Category Archives: CBD COP-10 Nagoya

Canada Signs Onto UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

Or maybe not?

Ben Powless at Indigenous Environmental Network – Canada analyzes Canada’s supposed endorsement of the UN DRIPS:

Ben Powless

Canada has announced that it will ‘support’ the UN Declaration. First off, they announced this on a Friday afternoon, right after they announced major plans with the Afghanistan war, burying the story. Second, the announcement came as a press release posted online – no press conference, no informing Indigenous Peoples, just a quiet admission.

But the operative paragraph in their statement is this: “We are now confident that Canada can interpret the principles expressed in the Declaration in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution and legal framework.”

Without over-analyzing the semantics, this seems to echo their repeated statements in international fora and domestically, in which they claim the UNDRIP must fall under domestic law. This is a slight change, they’re not saying ‘subject to’ domestic law, but rather ‘consistent with’ and saying ‘legal framework’ instead of ‘legislation’. These may be minor improvements, but it remains up to the courts to really oversee, and still seems to be saying that they are confident they can interpret the UNDRIP to not mean anything more substantial than the constitution and existing laws. Which are the source of the problem.

In their statement, they state that they still disagree with the right to Free prior and informed Consent, one of the most crucial aspects of the Declaration.

So to me and others, this seems like a PR move, so they can check something off, but many of us have been saying it would be better to have another (non-Conservative) government endorse the UNDRIP unconditionally instead of supporting it as consistent with their interpretation of it. It also betrays their recent actions in the [UN Convention on Biological Diversity Conference in Nagoya, Japan], as the only party opposing Indigenous rights.

The upcoming climate negotiations however will be the real testing ground over whether Canada will live up to its word and respect Indigenous rights.

In solidarity,

Ben Powless,

Indigenous Environmental Network – Canada




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La Via Campesina: CBD Did Not Stop Commercialization of Biodiversity

Read LVC’s position paper on CBD-Nagoya

(Jakarta, 12 November, 2010) La Via Campesina delegates attending the conference of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Nagoya from 19 to 29 October 2010 regret that the conference failed to achieve a radical decision to halt the mass commercialization and destruction of biodiversity.

Despite the positive decisions to impose a moratorium on geo-engineering and conserve the moratorium on Terminator technology, the conference failed to take the decisive measures needed to stop the biodiversity loss that threatens our survival.

Via Campesina celebrates the moratorium on geo-engineering as this technology is regarded as a false and damaging proposal for reversing climate change. It does not have the potential, as claimed, to reduce the production of green house gas emissions. Modifying the earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere in this way is instead likely to have devastating impacts on biodiversity. We encourage the delegates at the upcoming COP16 climate change talks in Cancun at the end of this year to endorse the moratorium imposed at Nagoya.

Despite these positive steps however, the CBD failed to reject several other initiatives currently threatening biodiversity in the name of the new “green economy”. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) that promotes the commercialization of biodiversity by assigning it an economic value was strongly opposed by some delegations such as Bolivia. However, although a specific proposal was not adopted, the CBD decided to continue developing the economic aspects of ecosystem services by building on TEEB. The CBD even seeks cooperation on this issue with other UN organizations and the World Bank. This is a very negative development that Via Campesina strongly rejects.

Moreover in Nagoya, the governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America pledged to support the operational costs of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), negotiated at COP15. This mechanism allows developed countries to continue polluting while paying developing countries to capture carbon in projects such as monoculture plantations. REDD+ initiatives’, strongly rejected by farmers’ movements, compound the trend of “land grabbing” across the global south, expelling farmers from their land in the interests of agribusiness.

According to Guy Kastler of La Via Campesina “We clearly saw in Nagoya that the prior consent of the communities for the agreements on access and benefit sharing (ABS) will not work because patent holders are refusing to disclose the sources of their “inventions”. It makes it impossible for the local populations to claim any benefits from the plants and the knowledge that they have cultivated for centuries. Other mechanisms are clearly needed”.

The Aichi Target, proposed in Nagoya as a means of limiting biodiversity loss within protected areas is also far from satisfying. The creation of protected areas has in the past been used to evict farmers and indigenous peoples from their land when they are actually the ones defending diversity in the first place.

La Via Campesina delegation observed during the COP10 of the CBD that the role of small farmers and indigenous people as main defenders of biodiversity was not clearly recognized by the institution. The interests of transnational companies, who were able to finance hundreds of lobbyists, have been more accommodated than the rights of these inherent defenders of global biodiversity. While many western governments sent lobbyists from TNCs to negotiate on their behalf, not one of them sent an indigenous person or a farmer. The French government, for example, included in its official delegation representatives from the seed industry while the Brazilian delegation included lobbyists from the petroleum industry.

Coleen Ross from the National Farmers Union in Canada said: “Biodiversity is life. Wherever biodiversity is destroyed, human life is in danger. Long-term solutions to the dramatic loss of biodiversity will ultimately remain in the hands of small farmers and indigenous peoples and not in the commercialization of biodiversity that destroyed it in the first place”. It is therefore crucial to reject all market solutions and to recognize and support the sustainable agriculture of family farmers and indigenous people as a way of maintaining global biodiversity.

