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December 2007

WIPO EVENT ADDRESSES PROTECTION OF TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE AND GENETIC RESOURCES

Held from 10-12 December 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland, a roundtable organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) aimed at strengthening the practical capacity of holders of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources. It was organized around four workshops: creative heritage; traditional knowledge and genetic resources in the patent system; traditional knowledge toolkit; and “customary law.” Link to further information IP Watch, 19 December 2007
WTO INFORMALS ADDRESS CBD ISSUE

During informal consultations with World Trade Organization (WTO) Deputy Director-General Rufus Yerxa on 3 December 2007, WTO members addressed the so-called “implementation issues” under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). These include the extension of geographical indications (place names used to identify specific products) and the amendment of the TRIPS Agreement to include a mandatory requirement for the disclosure of origin of biological resources and/or associated traditional knowledge in patent applications, in order to ensure consistency between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Members remained divided on both issues. Links to further information ICTSD Weekly Trade News Digest, 5 December 2007 IP Watch, 5 December 2007

November 2007

IMoSEB INTERNATIONAL STEERING COMMITTEE CONVENES FINAL MEETING

The Final Meeting of the International Steering Committee of the Consultative Process Towards an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) was held from 15-17 November 2007, in Montpellier, France. The meeting addressed outcomes from six regional consultations that have taken place in the North American, African, European, Asian, South American, and the Pacific regions since January 2007. Participants focused on the needs and options for an IMoSEB, as well as on how to improve the science-policy interface for biodiversity at all levels. In their final Statement, the International Steering Committee, while not recommending the formation of a new institution, agreed to invite donors and governments to provide support for the further and urgent consideration of the establishment of a science-policy interface. It further invited the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and others to convene a meeting to consider establishing such an interface. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting
EU HOSTS HIGH LEVEL CONFERENCE ON BUSINESS AND BIODIVERSITY

Hosted by the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union (EU) and the European Commission, a High Level Conference on Business and Biodiversity was held in Lisbon, Portugal, from 12-13 November 2007. The conference was organized by ICNB (Instituto da Conservaçáo da Natureza e da Biodiversidade), IUCN-the World Conservation Union, and the Countdown 2010 Initiative. Participants from government, NGOs and business, including 150 major companies, discussed the next steps in making businesses more involved in biodiversity conservation. By the end of the meeting, the Message from Lisbon was released, calling on business, governments, the EU and NGOs to: continue raising awareness of the strong competitive advantage companies can gain from conserving biodiversity; promote the use of market, corporate responsibility and regulatory schemes; support business with operational tools for biodiversity conservation and measuring their performance in meaningful ways, especially in small and medium sized companies; and encourage new incentives to develop and strengthen partnerships between companies, governments at all levels, NGOs and academia. Links to further information The Conference website IUCN press release, 13 November 2007
CMS STANDING COMMITTEE CONCLUDES SESSION

The 32nd meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) convened from 8-9 November 2007, in Bonn, Germany. The meeting welcomed the accession of Cuba and Iran to the Convention, raising the number of parties to 106, and heard reports on the Convention's conservation programme, the budget, fundraising activities, progress made in the development of partnerships, and a special presentation on the Task Force on Avian Influenza. Members also considered papers on the future organization of CMS and on the strategic review of flyways, and established a working group to map the way forward on CMS organization for COP 9, to be held in November 2008, in Rome, Italy. The 33rd meeting of the CMS Standing Committee will meet in Rome, immediately prior to CMS COP 9. Link to further information CMS press release, 9 November 2007
ITPGR GOVERNING BODY CONCLUDES SECOND SESSION

The second session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) convened from 29 October – 2 November 2007, at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, in Rome, Italy. The meeting addressed a series of items, including implementation of the funding strategy, the material transfer agreement for non-Annex I crops, cooperation with the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), and sustainable use of plant genetic resources. Following difficult budget negotiations, the meeting adopted the work programme and budget for 2008/09. It also adopted a resolution on farmers' rights, as well as a joint statement of intent for cooperation with the CGRFA. Consideration of procedures on compliance was deferred to the Governing Body's next session. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting
FIFTH TRONDHEIM CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON BIODIVERSITY FOR DEVELOPMENT

