Biodiversity and Wildlife
Seminar Considers Ecosystems' Role as Water Suppliers
December 2004: The role of ecosystems as water suppliers was the focus of a seminar organized by the Swiss government and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The seminar, which convened from 13-14 December 2004 in Geneva, provided a platform for government officials to meet experts from international and non-governmental organizations and the private sector, and share knowledge on the role of forests and wetlands in the water cycle and the advantages related to their sustainable use, protection and restoration to ensure sustainable water management.
The meeting documented experiences within and outside the UNECE region on best practices and concrete implementation measures aimed at integrating forests and wetlands in sustainable water management.
The seminar resulted in recommendations to promote integrated policies and strategies and facilitate their implementation. These recommendations will be presented at the thirteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-13) in New York in April 2005, and will be submitted for adoption to the Parties to the UNECE Water Convention at their fourth meeting in 2006. The seminar also fostered the development of concrete joint activities at international, regional, transboundary, national and local levels, and will be considered at the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in Uganda in November 2005.
A second seminar focusing on environmental services and financing for the protection and sustainable use of ecosystems will be organized in 2005. This seminar is expected to explore the experience of solidarity between upstream and downstream communities, specifically considering the practice of protecting and sustainably-using ecosystems (forests and wetlands) by means of innovative economic tools such as payments for environmental services through successful public-private partnerships and public-public partnerships. More information
TRIPS COUNCIL DEBATES BIODIVERSITY, TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE
A proposal aimed at moving forward the debate over the relationship between intellectual property rights, biodiversity and traditional knowledge was the focus on discussions at a recent World Trade Organization meeting.
The WTO's Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) took up the issue from 1-2 December 2004. Delegates discussed a proposal submitted by Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand and Venezuela.
The proposal focused on disclosure of prior informed consent in patents involving the use of biological resources, with reference to Article 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The topic forms part of a Checklist of Issues on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD that was submitted by these delegations in March 2004. The Checklist covered matters such as disclosure of origin, prior informed consent, and benefit-sharing.
According to a report on the meeting from the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), most other WTO Members reiterated their previous positions on the issue. Stating that mandatory disclosure is inappropriate, the US suggested that there is no inherent conflict between TRIPS and the CBD, and supported a contract-based approach. The EU suggested that mandatory disclosure would be suitable. Switzerland supported voluntary disclosure of the source, while noting that the World Intellectual Property Organization's Patent Cooperation Treaty is the appropriate forum for this discussion. Canada, Australia and New Zealand proposed testing the three positions, examining how they could have avoided the granting of inappropriate patents. In spite of the divergent views, the debate was reported to be considerably more constructive than those in previous meetings.
Links to further information
The proposal (IP/C/W/438)
ICTSD Trade BioRes report, 3 December 2004
3RD IUCN WORLD CONSERVATION CONGRESS: PEOPLE AND NATURE, ONLY ONE WORLD
Hosted in Bangkok, the Third IUCN World Conservation Congress took as its theme, “People and Nature – Only One World.” The Congress attracted more than 4,800 participants, including over 40 Ministers, 1,000 scientists, and numerous participants from business, industry, and the non-profit sector.
The Congress comprised three main elements: the Commissions at Work, which met from 15-17 November to assess the work of IUCN's six Commissions; the World Conservation Forum, which convened from 18-20 November to take stock of biodiversity conservation; and the Members' Business Assembly, which took place from 21-25 November to address governance, policy and programmatic issues of IUCN.
During the two-week Congress, participants were presented with the world's latest scientific knowledge, while high-level roundtables brought together ministers and senior representatives from the business and NGO sectors to discuss a range of conservation and sustainable development challenges. At the conclusion of the Congress, IUCN members approved 118 resolutions and recommendations aimed at improving the governance, programmes and policies of the Union. Members also elected their new Council, with Mohammed Valli Moosa (South Africa) as their new President.
The resolutions and recommendations addressed a series of topics, including: a call for a moratorium on the further release of genetically modified organisms; the establishment of the World Conservation Learning Network to build the capacity of conservation and development professionals; actions that contribute to combating poverty through nature conservation; conservation and sustainable management of high seas biodiversity; and work with indigenous peoples, particularly in the establishment and management of protected areas.
Links to further information
The Sustainable Developments report
IUCN Congress website
Special issue of the IUCN Bulletin
Bridges Trade Biores
, Special World Conservation Congress Update, 20 November 2004
GEF Council Decides on Further Consultations on Resource Allocation Framework
19 November 2004: The GEF Council, which met from 17-19 November in Washington DC, took decisions on: the process for monitoring and evaluation relations with Council and other entities; action plan to respond to recommendations of the project performance review; management response to the review of GEF's engagement with the private sector; programme studies on biodiversity, climate change and international waters; the OPS3 inception report; the four year work plan; verification of replenishment targets; fourth replenishment of the GEF Trust Fund; work programme; institutional relations; resource allocation framework; business plan; amendments to the instrument; climate change funds; and recommendations of the working group on medium-sized projects.
The expected decision on the GEF's resource allocation framework was deferred to the June 2005 Council meeting, where the three motions tabled by Council Members will be negotiated. In this regard, the Secretariat has been requested to facilitate further consultations on the framework in early March 2005. The Council also took a decision on the development of a private sector strategy, agreeing that such a strategy should be based on an analysis of the barriers to private sector participation in the GEF and means to overcome those barriers. The Council will consider the Strategy at its December 2005 meeting.
On the Small Grants Programme (SGP), the Council agreed to an increase in funding to US$47 million for the first year of GEF SGP OP3 (mid-February 2005 to mid-February 2006). Regarding desertification, the Council requested the Secretariat to circulate the draft memorandum of understanding describing arrangements to facilitate collaboration between the GEF and the UNCCD for further consideration at its June 2005 meeting. On the UNFCCC climate change funds, the Council endorsed its programming document as an operational basis for funding of activities under the Special Climate Change Fund. The Council deferred its consideration of agenda items on: land degradation; the process for selecting the CEO/Chairman of the Facility; and other business.[GEF November 2004 Council meeting documents
ITPGR INTERIM COMMITTEE MAKES SLOW PROGRESS
The latest session of the Interim Committee for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) has ended without any breakthrough in negotiations, according to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.
Four months after the entry into force of the ITPGR, the Treaty's Interim Committee made little headway in working through a heavy agenda when it met from 15-19 November, in Rome. The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) is acting as the Interim Committee.
The heavy workload at what was only the Committee's second ever session was partly a reflection of the amount of work necessary to prepare for the first meeting of the ITPGR's Governing Body. It was also due to the fact that an intersessional working group established during the Committee's first session to address the Governing Body's rules of procedure, financial rules, and compliance issues did not meet due to a lack of funds.
