CBD COP10 Begins in Nagoya

Malaka Rodrigo reporting from Nagoya, Japan

A 12-day-long summit aiming to address the global biodiversity crisis is in progress in the Japanese city of Nagoya, with representatives from all the 190 signatory countries of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) including Sri Lanka, attending the event.

Sri Lanka who signed the convention in 1992, is already identified as one of the top 35 Biodiversity Hotspots of the World, and the outcome of the summit is also important locally. The Biodiversity crisis already hit Sri Lanka, as the 2007 edition of the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by IUCN, indicated that 21 species of endemic amphibians and 72 of the 1099 plant species evaluated could already be extinct.

The report also categorised one in every two species of mammals and amphibians, one in every three species of reptiles and freshwater fish, and one in every five species of birds in the island are currently facing the risk of becoming threatened in the wild. Of the threatened animals, 62% of vertebrates and 61% of plants are endemic to Sri Lanka, meaning, if they become extinct, it is a loss for the whole world.

This is a worldwide problem and scientists point out that this is the greatest extinction crisis after dinosaurs became extinct millions of years ago. The latest report ‘Global Biodiversity Outlook 3’ published by the CBD, reveals that 875 species have become extinct in the wild, while another 3,325 are critically endangered. The Nagoya meeting titled 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10), aims at adopting a new strategy to take measures to address this biodiversity crisis. (Global Biodiversity Outlook – 3 can be downloaded from following link http://www.cbd.int/doc/publications/gbo/gbo3-final-en.pdf)

Sri Lanka’s official delegation comprises of Environmental Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and the head of Biodiversity Secretariat Gamini Gamage, who will also attend talks on adopting a new regime for Genetic Access and Benefit Sharing Protocol (ABS).

This protocol aims at providing access to genetic resources of the biologically rich countries like Sri Lanka, and became a hotly debated topic at the summit. Bio-piracy is already a concern to Sri Lanka, where some countries patented genetic resources extracted from plants taken from Sri Lanka. The proposed ABS protocol aims at addressing this issue by setting up an international regime to give transparency to the process and give back the benefits to the countries of origin. But Environmentalists in Sri Lanka are sceptic of how the indigenous right will be protected through the proposed regime, the outcome of which will be decided during the talks next week.

http://www.sundaytimes.lk/101024/News/nws_16.html  Published on SundayTimes on 24.10.2010

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