COP11 or the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity—CBD— is ongoing at Hyderadad, India, October 8-19, 2012. The CBD was signed by 150 government leaders during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit intended to put into action the principles of Agenda 21. The CBD recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.
Statement of SEARICE Position on Business and Biodiversity (Agenda Item 5.3)
1. SEARICE would like to emphasize that whatever the Parties may do as they adopt the so-called “biodiversity-friendly” policies, this should not be done at the expense of prioritizing voluntary standards over binding rules and regulations that must be complied with by businesses and other interested sectors and stakeholders.
2. The bottom line is that these voluntary standards cannot guarantee that it will deliver the required change of behavior in the utilization of biodiversity and its resources. At best, they are good for awareness raising, but its effectiveness is gauged by how much biodiversity will be protected from the unbridled exploitation of resources should these voluntary measures be given more importance than binding rules and regulations that must be complied with.
3. The business sector should not just pay lip-service to its adherence to existing biodiversity rules and regulations wherever part of the world they may be located. It is part of their corporate social accountability, for them to be always adhering to the rules, not to foster voluntarism as an approach to compliance with binding rules and regulations.
Statement of SEARICE Position on New and Emerging Issues (Agenda Item 6.2)
“Mr. Chair, we support Philippines and other countries in declaring a moratorium on the release of products from synthetic biology to the environment, particularly because there are issues relating to review, assessment, or evaluation of these products, governance mechanisms and impact of these products, particularly on food production systems, from seed to plate.
“Chair, agriculture-based economies where most developing countries have, will be adversely affected by the release of synbio products. Business have released and intend to release these products in the environment, without proper consultation with small men and women farmers or food producers; and even without proper consultation with persons like all the delegates here who will inevitably consume these products, that were not properly assessed in terms of food safety and security. We continue to experience problems of labeling of GMOs, we doubt if synthetic biology products used as food will be labeled accordingly.
“Furthermore, synthetic biology products must be banned, for so long as its impact on small men and women farmers are not extensively reviewed.
“We also support the ban since proper regulatory, monitoring, and control measures are not in place.”
Statement of SEARICE Position on Agricultural Biodiversity
(Agenda Item 13.5)
“There are so numerous covenants, international treaties and international findings that recognize the vital and inevitable role of small/marginal/ farmers, peasants, pastoralists or small food producers in agricultural biodiversity; such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Plant Treaty, Agenda 21, and the IAASTD.
“We remind parties that in paragraph 5g of Decision X/34, the CBD Executive Secretary is requested to (and I qoute) “work together in their design of the second phase of their joint work plan covering at least until 2017 focusing on refinements required as a result of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, but also considering, as necessary, inter alia:
‘(g) Ways and means to strengthen cooperation to:
“We strongly urge the CBD to come up with a Joint Work Plan that consider farmers’ voices, farmers’ issues, farmers’ rights, farmers’ perspectives. It is only in this manner that COP decisions on agricultural biodiversity will be implemented; and not retired and forgotten.
“We also believe that all the areas under paragraph 5 of COP Decision X/34 should be considered important areas of focus that the Joint Work Plan must seriously include and execute or implement. These areas include:
A review on the impact of intellectual property rights on farmers’ rights, agricultural biodiversity and food security;
The relevant findings and recommendations of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development;
Ways and means to promote the positive and minimize or avoid the negative impacts of biofuel production and use on biodiversity and impacts on biodiversity that affect related socioeconomic conditions;
In situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity, particularly of the domesticated or cultivated varieties that small farmers cultivate.
“Mr. Chair, we strongly believe that listening to farmers voices and implementing farmers rights are one of the best solutions to attaining the three objectives of the Convention and achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, particularly Targets 7, 9, 12, 13, and 18.
“We hope that in this COP11, there will be a Hyderabad amendment to the Joint Work Plan of FAO and CBD that will consider everything that we have mentioned about small farmers issues, farmers perspectives, and farmers rights.
“Thank you chair.”
(i) Obtain and consider the views of farmers’ and producers’ organizations and the views of indigenous and local communities; and
(ii) Facilitate their effective participation in the deliberations of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and its Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and their contributions to the implementation of the work of these bodies, as appropriate.’