A Rocha Ghana, a part of A Rocha International, is a membership based international Non Governmental Organisation working to show God's love for all creation. It has achieved its vision and mission through scientific research and interventions that restore the natural environment, improve livelihoods and increase awareness of the delicate ecosystems that surround us.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Editorial by Professor Alfred Oteng-Yeboah
By Prof Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, Chair, A Rocha Ghana Trusteeship Group
Photo courtesy of: Intl. Inst. for Sustainable Development
A number of very interesting activities have taken place recently which need to be highlighted as part of the ways to bring awareness on and increase knowledge about biodiversity and ecosystem services for human well-being. Two of these, with special interest to African biodiversity experts and non-experts, are the Busan, Korea meeting of the IPBES 3 and the AMCEN 13th session in Bamako. A third activity is an ongoing international negotiation process and which may be concluded before long. It deals with the negotiations on an international regime on access and benefit sharing (ABS).
The Busan meeting which held between 7 and 11 June 2010, culminated over 5 years of negotiations to improve the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services. The meeting decided to ask the United Nations General Assembly to establish an Intergovernmental Platform on science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES) for human well being. The IPBES when established, among others, would respond to requests from governments, including those conveyed to it by multi-lateral environmental agreements, related to biodiversity and ecosystem services as determined by their respective bodies; and would identify and prioritize key scientific information needed for policy makers at appropriate scales and to catalyze efforts to generate new knowledge by dialogues with key scientific organizations, policy makers and funding organizations but would not directly undertake any new research. When established, IPBES will act for biodiversity and related issues in similar ways as the IPCC did for climate change in raising climate change profile and transforming it into a priority issue among and within governments for the urgent actions needed.
The 13th African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) took place in Bamako, Mali from 21 to 25 June 2010. This meeting provided an opportunity for African ministers and their experts on the environment to consider the interrelationships between climate change, biodiversity and desertification. It was noted that the three issues were closely related and that synergistic efforts in adaptation programmes are required and must be enhanced to ensure that issues of biodiversity, climate change and desertification are addressed properly and holistically. The AMCEN meeting underscored biodiversity as the major link in the synergy and this has energized the ministers towards the 10th Conference of Parties (COP 10) of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which will takes place in Nagoya Aichi in Japan in October 2010.
Coming on the horizons is the final negotiations of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABSWG).This working group was set up during COP 7 of CBD in 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to elaborate and negotiate an international regime on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing with the aim of adopting an instrument/instruments to effectively implement the provisions in Article 15 (Access to Genetic Resources) and 8(j) (Traditional Knowledge) of the CBD. The idea of the ABSWG negotiations started from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa when governments called for the negotiation of an international regime to promote the third objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity which is ‘the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources’. It is hoped that when the negotiations on the international regime on ABS finishes and the regime gets approved at COP 10 as the Nagoya Protocol, it will create immense opportunities for developing countries which are the biggest natural owners of biodiversity and its genetic resources, to exact the appropriate and/or equitable benefits to its local and indigenous communities from the use of their traditional knowledge systems, as well as its national institutions. The African negotiators are looking for a larger scope of the protocol to include both biodiversity and genetic resources (which necessarily takes into account all their derivatives).