International Operational Secretariat

La Via Campesina>

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What came out of the Convention on Biodiversity meeting in Nagoya on REDD?

Cross-posted from REDD Monitor
By Chris Lang, 3rd November 2010


After two weeks of meetings in Nagoya, Japan, “a new era of living in harmony was born and new global alliance to protect life on earth,” at least according to Ahmed Djoghlaf, the Convention on Biodiveristy’s Executive Secretary, in a press release. George Monbiot, writing in yesterday’s Guardian isn’t convinced: “The evidence suggests that we’ve been conned.” There are no binding obligations in the strategic plan agreed in Nagoya.

The Nagoya conference agreed to an “Updating and Revision of the Strategic Plan for the Post-2010 Period,” (the advanced, unedited copy is available on the CBD website, as are the other documents that came out of Nagoya). Other decisions include the Nagoya Protocol on genetic resources, which sets out rules aimed at preventing biopiracy and a moratorium on geoengineering.

Many journalists reported the Nagoya conference as a success. Reuters journalists Chisa Fujioka and David Fogarty described the agreement as “a sweeping plan to stem the loss of species by setting new 2020 targets to ensure greater protection of nature and enshrine the benefits it gives mankind.”

Achim Steiner, executive director of the UNEP, told the Guardian that

“This is a day to celebrate in terms of a new and innovative response to the alarming loss of biodiversity and ecosystems. It is an important moment for the United Nations and the ability of countries to put aside the narrow differences that all too often divide in favour of the broader, shared issues that can united peoples and nations.”

The Strategic Plan includes plenty of reasons to be cheerful. There are 20 targets to be met by 2020, including the following on forests:

Target 5: By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.

Target 7: By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity.

But, as Monbiot points out, far from being binding obligations, the targets adopted by governments in Nagoya are

nothing more than “aspirations for achievement at the global level” and a “flexible framework”, within which countries can do as they wish. No government … is obliged to change its policies.

On 26 October 2010, the REDD+ Partnership held a meeting in parallel to the Nagoya conference. In a statement about REDD, the CBD’s Ahmed Djoghlaf mentioned that the Strategic Plan includes “targets on forests which could further support reducing deforestation and forest degradation by 2020.” Unfortunately, he failed to mention that these targets are voluntary and not legally binding.

In a break with tradition, the co-chairs of the REDD+ Partnership have released a summary of the meeting, which is posted in full below.

Co-chairs’ Summary
Aichi-Nagoya Ministerial Meeting of the REDD+ Partnership
On October 26, 2010, the Aichi-Nagoya Ministerial Meeting of the REDD+ Partnership was held in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture in Japan under the co-chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Seiji Maehara, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan and H.E. Mr. Samuel T. Abal, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration of Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

The meeting took place at the margin of the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD-COP10) and was attended by the Ministers and the heads of delegations from 62 countries participating in the REDD+ Partnership. Representatives from various international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and civil societies also attended the meeting.

The Ministers recalled that important progress on REDD+[1] was made prior to and at COP15 including the Copenhagen Accord and reaffirmed the general commitment made in the International Conference on Major Forest Basins held in Paris in March 2010 to establish an interim platform for enhancing coordination of REDD+ actions and support, including sharing experiences. Furthermore, the Ministers referred to the Oslo Climate and Forest Conference held on 27th May 2010 and the establishment of “REDD+ Partnership” as a milestone for the international effort on REDD+ actions and finance.

The Ministers reaffirmed the crucial role to be played by the REDD+ Partnership as an interim platform for scaling up of REDD+ actions and finance, and to that end to take immediate actions to improve the effectiveness, transparency and coordination of REDD+ efforts. The Ministers noted the importance of REDD+ activities in terms of deploying multiple functions of forests including social and economic benefits. In particular, in the context of holding this meeting in the margins of CBD-COP10, the Ministers recognized the synergies between climate change and biodiversity, and the role of the Partnership in sharing lessons on practical experiences including relevant safeguards.

The Ministers welcomed the announcement of new pledges by Belgium and Italy to support REDD+ activities, respectively Euro 10 million to GEF SFM/REDD+ Program and US$ 100 million for REDD+ activities, including a contribution of US$ 5 million to FCPF, and the increase in fast track funding to combat climate change announced by the UK amounting to US$ 4.5 billion in the period between 2010/11 and 2014/15.

The Ministers also welcomed the announcement of Germany, on behalf of Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America to support the operational costs of the REDD+ Partnership budget in 2010 and 2011 based on the budget presented in Tianjin.

1. Outcome of activities under the REDD+ Partnership

The Ministers appreciated the operational progress of the activities under the REDD+ Partnership following the Paris-Oslo process. In this context, they welcomed the enlargement of the Partnership to additional countries. The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of inclusive participation of stakeholders in the Partnership in accordance with the principles in the REDD+ Partnership Document agreed in Oslo and modalities of stakeholder participation as further elaborated and agreed in Tianjin.

