ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Critiquing Narrow Critiques of Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity has brought about a paradigm shift in rights over genetic resources by recognising sovereignty of nations to utilise their own resources. The principles of equity and fairness enshrined in it are some of the key aspects that create a balance of power between technologically advanced countries and biologically rich countries. It is still important for countries with rich biodiversity
to exercise control over their genetic resources and associated knowledge, even when there is no commercial interest in the research proposed or undertaken.

The authors are grateful to the entire Dakshin team for their inputs on this topic.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was formally adopted at the Rio Earth Summit, and it was acknowledged for the first time, in an international treaty, that conservation of biodiversity was a matter of common global concern (Preamble of CBD 1992). Moreover, the treaty recognised national sovereignty over resources. The agreement addresses ecosystems, species and genetic resources, and attempts to link traditional management approaches to sustainable development. One of the key aspects of the convention is governing access to resources and benefit sharing, particularly that of genetic resources, and aims to make benefits fair and equitable, both between nation states and for communities. Many countries passed legislation to meet the obligations of the CBD, including India which passed the Biological Diversity Act (BDA) in 2002 (MoEFCC 2014a).

While there are many aspects to the CBD and BDA that are obviously beneficial, the unintended consequences it has had on collaborative research have received much criticism over the years from the scientific community. Recently, the article When the Cure Kills: CBD Limits Biodiversity Research (Prathapan et al 2018), written in the journal Science by five eminent scientists and endorsed by 175 signatories, discusses restrictions imposed by the CBD on non-commercial research and the importance of creating a facilitative legal environment for such research. In response, we provide an Indian perspective which proposes that the CBD itself offers ways for promoting non-commercial research. We further propose that the CBD framework can assist developing countries like India to boost biodiversity research in their own countries, thereby ensuring equity and fairness among countries.

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Published On : 2nd Nov, 2018

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