Nathalie Rey (left) briefs reporters before the close of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan
After two weeks of negotiations, this CBD COP has concluded and not without some last-minute drama. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the contentious issues were left to the last day. Delegates, media and observers were told that the Friday afternoon plenary discussion to begin at 3pm. That meant that the 197 nations gathered here would have to agree a new Protocol, decide the future of protected areas on land and at sea and sign off on a new Strategic Plan for the CBD all in less than three hours. For all of you out there who haven’t sat through these talks for the past two weeks, I assure you that this seemed like an impossible feat when they announced it on Thursday.
We sent our teams in to the working groups and late-night meetings and early-morning last-minute lobbying were our last-ditch efforts to get our oceans and forests protected. We knew it was an uphill battle and they told us that there were many closed-door meetings going on deep in the recesses of the Nagoya Conference Center that were going to decide the whole thing.
So, we filed into the large meeting room at 3pm, wondering what might happen next. We knew it would be long and we knew it would be not the most fast-paced of Friday afternoons, but we did not know that it would entail three long breaks (one to accommodate a reception thrown by the government of India, the host of the next CBD COP) and go until 2 in the morning. Some last minute fireworks due to some diplomatic breakdowns between the European Union and several Latin American countries made things interesting before the group ratified the new Aichi-Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefits Sharing, a new Strategic Plan and new protected areas targets at sea and on land.
Having a new Protocol is great news- it means that local communities and indigenous communities will be able to reap the benefits of their natural resources and not have them stolen away through the bio-piracy we are all too familiar with these days. It is disappointing, though, that more of our oceans and land areas were not protected by governments here. Certainly, Nagoya was not Copenhagen and it is encouraging to know that global environmental deal-making is not dead. We had hoped for more and are still going to work for more because in the end, this is a step forward, although a small one.
We’d like to thank you for following along on our adventures here in Japan and keep fighting for a healthy future for our children and theirs. Please join us in demanding more marine reserves and tell your friends to do the same.
Nathalie Rey is an Amsterdam-based Oceans Policy Analyst who lead Greenpeace's delegation in Nagoya for the CBD. She is the proud mother of two daughters, an avid coffee drinker and a surprised fan of Japanese food.