Hosted by the Norwegian government, in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme, the fifth Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity convened from 29 October – 2 November 2007, in Trondheim, Norway. The theme of the conference was “Ecosystems and people – biodiversity for development – the road to 2010 and beyond.” Through scientific studies, policy presentations and practical case studies, participants discussed why biodiversity is an important component of sustainable development and poverty alleviation. The Conference adopted a set of conclusions and recommendations, which will be transmitted to the thirteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting

October 2007

CBD MEETINGS ON ABS AND ARTICLE 8(J) CONCLUDE, BIOSAFETY MEETING ON LIABILITY AND REDRESS IN PROGRESS

The fifth meeting of the Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS WG 5) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was held from 8-12 October 2007, in Montreal, Canada. It was immediately followed by the fifth meeting of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions. Representing the first half of a single session that will be completed at the Working Group's sixth meeting, to be held from 21-25 January 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland, ABS WG 5 considered substantive elements of an international regime on ABS, including: access to genetic resources; fair and equitable sharing of benefits; compliance with prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms; an internationally recognized certificate of origin/source/legal provenance; traditional knowledge and genetic resources in the context of ABS; and capacity building. Delegates also discussed two informal documents tabled by Co-Chairs Fernando Casas (Colombia) and Timothy Hodges (Canada), and debated whether they should be appended to the report of the meeting: the Co-Chairs' notes on proposals made at the meeting; and their reflections on progress made. The report of the meeting states that the Co-Chairs' notes on proposals made at the meeting were the sole responsibility and under the sole authority of the Co-Chairs and would be circulated to parties as information documents as soon as possible upon their completion. The meeting also invited further submissions of concrete options on the substantive agenda items by 30 November 2007. The fifth meeting of the CBD Working Group on Article 8(j) was held from 15-19 October 2007. The meeting adopted a series of recommendations to be forwarded to the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (19-30 May 2008, Bonn, Germany) on: the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; indicators for traditional knowledge; the progress report on implementation of the Article 8(j) work programme; the composite report on the status and trends of traditional knowledge; the traditional knowledge action plan; elements for the developments of sui generis systems for traditional knowledge protection; and an ethical code of conduct. However, delegates did not reach agreement on a recommendation on inputs by the Working Group to the negotiation of an international regime on ABS. CBD delegates are gathering in Montreal from 22-26 October 2007, to participate in the fourth meeting of the Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts on Liability and Redress in the context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Discussion is expected to focus on the elaboration of options for rules and procedures referred to in Article 27 of the Protocol, focusing on a working draft prepared by Co-Chairs René Lefeber (the Netherlands) and Jimena Nieto (Colombia), which synthesizes submissions of operational texts with respect to approaches and options identified (UNEP/CBD/BS/WG-L&R/4/2). Links to further information IISD RS coverage of ABS WG 5 IISD RS coverage of Art. 8(j) WG 5 IISD RS coverage of the Liability and Redress Working Group
WORKING GROUP ON LIABILITY AND REDRESS ACHIEVES PROGRESS

The fourth meeting of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts on Liability and Redress in the context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety met from 22-26 October 2007, in Montreal, Canada. The Working Group focused on the elaboration of options for rules and procedures referred to in Article 27 of the Protocol, based on a working draft compiled by Co-Chairs René Lefeber (the Netherlands) and Jimena Nieto (Colombia), synthesizing submissions of operational texts with respect to approaches and options identified. During the week, delegates addressed most sections in the Co-Chairs' synthesis, focusing on streamlining options for operational text related to damage, administrative approaches and civil liability. As a result, the working document was reduced from 80 pages, in the Co-Chairs' synthesis, to 53 pages, in Annex II of the meeting's report. Many participants felt that this was a good outcome and that the Working Group had produced a document that could be used as the basis for negotiations at its next meeting. The Co-Chairs were also given a mandate to streamline specific parts of Annex II during the intersessional period. While happy with the results, several delegates indicated that expeditious progress is essential given that the Working Group is scheduled to hold only one more meeting before reporting to the fourth Meeting of the Parties in May 2008 in Bonn, Germany. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting
CMS HOLDS SERIES OF MEETINGS, FINALIZES NEW AGREEMENTS

