Indonesia’s plans to ratify the Nagoya Protocol, aimed at protecting the country’s indigenous flora and fauna, will not happen unless the nation the capability to make an inventory of its native biodiversity.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from the Utilization defines how countries access genetic resources and share the benefits of those resources with the countries of origin.
Indonesia acceded to the Nagoya Protocol on May 11, 2011, although the government has yet to ratify it.
Satya W. Yudha, a member of House Commission VII overseeing energy and mineral resources, said on Tuesday that listing genetic resources was the foundation of the treaty’s implementation.
Unfortunately, Indonesia was still struggling to list its endemic species amid poor awareness both from local residents and local administrations about protecting biodiversity, he said.
“We have to be able to scientifically prove to the world that these particular genetic resources are ours, otherwise we cannot stop the thieves who take our genetic resources and develop them abroad, even though we have ratified the treaty,” Satya said on a sideline sof a media briefing at the Environment Ministry.
According to Satya, the House gave a green light to ratify the treaty after members of House Commission VII visited several communities Bali and Central Java who have benefited from natural resources, particularly in the form of herbal medicines.
He added that a bill on genetic resources currently under deliberation in the House and that is expected to be ratified in May would provide subsidies for research centers and universities to help them list genetic resources.
“There are only a handful of research centers and universities that are able to do the registering process for genetic resources. The government should start to facilitate them,” he said.
The Nagoya Protocol aims to implement the objectives laid out by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity ( CBD ), which has been supported by 193 nations, including countries with huge reservoirs of biodiversity, including Brazil, India, Rwanda, Ecuador and the Central African Republic.
Arief Yuwono, the Environment Minsitry’s deputy for environmental degradation and climate change, said that 14 countries, including Rwanda and Ethiopia, have ratified the treaty, even though those countries have less biodiversity than Indonesia.
“Indonesia is ranked number two in the world for biodiversity,” Arief said.
“Around 70 percent of research proposals that are received from foreign researchers are regarding biodiversity,” he said, adding that the country’s biodiversity has long been seen as business opportunity. “Indonesia has no reason to not immediately ratify this treaty.”
Meanwhile, a legal expert from Padjadjaran University, Miranda Risang Ayu, said that the country has been dealing with “legal” genetic resource theft due to the absence of a law that can protect the resources.
“Many foreign researchers have collected samples of genetic resources that have been valued in the billions of rupiah without us noticing that it was actually a form of legal theft,” Miranda said.
“By ratifying this treaty, we will have the legal authority to get the benefit sharing should our genetic resources be used by foreign researchers for non-commercial or commercial purposes,” she said.
The benefit sharing could be in form of money, technology transfer or capacity building, she said. ( nad )