The Ministers also welcomed the achievements of the REDD+ Partnership under the 2010 Work Program, including the provision of transparent and comprehensive information on REDD+ finance, actions and results through the voluntary REDD+ database, as well as the launch of the REDD+ Partnership website[2] for enhanced information sharing and communication. The Ministers recognized the importance of the voluntary database as an essential basis of improving REDD+ efforts through the enhanced coordination of actions and finance, and called on Partners to continue to contribute and continuously update their information. They noted the importance of improving the scope and quality of information collected for the database from Partners and stakeholders, as well as the need to periodically provide assessments using the data made available.

Referring to the initial analysis of financing gaps and overlaps, the Ministers welcomed the ambitious efforts already undertaken and recognized the necessity to take actions to narrow gaps, avoid overlaps and maximize the effective delivery of REDD+ actions and financing, taking into account the initial analysis to be finalized by the end of 2010.

2. Direction of future activities under the REDD+ Partnership

Based on the progress made so far, the Ministers recognized the importance of continuing to implement measures listed in the Appendix II of the REDD+ Partnership Document and the Work Program as currently developed. At the same time, the Ministers had a common conviction that the Partnership could contribute to further effective scaling up of REDD+ financing and actions, and to further enhance transparency, efficiency and coordination.

To this end, the Ministers expressed a common intent to extend the activities scheduled under the 2010 Work Program that have not been completed, and to add further activities—including facilitation of readiness activities, demonstration activities and result-based actions as summarized in Annex I—to be carried out in 2011 and 2012, thus creating a comprehensive REDD+ Partnership Work Program up to 2012. The Ministers also expressed their determination to make every effort to finalize the Work Program of 2011-2012 by the end of 2010.

The Ministers also noted that the Partnership aims to be action-oriented and is not another negotiation forum and reiterated the importance of ensuring effective communication and an open and transparent process that includes all Partners and relevant stakeholders.

3. REDD+ Partnership and success of COP16

Ministers recognized that the essence of the Partnership is its Partner-driven nature and the accumulation and improved coordination of concrete, scaled-up REDD+ actions and finance are strong drivers to support the establishment of a mechanism that includes incentives for REDD+ policies and actions under the UNFCCC.

This Ministerial Meeting was considered as an important stepping stone toward the upcoming COP16 in Cancun, Mexico. The Ministers expressed their strong will to accelerate their efforts under the UNFCCC to achieve a successful, balanced outcome at COP16 that includes a decision on REDD+.

Annex I

Framework of the REDD+ Partnership Work Program of 2011-2012

Partners shared the same vision on the future of the Partnership in 2011 and 2012—namely, to achieve the core objective of effectively scaling up REDD+ actions and finance through facilitating, inter alia, capacity enhancement and technology development and knowledge transfer. In this context, Partners identified, amongst others, three types of actions to be facilitated; readiness activities, demonstration activities and result based actions. Sharing experiences, lessons learned and sharing best practices are core to building more effective practices in REDD+ implementation and support. Transparency of the flows of financing, and actions taken, is also critical to improve the effectiveness and coordination. And ensuring the full and effective participation of civil society, indigenous peoples and local communities is important.

The following areas of activities have been identified by Partners to concentrate on in their efforts under the Partnership in 2011 and 2012.

1. Facilitating readiness activities

In order to facilitate readiness activities, Partners intend to focus on sharing experiences and lessons learned on: strengthening institutional arrangements and governance structures; developing national strategies; enhancing capacities; technology development and knowledge transfer and cooperation with research communities.

To facilitate the above-mentioned activities, the following operational measures are to be considered.

  • Share experiences and lessons learned
  • Promote and facilitate cooperation among Partners including south-south cooperation and regional REDD+ networks as well as among REDD+ initiatives
  • Promote the assessment of country needs, when requested by countries, with regard to REDD+ readiness and consider proposals to effectively mobilize, deploy and facilitate enabling institutions
  • Leverage technology development and enhance knowledge transfer

2. Facilitating demonstration activities

Partners intend to facilitate the development and implementation of demonstration activities.

To facilitate the above-mentioned activities, the following operational measures are to be considered.

  • Share experiences and lessons learned regarding the design and implementation of demonstration activities, inviting a wide range of participants including civil society, indigenous peoples and the private sector
  • Present, consolidate, analyze and promote the main aspects and enabling environment of demonstration activities

3. Facilitating result-based actions

Partners intend to facilitate the implementation of result-based actions and intend to move from demonstration activities to result-based actions by scaling up activities, and payment for environmental services.

To facilitate the above-mentioned activities, the following operational measures are to be considered.

  • Share experiences and lessons learned
  • Understand and promote result-based actions that are measurable, reportable and verifiable
  • Present, consolidate and analyze the main aspects of result-based actions

4. Facilitating the scaling up of finance and actions

Partners intend to improve the transparency and coordination of various international institutions, funding sources and financial mechanisms and to further engage the public and private sector with the aim of understanding how to more effectively scale up actions and finance.

To facilitate the above-mentioned activities, the following operational measures are to be considered.

  • Share experiences and lessons learned from existing financial mechanisms
  • Share views on funding sources and mechanisms, including public and private financing
  • Promote public-private partnership
  • Enhance the coordination and effectiveness of multilateral and bilateral institutions
  • Enhance mobilization and promote the effective deployment of finance to address the gaps and overlaps in finance and actions

5. Promoting transparency

Partners intend to further develop the voluntary database and REDD+ Partnership website as tools of enhancing information sharing and communication. It is expected that through provision of data and information, implementation of REDD+ actions can be facilitated.

