COP10 in Nagoya, Japan: Towards an International Regime on Environmental Governance

We, the more than 6.8 billion people, are so blessed to have a rich biological diversity or biodiversity which means the variety of life on earth. Biodiversity sustains the lives and well-being of these 6.8 billion people. As blessed as such, what are we doing with and for it?

Are we taking good care of biodiversity or exploiting it too much? The continuum from one extreme to another is where do we put ourselves. Are we contributing to the taking care or exploiting? We know that our activities have certain impacts on biodiversity. And our activities are informed and shaped by our values. Thus, should we take care of biodiversity or exploit it? The continuum is neither that nor this. The phenomenon of climate change is a clear indication of human activities exploiting too much the biodiversity, and not taking care of it.

The governments must rein on these human activities to reduce the negative impacts on biodiversity and promote conservation efforts for future generations. They can motivate and direct corporations, communities, groups, and individuals to help contribute in the solution of biodiversity conservation efforts, and not in the problem of biodiversity loss.

In 1993 with more than 168 signatures of States, the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) was ratified and put into force. Now, there are 193 parties to the Convention which has three main objectives: the conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of the components of biological diversity, and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

The governing body of the Convention is the Conference of Parties (COP) that will have its tenth meeting in Nagoya, Japan on 18-29 Octobe 2010. It is particularly significant because 2010 is declared as International Year of Biodiversity. It is the year that everyone is encouraged to have greater awareness and understanding of our place and role in the larger scheme of nature of which we are all part.

The COP10 or tenth meeting of COP has a theme and logo made up of truly Japanese-style origami, "Life in harmony, into the future."The meeting is aimed to assess the 2010 targets for the reduction of biodiversity loss worldwide. How do parties or governments fare in their targets? For example, are we able to reduce the threats on or halt the extinction rates of endangered species?

Another very important activity in the meeting is the adoption of the international regime on access and benefit-sharing (ABS) of genetic resources. It is high time to establish an international regime on ABS. Each party to the Convention has the power to determine the access of genetic resources within their territories. It is also bound to share the benefits derived from the access to and utilization of these resources. In other words, developing countries with rich biodiversity which is a source of raw materials will have a say on the access to their resources and will benefit from the utilization of their resources by developed/industrialized countries. Through the international regime on ABS, this arrangement will become institutionalized in the relations among parties to the Convention.

As the theme of COP10 reads "Life in harmony, into the future," heads of States, policy-makers, and decision-makers are going to agree and disagree on certain things in the meeting that will matter to us. However, our common future on one earth is at stake. Let us urge them to take the bold steps in confronting their differences and finding common grounds to push for biodiversity conservation efforts and responsible and sustainable use of resources.

Let us make them put actions on the provisions of the Convention and their decisions. Let us not allow another missed opportunity.

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