During a series of primates meetings held in Paris, France, from 22-26 October 2007, talks on 22-24 October 2007 resulted in the finalization of the Paris Agreement on the conservation of gorillas and their habitats (the Gorilla Agreement), which aims to conserve and restore gorilla populations in Central and West Africa through an action plan covering education, research and forest protection. The Gorilla Agreement negotiations were held under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). On 25 October, the UNEP/UNESCO Great Apes Survival Project Partnership (GRASP) organized a meeting of donors to inform potential GRASP partners about GRASP activities and to launch the GRASP Activity and Finance Plan, Plan it for the Apes. Finally, on 25-26 October, the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) met to undertake technical workshops on capacity building and training, forest monitoring and private investment for forest ecosystem conservation; transfer the CBFP facilitation from the French to the German government; and sign the CMS Gorilla Agreement, the Gorilla Declaration and the Forests Now Declaration. A new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the protection of the Eastern Atlantic Populations of the Mediterranean Monk Seal was also concluded under the auspices of CMS. During the Western African Talks on Cetaceans and their Habitats (16-20 October 2007, Tenerife, Spain), Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal and Spain signed the MoU, which is open for signature to all the Atlantic range States. The meeting also discussed a preliminary text of a new agreement for the conservation of small cetaceans and manatees in the region, as well as two draft action plans for small whales and for manatees under the agreement. Links to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting on the CMS Gorilla Agreement CMS press release, 18 October 2007 CMS press release, 19 October 2007 CMS press release, 20 October 2007 CMS press release, 26 October 2007
ACCOBAMS MOP ADOPTS NEW CONSERVATION PLAN

The third meeting of the parties to the Agreement on Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), developed under the auspices of CMS, convened from 22-25 October 2007, in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The meeting agreed to a new conservation plan for cetaceans in the Black Sea region and adopted a resolution on the highly endangered Mediterranean common dolphin. Parties also agreed to include the prohibition of drift net use and presence on board of fishing boats in the text of the agreement, and to create a working group to address the issue of noise as a threat to cetaceans. Link to further information CMS press release, 25 October 2007
LDC GROUP SUPPORTS DISCLOSURE AMENDMENT OF TRIPS AGREEMENT

At the meeting of the Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), from 23-24 October 2007, the group of least developed countries (LDCs) supported the proposal to amend the TRIPs Agremeent to require patent applicants to disclose the origin of genetic resources and traditional knowledge used in their inventions. The amendment has been proposed by a group of developing countries including Brazil and India, and has also received the support of the African group. Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Weekly Intellectual Property Watch, 26 October 2007
IFPRI 2020 CONFERENCE CONCLUDES IN BEIJING

Held from 17-19 October 2007, in Beijing, China, the conference “Taking Action for the World's Poor and Hungry People” was part of the 2020 Vision Initiative of the International Food Policy Research Institute. The meeting examined progress on measurement of poverty and hunger, and found that minorities are often the majority among the poor. Noting diverse priorities by region, participants identified key actions to be taken, including: inclusive growth with emphasis on rural growth; access to assets, infrastructure, markets; strengthening social protection; accelerating investments in health, nutrition and education; and addressing social exclusion. Link to further information The meeting website
LATIN AMERICAN CONGRESS ON PROTECTED AREAS ADDRESSES CONSERVATION, MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE ISSUES

The Second Latin American Congress of National Parks and other Protected Areas convened from 30 September-6 October 2007, in Bariloche, Argentina. Organized by a number of partners, including the UN Food and Argricultural Organization (FAO), the World Conservation Union (IUCN)-South America and the government of Argentina, the Congress consisted of symposia and workshops on: protected areas and biodiversity conservation; management of protected areas and capacity building; and governance, equity and quality of life. Its aim was to evaluate and plan the contribution of the region's protected areas to biodiversity conservation, environmental services, sustainable development, poverty alleviation and regional integration among Latin American countries. The Congress outcomes included a strategy and policy proposals for the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use, an outline of future actions, mechanisms of cooperation and monitoring, and a Congress Declaration. Link to further information Congress website
LAW OF THE SEA INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS HELD

