News - October 6, 2010

‘The place where nature policy is decided’

Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers will represent Dutch scientific research at the summit on Biodiversity in Nagoya in Japan from 18 to 29 October. ‘How much of a social conscience do human beings have? That’s what it’s about in the end.’

What sort of summit is it?
'Its official name is the Tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. You could call it the little brother of the climate summit in Copenhagen, this time specifically on the Biodiversity treaty. There are 193 countries involved, including ours.'
What is your role?
'The Dutch delegation consists mainly of civil servants and experts from the ministries, supported by three observers from society at large. For the first time there is a scientist among them. So I represent Dutch science.'
Why you?
'I lobbied hard for it. My field is international forest and biodiversity governance. That is why I am so keen to go there. This is the most important international treaty related to my field: the place where international nature policy is decided.'
Name an important subject?
'For the first time binding agreements are to be made on making genetic resources available for the development of new medicines or agricultural crops. Who is to be allowed to use genetic materials, and who is going to make a profit from them?'
That's about money?
'Yes, very large sums of money. But it's also about the rights of indigenous peoples. This is where the 'soft' politics of nature policy meets hard politics. The developing countries have already said: if no good protocol is drawn up on this, we shall obstruct negotiations on all the other issues.'
Such as?
'The targets for the period 2010 to 2020. Do we want to go on destroying good agricultural land or do we think nature is important enough to change direction? How much of a social conscience do human beings have? Are we capable of sharing with each other? Can we organize the economy in a way that leaves room for nature. That's what it's about, really. I consider it a great honour to be there.'
During the summit, Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers will keep a diary for Resource: Diary Nagoya.