Elusive pact

Published: Thursday 31 March 2005

Too many interests to be taken Negotiations logjam at global biodiversity meetthe world has a long way to go before an agreement is reached on how to share the benefits of biological resources. This was proved at the meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (cbd) on February 14-18 in Thailand's capital Bangkok. Though it was the first time the cbd's Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharing met to discuss the issue, delegates warn that the lack of consensus at the meet points to a difficult road ahead.

While most nations agreed that the current arrangement of access and benefit sharing is inadequate, there was little agreement on the nature and scope of a better arrangement. The eu proposed that studies be undertaken to identify the issues not covered by existing agreements in other international fora. But many developing countries said this was a delay tactic. The last Conference of Parties to the cbd had already outlined the purpose of a cbd pact.

Developing nations, including the Like Minded Megadiverse Countries , a group of 17 bio-diverse nations, want cbd talks to lead to a legally binding pact. But developed nations are wary of the idea. However, delegates described the meet as an icebreaker. It exposed countries to each other's positions so that alliances are formed and proposals for agreements made at the working group's next meeting in March 2006.

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