Informal consultations of the UN General Assembly on the law of the sea resolution took place at UN headquarters in New York, US, from 1-5 October 2007. Among the topics that participants discussed at this closed meeting are the issue of genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction and the competence of the Convention on Biological Diversity in this respect, and climate change (IISD RS sources).
CONSULTATIONS ON AN IMoSEB HELD IN ASIA, SOUTH AMERICA

The Consultative Process towards an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) has recently convened two regional meetings: the Asian Regional Consultation (24-25 September 2007, Beijing, China) and the South American Regional Consultation (2-3 October 2007, Bariloche, Argentina). Participants at both meetings heard presentations, exchanged views and discussed various options for a possible IMoSEB, its structure and governance, and issues relevant to their regions, in the context of the science-policy interface. The Beijing meeting was attended by 40 experts and officials from 18 Asian countries, and international and non-governmental organizations, including scientific research institutions. The meeting agreed on an IMoSEB in the form of an independent intergovernmental panel serving the five biodiversity-related conventions, including a multi-stakeholder component affiliated to a UN body. The Bariloche meeting was attended by five IMoSEB representatives and 19 experts from 9 Latin American countries, and international and non-governmental organizations. Participants reached broad agreement on the needs for an IMoSEB, and put forward two options for such a mechanism. The first option would consist of an international panel of scientists, political figures and other biodiversity actors, supported by a “network of networks” for exchanging and building scientific information. The second option would strengthen existing scientific information networks and mechanisms, with a focus on enhancing national and regional-level decision-making on biodiversity issues. The meeting also reached agreement on the specific needs and challenges of the Latin American region, the relationship of an IMoSEB to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and other biodiversity-related conventions, and the role of the private sector and indigenous communities. Links to further information IISD RS coverage of the Beijing meeting IISD RS coverage of the Bariloche meeting
WIPO EXTENDS MANDATE FOR COMMITTEE ON GENETIC RESOURCES AND TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE

The General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which met from 24 September-3 October 2007, in Geneva, Switzerland, agreed to extend the mandate of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) for an additional two year-period. Following lack of consensus at the IGC's eleventh session (3-12 July 2007), this decision renews the General Assembly's 2005 directions to the IGC to accelerate its work, and to focus in particular on the international dimension of intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore or traditional cultural expressions. The mandate excludes no outcome, including the possible development of an international instrument or instruments in this field without prejudice to the work pursued in other fora. The highlight of this year's General Assembly was the decision to adopt a Development Agenda, consisting of a series of recommendations to enhance the development dimension of WIPO's activities. The recommendations include a set of 45 agreed proposals covering six clusters of activities including: Technical Assistance and Capacity Building; Norm-setting, Flexibilities, Public Policy and Public Knowledge; Technology Transfer, Information and Communication Technology and Access to Knowledge; Assessments, Evaluation and Impact Studies; and Institutional Matters including Mandate and Governance. Links to further information WIPO press release, 2 October 2007 WIPO press release, 1 October 2007

September 2007

CODEX TASK FORCE APPROVES BIOTECHNOLOGY GUIDELINES

The Codex Alimentarius Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology met from 24-28 September 2007, in Chiba, Japan. Participants approved three sets of guidelines for the conduct of food safety assessments and forwarded them for adoption by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The guidelines aim to assist countries in assessing the risk of imported food containing low levels of non-approved genetically modified (GM) plant material; foods derived from GM animals; and foods derived from plants modified for nutritional or health benefits. Links to further information Meeting report ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 19 October 2007
INTERLAKEN CONFERENCE ADOPTS GLOBAL PLAN OF ACTION AND DECLARATION ON ANIMAL GENETIC RESOURCES

