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Trittin hopeful of UN talks

Published on 18/02/2004

18 February 2004

KUALA LUMPUR – German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin on Wednesday expressed optimism that nations are moving closer to resolving issues related to global warming and conservation, despite bureaucratic road bumps at a United Nations-backed convention on biodiversity.

Trittin arrived in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to attend ministerial talks that began Wednesday on the sidelines of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). He said the main issues to be discussed at the meeting were benefit-sharing between rich and poor nations, as well as conservation of the world’s natural resources.

“How to solve the problem of interests of the developing countries, and the necessity of building up a global network of protected areas. These are the things in which we hope to see a significant step forward,” Trittin said ahead of the two-day meeting.

The CBD, which runs from 9 to 20 February gathers more than 2,000 environmentalists, scientists and government officials from 188 nations to discuss ways to protect increasingly endangered biological resources.

However, delegates at the meeting have expressed frustration at the slow progress made during meetings in the past 10 days, saying that bureaucracy and political interests often get in the way of the adoption of any policies.

Trittin said that the nature of the CBD, which needs the consensus of all member nations before policies can be passed, was slowing down the process of implementation of those policies.

However, he expressed optimism that nations still remained committed to reaching a consensus despite the bureaucratic problems, adding that global conservation of biodiversity could not be achieved by individual countries.

“The role of developing countries as well as the role of the richer countries, such as the European Union, is to have an ambitious target, but we must be willing to find a compromise that allows us to find such a global consensus.

“I can’t solve a global problem and loss of biodiversity in Germany alone,” he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa.

Another main issue to be discussed would be benefit-sharing between developed countries and resource-rich developing nations who are lacking in financial aid.

Environment ministers from 15 Asian, African and South American countries on Tuesday called for greater efforts in creating international laws that allow for fairer distribution of commercial profits from plant and animal resources found in poorer countries.

The ministers, who claim that Western governments and corporations are carrying out “biological piracy”, urged rich nations to agree to a legally-binding agreement that gives reimbursements to the developing nations.

“We currently have a non-binding guideline related to this but it is true they are more or less voluntary agreements. To have a more binding character is necessary,” said Trittin.

“But this is not an issue which can be discussed as merely a conflict between companies from the North with the countries in the South,” he said.

Trittin said developing countries had to resolve their “internal problems” such as local smuggling before a legally-binding international law could be accepted.

“We are willing for fair negotiations and we are not opposing a law for a more legally-binding system. We just have to see very clearly the complications,” he said.

Trittin, who is due to meet his Malaysian counterpart as well as ministers from several other countries on Thursday, said that as long as all parties kept an open mind and worked towards achieving the same goals of global conservation, reduction in biodiversity loss could be achieved.

“We will reach some of our targets, and since yesterday, the atmosphere is hopeful. I am optimistic. I think there will be good results here.”


Subject: German news