Nagoya Protocol - my concerns


IF YOU READ THROUGH THE NAGOYA PROTOCOL. IT IS ABUNDANTLY CLEAR THAT ITS MAIN FOCUS HAS VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH CONSERVATION OR PROTECTING FLORAS/ENVIRONMENTS - THOUGH IT PRETENDS TO! 

IT IS TO DO WITH "GENETIC RESOURCES" FROM WHICH 'NEW' DRUGS MAY BE DERIVED.  THE PRIME OBJECTIVE IS SUPPOSEDLY TO  ENSURE THAT MULTINATIONAL DRUG COMPANIES DO NOT MAKE HUGE PROFITS BY 'EXPLOITING'  RESOURCES 'BELONGING' TO OTHER COUNTRIES.  THIS IS AN ADMIRABLE OBJECTIVE, WHICH ANY REASONABLE PERSON/GOVERNMENT COULD NOT FAIL TO ENDORSE.  Not all countries are signatories yet.  It is interesting to ponder why some  governments have not done so?

"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, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and to technologies, and by appropriate funding, thereby contributing to the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components. It was adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity at its tenth meeting on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. The Nagoya Protocol entered into force on 12 October 2014, 90 days after the date of deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification."

 

For further details see: https://www.cbd.int/abs/about/


There are many aspects of the protocol (and the Convention on Biological Diversity, from which it stems) which I wish to comment about...


Nagoya is based upon The Convention on Biological Diversity (see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/convention-on-biological-diversity---have-its-requirements-been-implemented) emphasises: AWARE of the general lack of information and knowledge regarding biological diversity and the urgent need to develop scientific, technical and institutional capacities to provide the basic understanding upon which to plan and implement appropriate measures.

THE PROTOCOL WAS NOT DESIGNED TO RESTRICT/ PREVENT BOTANICAL RESEARCH OR ASSOCIATED ASPECTS OF THE CONSERVATION, CULTIVATION OR STUDY OF FLORAS FROM PARTICULAR REGIONS OF THE WORLD WHICH HELP TOWARDS IMPROVING KNOWLEDGE ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY.  UNLESS THE FLORA OF ANY PARTICULAR COUNTRY HAS BEEN DOCUMENTED AND STUDIED TO A MINIMUM LEVEL, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO MEANINGFULLY CONSERVE ITS FLORA!  THIS MUST COME FIRST.


IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE NAGOYA PROTOCOL IS GOING TO DAMAGE BASIC STUDIES ON THE WORLD'S FLORA- AT A TIME WHEN FUNDING IN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES FOR SUCH SCIENTIFIC EXPEDITIONS (COMBINED WITH AVAILABILITY OF TRAINED INDIVIDUALS TO UNDERTAKE THEM) HAS BEEN SEVERELY CURTAILED.  MUCH LESS FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH WILL TAKE PLACE EVEN IF THE RECOMMENDATIONS/ REQUIREMENTS OF THE PROTOCOL ARE IMPLEMENTED WISELY AND INVOLVE A MINIMUM OF PAPERWORK/ BUREAUCRACY.  THIS WILL ACTUALLY DAMAGE NATURE CONSERVATION. 


YOU MAY BE THINKING THAT IT NO LONGER MATTERS THAT DEVELOPED NATIONS HAVE BOTANISTS AVAILABLE TO TRAVEL TO AND STUDY THE FLORAS OF OTHER COUNTRIES, AS DEVELOPING COUNTRIES NOW HAVE THEIR OWN SUITABLY-TRAINED SCIENTISTS TO UNDERTAKE SUCH RESEARCH. THUS THESE COUNTRIES NO LONGER NEED THE ASSISTANCE OF FOREIGNERS.  I KNOW FROM FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE THAT IS NOT THE CASE AND THIS DOES NOT JUST APPLY TO THE POOREST OR WAR-TORN NATIONS.  INDEED TRENDS SUGGEST MOST WESTERN COUNTRIES, FAR FROM SETTING AN EXAMPLE FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES TO FOLLOW, WILL BE FAILING TO STUDY AND MONITOR THEIR OWN FLORAS ADEQUATELY IN THE DECADES TO COME.  THIS GREATLY CONCERNS ME AS WELL.  YOU SEE, I AM NOT JUST 'PICKING ON'/FINDING FAULT IN 'DEVELOPING' COUNTRIES!

MANY GENUINE AND DEDICATED INDIVIDUALS IN WESTERN COUNTRIES WITH MUCH TO OFFER (SOME, LIKE MYSELF, WHO HAS SPENT A LIFE-TIME STUDYING  HIMALAYAN FLORA), WILL LARGELY BE PREVENTED FROM UNDERTAKING THE FIELD STUDIES NECESSARY TO PROVIDE THE BASIC INFORMATION WHICH IS ESSENTIAL IF THE FLORAS OF THE WORLD ARE EVER GOING TO BE CONSERVED - AND FOR BOTANISTS (VERY MUCH A DYING BREED IN THE WEST ANYHOW) FRPM BOTANIC GARDENS AND INSTITUTES IN THE WEST, IT WILL BE MORE DIFFICULT TO OFEFR HELP. SOME GOVERNMENTS OF DEVELOPONG COUNTYRIES MAY THINK THEIR SCIENTISTS DO NOT NEED TO COLLABORATE INTERNATIONALLY TO ENSURE THAT STANDARDS OF THEIR OWN BOTANICAL RESEARCH ARE SOUND BUT THEY ARE MISTAKEN - TO THE DETERIMENT OF ATTEMPTS TO CONSERVE THE FLORA OF SUCH REGIONS AS THE HIMALAYA AND MANY OTHER REGIONS AROUND THE WORLD.