The first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was held from 3-7 September 2007, in Interlaken, Switzerland. This was the first intergovernmental conference to focus exclusively on animal genetic resources (AnGR). On the first day, delegates convened in a scientific forum to hear presentations and engage in discussions on the scientific aspects of AnGR. The following morning, a final version of the report, The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, was presented. However, most of the conference was taken up with negotiations on the draft Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources and on the Interlaken Declaration on Animal Genetic Resources. After lengthy negotiations, the Global Plan was adopted, including a section on implementation and financing that had been the subject of considerable discussion. Delegates also adopted the Interlaken Declaration, which stresses the importance of AnGR and confirms the adoption of the Global Plan. The successful completion of the Global Plan and Interlaken Declaration provides a framework for future action and represents the beginning of a challenging long-term process for countries and the FAO to sustainably manage the world's AnGR for food and agriculture. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the Conference

August 2007

MEETING IN INDONESIA DISCUSSES CONSERVATION PLAN FOR TIGERS, ELEPHANTS

Attended by approximately 120 participants, a three-day meeting held in August 2007, in Padang, Indonesia, aimed at developing an action plan to save Sumatra's endangered tigers and elephants. Participants included representatives from government ministries, the private sector and local communities affected by human-wildlife conflicts. Habitat destruction due to farming and logging, further leading to conflicts with humans, was identified as the main threat to the two species. Link to further information Reuters News Service, 30 August 2007
SEMINAR DISCUSSES SUSTAINABLE BIOFUEL DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA

The first High-level Biofuels Seminar in Africa, which met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 30 July - 1 August 2007, has developed an Action Plan for Biofuels Development in Africa. The Action Plan was annexed to the Addis Ababa Declaration on Sustainable Biofuels Development in Africa, which calls for, inter alia: developing enabling policy and regulatory frameworks; participating in global sustainability discussions; formulating guiding principles on biofuels to enhance Africa's competitiveness; and minimizing the risks of biofuels development for small-scale producers. It further calls for the engagement of development partners to enable North-South and South-South cooperation, urges the engagement of public financing institutions to support biofuels projects, and proposes the establishment of a forum to promote access to biofuels information and knowledge. Link to further information IISD RS coverage

July 2007

WIPO COMMITTEE ADDRESSES GENETIC RESOURCES, TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE

The Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is meeting from 3-12 July 2007, in Geneva, Switzerland. Although the meeting has not concluded yet, reports indicate that countries are divided on whether international regulation is needed in the area of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Links to further information IP Watch, 3 July 2007 IP Watch, 9 July 2007
UNEP LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO REVIEW BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the 2010 Biodiversity Indicator Partnership on 12 July 2007, in Paris, France, during the second meeting of the Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The US$ 8 million initiative, which receives funding from, among others, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), seeks to create a set of benchmarks to assess whether measures to protect the world's biodiversity are effective. The partnership will introduce new indicators, such as the level of biodiversity protection in forests, farmlands and fisheries, and the level to which humans are affected by changing biodiversity, to gain greater insight into whether the 2010 Biodiversity Target is on the right track. The 2010 Biodiversity Target, to achieve a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level, was established in 2002 by Parties to the CBD, to which 189 States and the European Community belong. The first phase of the Partnership will run from mid-2007 until mid-2010, and activities are in progress. Link to further information UNEP Press release, 12 July 2007
WIPO COMMITTEE ON GENETIC RESOURCES AND TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE RECOMMENDS MANDATE RENEWAL

The eleventh session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) met from 3-12 July 2007, in Geneva, Switzerland. Members remained divided on whether a new international instrument is needed and the meeting did not reach consensus on how to protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore against misappropriation. Instead, the Committee asked the WIPO General Assembly to renew its mandate, reiterating that “no outcome of its work is excluded, including the possible development of an international instrument or instruments.” Links to further information WIPO press release, 16 July 2007 Adopted decisions ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 20 July 2007 IP Watch, 10 July 2007 IP Watch, 11 July 2007 IP Watch, 11 July 2007 IP Watch, 12 July 2007 IP Watch, 13 July 2007
CBD SBSTTA 12 ADDRESSES BIOFUELS, CLIMATE CHANGE

