COP-9 talks make strides-business says

  • 6 June 2008

ICC welcomed the outcome of the ninth meeting of the Parties on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as a great step forward in addressing key matters, such as access and benefits sharing (ABS) and agricultural biodiversity.

After two weeks of negotiations, COP-9 delegates agreed Friday on a roadmap for negotiations, to come up with an international regime on access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources in two years time.

Business welcomed the growing support for a sectoral approach to ABS. “More and more parties are now supporting a sectoral approach. This allows for the different ways in which various sectors access, use and create value from genetic resources and also reinforces the importance of comprehensive business participation in all aspects of the negotiations,” said Michael D. Hauser, Co-Chair of the ICC Task force on Access and Benefit Sharing.

Business sectors, such as industrial biotechnology, plant and animal breeding, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals use genetic resources in very different ways.

These sectors stand ready to contribute their expertise and proposals to the upcoming CBD process.

“We need a system that is transparent, predictable, provides legal certainty, and includes non-discriminatory access to genetic resources. This will create opportunities not just for business, but also for consumers, public research, and communities,” Hauser also said.

ICC was the lead representative of business at COP-9, providing information, expertise and technical knowledge to inform the proceedings of the practical implications of policies under consideration.

Going forward, ICC also gives high priority to fine-tuning the CBD work programme on agricultural biodiversity, and welcomes the efforts made to align it with an ecosystem approach.

This is important, since agriculture is crucial to alleviate poverty and ensure a secure world food supply. With agriculture using about 40% of all land, sustainable practices were recognized at COP-9 as the right way forward to ensure the conservation of biodiversity.

Ecosystems play key roles in providing clean fresh water, purifying the air, protecting areas from flooding and natural disasters, and storing CO2, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

“Business has a major interest in protecting and promoting biodiversity,” said Annik Dollacker, Co-chair of ICC’s task force on the Convention on Biological Diversity. “A long-term business strategy must take into account ecosystem services, efficient use of natural resources, and the  need to analyse the impact of company activities on ecosystems.

What is more, companies must identify areas where they can play a more active role in promoting biodiversity”, she added.

To that end, biodiversity conservation should be integrated into agricultural production as a way to increase food production at a reasonable cost to man and nature, ICC urges.

German Minister of Environment, Sigmar Gabriel was the president of the meeting.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, took part in the High Level Segment, as well as 87 environment and agricultural ministers worldwide.

COP-9 delegates agreed last week on a clear roadmap for negotiations, to come up with an international regime on access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources in two years time.