What to Watch Out For in 2014 in Biodiversity, Innovation, Trade and Climate Concerns in Philippines

CURRENT SOCIETAL CONCERNS
Elpidio V. Peria
12 JANUARY 2014

While the new year 2014 has already started in earnest, let us see what can we expect to happen policy-wise in biodiversity, innovation, trade and climate concerns here in the Philippines:

BIODIVERSITY

This year, the now renamed Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which is now called Biodiversity Management Bureau, is set to finalize the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP) 2020 which updates the last National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) iteration back in 2002. This PBSAP contains the latest identification of the current drivers of biodiversity loss in the country and coordinates government, civil society, academe and private sector action to address these drivers, along the lines of the Aichi Targets for Biodiversity Conservation 2011-2020, which was adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity back in October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan in its 10th Meeting.

The value of this PBSAP is that it identifies areas for priority action in short-term (within two years), medium-term (within four years) and long-term (beyond four years up to 2020) across all levels of governance from local, regional and national levels and focuses funding of efforts to actions that will have the most significant impact in addressing the driver of biodiversity loss.

For those who are curious what these identified drivers of biodiversity loss are, these are : over-exploitation of natural resources; habitat loss which is due to several causes among those universally identified from all regional consultations done last year are mining, deforestation, charcoal-making and other related activities; climate change, invasive alien species and pollution.

Embedded within the PBSAP are various actions to address specific concerns and we will mention the Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) Roadmap, which lays out collective efforts of agencies implementing the country’s access and benefit-sharing regulations, which determines the rules how the collection of biological specimens in the country are to be done and how the benefits, including from commercialization, will come back to the country or the community from which the resources may have originated.

INNOVATION

Last year, this blog helped identify the issues that people should be concerned about as regards the amendments to the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, particularly the vastly-expanded powers of visitation and enforcement of the Intellectual Property Office to pursue copyright infringement actions.

We also tried to connect it to the diminution or reduction of the right to fair use of the ordinary user of books and other copyrighted works but given perhaps that no one was adversely affected by these changes, then the general public, alerted to the issue by blogger Raissa Robles, did not really lift a finger to take any direct action to raise a concern on this issue.

A perusal of the website of the Intellectual Property Office does not indicate they have posted any approved or pending draft implementing rules and regulations of the said IP Code amendments, but as we move on this year, BITS Policy Center, Inc. will look into these amendments and the status of their effectivity and enforcement.

The other item related to innovation that bears watching this year is the issue of traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples. From what we have seen and heard last year in various government agency meetings, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) will look into this closely and connect it with the ideas of other agencies on the establishment of databases similar to what was done by India in its Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL). The ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, currently based in College, UP Los Banos, Laguna, which has an up and running program arising from the ASEAN-India Partnership on Traditional Knowledge, will try to initiate efforts in this area and link it with the efforts of agencies like the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) which has already established databases on traditional medicine knowledge. The question here is, so where will indigenous peoples and local communities be situated in these efforts? That we will seek the entire year and connect it with the effort of BITS Policy Center in strengthening the customary law of identified indigenous communities which it also started last year through the Passionist Center for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. Hopefully, this effort at asserting their respective customary laws will empower indigenous peoples to use their own governance systems in dealing with their problems.

TRADE

The World Trade Organization somehow managed to squeak through some agreements in trade facilitation and food security and other related issues that have long been stuck in the Doha Development Agenda, this blog will look further closely on those agreements and what issues will need to be further analyzed and understood by the basic sectors.

But what will occupy the attention of most advocacy groups is the conduct of impact studies that will be initiated by the Department of Trade and Industry on some specific concerns like fisheries, labor, investments and public health that relate to the EU-Philippine free trade agreement (FTA).

CLIMATE CHANGE

This year the leaders of the world will meet in September in New York for a high-level meeting called by no less than the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on commitments or pledges by countries on the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cuts that they will have to implement nationally. These pledges will eventually find its way in the 2015 Paris conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which will hope to adapt a new protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force that will aim to stabilize the accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere.

This blog will set a series of analysis of the issues leading to such 2015 Agreement and to make suggestions where the country may wish to position itself given its unique peculiarities, priorities and needs given also that this country is set to hit 100 million population sometime this year.

So many issues to scrutinize, but all that is just part of the aim of this blog to make them less unintelligible to the reader so that he or she may understand a little bit more what these small things on biodiversity, innovation, trade and society means to our present situation.

Let’s proceed then for another eventful year!

oOo

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