To facilitate the above-mentioned activities, the following operational measures are to be considered.

  • Provide platforms for the sharing of information and for fostering dialogue among Partners as well as civil society, indigenous peoples, local communities and private sector.
  • Enhance the use of the database to address the outcome of the analysis of financing gaps and overlaps
  • Present the platforms and database to wider range of participants in order to encourage their utilization
  • Improve communication to promote main findings and follow up on database information

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Runaway Global Economy Decimating Nature

Cross-posted from IPS News

By Stephen Leahy

NAGOYA, Japan, Oct 28, 2010 (IPS) – One-fifth of all birds, fish and animals are threatened with extinction – as many as six million unique and irreplaceable forms of life – an authoritative new assessment warned Wednesday.

Deforestation, agricultural expansion, overfishing, invasive alien species and climate change are the specific causes, but the main engine of destruction is an economic system that is blind to the reality that there is no economy or human well-being without nature, experts here say.

“Without global conservation efforts the situation would be massively worse,” noted Simon Stuart, chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, which launched the study at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan.

Published in the peer-reviewed journal Science, it is the most comprehensive assessment ever done of the world’s vertebrates – mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fishes – Stuart said.

Every year, 52 species of mammals, birds and amphibians move one step down a three-step path to extinction, according to the study, which utilised data for 25,000 species from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Southeast Asia has experienced the most dramatic recent losses, largely driven by the planting of export crops like oil palm, commercial hardwood timber operations, agricultural conversion to rice paddies and unsustainable hunting, the study found. Parts of Central America, the tropical Andes of South America, and even Australia have also all experienced marked losses, in particular due to the impact of the deadly chytrid fungus on amphibians.

“The backbone of biodiversity is being eroded,” said the eminent U.S. ecologist and writer Edward O. Wilson of Harvard University.

“One small step up the Red List is one giant leap forward towards extinction. This is just a small window on the global losses currently taking place,” Wilson said in a statement.

The term biodiversity and role of species is not well understood by the general public or policy makers. Biological diversity, better known as “nature”, refers to the plants, animals and microorganisms and their ecosystems that provide humanity with food, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.

“Nature’s backbone is indeed at risk,” said Julia Marton- Lefèvre, IUCN director general, who noted in a press conference here that one-third of all species are at risk of extinction. Another assessment of species, the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, released last May found that one- quarter of plant species are threatened, the world’s corals and amphibians are in sharp decline, and the overall abundance of vertebrates had fallen by one-third in the past 30 years.

Despite this overwhelming evidence, most delegates here at what is in essence a “save nature to save ourselves” international negotiation are playing politics and have been unable to agree to specific targets. Last May, CBD science and policy advisors negotiated targets in Nairobi to protect 20 percent of the land and oceans by 2020. And that 20 percent target is less than what many experts had advocated.

New targets aiming to halt the loss of species mean nothing unless states address the cost and practicalities of reaching targets, say IUCN representatives. They have called for a massive increase in funding from the current three billion dollars a year to 300 billion dollars in annual public and private financing for biodiversity conservation. Not surprisingly, new financing is another major hurdle to overcome by Friday when negotiations conclude.

Representatives from the European Parliament told IPS that a substantial funding increase from Europe was highly unlikely beyond the one billion euros for biodiversity the European Union promised at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City in September.

“We are cutting budgets back home, it would be difficult to offer additional new money here,” said Jo Leinen, head of the European Parliament delegation and chair of the EP Committee on Environment.

Leinen, who also chaired one of the GLOBE (Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment) sessions on forests in Nagoya, told IPS that his group was urging the European Union to make long-term commitments on financing so funds will be available annually through the next decade.

More than 100 ministers of the environment arrived Wednesday, but that is not necessarily reason for hope. If conversations in the hallways here are any gauge, most ministers understand little about the role biodiversity plays in their countries’ social and economic well-being. And environment ministers are generally well below finance ministers in government hierarchies, limiting their influence.

Even the World Bank acknowledged this reality, when World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick addressed the opening of the ministerial segment of the conference Wednesday morning in Nagoya.

“Biodiversity is not an add-on. Preserving ecosystems and saving species are not luxuries for the rich. Conservation and development can go hand in hand. Our habitat and our planet deserve nothing less,” Zoellick told delegates.

The World Bank will refocus its efforts on the “financing of ecosystem and biodiversity services”, he said. More importantly, the Bank wants government ministries concerned with economic growth, infrastructure and overcoming poverty to be the champions of biodiversity conservation.

To make this happen, the Bank is launching a new global partnership Thursday to help governments integrate the true value of biodiversity and ecosystem services into their development planning and accounting systems.

“Conservation does work,” stressed IUCN’s Stuart, noting that in recent years some 64 species like the white rhino have been assisted in stepping back from the brink of extinction.

The study in Science showed definitively that declines would have been significantly worse without action. The conservation challenge is to protect species and ecosystems while protecting and/or enhancing the livelihoods of local people, he acknowledged.

