Strasbourg comment: Nagoya protocol on access to genetic resources

Sandrine Bélier says the European parliament's adoption of the Nagoya report is 'good news' for the EU's international biodiversity commitments.

By Sandrine Bélier

13 Mar 2014

The European parliament adopted my report on 11 March after a year and a half of, at times, difficult political negotiations. This new legislation aims to ensure a fair sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources and now constitutes Europe's main tool against bio-piracy. Through this text, the EU also officially became a party to the Nagoya protocol and will therefore take part in the upcoming meeting of the parties to the protocol, to be held in October 2014 in Seoul.

Four years after the EU signed the Nagoya protocol, the adoption of this report is good news for Europe's global commitments towards international biodiversity negotiations. It constitutes a strong positive signal that we wish to continue work with our international partners, especially the mega-diverse countries, to enhance the international framework for halting biodiversity loss, which is more acute every day.

This regulation is the first European instrument in favour of biodiversity since the habitats directive of 1992. The negotiations with council have been very difficult, and it was clear that many countries were certainly not in favour of a European harmonised approach on bio-piracy. We faced staunch opposition from the Lithuanian presidency on some of the provisions adopted by parliament, and it is very regrettable that member states refused some of the real advances proposed by MEPs.

The end result is not perfect but it will certainly serve to enable a more equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources and associated knowledge. It will favour research and innovation while providing users of genetic resources with a clear and harmonised legal framework.