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Biodiversity Convention Presses For Equitable Benefits Sharing 

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

The supplementary protocol of the UN 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity (COP10) and the 5th Meeting of Parties to the Cartagena Protocol (MOP5) are campaigning for the payment of benefits for the exploitation and use of resources to stakeholders.

The Secretary General at the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection, MINEP, Patrick Akwa Kum Bong and the Technical Adviser No 1, Mrs. Prudence Galega, disclosed this during a restitution meeting of the COP10 and MOP5 summit at the Yaounde Conference Centre, April 20.

According to Patrick Akwa and Mrs. Galega, the main objective of the supplementary protocol, which lays down international guidelines on responsibility and reparation in relation to living modified organisms, is the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking into consideration the risks to human life. The supplementary protocol adopted on October 29, 2010 in Nagoya-Japan, "also calls for a fair and equitable sharing of benefits each time there is access to genetic resources," they said.

Announcing that the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur supplementary protocol was open for signature since February 2, 2011 in New York, Akwa said its adoption is a major victory for developing countries like Cameroon that are not benefiting adequately from the exploitation and use of biodiversity resources.

"It is, therefore, about time for our country to start benefiting from the advantages linked to genetic resources, notably in domains like research results, technology transfer, and participation in biotechnological research activities as well as monetary advantages," Akwa said.

He cited the Global Environment Facility (GEF) sponsored project on access to and equitable sharing of benefits from genetic materials and said MINEP is presently preparing a series of policies and national strategies that lay emphasis on traditional knowledge. "MINEP is in the process of formulating legislation to protect the environment and man from the dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs," he stated.

He invoked provisions of article 27 of the Cartagena Protocol and Principle 13 of the 1992 Rio Declaration, which tie with the supplementary protocol and noted that it prescribes cooperation between states in the developing of international instruments bearing on responsibility and reparation of damages. Meanwhile, Mrs. Galega recalled that the Convention on Biodiversity Conservation which was adopted in 1992 during the Rio Conference and ratified by Cameroon in 1994, today has 193 signatories.

The Bio-safety Protocol, adopted in 2002 and ratified in 2003 by Cameroon, has 150 members.
Mrs. Galega also recalled that prior to the October 2010 Nagoya Summit, biodiversity conservation stakeholders in Cameroon met in September to adopt a stance and it was, therefore, incumbent for MINEP as Focal Institution for the protection of biodiversity in Cameroon, to restitute the outcomes of the conference.

The purpose of the restitution meeting, Mrs. Galega noted, was to "inform national stakeholders and the public of the Nagoya outcomes [and] to come up with a draft action plan for the implementation of the COP10/MOP5 decisions in Cameroon." The Technical Adviser said from assessment made at the Nagoya conference, many identified actions constituted threats to the survival of biodiversity and humanity.

According to her, the summit held against a backdrop of efforts to reverse the trend and mentioned the consensus that led to the adoption of the supplementary protocol, a feat she said has not been achieved by the international community in about years. Highlighting the leading role Cameroon played during negotiations, Galega hailed the African continent for demonstrating cohesion that gave them strong stand points during decisions taken.

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