Friday, October 29, 2010

Nature talks heading for success, delegates say

Deep sea coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean
Delicate coral reefs, rich in different types of marine life, are among the areas most under threat
UN talks on a new deal aimed at protecting nature and equitably sharing in its benefits seem to be on course for a positive conclusion.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting saw intense diplomacy in its final hours as delegates tried to iron out remaining differences.
The Japanese hosts in particular have been desperate for a successful end.
Western nations appear to have given ground on the thorniest issue - sharing of natural genetic resources.

It is not yet clear how - or even if - resolution has been reached on other outstanding points, such as how much of the Earth's lands and oceans should be placed under protection.
China has been criticised by environment campaigners for insisting that the agreement in Nagoya should call for protection of no more than 6% of the marine environment - and none at all outside coastal waters.
The current global target is 10%.
The other outstanding issue has been money, with Brazil and its allies arguing that by 2020, $200bn (£125bn) per year should be made available for biodiversity conservation.
BBC News understands that a deal has been reached under which countries will agree to have such a plan in place by 2012, when Brazil will host the second Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Guide to biodiversity

Biodiversity is the term used to describe the incredible variety of life that has evolved on our planet over billions of years. So far 1.75m present day species have been recorded, but there maybe as many as 13m in total.
The genetic resources issue - known as Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) - kept delegates working through Thursday night, with their ministers picking up the baton on Friday morning for an intense round of diplomacy.
Valuable words The ABS protocol is intended to ensure that developing countries receive recompense when products are made from genetic material of organisms from their territory - known as Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS).
Hugo Schally, EU lead negotiator on the issue, outlined why the wording mattered so much.
"These words are not just words, they mean differences in economic circumstances," he told BBC News.
"That means in terms of research-based industry, in terms of... economic exchanges - they're literally worth billions of dollars or euros or pounds, or whatever you want."
In essence, developing nations have been demanding that the agreement cover anything made from this genetic material - technically known as "derivatives" - whereas Western nations, where the world's pharmaceutical giants are principally based, want a far smaller scope.
It appears that the EU and its allies - among which Switzerland, with its powerful pharmaceutical sector, ranks highly - had given way on most of the major points.
EU leaders had told African and Asian countries it was the best deal they could ever hope to get.

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