Posted tagged ‘biodiversity’


August 16, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Should biodiversity be commercialized? What are the stakes in commercialization? What are the costs, and who pay for them?
Colombia is home to 10% of the world’s biodiversity, a resource that its stakeholders wish to leverage in the market. Such an option comes at a time when biotechnology had grown to such a level that can aid biodiversity in sustaining itself.
Below is a summary report on the recent updates in Colombia’s biodiversity initiatives.
[Philippines, 16 July 2011]

Colombia to commercialise its biodiversity
Lisbeth Fog
6 July 2011
[BOGOTÁ] Colombia has approved a policy that will map out plans for sustainable commercial use of its rich biodiversity resources, mainly through the development of biotechnology research.

The policy, approved by the government last month (14 June), includes plans to set up a national company for bioprospecting to link up with the commercial sector. It will be backed with US$14 million in government funds over the next four years.
Colombia’s goal is to enable the development of industries and products based on the sustainable use of its biodiversity. The country is home to ten per cent of the world’s known biodiversity.
The new policy should reduce the bottleneck created by the current regulations on access to genetic resources, Mauricio Rodríguez, manager of the biotechnology programme at the National Department for Science, Technology and Innovation and co-author of the document, told SciDev.Net. He said that new, more efficient regulations based on the policy will be ready in a month.
Juan Lucas Restrepo, director of the Colombian Corporation of Agricultural Research, a public research institute, welcomed the policy. He said the current legislation on access and benefit-sharing is not working adequately.
But Fernando Casas, a Colombian economist and a co-chair of the Intergovernmental Committee of the Nagoya Protocol, said it would be difficult to adapt this policy to the existing Andean Community of Nations agreement to which Colombia is a signatory.
The Andean agreement stresses sustainable conservation and the importance of recognising benefit-sharing with indigenous and local people, while the Colombian one stresses the importance of commercialising biodiversity through biotechnology research.
Some Colombian scientists have also said that the main obstacles in research on biodiversity resources are bureaucracy and lack of expertise within the Ministry of Environment — which are not addressed in this policy. This leads to delayed decisions in approval of licenses to get access to genetic resources.
Casas welcomed the policy as overdue but said it does not advance the three goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity — conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from using genetic resources.
He also warned that the document does not analyse the policy’s possible effects on Colombia’s Free Trade Agreement with United States, which has been in negotiation for years, especially with regards to its impact on intellectual property.

Link to full policy document (in Spanish)


August 16, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

11 developing countries, including emerging markets, have just taken off with their respective programs as impetus for biodiversity conservation.

It has been a daunting task, since the advent of modernity, to return to biodiversity in farming practices. Modern food production celebrated the specialized land-use and high-yield mono-crop varieties at the expense of natural soil fertility offered by biodiversity.

A return to time-honored traditional practices in farming and eco-management is today’s sine qua non to effective environmental balancing acts. Incidentally, there are models around the world to emulate concerning biodiversity in food production.

Below is a report on the joint initiative of Japan and the UNDP concerning biodiversity conservation.

[Philippines, 10 July 2011]
Japan, UNDP team up for local biodiversity conservation
27 June 2011
Communities in 11 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe are to receive small grants to put into practice biodiversity-friendly natural resource management and farming systems.

Rural communities in Brazil, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Fiji, India, Malawi, Nepal, Slovakia and Turkey will recapture and apply time-honoured agro-ecological practices, learn new techniques and exchange knowledge on traditional farming systems and the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources.

The Satoyama Initiative, adopted at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), is named after the traditional landscape resulting from application of a suite of traditional, sustainable resource management practices perfected over centuries by communities in Japan. This mosaic of mixed forests, rice paddies, upland rice fields, grasslands, streams and ponds is called “satoyama”. The variety of habitats ensures higher numbers of species, and the farming systems themselves conserve crop diversity, water and soil fertility, while stabilizing income and food security.

Today, the Government of Japan and UNDP launched the partnership agreement to promote the Satoyama vision and practices in selected countries.

“Working in 176 countries and territories, we learned that local communities have developed often unique ways of farming and use of resources that provide food and livelihood without damaging the environment,” said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator.

“We’re grateful to the Government of Japan for their continued support to the interlinked challenges of poverty, biodiversity, and climate change at the time of their own recovery from the devastating tsunami.”

This five-year partnership programme for Satoyama Initiative provides US$2 million through the Convention’s Japan Biodiversity Fund to support communities during the first year to implement best practices and share knowledge.

“Japan recognizes the significance of local knowledge for resource management and farming in the international effort to ensure environmental sustainability. This collaboration is the flagship programme of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative,” said Ryu Matsumoto, Minister of Environment of Japan.

Small grants for community-based projects will be disbursed through the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme and other UNDP-supported small grants schemes.

The CBD Secretariat will work with UNDP to analyze the impacts of Satoyama activities and use this knowledge to feed the current international policy debate with respect to the Biodiversity Convention. UNDP, with the United Nations University, will use the lessons from this programme to replicate and upscale successful experiences to other communities around the world.

Prior to collaborating on the Satoyama Initiative, Japan and UNDP have partnered on a number of initiatives, for example, the Africa Adaptation Programme, which supports 20 African countries to adapt to climate change and embark on low-emission, climate-resilient development paths.

UNDP will continue to advocate the use of sustainability strategies in the fight against biodiversity loss, climate change and poverty at next year’s major international conferences, including Rio+20, to be held in Brazil in June and Biodiversity COP11 in India.

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August 22, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Various approaches and forms of intervention regarding sustainable natural resource management—soils, water, forests, biodiversity—were introduced across many developing countries over the past years. Some cases of experiences regarding those intervention methods that impact directly on the livelihoods of people would be fit for reflections.

Below is a case study on how local governance institutions dovetailed into sustainable natural resources management in three (3) African countries.

[10 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to database news.]

Local governance institutions for sustainable natural resource management in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger

Authors: Hilhorst,T.
Produced by: Royal Tropical Institute (2008)

This paper reflects on experiences from research and interventions in the Sahel on management of renewable natural resources – soils, water, forests, and biodiversity – for the purpose of food and income generation. It focuses on local governance institutions in relation to natural resource entitlements, use and decision-making on management in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

The study explores the range of existing local governance institutions that is best managed at this level for each resource type, prevailing local institutions for governing natural resources and trends. Particular attention is paid to the influence of customary institutions, project interventions, and democratic decentralisation.

It is argued that development agencies can play a role in strengthening local governance institutions for sustainable natural resource management by:

    • holding governments to account for the policies it has signed up to as part of agreements around sector and budget support
    • contributing to a more conducive policy context for decentralised management of natural resources and local governance institutions, by supporting the governments of the three countries in finalising the legislation that is being planned, developing the accompanying decrees and procedures, and supporting implementation and monitoring the effects, such as on women and marginal groups
    • encouraging policy alignment and harmonisation, for example through the linking of decentralisation policy with natural resource management, environmental protection and land administration
    • improving the quality of policy implementation through occasional support to pilot activities to promote the testing of new approaches on institutional solutions to natural resource-related problems in different contexts

The paper concludes that effective local governance institutions for natural resource management contribute to sustainability, local economic development, and conflict prevention. The need for such institutions is increasing, given the growing pressure on, and competition over, land and natural resources. The authors argue that policies in support of natural resource management benefit from pooling knowledge and research, joint strategy development and division of labour amongst development partners. Ultimately, they argue, such policies will be judged on the extent to which these strengthen local capacities to manage and use natural resources in a sustainably way and enhance justice in natural resource governance.

Available online at: