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UN DOALOS Eighth Session of the Open-ended
Informal Consultative Process
on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

UN Headquarters, New York | 25-29 June 2007
United Nations
 
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ICP-8 Delegates Discuss Cooperation and Challenges

On Wednesday, delegates to the eighth meeting of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (Consultative Process or ICP-8) reconvened in a discussion panel on marine genetic resources (MGRs). In the morning, a discussion was held on international cooperation and coordination on MGR issues relating to current activities at the global and regional levels. In the afternoon, delegates addressed issues regarding current and future challenges. At the close of the session, a Co-Chairs' paper on possible elements to be suggested to the UN General Assembly was distributed to delegates for consideration.

Above: Delegates waited to be let back into UN headquarters after an evacuation drill on a sweltering New York afternoon.


Wednesday, 27 June
Discussion Panel on MGRs: Current Activities at the Global and Regional Levels


Jihyun Lee, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), outlined the CBD Articles and CoP8 decisions that relate to MGRs, and outlined a number of studies that will be reviewed and considered at CBD SBSTTA-13 in 2008.

Rama Rao, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), described WIPO's work on genetic resources, which he said has dealt chiefly with traditional knowledge relating to genetic resources.

Tony Ribbink, Sustainable Seas Trust, South Africa, described his organization's commitment to addressing the conservation challenges in the Western Indian Ocean through the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme.

Margaret Tivey, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, US, noted the complexity of deep sea hydrothermal vent fauna and environments, and stressed the need for research to gain understanding on how organisms adapt to conditions associated with vent fields.

Leonard Hirsch, US, explained fears of biopiracy stem from past cases where patents were wrongly issued. He said patents were rescinded once traditional knowledge on which they relied was identified, demonstrating that the patent system works.

Porfirio Álvarez-Torres, Mexico, asked for information on access to public-domain MGR information.
Side Event

At lunchtime, the Expert Group on Biogeographic Criteria of Open and Deep Ocean Environments held a side event on "The Contribution of Biogeographic Approaches to the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Genetic Resources."
Discussion Panel on MGRs: Current and Future Challenges

Harlan Cohen, IUCN, spoke on ensuring conservation and sustainable use of MGRs, highlighting that the Antarctic Treaty and its Protocol on Environmental Protection could serve as a model for prior assessment of environmental impacts.

Marcos de Almeida, Ministry of Defense, Brazil, on behalf of Cassiano Monteiro-Neto, Fluminense Federal University, Brazil, noted the promise that MGRs hold for biotechnology uses such as aquaculture, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Timothy Hodges, Co-Chair, CBD Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-Sharing, said the institutional framework for biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction bioprospecting is poorly understood and governance structures are under debate.

Sam Johnston, United Nations University, provided an overview of regional efforts to address genetic resource use, focusing on examples from the Antarctic Treaty system, which he said had much in common with efforts to consider MGRs under UNCLOS.

Lisa Speer, NRDC, discussed challenges related to conserving and appropriately managing MGRs, especially overfishing, destructive fishing practices, climate change and ocean acidification.

Noting that the biosphere is a living organism, the Russian Federation asked what should be considered as a starting point when trying to preserve MGRs.

Colombia asked how to create incentives to enhance or develop capacity building in the spirit of cooperation, instead of assistance.

Satya Nandan, International Seabed Authority, discussed monitoring and regulation of activities in the deep seabed.

Co-Chair Lori Ridgeway, Canada, summarized points raised during the day's discussions.

Related Links

UNICPOLOS Site.
UN Division for Oceans Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS).
Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) - Chapter 17.

Related ENB Coverage

Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the Ad Hoc Working Group on marine biodiversity
Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of UNICPOLOS-7
Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of UNICPOLOS-6
Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of UNICPOLOS-5
Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of UNICPOLOS-4

Linkages Update.
Oceans-L oceans policy news and announcement Listserve.
MEA-L Multilateral Environmental Agreements Listserve.
Africa Regional Coverage.

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