U.N. members adopt genetic diversity rules

Member states of the United Nations have adopted a new 10-year global strategy designed to halt the loss of the world biological diversity, with countries agreeing to draft national implementation plans to safeguard genetic resources within two years, a senior U.N. official said Tuesday.

Environment ministers from 193 countries attending the two-week conference of parties to the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, which ended in the Japanese city of Nagoya Saturday, also adopted a new protocol on the sharing the benefits of the planet’s genetic resources.

By signing on to the Nagoya Biodiversity Compact, countries agreed on targets to reduce by half the loss of natural habitats and raise nature reserves to 17 per cent of the world’s land area and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas by 2020, Ahmed Djoghlaf, the convention executive secretary, told reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

The voluntary drawing up of the national biological diversity plans is intended to stop over-fishing, reduce pollution, protect coral reefs and reduce the loss of genetic diversity in agricultural ecosystems.

The strategy includes a resource mobilisation plan which is aimed at raising current levels of development assistance to support projects aimed at conserving biodiversity.

The protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilization stipulates the basic rules on how nations will cooperate in obtaining genetic resources.

Mr. Djoghlaf described the protocol as one of the most important legal instruments in the history of the environmental protection, saying it would help achieve sustainable development and facilitate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the eight poverty alleviation and social development targets which nations and their partners have agreed to achieve by 2015.

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