MONTREAL (CANADA) – Representatives from 187 countries at a United Nations Convention on Biodiversity meeting today in Montreal were urged to address the impacts of globalization on biodiversity.

Friends of the Earth International — the world’s largest federation of environmental organizations — called upon the 187 Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) today to address in the CBD work program the impacts of corporate-led globalization on biodiversity. The Parties to the CBD are starting a three-day meeting in Montreal to determine a multi-year program of work for the convention.

This program of work should assist the international community in meeting the target of reducing biodiversity loss by 2010 that was agreed upon by Ministers at the 6th Conference of the Parties of the CBD in April 2002 and subsequently reaffirmed by the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD).

However, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) fears that is impossible to meet this target if countries do not effectively address the impacts of corporate-led globalization on biodiversity.

“Agricultural trade liberalization and other developments promoted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) have led to a worldwide expansion of large-scale agricultural monocultures that devastate forests and traditional farming communities”, said Simone Lovera, coordinator of FoEI’s biodiversity project, in Montreal.

In a country like Brazil, the expansion of large-scale agriculture has caused the destruction of over 92% of its biologically precious Atlantic Forest.

“The Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement of the World Trade Organisation forces countries to allow patenting of seeds and other life forms. These patents prohibit farmers from using their own seeds for reproduction and further plant breeding, thus threatening their seed conservation initiatives and their food sovereignty and security, “ said Lovera.

FoEI calls upon the Parties to the CBD to

  • demand a fundamental revision of the TRIPs agreement;
  • include the impact of corporate-led globalization on cultural and biological diversity in their multi-year work program.

FoEI also calls upon governments to analyze the impacts of the increasing privatization and commodification of biodiversity.

“The Convention on Biodiversity and other environmental agreements are subject to a global marketplace controlled by the interests of biotechnology multinationals, carbon traders and other industries”, said Simone Lovera. “These industries are eager to make major profits by indiscriminately acquiring and trading genetic resources, carbon sinks, water supply services and more,” she added.

Such ‘commodification’ of resources destroys the communal rights and practices that for centuries formed the basis for the sustainable management of biodiversity by local communities.

The carbon emissions trade promoted by the UN Kyoto Protocol has already led to contracts in countries like Tanzania that might lead to the replacement of more than 90,000 hectares of savannah by monoculture tree plantations.


Simone Lovera, coordinator FoEI Biodiversity Project