Eilert Sundts hus (kart)
Moltke Moes vei 31
Implementing International Environmental Agreements in Developing Countries: the Creation and Impact of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
The negotiation process leading up to the formation of the Biodiversity Convention and the domestic implementation of this international agreement is the topic of this dissertation by G. Kristin Rosendal. She is studying how institutional factors at the international level may influence the formation process of an international environmental agreement (IEA), and subsequently affect relevant policies in a developing country (IEA implementation). The empirical material is procured through interviews and document analysis, placing the study within the qualitative methodology domain.
In the dissertation, Rosendal applies three perspectives from international relations theory in order to examine how these may shed light on the negotiation process and result. A central question is how these perspectives may account for the relatively, and surprisingly, high degree of breakthrough for the interests of the developing countries in the international agreement. In the next part of the analysis, a domestic implementation model is developed. This is done partly for the examination of how national biodiversity policies correspond to the international agreement, and also with a view to control for domestic factors. Finally, the links between international and domestic level factors are examined by proposing and focusing on four mechanisms through which an international institution may affect domestic policies: through legitimacy and perceived obligations, through the establishment of incentive and enabling mechanisms, through stabilising mutual expectations among the implementing states and through strengthening domestic groups and individuals in the civil society.
Evidence is found that the international institution have had an impact on national biodiversity policies � the biodiversity issue is quite easily translated as a priority in domestic policy-making. This opportunity is hardly utilised, however, as compatible legislation is lacking among developed county parties. There are some indications that central actors in international biodiversity transactions � major seeds corporations, botanical gardens and scientific institutions � are choosing to adhere to the new rules and principles provided by the CBD on equitable sharing in genetic resources transactions. This trend is, however, more pronounced among private actors than within the public sector.
First part of analysis: International level � negotiations and output
Background: There is a widespread consensus that the loss of biodiversity represents a threat to the most basic human needs, essentially in food and medicine. There is similarly little doubt that the greatest variety of species and genetic diversity, as well as the greatest losses of this diversity takes place in developing countries in the South. This situation has put the spotlight on the need for biodiversity conservation in tropical countries. At the same time, the rapid developments within in the new biotechnologies has brought the economic potentials of biodiversity to the attention of politicians and corporate interests world-wide. Along with this attention came the resolve in many OECD countries to strengthen national patent legislation in order to secure private rights to genetic resources � the raw materials of the food and pharmaceutical industries. This environmental threat coupled with the huge economic potential of the biological resources gave rise to a vehement North - South controversy during the international biodiversity negotiations.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) seeks to respond to both of these conditions, as it combines the principles of conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits derived from use of biological resources. The principles of equitable sharing of benefits and equal responsibility for conservation costs render the CBD largely as a victory of the South � at least a symbolic victory.
Theoretical approach: The negotiation process leading up to the CBD is analysed from three perspectives from international relations theory � a power-based, an interest-based and an ideational (normative/cognitive) perspective. The aim is to examine whether these may shed light on the negotiation result, and subsequently the implementation process (Chapters 3 to 6).
Findings: The finding that the South actually did win through with their claims seemed rather unprecedented in the history of international negotiations and agreements. It suggested that the time, place and procedures for negotiating environmental treaties make a difference. At the same time, it could mean that the North has little intention to follow up their part of the deal. The manner in which related aspects of the issue has been, and is being dealt with, in overlapping and partly competing international fora may still carry structural effects, negating efforts to achieve the objectives of the CBD. Dominant actors may still have their way, as they may have greater impact on choosing the "right" forum for advocating their interests. The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) under the World Trade Organisation will be up for review in 1999, and is likely to reaffirm the strongly conflicting positions of the parties in the biodiversity issue. Thus, concern for competitiveness in the biotechnology sector may increasingly take precedence over concerns for improved conservation and equitable sharing of benefits in the biodiversity issue-area. In practical terms, this would mean that Northern governments are less likely to establish relevant legislation, such as providing the requirement in patent legislation that all genetic material must be obtained on mutually agreed terms and on prior informed consent.