The twelfth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) convened from 2-6 July 2007, in Paris, France. SBSTTA 12 adopted a number of recommendations to be forwarded to the ninth Conference of the Parties to the CBD, including on: the application of the ecosystem approach; the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation; dry and sub-humid lands; biodiversity and climate change; and biofuels. A number of issues with regard to climate change and biofuels remained outstanding and as a result, recommendations on these issues contain bracketed language. Immediately following SBSTTA 12, the second meeting of the CBD Working Group on the Review of Implementation convened in the same venue. This meeting is taking place from 9-13 July 2007. Links to further information IISD RS coverage of SBSTTA 12 IISD RS coverage of WGRI 2
HIGH-LEVEL MEETING FOCUSES ON BIOFUELS

An International Conference on Biofuels convened on 5-6 July 2007, in Brussels, Belgium. This high-level meeting sought to launch discussion on how to develop an international approach to biofuels, to reap their potential benefits while ensuring sustainable development and avoiding new risks. Speakers, including Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Commission President José Manuel Barroso, addressed the development of international trade in biofuels, and related environmental and development issues. In related news, more than 30 civil society groups from around the world have demanded a moratorium on the EU's move towards sourcing biofuels from large-scale monocultures. According to a new report published by UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, increased demand for biofuels is causing fundamental changes to agricultural markets that could drive up world prices for many farm products. Links to further information The Conference website Bridges Trade BioRes, 6 July 2007 Euractiv.news, 2 July 2007 FAO press release, 4 July 2007

June 2007

EUROPEAN FOOD SAFETY AUTHORITY HOLDS COLLOQUIUM ON GM PLANTS

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) held a Scientific Colloquium on the environmental risk assessment of genetically modified (GM) plants, on 20-21 June 2007, in Parma, Italy. Leading scientists focused on issues such as environmental fitness, effects on non-target organisms, long-term and large scale environmental effects, broader environmental considerations and assessment of risk versus environmental benefit. Participants agreed on the current case-by-case approach to environmental risk assessment, as outlined in EFSA's guidance, and that more specific guidance may be needed for the assessment of the potential impact on non-target organisms. Link to further information EFSA press release, 4 July 2007
CITES COP BEGINS, MARINE AND TIMBER SPECIES HIGH ON THE AGENDA

The fourteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-14) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) opened in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 3 June 2007, and will continue until 15 June 2007. It was preceded by the 55th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee, held on 2 June, which addressed substantive and organizational matters for COP-14, approved the baseline information on elephant poaching and population levels, and confirmed Japan's status as trading partner, allowing the one-off sale of 60 tons of ivory from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, agreed at COP-12, to proceed. Delegates to COP-14 will consider 70 agenda items and 37 proposals to amend the CITES appendices. The agenda covers a wide range of topics, including species trade and conservation issues, such as trade in elephants, cetaceans, Asian big cats, sharks and sturgeons. The proposed amendments to the CITES appendices include proposals to list marine species such as the porbeagle shark and red and pink corals, as well as timber species such as cedar and rosewood. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of COP-14
CITES COP CONCLUDES WITH CONSENSUS ON AFRICAN ELEPHANT

The fourteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-14) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened from 3-15 June 2007, in The Hague, the Netherlands. The meeting achieved a hard-won consensus on the Strategic Vision, which sets out three strategic goals on: compliance and enforcement; securing financial resources; and CITES' role in the broader international environment agenda. Among other highlights, the meeting agreed that no cetacean species should be subject to periodic review while the International Whaling Commission moratorium is in place, and decided to list slender-horned and Cuvier's gazelles and slow loris on Appendix I (species endangered due to international trade, trade permitted only in exceptional circumstances), and Brazil wood, sawfish and eel on Appendix II (species that may become endangered if their trade is not regulated). Following the achievement of a landmark regional consensus on ivory trade by the African elephant range states, the meeting amended the annotation on African elephants to allow a one-off sale of ivory from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe with a nine-year resting period for further ivory trade. Delegates also agreed to additional trade restrictions for Brazilwood, which grows only in Brazil. Under the new provisions, the tree will be listed in CITES' Appendix II, meaning that trade in the species will be tightly controlled, while trade in finished products will remain exempted. Other timber species, including Spanish cedar and two species of rosewood, did not receive the same protection, but delegates agreed to establish a working group composed of officials from range states to consider alternative ways to protect the trees. CITES delegates also agreed to a US proposal to draw up an official memorandum of understanding to strengthen the relationship between the convention and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). CITES and the ITTO have worked together to help build the capacity of range states to conduct sustainable timber management. Link to further information IISD RS meeting coverage
CGRFA-11 DEVELOPS PROGRAMME OF WORK AND DRAFT INTERLAKEN DECLARATION

