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Marine Conserved Areas and Synthetic Biodiversity continue to challenge negotiators split between traiditional economic divides.

With only a day of negotiations left until we reach the end of the UN Biodiversity talks, many negotiation rooms are all ready to wrap up discussions that have been going on for nearly two weeks now and have their decisions gavelled through.

However, there is still tension, and right now, negotiations on how to appropriately regulate synthetic biodiversity are being fought over in the main hall.

Here a summary of what is else is still being fought over:

Marine Conserved Areas

The negotiations on marine and coastal biodiversity dealing specifically with Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (or EBSA – ¬†which basically means the special areas in the ocean that serve important purposes to nature)haven’t been progressing much because countries are fighting over the redefinition of these unique ocean areas and to who they belong to exactly.

FYI: If you are following this negotiation, what will happen exactly now is that the chairs will have to take back to the contact groups where countries will have to come up with a conference Room Paper (CRP) that could be discussed in the next working group. This will then converted to an L-document, which is the document that is then be adopted at the plenary.

Another key aspect of the negotiations here is Synthetic Biology (which a new interdisciplinary area that allows scientists to fabricate and redesign plants and species) which can be, either, very helpful or harmful in terms of biodiversity conservation.

Photo: Ahmed Saba | Climate Tracker

Synthetic Biodiversity

Synthetic biology, or as they call it here “SynBio”, is probably the hottest topic in the negotiations so far because developing countries want to make sure the reporting on these technologies is detailed in a way for them to make sure it is safe, while developed countries want fewer restrictions. Negotiations regarding Digital Sequence Information on Genetic Resources (DSI), which also aims to use technology as a way to achieve biodiversity conservation goals.

“Developing countries want to make sure that genome-editing is included in this text because that gives them the ability to understand it better and have detailed reports on it and developed countries want to stick with a broader reporting and not include genome-editing because it will probably not be in their favor very much.” says a member of Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN)

Countries gathered yesterday in a contact group to try and come up with an agreement – the discussions went on till 5 am and a text was finally produced but it is still being negotiated in the working group and things aren’t going very smoothly.

On the bright side, negotiations on topics such as the sustainable use of pollinators and invasive alien species went on smoothly during the last working group and all of them have been converted to an L-document.

There will also be a meeting today to discuss the Integration of the Convention and Protocols along with a review of effectiveness especially on procedures for avoiding or managing conflicts of interest in expert groups and negotiators will be aiming to produce L-documents that could be adopted in the closing tomorrow.

Lina Yassin

About Lina Yassin

Lina Yassin is a chemical engineering student and Climate Tracker's MENA Programme Manager. Lina is passionate about engaging and raising the level of environmental awareness among the youth.