The 8th Conference of the Parties to the Biological Diversity Convention (COP8) which begins today, March 20, will deal with the concrete problems of evaluating whether or not the 188 signatories to the convention are fulfilling its objectives as stated in the 1992 document drawn up at the Rio de Janeiro Conference on the Environment and Development.
The participants at the conference will also be looking at four main areas of concern: creating and implementing areas where natural resources are effectively protected, universal access to genetic resources, shielding traditional knowledge from so-called socio-biopiracy, and the sharing of the benefits of natural resources and biodiversity with local communities.
Four permanent work groups were set up at the COP7, which took place two years ago in Malaysia, to deal with those main points. These work groups will be guiding the work in Curitiba this week at COP8.
Because of the size of the conference, some 6,000 delegates from over 190 countries, a lot of attention has been given to making the discussions and formulating of proposals run smoothly.
Besides the plenary sessions, there will be many work groups, contact groups and "friends of the president" groups which will be examining proposals. Much of the preliminary work will be done in regional groups.
In order for a proposal to be accepted by the conference, there must be a consensus on it by the member countries.
Although the full Brazilian delegation to COP8 consists of a total of 160 people, only 11 of them, all diplomats, will participate directly in the negotiations.
"Diplomats present the country’s position to other countries," explains Brazilian diplomat, Adriana Tescari.
Besides the eleven diplomats, the Brazilian delegation has 76 assistant delegates and 73 observer delegates, says Tescari. The former represent governmental agencies and the latter represent NGOs, the business and academic communities, indigenous groups and others.
"Each country can enroll any number of delegates. There is no limit," explains Tescari, adding that each category of delegates deals with discussions at different levels.