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Victory for Developing Countries Over Northern Business Interests at Biodiversity Summit

Global Justice Ecology Project is the North American Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition.  GJEP’s Executive Director, Anne Petermann, was in Nagoya for the negotiations.

-The GJEP Team


Conference Adopts Binding Decisions Against Biopiracy and Geo-engineering

by Global Forest Coalition

1 November 2010 -  The Global Forest Coalition congratulates Southern countries on their success in reaching a legally binding agreement to equitably share the benefits of genetic resources at the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan.

The conference, which was baptized as a ‘re-birth of environmental multilateralism’ after the failed climate talks in Copenhagen, also adopted a strategic plan with concrete targets to reduce biodiversity loss, restore 15% of the world’s degraded areas and significantly increase the financial contribution of donor countries to biodiversity conservation.

Negotiations were stalled for most of last week when it was clear Canada and the EU did not want to agree on a strong and legally binding protocol and strong commitments to provide financial resources to conserve biodiversity.

The conference was marked by a significant divide between developing countries and industrialized counties over market-based and other pro-business approaches to biodiversity. While the EU and other Northern countries pushed for market-based mechanisms, including as a financial resource for biodiversity conservation, many Southern countries pointed at the serious environmental and social risks of these mechanisms, and proposed strong policies and measures instead.

As a result of this opposition, references to risky innovative financial mechanisms like the Green Development Mechanism were removed from the final outcomes of the conference.

Southern countries also expressed strong concern about the potential impact of climate change mitigation measures like monoculture tree plantations, REDD+ and bio-energy on biodiversity and the rights and needs of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. As a result, the conference adopted a world-wide moratorium on geo-engineering, including large-scale biochar and other forms of large-scale carbon sequestration by tree plantations.

The Conference calls upon countries to prevent negative impacts of other climate changes mitigation measures like bio-energy and REDD+, on biodiversity and people. The meeting also urges governments to be precautious with the use of the synthetic biology or invasive alien species like eucalypt for bio-energy production.

“It is clear that Southern countries are increasingly concerned about the commodification of nature through market-based approaches like carbon markets and the potential impacts of these markets on Indigenous Peoples, local communities and women” says Simone Lovera, Executive Director of the Global Forest Coalition.

“We are happy that, in the end, the EU and other Northern countries realized that the survival of our planet’s biodiversity is of fundamental importance for the survival of mankind and thus needed to be prioritized over the interests of pharmaceutical companies and carbon traders”.

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Geoengineering Moratorium at UN Ministerial in Japan: Risky Climate Techno-fixes Blocked

In the midst of a deluge bad news, this tremendous victory for sanity comes to us courtesy of our friends at ETC Group. — The GJEP Team

NAGOYA, Japan – In a landmark consensus decision, the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will close its tenth biennial meeting with a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments. “Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” stated Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group.

The agreement, reached during the ministerial portion of the two-week meeting which included 110 environment ministers, asks governments to ensure that no geoengineering activities take place until risks to the environment and biodiversity and associated social, cultural and economic impacts have been appropriately considered. The CBD secretariat was also instructed to report back on various geoengineering proposals and potential intergovernmental regulatory measures.

The unusually strong consensus decision builds on the 2008 moratorium on ocean fertilization.  That agreement, negotiated at COP 9 in Bonn, put the brakes on a litany of failed “experiments” – both public and private – to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide in the oceans’ depths by spreading nutrients on the sea surface.  Since then, attention has turned to a range of futuristic proposals to block a percentage of solar radiation via large-scale interventions in the atmosphere, stratosphere and outer space that would alter global temperatures and precipitation patterns.

“This decision clearly places the governance of geoengineering in the United Nations where it belongs,” said ETC Group Executive Director Pat Mooney.  “This decision is a victory for common sense, and for precaution.  It will not inhibit legitimate scientific research.  Decisions on geoengineering cannot be made by small groups of scientists from a small group of countries that establish self-serving ‘voluntary guidelines’ on climate hacking.  What little credibility such efforts may have had in some policy circles in the global North has been shattered by this decision.  The UK Royal Society and its partners should cancel their Solar Radiation Management Governance Initiative and respect that the world’s governments have collectively decided that future deliberations on geoengineering should take place in the UN, where all countries have a seat at the table and where civil society can watch and influence what they are doing.”

Delegates in Nagoya have now clearly understood the potential threat that deployment – or even field testing – of geoengineering technologies poses to the protection of biodiversity. The decision was hammered out in long and difficult late night sessions of a “friends of the chair” group, attended by ETC Group, and adopted by the Working Group 1 Plenary on 27 October 2010.  The Chair of the climate and biodiversity negotiations called the final text “a highly delicate compromise.” All that remains to do now is gavel it through in the final plenary at 6 PM Friday (Nagoya time).

“The decision is not perfect,” said Neth Dano of ETC Group Philippines. “Some delegations are understandably concerned that the interim definition of geoengineering is too narrow because it does not include Carbon Capture and Storage technologies.  Before the next CBD meeting, there will be ample opportunity to consider these questions in more detail. But climate techno-fixes are now firmly on the UN agenda and will lead to important debates as the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit approaches.  A change of course is essential, and geoengineering is clearly not the way forward.”

