Strong policy vs bio-pirates, illegal wildlife traders sought

September 17, 2018

AN environmentalist lawmaker has urged Asia Pacific leaders and policymakers to develop a strong policy and regulatory framework on genetic resources and benefit sharing amid threats of biodiversity loss and biopiracy.

Speaking during the recent 4th BioFin Regional Workshop of Asia and the Pacific in Cebu, Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine “Nene” Ramirez-Sato said developing a strong policy and regulatory framework on genetic resource access and benefit sharing is an arena where partners of Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) can work together as she bats for the formation of the “Asia Pacific Bayanihan for Genetic Resources Access and Benefit Sharing.”

Sato, a legislative biodiversity champion of the UNDP in the Philippines, said the Asia Pacific Region is rich in cultural diversity.

A biodiversity-rich province in the MIMAROPA Region, Sato said bio-piracy, bio-prospecting including illegal wildlife trade is a major concern among Asian countries while underscoring the need to harmonize policy on access-and-benefit sharing of genetic resources across the countries in the region.

”Policy and regulation at a regional scale are absolutely important if we are to make it harder if not deny bio-pirates and illegal wildlife traders the conduct of their trade,” says Sato, a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA).

A former governor of Occidental Mindoro, a biodiversity-rich province in the MIMAROPA Region, Sato said if the policy is not adopted at a regional scale, the tendency would be for bio-pirates and illegal wildlife traders to conduct their business in countries with weaker regulation.

Hence, she underscored the need for a common, holistic platform boosted by a collaborative and coordinated approach involving the highest level of leadership across countries in the Asia Pacific to stop the wanton abuse of biodiversity.

Sato, a principal author of the original bill of Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act has been pushing to close the financing gap to enhance biodiversity protection and conservation in the face of the rapid rate of biodiversity loss.

The law aims to boost Protected Area management in the Philippines, as well as increase budget for the rehabilitation and development of a total of 94 Protected Areas (PAs) on top of the 13 PAs backed with legislation since 1992.

The law expands the coverage of the PA in terms of areas by around 3.5 million hectares or about 10 percent of the country’s total land area.