I HOPE that the Nagoya Protocol does not do more harm than good.....  I would imagine that if scientists/researchers in the developing world study the protocol they may well be anxious about undertaking research in their own countries!  Is this another unforeseen impact of the protocol?  I am not suggesting that because a protocol or any rules/regulations which stem from it have shortcomings, that the fundamental principles or objectives are flawed or should be dismissed/ignored.  Just that the basics need to be examined thoroughly along with the NECESSITY of sound field studies which produce records/data which can be relied upon.  Without the latter, ALL that follows IS flawed!  It does not matter how powerful a computer one uses or sophisticated the programmes/data analysis which follow, IF the original information/records are incorrect, the FINDINGS will be FALSE or at best MISLEADING - RUBBISH IN; RUBBISH OUT applies.....

Let me use my own first-hand experience as an example. I joined, just as I graduated, the University of Southampton Ladakh Expedition to supervise the associated botanical field-work.  The prime objective of the expedition was a bird-ringing programme, following on from similar ornithological research undertaken by teams from the university in 1976 and 1977.   We did liaise with the University of Kashmir - the relevant local institution (Ladakh comes within the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir) and the ornithologists secured permission (and the necessary rings) from The Bombay Natural History Society - the body which covered bird ringing in India at that time. In my view this worthwhile research (unless one has RELIABLE records of which birds are found in India, how can they be conserved - there being only so much which can be based on casual observation using binoculars and in similar vein, unless there are RELIABLE records of the abundance or not of local flora, how can meaningful conservation measures be undertaken) was conducted in a satisfactory manner.  But IF an equivalent protocol to Nagoya existed at that time, with formal permission being required IN WRITING IN ADVANCE from a national organisation, then for practical reasons of planning and organisation, such largely undergraduate expeditions (which require prompt responses) could not have taken place i.e. it is highly unlikely that the paper-work could have been completed on the time-scales available.  The formal botanical studies I supervised, in all probability (IF I have interpreted the Nagoya Protocol correctly) now require written permission in advance - which often takes many, many months.  Such additional bureaucracy, may be feasible for staff at major botanic gardens and some universities but it has been a struggle for decades anyhow.  IF a country does not make foreign scientists welcome - why should they keep trying?

I would thus have not been to Ladakh in 1980.  My life devoted to studying Himalayan flora would NOT have happened -indeed it is highly unlikely that I would have ever visited this part of the world!  Given how much of a struggle it has been for me and the difficult financial circumstances and thus precarious situation I find myself in now, then a very strong case could be made for me NOT to have participated in this expedition!  Many would rightly consider that I must have been mad to have continued and approached the work so professionally!  But I did and SHOULD be proud (despite the lack of recognition, my present circumstances and the fact that it seems few others CARE) of what I have managed to achieve and continue to attempt to encourage.  I am now in a unique position to help FURTHER studies on Western Himalayan flora and its conservation- regardless of to what extent my willingness is taken advantage of in the future.  It seems a terrible waste that my hard-won expertise is not being utilised as FULLY as it could.  Just how is that helping to PROTECT and CONSERVE flora in the Western Himalaya.  Though, I would not have seen what I have or been able from first-hand experience make EMBARRASSING observations.....
 
The Nagoya Protocol is a continuation of what was signed up to in Rio (2002) but have the signatories lived up to their responsibilities/duties?  I suggest that is not the case!  IF this is so, then it seems to me questionable to put more 'benefits' into place.  One should never forget that the actual objective is conservation.....

I ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT CONSERVING PLANTS AND FAIR TREATMENT OF LOCAL COMMUNITIES.  


I WANT TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF CONVENTIONS AND PROTOCOLS. 


I AM NOT PERSON WHO OBJECTS TO BE "TOLD WHAT TO DO" BY GOVERNMENT BODIES/OFFICIALS/REPRESETATIVES.  I HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO "PLAY BY THE RULES" - WHICH CANNOT BE SAID TO BE TRUE OF EVERYONE.


I AGREE THAT GOVERNMENTS, OFFICIAL BODIES AND SOCIETIES SHOULD "SET AN EXAMPLE" AND ADVISE UPON/ENCOURAGE "GOOD PRACTISE"..... 


I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT MINOR SHORTCOMINGS OF 'RULES AND REGULATIONS' ENTITLE INDIVIDUALS TO FLAUNT THEM BUT THE RULES SHOULD BOTH MAKE SENSE AND ACHIEVE THE DESIRED RESULTS.


IF SOMETHING IS FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED, ATTENTION NEEDS TO BE DRAWN TO IT.





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