About CBD and other related agreements

About CBD and other related agreements

  • At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, world leaders agreed on a comprehensive strategy for sustainable development- meeting our needs while ensuring that we leave a healthy and viable world for future generations.
  • One of the key agreements adopted at Rio was the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • The Convention establishes three main goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.
  • India is one of the 196 countries that has committed to the CBD and ratified it in February 1994.
  • In India, the National Biodiversity Authority primarily implements provisions of access and benefit sharing of India’s biological resources.
  • It was followed by the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity.
  • It was adopted on 29 January 2000 and entered into force on 11 September 2003.
  • The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement which aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way.
  • It entered into force on 12 October 2014, 90 days after the date of deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification.


Need for biological diversity conservation and CBD

  • The Earth’s biological resources are vital to humanity’s economic and social development.
  • As a result, there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations.
  • At the same time, the threat to species and ecosystems has never been as great as it is today.
  • Species extinction caused by human activities continues at an alarming rate.
  • In response, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened the Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity in November 1988 to explore the need for an international convention on biological diversity, which culminated into CBD in 1992.


The problems with CBD

  • The goal of access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefitsof CBD was delineated in the Nagoya Protocol, which came into effect in 2014 but this has generated unintended consequences for research.
  • Due to national-level legislations instituted by countries under the CBD, obtaining field permits for access to specimens for non-commercial research has become increasingly difficult.
  • It is almost impossible to collect [specimens for research] in South America now one of the researchers said.


Way forward

  • Though the convention has created some difficulty for non-commercial researchers but we should not see regulation as restriction.
  • Under government-approved international collaborative projects, material can be exchanged freely; there are also “facilitative processes” to send specimens for taxonomic identification to other countries.
  • It is suggested that a treaty for exchange of biological materials for non-commercial research on the lines similar to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture or the “Seed Treaty”, which ensures worldwide public accessibility of genetic resources of essential food and fodder, could be adopted.
  • Another solution may be to add an explicit treaty or annex in the CBD to promote and facilitate biodiversity research, conservation, and international collaboration.