Nagoya To Host UN Biodiversity Conference In 2009, Facing Protests


(Traditional rice cake pounding, photo from GNJ)

Farmers and activists in Japan are surprised and increasingly upset that Japan will host the next UN Biodiversity conference (COP 10) in Nagoya. In Aiichi prefecture, large construction projects are reducing fertile soil and rice paddies to yet another highway or urban sprawl. As they brought the kids and gathered at Noda Farm for a New Years festival a couple of days ago, people were asking, "Why Nagoya?"

Noda Farm has been a thriving agricultural center since the Edo Period (1603-1868) and has developed into a popular spot for organic farmers and Sachiko Noda is clearly sad about the destruction nearby. Local groups are supporting efforts to stop the Nagoya Urban Development Corporation, an auxiliary organization of Nagoya City Office and the Specification Land Readjustment Association of Nakashidami. Their day of infamy, so to speak, was December 18, 2008...


(Demonstration outside Nagoya City Office)

In spite of all the manufacturing in Aiichi prefecture (Toyota has its headquarters near Nagoya, in Toyoda City), it is still a very lush area with many green hills and streams. The rice fields in particular are striking; a reminder of how Japan used to live in harmony with the environment, able to feed its population and enjoy a high level of cultural sophistication - in the Edo Period, literacy was promotted at temple schools in the countryside, and the farmers enjoyed some degree of independence.

The fact that Nagoya will host the UN Biodiversity conference later in 2009 is going to put some pressure on Japan to re-think its "modern development" practices, with massive construction projects that some see as the result of "pork-barell politics" (while of course many others are glad to get better roads). But we cannot feed 120 million people if car exports continue to drop. And why destroy yet another rice paddy area, and its incredibly complex biological diversity of the soil and the water - and its farmers?

The COP 10 website is up and running, with inspriring musings on "lush nature" and "rich biodiversity":

The abundant nature in this region can be attributed to the many streams and rivers that flow through its central region. The Shounai River and the Kiso Three Rivers are among the largest to pass through the Noubi plain. They are complemented by the many streams and rivers that flow from the mountains deep in the Mikawa region. Nearby is the Ise Bay region where the land is not as fertile, but the abundant aquatic resources of the many rivers and the Ise Bay all contribute to rich biodiversity. At the rear-most section of this region you will find the Chubu Mountains, whose lush nature is in integral component of local religions and traditions. These mountains give way to the Ise Bay area that channels water runoff into sea. This is an area with diverse ecosystems.

Through the years, the people of this region have treated this natural setting as sacred and have lived in close harmony with it. This close contact with nature has given birth to a myriad of traditional arts and discerning craftsmanship.


As I saved the photo above to make this post for Treehugger, with its striking image of the destroyed irrigation channel that had been bringing water for the local rice paddies, the caption that appeared was, "it's so painful!"

Read more about biodiversity:
Ramsar Wetland Convention Meeting in Korea: Protecting Rice Paddies
Encyclopedia Of Life Goes Live
The (Bio) DaVersity Code from Free Range Studios
Averting "Livestock Meltdown": Biodiversity Key To Global Food Security
E.O. Wilson's The Creation

Brought to you by Martin Frid at greenz.jp

Tags: Activism | Agriculture | Biodiversity | Farming | Japan | United Nations