new treaty for the protection of species and ecosystems.
The percentage of Earth’s land surface under official nature protection will be increased from 13 percent now, to 17 percent in 2020. Ocean habitat protection is also gradually taking form, with official marine biodiversity reserves increasing from 1 to 10 percent of the Earth’s ocean surface.
Decisions on burden-sharing and financing of the conservation measures were largely left open, but agreed to be filled in over the next two years. Countries pledged ‘urgent action’ to slow the decline of extinctions. Sanctions however were not agreed.
Compared to last year’s UN climate conference in Copenhagen, where the world failed to reach agreement on curbing the emissions of greenhouse gases, the biodiversity summit in Nagoya can be considered an important step forward. Within UN tradition (Kyoto, Bali) also in Nagoya agreement wasn’t reached until after midnight.
The ‘Nagoya Protocol’ is very much about trade and economy as well. Western countries gave in to the wishes of a 70 country strong block of developing nations, led by Brazil, for mandatory rules for companies (for instance pharmaceuticals) to share profits derived from genetic material with the originating nations – making an end to what has been described as ‘bio-piracy’ and possibly generating billions of dollars for poor nations.
© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org