UN biodiversity conference facing “sticking points”

May 30th, 2008 - 4:42 pm ICT by admin  

Bonn, May 30 (DPA) Delegates to the UN biodiversity conference here Bonn are haggling over a series of “sticking points” in the final text to be agreed before the conference closes Friday, a UN spokesman said. There were technical and legal problems regarding measures to combat climate change and their impact on biodiversity, David Ainsworth, a spokesman for the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), told journalists.

Ocean fertilization - seeding the seas with iron filings to promote algae blooms in the hope of absorbing carbon dioxide - was one sticking point, and how to deal with the new challenges posed by biofuels was another.

Questions were being raised over jurisdiction over the High Seas and about the need for more research into the impact of ocean fertilization on biodiversity, Ainsworth said amid signs of delay in reaching agreement on a conference document.

Delegates were still thrashing out questions of competency, including to what extent the CBD could make recommendations to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), he said.

On biofuels, he said delegates were aware of both risks and benefits. The topic was now on the agenda of the agriculture working group, although not of the forest group, he said.

“The complexity of the issue means that there will probably be no new guidelines issued at the conference,” he said.

Ainsworth said CBD officials regarded agreement on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) from nature’s resources, as the 12-day conference’s main achievement.

The ABS deal - known as the Bonn Roadmap - has laid down a specific agenda to be discussed ahead of an agreement to halt “biopiracy” expected to be reached at the next CBD conference in the Japanese city of Nagoya in 2010.

Poorer countries with unique natural resources are concerned at the patenting of indigenous remedies by the pharmaceutical industry without payments to the countries where they originate.

There had also been significant progress on protected areas, with the initiative put forward by host country Germany to set up an internet-based “Life Web” a significant impulse, Ainsworth said, describing the initiative as a “really good tool.”

Through the Life Web, poorer countries seeking funding to establish and manage conservation areas can coordinate with possible donors.

Ainsworth welcomed significant new funding announced by the German and Norwegian governments to go to protecting tropical rain forests in particular.

“We’re hoping that other countries will step up,” he said.

On the stated CBD goal of significantly reducing loss of biodiversity by 2010, Ainsworth acknowledged difficulties in measuring progress.

“We will achieve targets in some areas, although measurement is very difficult,” he said.

The conference is the ninth meeting of the 191 countries participating in the CBD, which was agreed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and given added impetus at the Johannesburg Sustainable Development Summit a decade later.

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