While few delegates from the 190 nations that attended the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity (officially the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity) would say they got everything they wanted, they do agree – and did agree – that they got something: The Nagoya Protocol.
In the most typical of democratic traditions including the past-the-last-minute compromises, haggling, deal making, and political arm twisting, the conference managed to achieve agreement on 20 points. The most crucial point was the ever-disputed arrangement to guarantee developing countries a share in profits from chemical and other derivatives gained from plant and animal resources. The details of the profit-sharing plan are fuzzy, but the intent is clear, and the developing nations (where most of the biodiversity exists) agreed.
As is said about any broad compromise, if everybody is complaining – it’s probably pretty good. The Nagoya Protocol is no exception. Conservationists are unhappy about such things as the agreements on ecosystem preservation, for example targets for 2020 on land preservation were set at 17% (compared to 12.5% currently) and 10% for the oceans (currently…10%). As is usually the case, funding for any and all implementation of the protocols was a sticking point. At the end funding was fudged by giving developed countries two years to determine how much they could contribute. However some broad and unenforceable guidelines were laid out, calling for several hundred billion dollars by 2020.
Now all the delegates must go back to their own country to explain details and sell the cost of implementation to the public, government officials, and private industry. This is not an easy sell. Economic conditions being what they are around the world, there isn’t a lot of discretionary money sloshing through national treasuries. One of the most frustrating aspects of the push to reverse species loss and save world ecosystems is the fact that most countries still think of such expenditures as ‘discretionary.’ Some countries, notably the United States, haven’t even ratified the underlying United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
Nevertheless, as the cliché goes: The Nagoya Protocol is a step in the right direction. Only a few days prior, most people thought the protocol could not stand, much less step.
For a review of the protocol, check out the Convention on Biological Diversity website: http://www.cbd.int/.