Biodiversity, Biosafety, and the Principles Involved
Who is Christine von Weizsäcker?
Christine von Weizsäcker is a biologist, author, researcher and activist who has participated in the negotiations of the Rio Process on Sustainable Development since 1992, and has been nominated and appointed as the expert for the major group “Women” in the negotiations leading up to Rio+20. Since 1994, she has participated as an NGO representative in the negotiations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Protocols: the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety the Subsidiary, Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol, and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing. She has been working on technology assessment for civil society since the mid-seventies. Her many publications and lectures have contributed to the scientific and public debate on nuclear technology, genetic engineering, sustainable consumption and production patterns, and, of course, addressed many aspects of the wide biodiversity agenda. She is president of Ecoropa and member of the Board of the Association of German Scientists. Amongst the many awards she has received, she is particularly proud of the “Certificate of Appreciation” by the Red de Mujeres Indigenas sobre Biodiversidad.
Ms. von Weizsäcker expresses how she has enjoyed listening and learning through her participation in many negotiations and drafting processes such as the biodiversity convention, biosafety protocol, the Earth Charter, and more. Her elaboration on the meaning and importance of the Precautionary Principle, the Polluter Pays Principle and the Environment Democracy Principle is full of insights and clarity. She reflects on the power dynamics in some negotiations and also in the causes and on the consequences of environmental degradation. On the interactions among different actors to move forward in the implementation of these principles, she uses an example in the COVID context. She outlines some of the deep challenges that every organization faces, including finding the right level of engagement and responsibility, building consensus, and listening to the voices of the unheard. Towards the end, she encourages people to travel to the unknown with all the navigating tools and to act on the best available knowledge, as the world cannot afford to wait.
Questions and Themes Addressed in this Episode
- How has the participation of non-state actors in UN negotiation processes evolved in the past 30 years?
- Reflections on the Earth Charter drafting process.
- What are some of the language that was brought from the Biosafety negotiations to the Earth Charter drafting process?
- What is the uniqueness of the Earth Charter as a document?
- An elaboration on:
- The Precautionary Principle (Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration and Principle 6 of the Earth Charter)
- Genetically modified organisms – What are the issues behind them?
- The Polluter Pays Principle (Principle 12 of the Rio Declaration and Principle 7d and others of the Earth Charter)
- The Environment Democracy Principle (Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and Principle 13 of the Earth Charter)
- The interaction among different actors for the principles to move forward
- In the context of the Convention on Biodiversity of 1992, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and now the new Biodiversity Agenda beyond 2020, what are the existing challenges, and what are the major steps required for the way forward?
- A comment on her remark: “We have to act with islands of knowledge in an ocean of not-knowing.”
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