A particular problem faced by the Committee at its second session related to the organization of work. To the frustration of many developed countries, developing countries required a considerable amount of time for regional consultations and G-77 coordination, and opposed any negotiation in parallel or small groups. Negotiations were difficult and slow, and the meeting managed to produce only heavily bracketed text on the rules of procedure and the financial rules for the Governing Body. However, compromise text was agreed on the terms of reference for an intersessional contact group on the standard Material Transfer Agreement (MTA), allowing for work on the MTA, the main concern of most developed countries, to continue. Agreement was also reached on the establishment of another intersessional working group to deal with the rules of procedure and financial rules for the Governing Body, compliance and the funding strategy, the latter being a priority item for developing countries. In that regard, the meeting laid down the foundations to prepare for the first session of the Governing Body. However, much depends on intersessional work and the extra-budgetary resources needed to ensure successful completion of that work. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin
COMMISSION ON GENETIC RESOURCES CONSIDERS WORK PROGRAMME
A new work programme was one of the main issues on the agenda at a recent meeting of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA).
Discussions at the CGRFA's tenth regular session focused on a multi-year programme of work that will be prepared for submission to the next session. In this regard, the re-orientation towards aspects of the Commission's mandate such as forestry, fisheries and microbial genetic resources was highlighted, as was the inclusion of the agro-ecosystem approach in the future work programme. Although little progress was reported on the long-standing issue of the draft code of conduct on biotechnology, delegates decided that it will be included in the forthcoming programme of work.
Delegates also considered agenda items relating to plant and animal genetic resources and cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and held a dialogue session with civil society. Implementation of ongoing activities regarding plant and animal genetic resources received considerable attention. It was noted that animal genetic resources were at the center of developments, and an international technical conference was scheduled for 2007 to mark the completion of the first report on the State of the World's animal genetic resources.
The Commission's latest session, which took place in Rome from 8-12 November, marked the twentieth anniversary of the CGRFA and the entry into force of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR). The Earth Negotiations Bulletin
CETACEANS TREATY STATES SET FUTURE PRIORITIES
Parties to a regional treaty that seeks to protect dolphins and whales have agreed on a work programme setting out their priorities for the next three years.
The second meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area was held in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, from 9-12 November. The 16 Parties to the agreement adopted a work programme listing priority actions for the period 2005-2007 to improve regional conservation efforts for whales and dolphins. Parties supported collaboration with relevant conventions and organizations, and agreed to contribute towards implementation of the joint work programme between the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The meeting also addressed the impact of man-made noise on cetaceans, agreeing on a resolution urging range States to try to avoid underwater sound that might cause adverse effects on cetaceans, and to exercise extreme caution until satisfactory guidelines are developed. Parties also welcomed a conservation plan for the common dolphin in the Mediterranean Sea and stressed the need to ensure that fishing operations are conducted in full accordance with existing regulations aimed at the mitigation of cetacean bycatch.
Links to further information
Official documents on the meeting
CMS press release
WIPO COMMITTEE DISCUSSES TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE PROTECTION
Policies and principles to help protect traditional knowledge were the focus of a recent meeting convened by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
WIPO's Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore was held in Geneva from 1-5 November. With 104 member States in attendance, the Committee continued its work on concrete outcomes for the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural expressions. It also reviewed a set of draft provisions compiling suggestions on policy objectives and core principles to help protect traditional knowledge and cultural expressions against misappropriation and misuse. Delegates explored a series of relevant issues, including how specific methods to protect traditional knowledge might fit within the existing intellectual property system, and possible reforms of the intellectual property system. They also discussed what the appropriate legal forms of protection might be, and addressed questions of national and international jurisdiction. In their discussions, delegates emphasized the need for close coordination with other international processes and agreed on a process to move forward by inviting written comments on the draft proposals. The Committee also addressed arrangements to enhance the involvement of indigenous and local communities and agreed to develop plans for a voluntary fund to support their participation.
Links to further information
Documents and decisions from the meeting
WIPO press release
WORKSHOP ADDRESSES BIOSAFETY PROTOCOL DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS
A workshop was held recently to address urgent capacity-building needs relating to the Biosafety Protocol's documentation requirements.
Convened from 1-3 November 2004, in Bonn, Germany, the workshop on “capacity building and exchange of experiences as related to the implementation of paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Biosafety Protocol” was intended to provide an opportunity for information exchange on the understanding of documentation requirements and their appropriate implementation. The meeting also aimed to facilitate future discussions in the technical expert group on identification requirements of paragraph 2(a) of Article 18. The expert group's discussions are scheduled for March 2005.
Participants at the workshop heard and discussed presentations on existing documentation systems and their use in implementing the identification requirements of the Biosafety Protocol with respect to certain living modified organisms (LMOs).This includes LMOs that are intended for direct use as food or feed or for processing, that are destined for contained use, or that are intended for intentional introduction into the environment. Participants also discussed national and regional experiences in implementing existing documentation systems and capacity needs of developing countries, and the use of unique identifiers in documentation accompanying LMOs.
Participants emphasized the importance of the Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) in implementing Protocol requirements. They also recognized the need for continuous capacity-building activities for developing countries, particularly in relation to the provision of and access to information in the BCH, scientific and technical capacities for testing and detection of LMOs, and handling and understanding the information provided on the documentation. The workshop report
MEETING OF THE TECHNICAL GROUP OF EXPERTS ON LIABILITY AND REDRESS UNDER THE CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOSAFETY
A meeting of experts has been held to discuss liabilities in relation to the treatment of living modified organisms (LMOs) under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
The technical group of experts on liability and redress in the context of the Cartagena Protocol met from 18-20 October 2004 in Montreal, Canada to undertake the preparatory work needed ahead of the first meeting of an Open-ended Working Group formed to address the issue.
The expert group identified areas where the Open-ended Working Group could benefit from additional information, and asked the Secretariat to arrange for the provision of such information. Information gaps identified by the group included those relating to the scientific analysis and assessment of risks involved in the transboundary movement of LMOs, as well as those dealing with determining damage to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Other gaps covered issues of socio-economic damage, the availability of financial security to cover liability, and the status of treaties providing for third-party liability.
The group also identified a list of scenarios, options, approaches and issues for further consideration by the Open-ended Working Group. Among the scenarios were those relating to field trials or commercial growing of LMO crops, laboratory tests of LMO viruses, the placing of products containing LMOs on the market, shipment of LMOs, and transboundary movement of LMOs that cause damage to global commons. Other issues that were identified related to the scope of damage resulting from transboundary movements of LMOs, the definition and valuation of damage, and questions of liability and financial security. The report of the meeting
CITES COP-13 REVISES TRADE RULES FOR RAMIN, GREAT WHITE SHARK, HUMPHEAD WRASSE, RHINOS AND OTHER SPECIES; FOCUSES ON ILLEGAL TRADE AND ENFORCEMENT
The thirteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-13) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened from 2-14 October 2004, in Bangkok, Thailand.
