COP 15, Biodiversity and the Nagoya Protocol
What is COP 15?
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the Conventions, whether on Climate or Biological Diversity, and works to implement its objectives through regular meetings in which representatives of countries negotiate future goals. COP 15 will be the fifteenth meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity that takes place in Montreal, Canada, between December 7 and 19, 2022, after two years of delay due to the pandemic.
This Convention has three main goals:
- the conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity)
- the sustainable use of its components, and
- the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
What is Biodiversity?
According to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)1, biodiversity is ‘the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems’; meaning the species and ecosystems that underpin human civilisation.
Why is COP 15 important?
Unfortunately, over the last decade, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 has failed and none of the 21 proposed targets were completely achieved globally. A new framework for biodiversity conservation is therefore expected to be signed at this year's COP, with goals and targets set for 2030 and 2050: the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)2. It is the “Paris Agreement” for biodiversity.
The draft of GBF is a document created by representatives of several countries and compiles the actions to be taken by governments and society to contribute to the implementation of the Convention’s three main goals as well as its Protocols: Nagoya and Cartagena. It also considers the need for setting national biodiversity strategies and targets, as well as constant monitoring and reporting. The document includes long-term goals for 2050 as well as 2030 targets that aim to address how to reduce loss of biodiversity (both on land and marine) and how to meet the needs of people through sustainable use and benefit-sharing. This includes the creation of tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming, as well as legal and administrative mechanisms.
What is ‘Make It Mandatory’?
As a way to address target 15 of the Global Biodiversity Framework, the Make it Mandatory business statement3, signed by more than 330 business and institutions, is a call to action on Heads of State to make it mandatory for all large businesses and financial institutions to assess and disclose their impacts and dependencies on nature by 2030.
Signatories are committed to:
- Assessing their impacts and dependencies on nature
- Disclosing their material nature-related information
- Committing publicly to avoid and reduce negative impacts, prioritising the most material issues across operations, value chains and portfolios
- Transforming their business strategies and models to restore and regenerate nature and collaborate across river basins, land and seascapes
Croda is a signatory of the Make it Mandatory business statement and believes that achieving a net nature positive future, one in which natural capital is protected and restored, is essential for the health, wellbeing and prosperity of us all.
We are committed to building on the significant progress we have already made in partnership with like-minded suppliers and customers. Through an increased focus on preserving forests and habitats, minimising our water impact, and helping accelerate sustainable and regenerative agriculture, we aspire to become Net Nature Positive by 2030.
What is the Nagoya Protocol?
The Nagoya Protocol is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources; this is the third objective of the CBD.
The Nagoya Protocol was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan but only entered into force on 12 October 2014. During COP 15, it will be the fourth Meeting of Parties (MOP) regarding this Protocol, which now includes more than 130 ratifying countries.4
By ratifying the Protocol, the countries agree to meet certain requirements to provide transparency and legal certainty for both providers and users of genetic resources (GR) found in situ or ex situ conditions. Genetic resources may be plants, animals or micro-organisms and their derivatives, and it is through obligations established by local legislation and regulatory requirements, as well as prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms, that compliance and their sustainable use are guaranteed. These provisions contribute to the benefit sharing arising from the utilisation of GR, in product development, for example, as a monetary or non-monetary counterpart for the promotion of sustainable development.
The Nagoya Protocol also addresses the access to traditional knowledge owned by indigenous and local communities when it is associated with genetic resources. It is guaranteed that these people will have the authority to decide whether to accept the terms of access to their knowledge, as well as the form of benefit sharing that will be carried out. The following image from CBD details the key themes that underpin access and benefit sharing of genetic resources:
In summary, the protocol creates incentives to conserve biological diversity, sustainably use its components, and further enhance the contribution of biological diversity to sustainable development and human well-being.
One of the most awaited topics that will be discussed during this next meeting is the digital sequence information (DSI) on genetic resources, a topic under the responsibility of a working group that will recommend to CBD how to approach DSI in the context of the GBF, also considering its implications in the scope of the Nagoya Protocol. This is a key topic, as biotechnological development tends to facilitate the spread of DSI use, resulting in a situation that the direct access to the biological component of interest to obtain its genetic information is unnecessary. The record time development of vaccines during the pandemic is a clear benefit of the use of DSI, but at the same time, the application of mechanisms such as benefit sharing becomes even more challenging.
If you want to know more, view the complete text of the Nagoya Protocol here.
Why are genetic resources important?5
According to an estimate by the World Economic Forum, more than half of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) depends on nature to some extent.
The usage of genetic resources requires research of any beneficial properties, how their use will increase scientific knowledge and understanding, as well as how they can be used to develop commercial products, with or without commercial benefit.
In commercial use, companies may use genetic resources for the purpose of developing new ingredients; for example, they may be used in cosmetics, biological pesticides, vaccine development, the production of specialised chemicals, or in industrial processing. Additionally, any traditional knowledge provides valuable information to researchers regarding the properties and value of these associated genetic resources and their potential use for the development of products – it is like a “shortcut” to innovation since it focuses the line of research on those uses that have already been carried out by communities for centuries.
Where can I find out more?
This year, as well as supporting the ‘Make it Mandatory’ business statement, Croda will be attending COP 15 and will be supporting the side event: ‘Brazilian Biodiversity Law: a comparative with the others international laws’. This event is focused on the importance of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) and will include the launch of the third edition of the GSS study "Access and Benefit-Sharing Around the World: The Brazilian law contrasted with international regulations", which is sponsored by both Croda and Natura.
The side event will take place on 14th December at 18:15. To find out more, visit Side Event Registration (cbd.int)
The side event will also be available to view here.
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