In Nagoya, Japan:

Pat Mooney: (Mobile +1-613-240-0045)

Silvia Ribeiro: (Mobile (local): + 81 90 5036 4659)

Neth Dano: (Mobile: + 63-917-532-9369)

In Montreal, Canada:

Diana Bronson: (Mobile: +1-514-629-9236)

Jim Thomas: (Mobile: +1-514-516-5759)

Note to Editors: The full texts of the relevant decisions on geoengineering are copied below:

Under Climate Change and Biodiversity (UNEP/CBD/COP/10/L.36)

8.  Invites Parties and other Governments, according to national circumstance and priorities, as well as relevant organizations and processes, to consider the guidance below on ways to conserve, sustainably use and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services while contributing to climatechange mitigation and adaptation:


(w) Ensure, in line and consistent with decision IX/16 C, on ocean fertilization and biodiversity and climate change, in the absence of science based, global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanisms for geo-engineering, and in accordance with the precautionary approach and Article 14 of the Convention, that no climate-related geo-engineering activities[1] that may affect biodiversity take place, until  there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts, with the exception of small scale scientific research studies that would be conducted in a controlled setting  in accordance with Article 3 of the Convention, and only if they are justified by the need to gather specific scientific data and are subject to a thorough prior assessment of the potential impacts on the environment;

[1] Without prejudice to future deliberations on the definition of geo-engineering activities, understanding that any technologies that deliberately reduce solar insolation or increase carbon sequestration from the atmosphere on a large scale that may affect biodiversity (excluding carbon capture and storage from fossil fuels when it captures carbon dioxide before it is released into the atmosphere) should be considered as forms of geo-engineering which are relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity until a more precise definition can be developed. Noting that solar insolation is defined as a measure of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a given hour and that carbon sequestration is defined as the process of increasing the carbon content of a reservoir/pool other than the atmosphere.


9 9. Requests the Executive Secretary to:


(o) Compile and synthesize available scientific information, and views and experiences of indigenous and local communities and other stakeholders, on the possible impacts of geoengineering techniques on biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural considerations, and options on definitions and understandings of climate-related geo-engineering relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity and make it available for consideration at a meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice prior to the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties;

(p)            Taking into account the possible need for science based global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanisms, subject to the availability of financial resources, undertake a study on gaps in such existing mechanisms for climate-related geo-engineering relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity, bearing in mind that such mechanisms may not be best placed under the Convention on Biological Diversity, for consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific Technical and Technological Advice prior to a future meeting of the Conference of the Parties and to communicate the results to relevant organizations;

Under New and Emerging Issues UNEP/CBD/COP/10/L.2 :

4. Invites Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to submit information on synthetic biology and geo-engineering, for the consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, in accordance with the procedures of decision IX/29, while applying the precautionary approach to the field release of synthetic life, cell or genome into the environment;

Under Marine and Coastal Biodiversity UNEP/CBD/COP/10/L.42

13 Reaffirming that the programme of work still corresponds to the global priorities, has been further strengthened through decisions VIII/21, VIII/22, VIII/24, and IX/20, but is not fully implemented, and therefore encourages  Parties to continue to implement these programme elements, and endorses the following guidance, where applicable and in accordance with national capacity and circumstances, for enhanced implementation:

(e)            Ensuring that no ocean fertilization takes place unless in accordance with decision IX/16 C and taking note of the report (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/14/INF/7) and development noted para 57 – 62;

Impacts of ocean fertilization on marine and coastal biodiversity

57.            Welcomes the report on compilation and synthesis of available scientific information on potential impacts of direct human-induced ocean fertilization on marine biodiversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/14/INF/7), which was prepared in collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the International Maritime Organization in pursuance of paragraph 3 of decision IX/20;

58.            Recalling the important decision IX/16 C on ocean fertilization, reaffirming the precautionary approach, recognizes that given the scientific uncertainty that exists, significant concern surrounds the potential intended and unintended impacts of large-scale ocean fertilization on marine ecosystem structure and function, including the sensitivity of species and habitats and the physiological changes induced by micro-nutrient and macro-nutrient additions to surface waters as well as the possibility of persistent alteration of an ecosystem, and requests Parties to implement decision IX/16 C;

59.            Notes that the governing bodies under the London Convention and Protocol adopted in 2008 resolution LC-LP.1 (2008) on the regulation of ocean fertilization, in which Contracting Parties declared, inter alia, that given the present state of knowledge, ocean fertilization activities other than legitimate scientific research should not be allowed;

60. Recognizes the work under way within the context of the London Convention and London Protocol to contribute to the development of a regulatory mechanism referred to in decision IX/16 C, and invites Parties and other Governments to act in accordance with the Resolution LC-LP.2(2010) of the London Convention and Protocol ;

61.             Notes that in order to provide reliable predictions on the potential adverse impacts on marine biodiversity of activities involving ocean fertilization, further work to enhance our knowledge and modelling of ocean biogeochemical processes is required, in accordance with decision IX/16 (c) and taking into account decision IX/20 and LC-LP.2 (2010);

62. Notes also that there is a pressing need for research to advance our understanding of marine ecosystem dynamics and the role of the ocean in the global carbon cycle;

Geopiracy: The Case Against Geoengineering is a new publication by ETC Group that provides an overview of the issues involved.


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Nagoya, COP10, 28 Oct 2010, supported by:
Oct 28 – The ABS negotiations were always prided as an open, inclusive and
transparent process. But things have taken a dramatic turn.
In the last 24 hours we suddenly find ourselves in a WTO-like atmosphere of
“green rooms” where small groups behind closed doors decide on a deal.

They then call in those regarded as “uncompromising” and “inflexible”, to
persuade, isolate and if necessary coerce them into consensus.
Transparent ABS negotiations have now stopped. We understand that four
ministerial level “facilitators” from Brazil, the EU, Namibia and Norway have
been invited by the COP 10 President to get a deal struck. The Like-Minded
Asia Pacific is noticeably absent. We wonder why? In any event, this process
is totally unacceptable.

Negotiators who have worked for years are baffled and confused (except for a
very very few who are now part of the deal striking). Little groups are called
into a small room with the Co-Chairs of the Informal Consultative Group – as
one delegate said it was like a misbehaving student being hauled up to be
reprimanded by the school principal.

The first proposed text dated 28 October 2.15 pm has emerged. It reduces the
scope of the protocol by a significant narrowing of the definition related to
“utilization of genetic resources”.  It also excludes “commodities in trade”
without any exception – the last official version included such commodities
when they are used as a genetic resource for further research and
development. With these loopholes, at least 90% of known biopiracy cases
would now be exempted from the protocol.

Watch out – the highly contentious issue of pathogens has yet to come out in
a “facilitated text”. Any bets on what scope will be left?
By Wednesday it was clear to everyone that a comprehensive and meaningful
protocol would not be possible as long as developed countries insist on
narrowing the scope, and rejecting an effective compliance system with
checkpoints that can prevent biopiracy. Worse, they consistently continue to
demand more access rights while benefits remain “as appropriate” and “where

But now this unacceptable process is unfolding and makes a mockery of the
past 5 years of work and the CBD’s third objective. 

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Note: Simone is a participant in Global Justice Ecology Project’s New Voices on Climate Change Program.

by Simone Lovera, Global Forest Coaliton

Halfway through the second week, everybody is holding their breath here at the Biodiversity Conference of the Parties: Will the 10th Conference of the Parties end up in a Copenhagen-style collapse? Or will this “softer”  Rio Convention succeed to fulfill its mandate and come up with 1) a strong protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing that has enough teeth to really prevent biopiracy, 2) a Strategic plan that includes strong and well-considered targets to halt biodiversity loss, which is critical for the survival of millions of people and life on earth itself, and 3) the new and additional financial resources that are necessary for that? And, perhaps more importantly, will the results of this conference be weak and meaningless, the typical product of a corporate-dominated process, or will they actually include some significant breakthroughs?

Even the latter is still possible: as we write, a far-reaching moratorium on geo-engineering could still be adopted, some of the draft recommendations regarding agrofuels are definitely worth the paper they are written on (others, admittedly, are not). In general many of the biodiversity negotiators have shown a remarkable concern about the possible impacts of climate change mitigation measures on not only biodiversity, but also people and their land rights. If one compares this process with the FCCC negotiations, the differences are absolutely notable. The rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, for example, are mentioned all over all the draft decisions. A gender mainstreaming strategy was adopted, and a plan to provide more coherence between poverty eradication efforts and biodiversity conservation.

But as always, in the last rushed hours a lot can be lost. One fundamental issue was already lost yesterday: the CBD seriously weakened its commitment to promote “ improved definitions of forests”. Instead, a text refering to the old decision to “ collaborate”  in reviewing forest definitions was adopted, which is a set-back of more than 2 years. It is clear the CBD is not planning to play a lead role in this issue that is so crucial for the future of the world’s forests. And while many of the references to the need to plant native trees and avoid the conversion of precious ecosystems in the text on climate change are worthwhile, all these texts could still be deleted during the tense and polarized negotiations that will continue tonight – and undoubtedly until Saturday morning early.


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Nagoya biodiversity summit is showing depressing parallels with Copenhagen

Cross-posted from The Guardian

Nagoya is another ill-tempered bout between the global haves and wanna-haves in which the fiercest blows are landing on the natural world

An origami artwork at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Photograph: IISD

One week down, one left to go. With time running out for a global biodiversity deal, there ought to be frenetic movement, a spirit of compromise and a sense of urgency at the United Nations COP10 conference in Nagoya.

But at this half-way stage, delegates appear more interested in protecting their national interests than reversing the precipitous decline of animal and plant life on Earth.

The conference started last Monday with the usual declarations of hope and exhortations to action. But the first week ended with scant progress, positions more entrenched than ever and a widespread mood of disappointment and frustration.

Wealthy nations, mostly in the European Union, are accused of holding back the money needed for protection of biodiversity hotspots in poorer countries and for failing to share the benefits that might come from exploiting the genetic resources of such areas (such as western companies creating drugs from plants in developing countries).