Approximately 1,200 participants representing governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations addressed a range of topics, including 50 proposals to amend the CITES appendices, enforcement and administrative matters, and cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Delegates decided to list ramin (a Southeast Asian tree that produces high-value timber), agarwood, as well as the great white shark and the humphead wrasse, two fish species of great commercial value, on Appendix II. The Irrawaddy dolphin was uplisted from Appendix II to Appendix I. Regarding the African elephant, Namibia's request for an annual ivory quota was rejected, but Namibia was allowed to proceed with a strictly controlled sale of traditional ivory carvings. Furthermore, delegates agreed to an action plan aiming to crack down on unregulated domestic ivory markets. Namibia and South Africa were allowed to an annual quota of five black rhinos each for trophy hunting, and Swaziland was also allowed to open up strictly controlled hunting of white rhinos. Other decisions focused on synergies with FAO and the CBD, while enforcement issues received considerable attention, resulting in the announcement of a Southeast Asian regional action plan on trade in wild fauna and flora based on joint law enforcement.
COP-13 was characterized as a victory for conservationists, who applauded the listings of the Irrawady dolphin, the humphead wrasse, great white shark and ramin, and the rejection of the proposal to downlist minke whales. The elephant issue reflects the continuing balancing act within CITES between conservation and sustainable trade.
Links to further information
Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of CITES COP-13
CITES Press Release
, 14 October 2004
Big mammals in focus at UN wildlife conference
, Reuters News Service, 12 October 2004
Time to curb the wildlife trade
, Jane Goodall, 11 October 2004
CITES lifts ban on hunting black rhino
, Reuters News Service, 5 October 2004
White Rhino Caught in the Cross Hairs at CITES
, Environment News Network, 7 October 2004
CITES forbids commercial trade in rare dolphin
, Reuters News Service, 12 October 2004
CITES imposes trade controls on African diet plant
, Reuters News Service, 12 October 2004
Wildlife trade? It's a jungle out there
, The Guardian, 30 September 2004
CITES Does Not Follow Standard U.N. Divisions
, ENN, 14 October 2004
Namibia Loses Ivory Export Bid at CITES Meeting
, Reuters News Service, 13 October 2004
WIPO GENERAL ASSEMBLY MOVES ON DEVELOPMENT AND DISCLOSURE
The General Assemblies of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) were held from 29 September to 5 October 2004, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Among other issues, the meeting adopted a decision to begin discussions on enhancing the development dimension of WIPO's work, as proposed by Brazil and Argentina, and to respond to a CBD request for information on the interrelation of access to genetic resources and disclosure requirements in applications for intellectual property rights (IPR). It also reviewed the work of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC).
Following the proposal by Brazil and Argentina to establish a development agenda for WIPO, which was supported by many developing countries, delegates decided to hold a series of intersessional meetings to further examine the enhancement of the development dimension in WIPO's activities, as well as to organize a series of joint seminars on intellectual property and development with other international organizations.
Regarding the request by CBD COP-7 to examine the interrelation of access to genetic resources and disclosure requirements in IPR applications, the meeting established a process to be led by WIPO's Director-General with the participation of different WIPO bodies, Member States and observers. The outcome will be reviewed at an intergovernmental meeting in May 2005.
On related news, the TRIPS Council met on 21 September to consider a proposal by Brazil, India, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand and Venezuela, but, due to lack of agreement, failed to advance discussions on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and biodiversity issues and traditional knowledge.
Links to further information
WIPO General Assembly documents
WIPO Press Release, 5 October 2004
ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 8 October 2004
ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 23 September 2004
A Development Agenda for WIPO, South Centre
First International Ecoagriculture Conference and Practitioners' Fair ELABORATES ON THE POTENTIAL, CONCEPTS AND TOOLS NEEDED TO IMPLEMENT ECOAGRICULTURE
Ecoagriculture Partners, a partnership announced during the World Summit on Sustainable Development, organized an International Ecoagriculture Conference and Practitioners' Fair, which convened from 27 September to 1 October 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The meeting brought together over 200 innovators in ecoagriculture from diverse sectors. Participants reviewed evidence of the social, cultural, economic, environmental, institutional, technical, geographic and political characteristics of successful ecoagriculture initiatives, shared experiences, built new partnerships, and elaborated a number of specific recommendations for action to further the concepts and tools needed to implement ecoagriculture. They also developed the Nairobi Declaration on Ecoagriculture, which underscores the need for an ecoagriculture framework that seeks to simultaneously achieve improved livelihoods, biodiversity conservation and sustainable production at a landscape scale. The Declaration also calls on policymakers at the local, national, regional and global levels to: encourage multistakeholder participation and formation of strategic alliances for planning and implementing ecoagriculture; incorporate the wide range of grassroots and rural community innovations that simultaneously enhance productivity, livelihoods and ecosystem services; and advocate policies and actions that support the integration of food production with biodiversity, among others. The Sustainable Developments report
of this meeting.
African Policy Dialogues on Biotechnology - AFRICA WORKS TOWARDS POLICY CONSENSUS ON BIOTECHNOLOGY
The second session of the African Policy Dialogues on Biotechnology was held from 20-22 September 2004, in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Co-ordinated by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in collaboration with Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FARNPAN), the meeting brought together representatives from across Southern Africa with the aim of building consensus and strategies for common action on biotechnology in the region. Participants agreed on the need to develop a uniform policy on biotechnology and biosafety. However, views were polarized on the potential of modern biotechnology for food security.
Olivia Muchena, Zimbabwe's Minister of State for Science and Technology Development, opened the meeting underscoring that biotechnology is a very contentious issue. Noting that there are serious rifts over the economic, social and ecological value and costs of genetic engineering, and that proponents of the technology have often over exaggerated its benefits, she said that “statements such as ‘GMOs will stop hunger in Africa' are not only misplaced but also provocative. Narrowing the cause of hunger to the absence of one technology is really missing the point.” She stressed that “sound policies and not charity will determine whether the new biotechnologies will be a tool for human development in Southern Africa.” She invited participants to “think strategically, and act collectively as Africans to defend our resources, develop our capacity to feed ourselves, and maintain our dignity as we shape our future.”
Delegates agreed that capacity building is essential for African countries to carry out research on the risks and benefits of biotechnology. NEPAD's Science and Technology Forum Executive Secretary Joseph Mugabe noted that “increasing uncertainty and confusion in many of the African governments' responses to a wide range of social, ethical, environmental, trade and economic issues associated with the development and application of modern biotechnology is worrying.”
