GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Agricultural Sustainability, Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Rights: Post-Rio+20 Analysis
Paper Proposal Text :
Many countries in the Gulf region, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, are now in the process of adopting a legislation on the protection of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA).The legislation aims to the conservation of agricultural diversity and the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation. This legislation is an implementation of their obligations under both the International Treaty on Plant Genetic resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD, as one of the 1992 Rio Summit conventions, recognises the importance of technology transfer in the attainment of its objectives in the conservation and sustainable management of biological resources.
Twenty years later, the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development reaffirms the commitment to the three objectives of the CBD. And in the context of the transition to a green economy, it does recognise that the green economy policies in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication should be consistent with international law, as well as countries’ sovereign rights over their natural resources. Nonetheless, the Rio+20 outcome document has raised concerns in respect of the two main aspects of any biodiversity act; the protection of PGRs and the transfer of relevant conservation technologies, that could have serious impacts on food security for developing countries.
On the one hand, the constructively ambiguous definition of green economy along with the failure of Rio+20 Summit to adopt a commitment that clearly interpret how to greening the economy raises a question on whether ecosystem goods and services will be subject to green economy patterns i.e. placing a price tag on PGRs in order to prevent its depletion. On the other hand, in contrast to the Rio Summit, countries in the Rio+20 Conference were not able to reach a global consensus on the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries, despite their indispensable importance to the transition to the green economy. Rio+20 outcome document also includes general reference to IPRs which are closely related to technology transfer. This evolution on technology transfer and IPRs role in an international policy document that constitutes part of the global institutional reforms is characterised ‘a step backwards’ by developing countries. Whether this evolution would affect the transfer of technologies relevant to the conservation and sustainable management of genetic resources is the question.
After providing an overview of the main aspects of a national legislation on biodiversity protection, the first part of this research addresses green economy and international law of agricultural diversity and biodiversity. The second mainly focuses on agricultural sustainability, technology transfer and IPRs in Rio and beyond. The normative aspects of the global institutional reforms, focusing on Rio+20, that govern the present and future allocation of rights over PGRs would provide a legitimate framework towards further propritisation of these resources. Additionally, despite green technology transfer under the Rio+20 outcome document is one of the most contended issues, provisions of the transfer of conservation related technologies of the CBD and ITPGR place the burden of biodiversity conservation on developing countries by requiring adequate and effective protection to IPRs in this context. Therefore, these aspects have to be considered in developing a national legislation on agrodiversity protection.