The idea of a Global Convention on Biodiversity was introduced in 1985 by IUCN in order to rationalize the many different conventions within specific sectors and bring them together under a common framework. The convention was signed by 153 countries end the EU at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, in June, 1992 It came into effect in December 1993. The object of the Convention was primarily the protection of indigenous flora and fauna and their natural habitats. While it was being prepared, its scope was extended to include cultivated plants, domestic animals, micro-organisms etc. The fundamental principles upheld by the Convention are: \B7 The sovereign rights of countries to exploit their own resources according to their environmental policies. Before any prospecting is undertaken an agreement is required, a condition of which is the equitable sharing of any benefits arising from the use of resources. (The concept of a common heritage of biodiversity for all mankind is categorically refuted by many developing countries.) \B7 Access to genetic material and access to the technology which enables biodiversity to be conserved and utilized on a sustainable basis. \B7 Equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources within the countries from which they originate. The Convention states that me rich countries have little biodiversity but they possess the technology to exploit it, whereas for poorer countries the reverse is true. The one cannot manage without the other. What compensation should be offered to those that provide this new 'green gold'? Is it possible to find a way of financially rewarding countries which have a rich biodiversity but lack the funds to conserve it? The developing countries would like to set up a special international fund, to be administered by a UN agency and funded by compulsory contributions. The countries of the north would prefer to be associated with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), a new organization administered by the World Bank. The diversity of the living world resembles a vast library of books, the titles and content of which are unknown as are the needs of the readers who will appear in future generations. Who, therefore, should bear the cost of maintaining this wonderful 'library'? Should it be the developing countries where the most important biodiversity still exists or should it be the developed countries who are the principal users of the resource? For the developing countries it is undoubtedly important toremain in control of their own genetic resource base and to impose on those who wish to exploit it a charge which provides a fair return. Thus some people believe that the need to conserve biodiversity could provide the developing countries with the opportunity to obtain a new kind of international economic assistance.

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation
Format: News Item biblioteca
Published: Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation 1994
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