Delegates noted the existence of extreme positions that polarize the continent. Representatives of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Christian Aid said the technology posed a threat to small farmers, the environment and human health. Many delegates said that modern biotechnology has failed to deliver on its promises that GM crops would benefit consumers, poor farmers and the environment, and stressed the need for liability regulation, while other delegates stressed the challenge of embracing the technology while containing its risks. A series of regional meetings have been scheduled for the coming months in Africa, to continue the effort towards building consensus on biotechnology.
On related news, the 7th Annual AfrICANCO Trade and Investment Symposium was held from 16-18 September 2004, in Miami, US. Organized by the Foundation for Democracy in Africa, this year's symposium was held under the theme “Effective and efficient use of agricultural science, technology and research as tools for development in Africa.” The symposium aimed to create a forum to address the agricultural challenges and opportunities facing Africa, by promoting the use of scientific research, agricultural technology and the production of strategic agricultural commodities and other key activities as the first step towards solving Africa's food security issues and create a robust African agricultural economy. In a keynote address, US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman recalled that, at the West African Ministerial Conference (June 2004, Burkina Faso), four Heads of State from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Ghana endorsed the promise of biotechnology tailored to meet the needs of their individual countries. She announced several initiatives to build on the foundation laid at the Burkina Faso Ministerial, including: the examination of the cotton sector in West Africa by a US private and public sector team of experts, who will suggest ways of making cotton production more efficient and competitive; the organization of a follow-up conference in Mali; and assistance towards creating a regional African Center of Excellence for Biotechnology in West Africa.
Links to further information
African Policy Dialogues on Biotechnology website
The Herald (Harare), 23 September 2004
ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 8 October 2004
Zimbabwe Independent (Harare), 24 September 2004
AfrICANDO 2004 website
Veneman's keynote address
REGIONAL WORKSHOP FOR AFRICA ON SYNERGY AMONG THE RIO CONVENTIONS AND OTHER BIODIVERSITY-RELATED CONVENTIONS IN IMPLEMENTING THE PROGRAMMES OF WORK ON DRY AND SUB-HUMID LANDS AND AGRICULTURAL BIODIVERSITY
A regional workshop for Africa has placed the issue of synergies between biodiversity-related treaties under the spotlight.
The “regional workshop for Africa on synergy among the Rio Conventions and other biodiversity-related Conventions in implementing the programmes of work on dry and sub-humid lands and agricultural biodiversity” was organized by the CBD in close collaboration with the UNCCD, UNFCCC and GEF Secretariats. Held in Gaborone, Botswana from 13-17 September, the workshop was attended by 33 government-nominated experts. Participants identified both short- and long-term constraints to achieving synergies between the conventions at national level, and reached a series of conclusions regarding lessons learned for achieving synergies between the conventions. They identified processes to address the constraints and build a framework for benefiting from synergies, focusing on issues of coordination, inadequate legal frameworks, information exchange, financing, socio-economic constraints, capacity, technology transfer, political instability and sensitizing important stakeholders.
The workshop also considered a model presented by Ethiopia for developing harmonization of national biodiversity strategies and action plans for the CBD and action programmes for the UNCCD and other environmental conventions. After discussions on the model, delegates adopted a modified version to suit various national requirements. The workshop also put forward examples of project concepts to achieve synergies between environmental agreements focusing on dry and sub-humid lands and agricultural biodiversity. The report of the meeting
27TH SESSION OF THE FAO/WHO CODEX ALIMENTARIUS COMMISSION RECONVENES TASK FORCE ON BIOTECH FOODS
The Codex Alimentarius Commission held its 27th session from 28 June to 3 July 2004, in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Commission adopted a number of Codex standards and approved new work proposals, including the re-establishment of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology.
According to its terms of reference, the Task Force has been re-established for a four-year period to develop standards, guidelines or recommendations on the basis of scientific evidence, risk analysis and having regard, where appropriate, to other legitimate factors relevant to consumers' health and the promotion of fair practices in the food trade.
During its previous term, the Task Force developed a number of documents on foods derived from biotechnology, including the Principles for the Risk Analysis of Foods derived from Modern Biotechnology. Comments are now sought from member countries on the scope of the agenda of the Task Force. Click here for advance copies of the meeting's report
Donors Discuss Special Climate Change Fund
1 July 2004: Potential donors for the Special Climate Change Fund have discussed funding options at a meeting in Paris. The gathering, held on 1 July, brought possible donors together with representatives of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The Special Climate Change Fund was approved by the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in November 2001, and is managed by the GEF.
Participants discussed the “niche” for the Special Climate Change Fund. In particular, delegates stressed the need to distinguish between activities under this Fund, and those supported by the regular GEF Trust Fund. Participants recommended that, with regard to financing for adaptation under the Special Climate Change Fund, a key aim should be to make development lending “climate-proof” by supporting “preparatory work, constituency building, awareness raising and sharing of lessons.” The Fund should assist countries in assessing to what extent development projects are at risk from the impacts of climate change. The need to link adaptation and poverty reduction was highlighted. Participants also discussed the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), which was also approved by Parties to the UNFCCC. A second meeting of donors will take place in Paris on 29 September, with the aim of preparing documents on the subject for discussion by the GEF Council in November 2004. Click here for the official report of the meeting
MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY - Harnessing Science and Technology to Increase Agricultural Productivity in Africa: West African Perspectives
Co-hosted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Burkina Faso Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Fisheries Resources, the Ministerial Conference on “Harnessing Science and Technology to Increase Agricultural Productivity in Africa: West African Perspectives” was held from 21-23 June 2004, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, with the participation of the Presidents of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Ghana.
The conference was a follow-up event to the Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology held in June 2003, in Sacramento, California, US.
During the conference, the four West African Presidents signalled their support for genetically modified crops in solving food production problems, but added that they wished to ensure consumer safety and would proceed cautiously. Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure said “We cannot and must not wait on the sidelines of this global debate and ignore scientific and technological innovations that are crucial to progress. But our obligation to the people to provide safe food means we must proceed with caution.” Niger's President Mamadou Tandja added that “this technology has revolutionised agriculture and could also be used to improve the performance of African agriculture. But it seems fundamental that it should be studied in minute detail, to ensure we are fully aware of the environmental, economic and social impacts of this revolutionary but still-unknown innovation.”
Among other notable outcomes of the conference include the recommendation for the creation of a biotechnology database that would allow West Africans to access and share information about GM crops and their potential to increase crop yields. The conference also saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the USDA and the African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF) concerning the sharing of food technologies. Launched recently in Nairobi, the AATF is a public-private partnership that aims to increase the incomes and food security of sub-Saharan Africa's rural poor through promoting both classical plant breeding and genetic modification (GM) technology.
