History was made in Pyeongchang, Korea in October with the first Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol, a landmark agreement covering access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from their use. This meeting took place in association with the meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 12). SPREP – The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme – was there to support our Pacific Island members who have ratified or acceded to the Nagoya Protocol or who intend to ratify or accede. To date Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa and Vanuatu have ratified with the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu acceding. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources is one of the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Protocol recognises that provider countries have sovereign rights to their biodiversity. This is of great importance for the Pacific region as it is a major step toward ensuring equity and fairness in the sharing of the profits that could be made by the developed world from the biological resources of Pacific countries.
It’s at the heart of the SPREP Vision – a Pacific environment sustaining our livelihoods and natural heritage in harmony with our cultures. The Protocol ensures that mechanisms are in place for the prior and informed consent of local communities and Pacific island governments before genetic resources are utilised, whether for research or commercial gain. The Protocol aims to ensure resource owners receive a fair return from their biological resources. Pacific biodiversity is rich and unique – our peoples for generations have lived with and used our biodiversity for a range of purposes including food production and traditional medicine. This traditional knowledge is still very much in use today.
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