Wetenschap - 5 november 2010

Nagoya gave us policies: now action!

The summit in Nagoya has produced new global agreements. Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers (Forest and Nature Policy) attended on behalf of the Dutch scientific community. How much do the new agreements mean?

'On paper a lot was achieved at Nagoya. A protocol has been drawn up for access to natural resources, and fair distribution of the benefits reaped from them. And there is now a strategic plan with biodiversity goals for 2020. If we manage to implement all that, we'll have taken great strides. As well as that, agreements have been made - although these are a bit softer - on how to organize the financing of this plan. So a major environmental summit has produced results - which we needed after Copenhagen. So much for what's on paper - but will we reach those targets? Some of them are feasible without changing our lifestyle. For example, extending the amount of land under protection areas. We can do that without switching to a sustainable economy. But that is not the case for most of the targets. And I really wonder whether the world is prepared to make that switch.
There was discussion about that at Nagoya too: should we set ourselves realistic goals or not? The European countries were particularly keen to go home with ambitious targets. Whereas the developing countries said: then you must finance them too. The targets for 2020 should be seen as a wishlist: this is what we ought to want to do together.
Actually, ten years is too short, as well. You should say now: in twenty years time our economies must be sustainable. Then you get all the sectors round the table to talk about how we are going to make that happen. How do you change from a 'bad guy' to a 'good guy'? The problem is, who is going to make the first move? Who is going to stand up and organize it? That demands leadership, which is lacking. In the field of sustainability, anyway.
An international summit like this is for making policy. That came home to me in Nagoya. If you put a bunch of policymakers together for two weeks, you'll get a new policy. But policy is not really enough. Let's stop making new policies and start implementing them for a change. That requires a difference type of organization at international level. Fewer summits, for example.'

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