West African NGOs have criticized the use of biotechnology, stating that “Faced with the dangers that GMOs represent for our health, our land and future generations, we cannot in good conscience move forward without a clear understanding of its consequences for health of humans, animals and plants. Relying on GM food is only a short-term solution that will, in the long run, only breed dependence on multinational corporations.”
According to Agence France Presse, Mali's Agriculture Minister Seydou Traore said the US has announced plans to fund a second West African biotechnology conference in early 2005 in Bamako, Mali.
Links to further information
Ministerial Conference Website
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 23 June 2004
ENS, 22 June 2004
SciDev.net, 18 June 2004
Eldis GM Food Aid site
Annual International Convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO 2004)
The Annual International Convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO 2004) took place from 6-9 June 2004, in San Francisco, US.
BIO 2004 was attended by more than 16,000 representatives from 61 countries. These participants were met with hundreds of activists who gathered to protest biotechnology and corporate power.
BIO represents over 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, and state biotechnology centers in the US and abroad, involved in the research and development of health, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. During BIO 2004, the launch of BIO Ventures for Global Health was announced, a non-profit organization engaging the biotechnology industry in the fight against neglected diseases, which will work with companies, donors and investors to bring new vaccines, therapies and delivery tools in developing country markets.
Noting that genetic engineering adversely impacts the environment and jeopardizes food security, demonstrators organized a teach-in session on the consequences of biotechnology and corporate globalization. They attempted to disrupt the convention with civil disobedience actions, and 32 people were arrested for blockading the street outside the convention center. At the same time, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors began considering a resolution commending the protest and drawing attention to the “potentially devastating repercussions of biotechnology on human health and the environment.”
Links to further information
Environment News Service, 9 June 2004
BIO Press Release, 9 June 2004
BIO News Room
Reclaim the commons
Food First press release, 6 June 2004
GEF NGO Consultation and Council Meeting Convene
May 2004: Convening from 19-21 May 2004, in Washington, DC, the GEF Council approved its work programme, endorsing US$233.5 million in grants for 25 projects. The total value of the projects amount to US$980.7 million with cofinancing of $3 for every $1 approved. The Council also approved decisions on the: appointment of the Monitoring and Evaluation Director and Report of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit; terms of reference for the GEF's third Overall Performance Study; institutional relations; performance based allocation framework; corporate budget for the 2005 fiscal year; and LDC Trust Fund Budget.
On the Report of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, the Council recognized the high potential for renewable energy projects in developing countries and requested that the GEF Secretariat (GEFSEC), the Implementing Agencies and the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit examine the barriers that might be impeding the success of renewable energy projects, and propose a strategy to address those barriers.
On institutional relations, the Council addressed relations with, inter alia, the UNFCCC, CBD, CCD and UNEP. Responding to the CBD decision on expanded eligibility for certain capacity building activities related to biosafety, the Council recommended that the GEFSEC develop procedures ensuring that GEF financing leads to ratification of the Cartagena Protocol. The GEFSEC and UNEP were requested to organize consultations of regional scientists and technical experts to provide advice on the project for building capacity for participation in the biosafety clearinghouse of the Cartagena Protocol. The Council also requested the GEF to inform the next Council meeting of proposals to respond to CBD decision VII/20, which requests the GEF to support the implementation of the programme of work on protected areas and in particular to “support country driven early action by continuing to streamline its procedures and the provision of fast disbursing resources through expedited means.”
Regarding land degradation, the GEFSEC was requested to prepare a note on the allocations foreseen under the land degradation focal area as well as allocations to land degradation through the other GEF focal areas and to prepare an analysis of the scope, implementation focus and coherence of the land degradation activities for the next Council meeting in November 2004. Regarding CCD Decision 6/COP.6 on a MoU to facilitate collaboration between the GEF and the CCD, the Council requested the CEO to submit a draft of the MoU, including a clarification of the roles of the Global Mechanism and the GEF, to the Council for its review and comment. On POPs, the GEFSEC was requested to review its priorities for financing under the POPs focal area to ensure that they are consistent with the priorities of the Stockholm Convention and national implementation plans.
Recognizing the GEF's contribution to the work of a number of ongoing processes, the GEF was encouraged to continue participating in the deliberations of the CSD, the UNFF and the International Meeting for the ten year review of the BPOA for the Sustainable Development of SIDS.
The GEF Council functions as an independent board of directors responsible for developing, adopting, and evaluating GEF programmes. Representing 32 constituencies (16 from developing countries, 14 from developed countries, and two from countries with economies in transition), the Council meets twice a year for three days. [http://www.thegef.org/gef/meetingdocs/97/59
Second Earth Observation Summit
The framework for a plan to establish a global earth monitoring system has been approved by governments and international agencies at a meeting in Tokyo.
The second Earth Observation Summit, held on 25 April, saw agreement on a framework for a ten-year Implementation Plan to share a range of data that will improve our understanding of the earth's systems, including its weather, climate, oceans, geology, ecosystems and natural and human-induced disasters.
The benefits mentioned in the framework extend to “expanding worldwide capacity and means to achieve sustainable development.” The framework highlights shortcomings of the existing observation systems and outlines the characteristics needed for an effective Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) that will be able to monitor disaster reduction, climate change, integrated water resources management, air quality, biodiversity conservation, and invasive species among other key environmental data. The framework states that the implementation of the Implementation Plan will require a “ministerial-guided successor mechanism with maximum flexibility” in the form of an intergovernmental group for Earth observations.
The plan builds on a Declaration adopted in July 2003 that made a political commitment to work towards developing a comprehensive observation system. A third Earth Observation Summit is slated for February 2005. More information on the Tokyo meeting is available from the Earth Observations website: http://earthobservations.org/
and the framework document is available at: http://earthobservations.org/docs/Framework%20Doc%20Final.pd...
OECD Environment Ministers Assess Progress on Environmental Strategy
April 2004: Representatives from 37 countries attended the OECD Environment Ministers meeting from 19-21 April 2004 in Paris, France.
On 19 April, participants engaged in a consultation with stakeholder partners, during which representatives from business, trade unions, and environmental NGOs highlighted the responsibility of governments to set policy frameworks, establish targets, provide notification of planned policies, and address their social implications. The environment ministers met from 20-21 April, during which they assessed their progress in implementing the OECD Environmental Strategy for the First Decade of the 21st Century, which was adopted in 2001. Ministers shared experiences in enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of policies, and discussed experiences with partnerships with other ministries, other countries and NGOs.
