[Posted at 10.30 pm on Thursday 28 October 2010 in Nagoya. COP10 ends on 29 October]
It’s been a wretched cold rainy day outside, decorated with dripping umbrellas and soggy pamphlets, brightened occasionally by hardy visitors to our botanic gardens stand. But inside the conference centre, up on the fourth floor, it’s suspenseful and sweaty on Planet ABS (Access and Benefit-Sharing). We’ve spent the day waiting for results from the many small groups negotiating and tidying up different pieces of the ABS Protocol.
In the margins this morning, several key countries were attempting some horse-trading, and eventually ministerial facilitators came up with some guidance for the COP – including the necessity to adopt the ABS Protocol. Easier said than done!
All day there have been intense efforts to identify and solve the few key sticking points. A New Zealand delegate compared efforts to use some compromise text on traditional knowledge to the endangered kakapo parrot, noting that neither could fly.
By about 7.30pm, it appeared that the real sticking point for everything is in how ‘utilization of genetic resources’ is defined – basically, whether or not derivatives of genetic resources are included. Everything else hangs on this – when this problem is solved (no sign of it yet), all the other parts and compromise packages will apparently fall into place. There was a painful announcement that ‘despite tremendous effort, we cannot say we’ve found the basis for a breakthrough.’ After reaching this dramatic impasse, the group suspended negotiations and reported to plenary – they were given a midnight deadline by the COP President and are back in session now, desperately trying to reach agreement before it’s too late.
‘Meanwhile, off Planet ABS… the two Working Groups continue to work through the draft COP decisions to get clean versions for tomorrow’s final plenary. The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation has had a little brush with ABS (the reference to ‘fair and equitable benefit-sharing’ in the objectives has been shifted to ‘the three objectives of the Convention’ by the EU). And fungi are in – governments and stakeholders may consider developing conservation strategies for other groups such as algae and fungi (including lichen-forming species). There are many bits of text in all of the draft COP decisions that are still in brackets, waiting for results of the ABS Protocol negotiations.