for Monday, 25 June:
The sixth extraordinary session of the Commission on Genetic
Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) opened today at
the FAO headquarters in Rome. In a brief morning Plenary,
delegates heard opening statements, considered the agenda
and organizational matters, and adjourned for the day to make
way for regional consultations. Informal consultations of
the technical groups on the list of crop genera and the use
of terms took place in the evening. Above: Delegates entering
the Red Room shortly before the Opening Plenary was convened.
Chair Fernando Gerbasi (Venezuela) opened the session and
reviewed the history of the negotiating process on the
Revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic
Resources for Food and Agriculture (IU), noting that the extraordinary
session was convened to conclude negotiations of the IU for
its submission to the 31st FAO Conference in November 2001.
He reported that the 120th FAO Council meeting held from 18-23
June had recognized that agreement had been reached in many
difficult areas, that a number of substantial issues were
still under discussion, and underscored the need to reach
decisions by consensus.
Assistant Director-General Louise Fresco emphasized the short
time available to conclude
the negotiations and offer the agricultural sector the opportunity
to shape solutions that suit it best and encourage that they
conclude the IU before being pre-empted by other parallel
processes. She called for creativity, flexibility, the art
of listening and of clarity in formulating intentions, positions
Gerbasi reviewed progress made
in the working groups addressing legal matters, the list
of crops under the multilateral system (MS) and definitions,
and noted the results as included in Appendices I-III
also discussed the potential legal and institutional housing
of a successfully negotiated International Undertaking.
the organization of work,
Chair Gerbasi proposed that the Plenary deals with Articles
1-18 of the Chairman's simplified text (CGRFA/Ex-6/01/2)
and the Committee of the Whole (COW) deals with Articles
19-32. The working groups on the list of crops and on
definitions would work in evening sessions.
Cooper of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Secretariat
referenced relevant CBD COP-5 decisions,
in particular decisions V/5 on agricultural biodiversity and
V/26 on access and benefit-sharing, which highlight the importance
of the IU in the implementation of the CBD. He also noted
the CBD COP's willingness to consider a decision by the FAO
Conference that the IU become a legally-binding instrument
with strong links to both the FAO and the CBD.
Esquinas-Alcazar, CGRFA Secretary
the Chair's opening remarks to heart, a group of delegates
sat down in the hallway to negotiate informally as soon as
the opening Plenary was adjourned!