Among their many decisions and outputs were the: endorsement of a draft Recommendation of the Council on the Use of Economic Instruments in Promoting the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity; adoption of a Ministerial Statement highlighting priorities and support for the recommendations of the OECD Ad Hoc Group on Sustainable Development, which will be presented to the 13-14 May 2004 OECD Meeting of Council at Ministerial Level; endorsement of a draft Recommendation of the Council on Material Flows and Resource Productivity and a draft Recommendation of the Council on Assessment and Decision Making for Integrated Transport and Environmental Policy; and a request that the OECD include analysis of subsidy reform and the costs of inaction in the next OECD Environmental Outlook. The Environment Ministers agreed to meet again no later than 2008.
Links to further information
Chair's Summary of the meeting
Draft Recommendations endorsed by the Environment Ministers
Statement by Environment Ministers on Further Work at the OE...
GLOBAL FLYWAYS CONFERENCE 2004 - WATERBIRDS AROUND THE WORLD
The Global Flyways Conference was held from 3-8 April 2004 in Edinburgh, UK.
Attended by some 450 waterbird scientists and wetland and waterbird conservation practitioners from 90 countries worldwide, this event provided a major opportunity to review the status of waterbirds in the light of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and the 2010 biodiversity target. One of the conference's key outputs was the drafting of the Edinburgh Declaration, which highlights the perilous state of many of the world's waterbirds, and sets an agenda for urgent and collaborative national and international action on wetlands and waterbirds, including through implementation of the Ramsar Wetlands Convention. Other recommendations include the need for: increased international cooperation between Pan-American countries sharing migratory birds; integrated waterbird conservation in Africa-Eurasian flyways; an international framework for the development of conservation initiatives for migratory waterbirds in Central Asia; addressing conservation requirements of non-migrant waterbirds; and adequately funded programmes of communication, education and public awareness in all waterbird conservation initiatives. The Edinburgh Declaration, as well as other recommendations from the conference can be found at: http://ramsar.org/mtg_flyways_edinburgh5.htm
Workshop ON FORESTS AND FOREST ECOSYSTEMS: PROMOTING SYNERGY IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE THREE RIO CONVENTIONS
A workshop was held recently to promote local actions on forests and forest ecosystems and develop synergistic processes in this sector in order to contribute to more effective implementation of the Rio conventions.
Held from 5-7 April 2004, in Viterbo, Italy, this workshop was organized by the Secretariats of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in cooperation with the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
On Monday, participants heard presentations by the Rio conventions' secretariats, and considered presentations and country case studies on Theme I, 'Potential for synergies through forest landscape management and soil conservation,' and on Theme II, 'Ecosystem services and poverty reduction.' On Tuesday, participants convened in eight working groups on synergy at the local level. On the last day, delegates listened to a presentation on and discussed the outcomes of the working groups, exchanged views on synergy among Rio conventions focal point representatives, discussed financing for synergy and adopted the workshop's report. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report outlining these discussions in detail can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/desert/cwfee/
20th Meeting of the CITES Animals Committee
The 20th meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened from 29 March to 2 April 2004, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Some 150 participants representing governments, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations met to discuss a range of topics, including: review of significant trade in specimens of Appendix II species (RST); review of criteria for amendment of Appendices I and II; periodic review of animal and plant taxa in the Appendices; transport of live animals; budget; trade in hard corals; trade in alien species; sea cucumbers; seahorses; and sharks. In addition, ten working groups were convened to address the: RST; relationship between ex situ production and in situ conservation; process for registering operations that breed Appendix I animal species for commercial purposes; transport of live animals; trade in hard corals; control of captive breeding, ranching and wild harvest production systems; improving regional communication and representation; sea cucumbers; and sharks. A drafting group was also set up to review the criteria for amendment of Appendices I and II.
Issues of considerable importance included the review of criteria of listings in the Appendices, the RST and a range of marine-related issues, such as sharks, sea cucumbers, hard corals, seahorses, and tortoises and freshwater turtles. Delegates also addressed a number of procedural issues, including ways to improve regional communication and representation in view of budget constraints and lack of government support. Technical discussions on the RST and the review of criteria were largely successful and are expected to be well received at CITES COP-13, which is scheduled to be convened from 2-14 October 2004, in Bangkok, Thailand. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report on this meeting can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/cites/CITA20/
IOSEA MARINE TURTLE MoU - SECOND MEETING OF SIGNATORY STATES
The second meeting of Signatory States to the Indian Ocean – South-East Asian (IOSEA) Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) took place from 16-19 March 2004 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Delegates from 25 countries of the region, as well as representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations attended the meeting. Concluded under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU was further signed by Oman and Jordan during the meeting, bringing the number of IOSEA Signatory States to 18.
Among the significant outcomes of the meeting was the agreement to organize a major awareness campaign in 2006, including a region-wide “Year of the Turtle” campaign, aimed at drawing attention to the dramatic declines in turtle populations and to the complex social and economic issues that need to be tackled. Other highlights include the support for the establishment of a network of important sites for marine turtles under the umbrella of the Memorandum, and an assessment of progress on the basis of reports provided by Signatory States. Several web-based tools aimed at facilitating information exchange, decision making and monitoring implementation progress available were also introduced, including an electronic library, a projects database and the Marine Turtle Interactive Mapping System.
The meeting noted progress made in resolving complex social issues that contribute to the decline of marine turtles in two conservation hotspots – Bali, Indonesia and Orissa, India. The IOSEA Advisory Committee was requested to examine in more depth the issue of traditional and cultural use of marine turtles within the context of conservation actions.
The Signatory States decided to interpret the geographic scope of the IOSEA MoU to recognize that China, Japan and the Republic of Korea ought to be included in the list of countries with a direct interest in the MoU. It was further agreed that the Secretariat should undertake a preliminary examination of the feasibility and desirability of extending the coverage of the IOSEA MoU to embrace interested countries in the Pacific. More information is available at the website of the MoU at: http://www.ioseaturtles.org/ioseaSS2_more.html
. The meeting's final press release is available at: http://www.ioseaturtles.org/word/PressRelease-Word190304.doc
50TH MEETING OF THE CITES STANDING COMMITTEE
The 50th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC-50) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held from 15-19 March 2004 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Delegates discussed, inter alia, arrangements for the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, financial and administrative matters, the budget for 2006-2008, significant trade in specimens of Appendix-II species, and national reports. The Committee further decided to extend the validity of the Convention's Strategic Vision and Action Plan until the end of 2007, and requested the Animals and Plants Committees to produce a final report on developing standardized guidelines and procedures for conducting periodic reviews at SC-51.
