By: Dr. Mohamed Elsaie
The Egyptian Senate approved yesterday a new law that maximizes the economic value of biological resources. This law is a necessary step as Egypt is rich in natural resources and biological diversity and that these resources should be preserved to achieve environmental balance and push the country’s socio-economic development plans forward.
Biological resources represent plants and animals that are within and outside protected areas and Egypt has an abundance of more than 30,000 rare plant and animal species of economic values. Such vulnerable and valuable species are targets for international institutions seeking to utilize them to develop drugs and cosmetics and to develop bio-technology industries without sharing the returns of these resources with the country of origin.
Egypt decided to join the ‘Nagoya Biological Diversity Protocol’, which regulates the share of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way. The protocol adopted in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan and entered into force in 2014— obligates contracting parties to take measures that help conserve biological diversity in nature and prevent the extinction of rare species.
Egypt has as many as 120 protected areas, which include a wealth of natural and biological resources that the world needs to produce drugs and cosmetics and such legislation could generate much of financial resources for the state treasury.
The law is in line with Article 32 of the constitution, which obligates the state to preserve natural resources, effectively utilize them, avoid depleting them, and preserves the rights of future generations to them and comes as a first law to regulate biologic diversity and resources since 1994.
The draft law stipulates that those who seek access to biological resources cannot use these resources without prior approval and licensing from the National Apparatus for Biological Resources, which is part of the Ministry of Environment.
Those who have access to biological resources will be obliged to make sure that their activities do not lead to the loss of biodiversity or ecosystem degradation that might pose major risks to human survival and sustainable development.