The main challenge facing the 187 countries presently gathered in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba, Paraná, together with the European Union, is the definition of an international system for sharing the benefits generated by access to genetic resources and the traditional knowledge associated with these resources.
This was the evaluation expressed Monday, March 20, by the Brazilian Minister of Environment, Marina Silva, in her opening speech at the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-8),
According to the Minister, who is presiding the conference, "this is the third broad goal of the convention, and it is the one that has had the least effect in the last 14 years." Some of the COP-8’s 6 thousand participants began discussing this question in a work group yesterday.
The executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Ahmed Djoghlaf also referred, in his address, to protecting the traditional knowledge possessed by indigenous peoples, groups who derive their living from extractive activities, and communities formed of descendants of runaway slaves.
"I place special importance on the relationship between nature and culture. In Madagascar, the use of a plant increased the chances of survival of children with cancer by 80%. And this was discovered by local communities," he said.
The COP is the deliberative organ of the CBD, which was one of the outcomes of the Eco-92, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
The three main goals of the Convention are: conservation of nature, sustainable exploitation of natural resources, and the protection of traditional knowledge.
The 187 countries that signed the Convention, together with the European Union, will be meeting in Curitiba through March 31. Their decisions are all made by consensus.