The meeting's highlights included heated discussions on elephants and sturgeons. Regarding elephants, the Committee discussed whether the conditions have been met for three African states –Botswana, Namibia and South Africa – to proceed with the one-off sale of their ivory stocks, according to a COP-12 decision. Kenya, supported by eight other African countries, submitted a document claiming that the three countries have not enforced the required monitoring and registering systems nor the necessary domestic laws to protect elephants. The Committee decided that the Secretariat will receive information on rates of illegal hunting of elephants and trade in elephant specimens from existing systems of monitoring the illegal killing of elephants and trade in elephant specimens (MIKE and ETIS), and will work with the Parties that report an increase in illegal hunting or trade to establish the potential linkage to the commercial trade in raw ivory. The Secretariat will then formulate recommendations to the Standing Committee, taking a precautionary approach. If the Standing Committee concludes there has been an increase in illegal hunting or trade, it will recommend that international trade in all specimens regarding the elephant populations of the three countries be halted and will request that all Appendix-II populations of the species be transferred to Appendix-I.
On controlling internal ivory trade, the Committee assessed the situation of several countries and expressed particular concern regarding Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti and Nigeria. These countries were requested to halt all domestic sales of ivory, implement domestic legislation against illegal trade in elephant specimens, enforce existing laws, effectively police cross-border dealing, conduct public awareness campaigns, and report to the Secretariat on implementation by the end of the year.
Regarding sturgeons, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan, the key caviar-producing countries, will have until mid-June to prove their cooperation with a Caspian-wide management system combating pollution and overfishing, despite having missed the original deadline of 31 December 2003. The decision angered environmental groups, who argued that it allows the four countries another fishing season without having demonstrated good practices.
More information is available at:
UN Wire, 19 March 2004
ENS, 19 March 2004
UN Wire, 22 March 2004
SIXTH MEETING OF WIPO'S INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND GENETIC RESOURCES, TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE AND FOLKLORE
WIPO's Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore met for its sixth session from 15-19 March 2004, in Geneva, Switzerland, convening for the first time since the WIPO General Assembly provided it with a renewed mandate.
The Committee's renewed mandate calls for accelerating its work and focusing on the international dimension, without prejudice to other international processes. It excludes outcome for the Committee's work and raises the possible development of an international instrument or instruments.
During the meeting, the Committee agreed on the development of the building blocks for the protection of traditional knowledge and expressions of folklore or traditional cultural expressions. It approved the development of an overview of policy objectives and core principles for protection of traditional knowledge and of folklore, and an outline of the policy options and legal mechanisms, and an analysis of their implications.
The African Group submitted a text on objectives, principles and elements of an international instrument or instruments. This proposal received widespread support as a framework for the Committee's work.
Regarding the defensive protection of traditional knowledge against illegitimate patenting, the Committee initiated work on how different traditional knowledge systems, including orally-based knowledge systems, can be recognized and applied in the patent examination process.
The Committee also discussed the need and practical steps to enhance the participation of indigenous and local communities in its work. Identifying lack of funding for participation as a major impediment for effective participation, it agreed to look at possible structures for a distinct voluntary fund and appealed to voluntary donors to immediately support the participation of representatives of accredited community organizations. The meeting's final press release is available at: http://www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/2004/wipo_pr_2004_378.ht...
TRIPS COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS HEALTH, KNOWLEDGE
Access to medicines, public health, traditional knowledge and biological diversity were on the agenda at a recent meeting of the World Trade Organization's Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights – or TRIPS Council.
The Council, which met on 8 March in Geneva, discussed the issue of text on generic medicines in the TRIPS Agreement, although without reaching consensus. Under the terms of a deal reached in August 2003, diplomats must agree by June on text covering the importation of generic medications where the original drug is still under patent. Informal consultations have been taking place over the last few months.
Meanwhile, delegates also considered an initiative by a group of developing countries to pick up the pace on discussions about possible inconsistencies between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The countries involved introduced a checklist of issues that required further focus, including prior informed consent and benefit sharing in relation to genetic material and traditional knowledge. However, the United States reportedly opposed the checklist, arguing that there were no conflicts between the two agreements. Japan and the US said the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was the appropriate forum for such discussions. With developing countries seeking to pursue the matter in the TRIPS Council, the issue remained unresolved. More information on this meeting is available from ICTSD Bridges Weekly Trade News: http://www.ictsd.org/weekly/04-03-10/story1.htm
Global Biotechnology Forum
The Global Biotechnology Forum was convened from 2-5 March 2004, in Concepción, Chile, under the auspices of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Government of Chile, with assistance from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB).
The conference was attended by some 1500 participants from governments, intergovernmental organizations, scientific institutions, industry and the media. The Forum's objective was to examine the potential offered by biotechnology for the creation of wealth and the improvement of quality of life of people in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
Building on work that had previously taken place in regional consultative meetings, participants examined issues related to: biotechnology meeting the needs of the poor; biotechnology, biodiversity, energy and the environment; trade, regulation, biosafety and social acceptance of biotechnology; biotechnology and bio-industry; and biotechnology and the developing world.
Emphasizing the importance of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the need for additional financial and technical resources to developing countries, participants particularly noted UN General Assembly resolution 58/200 of 23 December 2003, which reaffirmed the vital role of new technologies in raising the productivity and competitiveness of nations and the need for capacity-building measures promoting the transfer and diffusion of technologies to developing countries. Participants suggested that the following initiatives and proposals could be further considered by UN organizations, other international development partners, the scientific community and the private sector:
- Formation of a multistakeholder forum, involving UN specialised agencies and other international bodies together with representatives of government, industry and the scientific community to serve as an ongoing platform for informed dialogue on biotechnology;
- Creation of an information network and database on biotechnology activities currently in progress in developing countries;
- Enhancement of efforts for the mobilization of resources for capacity building; and
- Examination of the impact of and ways to facilitate access to intellectual property to promote the exploitation and dissemination of biotechnology in developing countries.
More information including the Forum's final statement is available on the meeting website at: http://binas.unido.org/global_forum/
24TH ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM ON SEA TURTLE BIOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
Some 1,000 experts from 70 countries met from 22-29 February 2004 in San Jose, Costa Rica at an annual symposium to discuss the current state of research and conservation activities related to sea turtles.
This year's theme was focused on “Sea Turtle Lifescapes” - the role sea turtles fill in marine and terrestrial ecosystems, as well as in greater biodiversity landscapes. Many participants highlighted the decline of the Leatherback turtle in the Pacific Ocean, which has seen its numbers fall from about 115,000 reproductive females in 1982 to fewer than 3,000 today, a decline of 97%. In addition to the Leatherback, the Kemp's Ridley and Hawksbill turtles are classified by the IUCN Red List as critically endangered, and the Green, Olive Ridley and Loggerhead turtles are classified under the same list as endangered.