Without a deal on these issues, Brazil and other developing nations – which are home to most of the world’s natural capital – are holding up international efforts to establish a strategic plan to halt biodiversity loss by 2020.

Meanwhile, Canada is blocking discussion on bio-piracy and the rights of indigenous people. China is torpedoing moves to significantly expand maritime reserves. And the United States is once again playing by a completely different set of rules – having never signed the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in the first place.

In other words, Nagoya is another ill-tempered bout between the global haves and wanna-haves in which the fiercest blows are landing on the natural world that both sides claim to be protecting.

The parallels with last year’s Copenhagen climate conference are depressingly evident. Then, as now, the talks made no progress by the halfway point. Then, as now, the developed and developing world were at loggerheads. Then, as now, hopes for a breakthrough were pinned on the imminent arrival of political leaders.

Last year in Copenhagen, we were waiting for Barack Obama, Wen Jiabao, Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy to fly in and save the day, but even that political A-team was barely able to cobble together a hodgepodge, watered-down accord.

This time, we await a far less heavy-hitting bunch of potential saviours. According to the organisers, only five heads of state will attend this summit, including the queen of Palau and the crown prince of Monaco. Most other countries will be represented by ministers, including the UK’s environment secretary, Caroline Spelman.

That does not, of course, mean a deal is impossible. There is no shortage of activity and endeavour. Some negotiators were working through the night last week to reduce the number of contentious brackets in the negotiating text (the sections that countries are yet to agree on). NGOs continue to push for an ambitious deal that will expand nature reserves, increase conservation funding and prevent bio-piracy.

But, unless a huge amount of progress is made this week, the likelihood once again at an UN environment conference is of no deal, a weak deal, or putting off the big decision until the next conference. Anyone for more déjà vu in India in 2012?

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COP10 end near; unified political will for biodiversity deal eludes

Cross-posted from The Japan Times

Staff writer

NAGOYA — With long-standing differences still dividing COP10 and the tone of negotiations hardening as the conference entered its final days, delegates and NGOs now believe only strong political leadership at the top will yield results.

Senior ministers, including five heads of state, were due to arrive beginning Tuesday for the remaining three days. The fate of the Nagoya meeting now depends on whether the ministers can take over from the bureaucrats who have been negotiating since Oct. 18 and conclude negotiations on three separate but related issues.

These include a new protocol on access to genetic resources, a detailed strategy to preserve biodiversity in the next decade, and funds for developing countries struggling to cope with biodiversity loss.

The conclusion of an access and benefit-sharing (ABS) agreement on genetic resources, delegates and nongovernmental organizations say, remains the key to the conference’s success or failure.

But fundamental disagreements on how to include the rights of governments with large groups of indigenous peoples and how to prevent biopiracy continue to plague negotiations.

Canada has been singled out by NGOs for its attitude toward the rights of indigenous peoples in the new protocol.

Minister of Indian Affairs John Duncan told Canadian media last week that the ABS agreement was about intellectual property rights, not about the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Adopted in 2007 by the U.N. General Assembly, the declaration was opposed by Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

“It’s shocking that the Indian affairs minister would misinform the public. The (ABS) protocol addresses genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge. The U.N. declaration affirms indigenous rights in all of these matters,” Armand MacKenzie, executive director of Canada’s Innu Nation, said Tuesday.

In the morning, the ABS negotiators had reported progress on the 23-page draft protocol that will set international rules on prospecting for genetic resources, turning them into commercial products, and returning the profits to either the countries of origin or the indigenous peoples from whose lands they came.

Much work remained, though. No progress was reported on issues like compensation for existing drugs and biotech products based on genetic resources and their associated knowledge, utilized without the consent of those on the lands where the resources were originally discovered.

The issue of monitoring, tracking and reporting the utilization of genetic resources and traditional knowledge is another sticking point.

Many developed countries, especially within the European Union, do not want to provide lists of checkpoints within a user country that would help prevent biopiracy.

Agreeing on biodiversity preservation targets by 2020 is another COP10 goal. Some progress, especially on establishing terrestrial protection zones, was reported Tuesday.

Delegates and NGOs were hopeful the Convention on Biodiversity establishes a target of at least 15 percent of terrestrial areas as protected zones, where there would be restrictions on human contact and intervention.

Other issues that senior ministers will have to work out include whether to reduce, by 2020, the loss of natural habitats by half or bring them close to zero, and whether to agree to eliminate destructive fishing practices, also by 2020, or to harvest fish in a sustainable manner and restore their numbers.

Much attention over the past week has been focused on the issue of protected marine areas. But ministers face a major problem with agreeing on a final number.

Some nations, including Japan, favor a 15 percent target. Other nations, such as China, do not want more than 6 percent, while others have suggested somewhere between 6 and 20 percent.

Doubts were growing Tuesday that even with strong political backing, the ministers could forge a compromise on a final number by Friday, when COP10 ends.

Not only are there different stances among the nations on numbers, but also many developing countries are skeptical financial aid will meet whatever strategic plan for 2020 the conference adopts.

Over the next few days, developed countries, including Japan, are expected to announce new financial packages designed to help developing countries formulate national strategies to deal with biodiversity loss.

Until the money is on the table, though, developing countries are reluctant to commit to specific targets.

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