Increasing the potential for successful implementation, however, some important users are changing their behaviour in the "prescribed" direction: There are some indications that central actors in international biodiversity transactions � major seeds corporations, botanical gardens and scientific institutions � are choosing to adhere to the new rules and principles provided by the CBD on equity and fair sharing in genetic resources transactions. This trend is far more pronounced among private actors than within the public sector. Private seeds collection agencies may be more open to seeing the potential competitive advantage of building a fair and above-board image in germplasm transactions. By contrast, the public sector seems intimidated by what it perceives as a demand from the same private sector actors to provide the biotechnology industry with strong patent systems.
Second part of analysis: National & International links in domestic implementation
Background: An underlying premise in this analysis is that a symbolic victory alone is far from sufficient for starting to resolve the problems within the biodiversity issue-area. This has been my rationale for examining whether and how the principles of the CBD seem to be gaining strength by being translated into practical politics. I have also argued that this translation into national policies is equally important in the North and in the South. Concurrent action is a necessary condition for progress in the issue-area, as countries would not have the will or ability to solve the problems single-handedly.
Hence, I asked what could be expected in terms of such domestic legislation. The odds did not seem very good. The developing countries were expected to have an incentive for action due to their victory in the negotiations, but basically their adherence would depend on other parties complying with the principle of equitable sharing. The developed countries can hardly be pressured to adhere to their obligations. This is partly due to the inherent nature of international relations � with no central international authority to force states to fulfil their international duties. Moreover, the developed countries have few incentives to comply, as they have access to breeding material (seeds) through international gene banks and appear as the stronger part in bioprospecting deals. Hence, the South has limited sanctions to induce such adherence.
Theoretical approach: In this second part of the analysis, a domestic implementation model is developed. This is done partly for the examination of how national biodiversity policies correspond to the international agreement, and also with a view to control for domestic factors. Finally, the links between international and domestic level factors are examined by proposing and focusing on four mechanisms through which an international institution may affect domestic policies: through legitimacy and perceived obligations (moral mechanism), through the establishment of incentive and enabling mechanisms (material), through stabilising mutual expectations among the implementing states (mutual reassurance) and through strengthening domestic groups and individuals in the civil society (empowerment).
Findings: The analysis revealed a rather high level of consistency between the CBD and Ethiopian biodiversity policies. I then went on to ask how this consistency could be explained by institutional mechanisms. I was particularly interested in whether the CBD had changed the established way of i) viewing international exchange of and access to seeds among users and owners, and ii) formulating conservation projects. I found that the CBD was regarded as a useful and fair framework for linking domestic biodiversity policies, especially with regard to controlling access to plant genetic resources (seeds). On the other hand, the expectations for external financial transfers for biodiversity projects in the wake of the CBD were very high and probably exaggerated. The money provided by external donors was increasing, but often tied to conditions that seemed to negate the Ethiopian government�s efforts to follow up some of the objectives of the CBD. Hence, I found evidence that the international institution have had an impact on domestic policies through both moral and material mechanisms � effects which are enhanced by domestic factors, such as a high level of domestic commitment to fulfil these international obligations. This opportunity is hardly utilised, however, as the mutual reassurance mechanism is still lacking (Chapters 7 to 9).
With regard to domestic implementation in owner countries, the lessons from Ethiopia are broadly optimistic: The biodiversity issue links up with long-standing domestic traditions � national sovereignty over biological resources, equitable sharing of benefits from use of biological resources � and is hence enhancing a strong domestic commitment and awareness. Hence, the biodiversity issue is quite easily translated as a priority in domestic policy-making. On the negative side, traditional approaches to biodiversity conservation among donors may obstruct recipients� efforts to adhere to the CBD: Wildlife conservation still takes precedence over on-farm, in-situ plant genetic resources projects. Wildlife conservation projects and policies are more likely to be one step removed from local and indigenous community participation, and are more likely to be dominated by standard approaches within development aid. This consistent Northern conservation bias remains a central constraint on the international commitment to share responsibility for CBD implementation. It is important to co-operate with owner countries (principally recipients) in defining projects which fit into their own policy agenda, in order to secure commitment for domestic implementation.