‘Nagoya Protocol, a big victory for India'

In a hard-fought triumph for India and other developing nations, a new international treaty to ensure that the benefits of natural resources and their commercial derivatives were shared with local communities was signed in the Japanese city of Nagoya on Saturday.

However, the flip side is that the United States — one of the largest users of such resources — is not among the nearly 200 signatories of the Access and Benefit Sharing rules of the Nagoya Protocol. Getting the Americans into the net will be a key aim of the next U.N. summit on biodiversity to be held in New Delhi in 2012.

“It is a big victory for India that both derivatives and pathogens are part of the ABS. As the incoming president [of the next summit], it was incumbent on us to play a major role,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told The Hindu. The ABS is the result of almost two decades of U.N. negotiations, where India leads a group of 17 mega diverse countries with rich reserves of exploitable natural resources.

The new ABS Rules mean that multinational companies will have to share their profits with local communities not only for using the original resource, but also any derivative products developed from it. For example, a pharma company which develops a new drug from ingredients found in an Indian plant will now have to give a fair share to Indian communities which nurtured the plant in the first place.

International drug firms will also have to pay to use human genetic material such as pathogens – the germs responsible for virus pandemics which are used to develop lucrative vaccines. “Otherwise, these companies just take our pathogens, make the vaccine, and then make us pay billions of dollars to buy it from them,” Mr. Ramesh had said before the conference.

In order to bring the American companies into the ramifications of this agreement, the U.N.'s Convention on Biological Diversity must be linked to the World Trade Organisation's intellectual property agreement. “the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) must be amended to bring the U.S. into the mainstream. That is my single point agenda…to wrap up before Delhi 2012,” said Mr. Ramesh.

The Nagoya Protocol includes a sweeping plan to protect biodiversity by setting targets for 2020. Nations agreed to make 17 per cent of the globe's land area and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas into protected regions, as opposed to the current levels of 13 and one per cent.

They also agreed to bring “natural capital” into national accounting systems so that the trillions of dollars worth of benefits that nature provides to economies are valued. India will take the lead by undertaking a national study on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity soon.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 2:55:10 PM |

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