Fiji joined 168 other Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity [CBD], in the early hours of Saturday morning 30 October, 2010, in adopting the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources [ABS] at the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10), held in the City of Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. The conference had been in session from 18 to 25 October, followed by a High Level Segment from 27-30 October 2010 at Ministerial level.
The protocol will ensure that the people of Fiji retain rights over their genetic resource and traditional knowledge and that profits from these resources can be shared fairly with the Fijian people. It has taken 12 long years of negotiation for the parties to finally reach agreement on what is considered by most at the conference as the single most important item to be negotiated at this COP.
Fiji signed and ratified to the Convention on Biological Diversity during the UN General Assembly in 1992. The adoption of the ABS Protocol ends a long journey of negotiations between parties which began in 2002 during the World Summit in Johannesburg. The protocol indeed signifies a remarkable achievement under the convention and successful negotiations of the 2010 CBD COP10 in Nagoya.
“We have seen history in the making here. The adoption of the ABS protocol is a major step forward in bringing equity and fairness in the sharing of the profits made by the developed world from the biodiversity resources of the developing world, including small island developing states like Fiji," said H.E. Isikeli Mataitoga.
The ABS is a compromise agreement which finely balances the interest of the vast majority of the Parties to the CBD. Apart from the ABS Protocol the other important item agreed to by the parties was the Strategic Plan for the period 2011-2020. Within this Plan are a set of Strategic Goal and Headline targets [Aichi targets]. Fiji must now look to the future and continue to provide leadership in the region to ensure the new targets will be reached and to set up mechanism that would enable it, to implement the Access and Benefit Sharing protocol.
The Fiji delegation [Team Fiji] team was led by H.E. Isikeli Mataitoga, Fiji’s Ambassador to Japan. His expertise and experiences in Multilateral governance and negotiation was a valuable asset. Members of Team Fiji were Ms. Eleni Tokaduadua of the Department of Environment, Dr. Stacy Jupiter, Director Wildlife Conservation South Pacific, and Mr. Bernard O’Callaghan, Regional Program Coordinator and Advisor at IUCN. Ambassador Mataitoga expressed his gratitude and admiration to his team members for their expertise and dedication to the tasks at hand during the long hours of negotiation.
“Fiji was satisfied with the outcomes of the COP," said Ms. Eleni Tokaduadua. “We already have a number of access and benefit sharing partners in discussions with the government. The International Protocol on ABS will ensure that suitable benefits may flow to the people of Fiji”.
Fiji’s active participation at the negotiation table in the strategies for protection of Marine and Coastal Biodiversity and further development of the Protected Areas Program ensured the recognition of community participation in resource and ecosystem based management in Fiji and other Pacific islands, and the dire need for resources and capacity to ensure continuity of program support at the community level.
Fiji was able to showcase lessons learnt from the Fiji Locally Marine Managed Areas during the ‘Pacific Voyage Side Event’ and participated in a strategic discussion on the development of Pacific-wide cooperation through the ‘Pacific 2020 Challenge’ through engaging with all Pacific Rim countries for concerted management. The launch of the Western Pacific Ecosystem-based Management Guide, co-hosted by Fiji’s Department of Environment and the Wildlife Conservation Society, was one of the highlights of Fiji’s participation at the COP side events.
The engagement of NGO conservation partners in the Delegation Team was an added value to negotiating Fiji’s positions at Nagoya because of the expertise and knowledge they bring with them. The Fiji delegation also provided the necessary expertise and leadership in the region’s participation and understanding of relevant issues discussed at the COP10.
The Fiji Government is thankful to all our partners that provided technical and moral support during the long hours of negotiations during the COP10 on issues of priority to Fiji.