Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed a historic new United Nations treaty on sharing the genetic wealth of the Earth with developing nations and communities, calling the agreement a significant step to reaching global development goals.
The new protocol to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity “provides an innovative approach to conserving and protecting the world’s rapidly diminishing living resources, while providing benefits to all, in particular, local communities in developing countries,” Mr. Ban said, according to a statement released by his spokesperson.
The protocol, which came on the last day of the two-week conference of parties to the Convention in Nagoya, Japan, will set up an International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources and will lay down the basic ground rules on how nations cooperate in obtaining genetic resources.
The agreement “demonstrated that countries were committed to pragmatic cooperation in meeting the challenges of sustainable development,” Mr. Ban said, as he also welcomed the adoption of a new ten-year plan by the 193 States Parties of the Convention that contains targets to reduce the loss of biodiversity.
The Nagoya Protocol will outline how benefits – for example, from when a plant’s genetics are turned into a commercial product, such as a pharmaceutical – will be shared with countries and communities who conserved and managed that resource, in some cases for millennia.
It also lays out rules on how substances and compounds derived from genetic resources will be managed and clarifies important issues related to pathogens, including how developed countries could obtain a flu virus to develop a vaccine in order to stave off an immanent epidemic.