Scientists and conservationists at the conference highlighted several international success stories demonstrating that well planned conservation efforts can halt and reverse the decline of sea turtles, but not unless their nesting beaches are protected from uncontrolled beachfront development and egg poaching. More information on this meeting is available at: http://www.seaturtle.org/symposium/
First meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
The First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP-1) took place from 23-27 February 2004, at the Putra World Trade Centre, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Over 750 participants attended the meeting, representing 81 Parties to the Protocol, 79 non-Parties, as well as UN agencies, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, indigenous and local communities, academia and industry.
Eighty-seven Parties have now ratified the Biosafety Protocol and, as more countries continue towards ratification, the first meeting of the Parties faced the important task of setting up the operational framework to enable the Protocol's effective implementation. Delegates had their hands full with issues such as developing a compliance procedure, elaborating documentation requirements under Article 18 (Handling, transport, packaging and identification (HTPI)), setting up the process for drafting rules and procedures on liability and redress and addressing capacity building and the Biosafety Clearing-house (BCH). Although stumbling blocks were encountered over the establishment of a Compliance Committee and documentation accompanying movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) destined for use as food, feed or processing (LMO-FFPs), COP/MOP-1 was successful in setting up a framework for implementation and it will be remembered as a major stepping stone in the history of the Protocol.
According to the meeting's decisions, all bulk shipments of LMO-FFPs are to be identified as “may contain LMOs.” The accompanying documentation should also indicate the contact details of the importer, exporter or other appropriate authority. Over the next year an expert group will further elaborate the documentation and handling requirements. Key issues that still need to be resolved include the percentage of modified material that these shipments may contain and still be considered GMO-free, and the inclusion of any additional detailed information. A decision on these matters will be considered at the next meeting, to be held in 2005. Agreement has also been reached on more detailed documentation requirements for those LMOs that are meant to be introduced directly into the environment. The documentation accompanying such LMOs should specify the common, scientific and commercial names of the modified organism, the transformation event code or unique identifier code, any handling and storage requirements, contact details in the case of emergency, and how the LMO is to be used.
The meeting also managed to adopt procedures and mechanisms for promoting compliance with the Protocol and assisting countries in cases of non-compliance. It established a 15-member Compliance Committee that will submit regular reports and recommendations to the meeting of the Parties. A negotiating group of legal and technical experts on liability and redress for damages resulting from transboundary movements of LMOs was also launched and requested to develop a regime by 2008. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report outlining these discussions in detail can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/bs-copmop1/
Seventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD
The seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-7) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) took place from 9-20 February 2004, at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Over 2,300 participants attended, representing 161 governments, as well as UN agencies, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, indigenous and local community representatives, academia and industry. Delegates to COP-7 adopted 33 decisions on, inter alia: biodiversity and tourism; monitoring and indicators; the ecosystem approach; biodiversity and climate change; invasive alien species; the Strategic Plan; mountain biodiversity; inland water ecosystems; marine and coastal biodiversity; protected areas (PAs); access and benefit-sharing (ABS); technology transfer and cooperation; Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge); and incentive measures. A Ministerial Segment convened on Wednesday and Thursday, 18-19 February, and adopted the Kuala Lumpur Ministerial Declaration.
The meeting's major achievements include: the completion of the terms of reference for the Working Group on ABS to elaborate and negotiate the nature, scope and elements of an international ABS regime; the adoption of a work programme on PAs, with the objective of establishing and maintaining by 2010 for terrestrial areas, and by 2012 for marine areas, ecologically representative PA systems; and the adoption of a good framework for evaluating the Strategic Plan's implementation, including a set of indicators, goals and targets.
These outcomes represent a solid basis for the Convention to address its priorities in the medium- and long-term future, and respond to the biodiversity-related outcomes of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, including the target of significantly reducing biodiversity loss by 2010. However, unsuccessful parallel consultations related to the disputed status of the COP-6 decision on invasive alien species, and creeping issues, including trade-related considerations, disrupted the spirit of cooperation and unexpectedly hampered discussions on other agenda items, such as mountain biodiversity and inland water ecosystems. For the Earth Negotiations Bulletin's coverage of the meeting, including photographs, daily reports and a summary and analysis, visit: http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/cop7/
14th Meeting of the CITES Plant Committee
The 14th meeting of the Plants Committee (PC-14) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened from 16-20 February 2004, in Windhoek, Namibia.
PC-14 delegates met in Plenary throughout the week to discuss 25 agenda items on a range of topics, including the: review of resolutions on plants and plant trade; definition of technical terms used in the annotations for medicinal plants; significant trade in plants; review of the CITES appendices; follow-up of decisions from the 12th meeting of CITES' Conference of the Parties (COP-12); and species proposals for COP-13.
Several working groups were set up to further address specific issues, including: Review of Significant Trade; plants and plant trade resolutions; annotations for artificially propagated hybrids; annotations for CITES-listed medicinal plants; and regional representation and communication. Two drafting groups were also established to assist with finalizing the Chair's report to COP-13 and to review criteria for amendment of the Appendices.
Despite a heavy agenda, the Plants Committee managed to tackle some of the more pressing issues, such as the criteria for amending the Appendices and the evaluation of the Review of Significant Trade, which needed to be considered before the next COP in October 2004. The Animals Committee will closely follow the outcomes of the Plants Committee meeting, as they will have to address these issues as well, at their next meeting in March 2004 in South Africa. For the Earth Negotiations Bulletin's summary and analysis of this meeting, visit: http://www.iisd.ca/cites/CITP14/
THIRD INTERGOVERNMENTAL “BIODIVERSITY IN EUROPE” CONFERENCE AND EIGHTH MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE PAN EUROPEAN BIOLOGICAL AND LANDSCAPE DIVERSITY STRATEGY (PEBLDS)
The third Intergovernmental “Biodiversity in Europe” Conference and the eighth Meeting of the Council of the Pan European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS) took place from 19-21 January 2004, in Madrid, Spain.
The meeting served as Europe's regional preparatory meeting for the Seventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP-7) to be held from 9-20 February 2004 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The meeting focused on priority issues for CBD COP-7 and highlighted the effects of climate change to the current decline of biodiversity. Delegates stressed the need to establish a network of protected areas and identified as a key priority the need to halt biological and landscape diversity loss at all levels in Europe by 2010. This 2010 target was endorsed as part of the ‘Kyiv Resolution on Biodiversity' at the fifth ‘Environment for Europe' Ministerial Conference held in Kyiv in May 2003. More information on this meeting is available at: PEBLDS Clearing-House: http://www.strategyguide.org/madrconf.html
and ENS daily news, 22 January 2004: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2004/2004-01-22-02.asp