Access to and benefit sharing of genetic resources-SADC states urged to support ratification of Nagoya Protocol


Minister Adam addressing guests and delegates at the opening of the meeting yesterday

The Protocol, adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at its tenth meeting on October 29, 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, creates incentives to conserve and sustainably use genetic resources, thereby enhancing the contribution of diversity to development and human well-being.

Besides Seychelles, the one-day gathering -- co-sponsored by the secretariat of the CBD and the Ministry of Environment and Energy -- was attended by representatives from Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Opening the meeting, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam, said when the Nagoya Protocol was adopted in Japan in 2010, it was received with expectations.

“It was for many the beginning of a new era and although we know it is not a perfect document, it provides hope for a better tomorrow. It is the Protocol that may allow us to truly relegate to the past the threat of what has been termed the BIOPIRACY.”

Mr Adam remarked however that almost two years later, it is unfortunate that our Protocol is still as yet not operational. While there are 92 signatories, only five countries, including Seychelles, have ratified the Protocol.

“We are therefore still a long way before the Nagoya Protocol can reach the 50th ratification  target and thereby enter into force,” he noted.

“This is a situation that we, as developing countries and the custodians of the world’s major banks of biodiversity that supply the biochemical industries with raw materials, cannot accept,” he added.

He noted that our negotiators have spent too many sleepless nights and fought too hard to get the Nagoya Protocol accepted to allow it to simply sit on a shelf.

Mr Adam said we as Africans, have a duty and responsibility to ensure that the Nagoya Protocol enters into force by ratifying it as soon as possible.

“It is a matter of ownership of our resources. Because as long as it is not in force, we will be encouraging biochemical industries to continue stealing our natural resources with impunity, to the detriment of our people.”

Mr Adam said at issue is a source of wealth which cannot be simply quantified, but which represents a great resource which can benefit our peoples and of all mankind. 

“We cannot allow it to be taken away from us, simply because we have not yet established the right legal framework. Through this protocol, we can use globalisation to empower our nations, rather than remain victims of it. As residents of the smallest of all African countries, we are always aware of our lack of resources.”

Mr Adam said as small developing countries, we are also painfully aware through situations arising from fluctuating fuel prices, or unstable financial markets, about how our prosperity is often affected by the decisions of others, many thousands of miles away.

“But we refuse to simply be victims of these global processes. Even the smallest African nation like ours with very limited resources has shown that it is possible to develop sustainably using those limited resources wisely. It is essential that we strengthen our ability to protect and benefit from all our potential resources in the future.”