Nagoya Protocol: inter-governmental committee to hold a third meeting

When and where the negotiating parties will meet is yet to be decided

By M Suchitra
Published: Thursday 11 October 2012

The Conference of the Parties (CoP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity has decided to hold a third meeting of the Ad Hoc Inter-Governmental Committee on the Nagoya Protocol (ICNP) on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of the Benefits arising from their Utilisation. The CBD secretariat describes this decision as a “huge consensus” among parties. But it has not been decided when and where the next ICNP will meet.´╗┐

The third meeting of ICNP is expected to bring more clarity on different provisions of the Protocol. The Protocol has 92 signatories and it needs 50 ratifications to come into force. But so far only six members have ratified it. ICNP has the task of preparing for the Protocol to come into force. 

The committee has to take forward the discussions on capacity-building, awareness-raising, Access Benefit Sharing (ABS) Clearance House—an information sharing mechanism and the ABS modalities—procedures and guidance on financial resources and resource mobilisation. 

The second meeting of the ICNP held in New Delhi in July this year had considered all these aspects. The meeting, which was attended by more than 100 parties, and United Nations agencies and other organisations as observers, had deliberations on many issues including funds, capacity building, sharing of ABS experience and cooperative procedures and institutional mechanism to promote compliance with the protocol and to address cases of non-compliance. 

The compliance mechanism is a key issue of dispute among the parties. The developing countries argue for interpretation of the Protocol and the development of procedures and mechanisms that will create an effective legally binding system to prevent biopiracy and ensure benefit sharing does take place. 

On the other hand, the developed countries object to a legally binding mechanism. In addition, there has been reluctance on the part of the developed countries to provide financial support. They also have objections to the concept of an international mechanism for benefit sharing in regard to transboundary areas. 

The Delhi meeting had adopted eight draft recommendations for considerations adopted by CoP 11. 

Some of the recommendations of the Delhi ICNP meetings suggest the CoP should request the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to finance projects that will assist in building the capacity of the parties to develop, implement and enforce domestic, legislative, administrative or policy measures on access and benefit sharing there by contributing to the conservation of biological diversity and sustainable use of its components. 

It was originally hoped that enough ratifications would lead to the first Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol (CoP MoP) to be held back-to-back with the CoP 11 meeting. The anticipation now is that the first MoP on Nagoya Protocol will take place along with the CoP 12 to be held in the Republic of Korea. 

However, most developing countries are wary of ratifying the Nagoya Protocol due to the lack of clarity of the Protocol interpretation, and the continuing resistance from the developed countries to build an effective benefit sharing system with a strong compliance mechanism.

In fact, a third meeting of the ICNP had been proposed in the Delhi meeting itself.

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