Rights to Resources

Rights to Resources

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Two safeguards for communities’ rights to resources can help implement the Nagoya Protocol, argues biodiversity specialist Krystyna Swiderska. As the recent UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) showed, intergovernmental negotiations on the environment and development can be slow processes that lack ambition. But that is nothing new.

One of the outcomes of the original Rio Earth Summit in 1992 was the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. It was hailed at the time as a major step in promoting the conservation and wise use of the Earth’s living resources. But it has taken 18 years for governments to establish a system for achieving one of its three goals: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits that arise from genetic resources, such as when companies develop commercial medicines from plants or other life-forms. The result, agreed in Japan in 2010, was the legally-binding Nagoya Protocol on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing. The hope is that when it enters into force in a year or so, it will create new incentives for countries to protect their natural capital while enabling businesses to develop useful new products from biological resources in a sustainable way.

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