The eleventh regular session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA-11) was held from 11-15 June 2007, at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in Rome, Italy. CGRFA-11 considered agenda items relating to the ongoing programmes of the Commission with regard to animal genetic resources (AnGR), plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), and the draft code of conduct on biotechnology, as well as the establishment and implementation of the Commission's multi-year programme of work (MYPOW). Outcomes included agreement on most of the major outputs and milestones of the MYPOW, which spans the next five regular sessions of the Commission. Delegates also agreed to forward to the International Technical Conference on AnGR, to be held in September 2007, in Interlaken, Switzerland, a draft Interlaken Declaration on AnGR and the elements of a Global Plan of Action for AnGR, incorporating Strategic Priorities for Action, with some parts of the text still bracketed. An additional issue discussed included the need for improved international policies to conserve aquatic genetic resources and improve global food security. According to a paper prepared for the meeting by FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, the rapid expansion of aquaculture and the over-exploitation of many fisheries have created conditions where “irresponsible” use of natural resources can result in adverse environmental and social impacts, conflicts and unsustainability. CGRFA-11 was preceded by a special event on “Emerging Issues in the Management of Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture: Towards a Multi-Year Programme of Work,” which convened on 9 June 2007, also at FAO headquarters. Links to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting and the special event CGRFA's webpage FAO Press Release, 11 June, 2007
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY CELEBRATIONS ADDRESS BIODIVERSITY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND COMMUNITY ACTION

On the occasion of World Environment Day, several events were held in Berlin, Germany, on 5 June 2007. Participants from politics, business and civil society attended a press conference conveying a message to the G8 summit, convening 6-9 June 2007 in Heiligendamm, Germany, a policy dialogue on strategic opportunities and priority actions for G8 members and global leaders to build upon synergies between the climate change and biodiversity agendas, and the 2006 Equator Prize award ceremony. The message to the G8 summit calls on G8 leaders to take leadership for renewed commitments to climate change and biodiversity conservation. The policy dialogue addressed policies such as compensation for avoided deforestation and a review of the economic impacts of biodiversity loss. Link to further information IISD RS coverage
DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENT GAINS SUPPORT AT TRIPS COUNCIL MEETING, CONSULTATIONS TO BEGIN ON CBD OBSERVER STATUS

At the 5 June 2007 meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Council of Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council), the proposal to amend the TRIPS Agreement to require patent applications to disclose the origin of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as well as evidence of prior informed consent and benefit-sharing, received a big boost. Although agreement was not reached, a number of countries, including the African group, the group of Least Developed Countries and Venezuela, announced their support for the proposal of a group of developing countries led by India and Brazil. In related news, the new TRIPS Council Chair Amb. Yonov Frederick Agah (Nigeria) will conduct consultations on whether to grant the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) observer status at the WTO. Brazil has already expressed its support, while the US has opposed. Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 22 June 2007 IP Watch, 6 June 2007

May 2007

UN FORUM FOCUSES ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' RIGHTS TO TERRITORIES, LANDS AND NATURAL RESOURCES

The sixth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues met in New York, US, from 14-25 May 2007, with the theme “Territories, Lands and Natural Resources.” Over one thousand delegates from seventy countries participated at the forum, which sought to build support for a UN General Assembly vote to endorse a declaration protecting indigenous peoples' land and resource rights. Reaffirming indigenous peoples' central role in decision making concerning their lands and resources, the Forum urged States to take measures to halt land alienation in indigenous territories, through for example a moratorium on the sale and registration of land in areas occupied by indigenous peoples. Agenda items included: the implementation of recommendations on the six mandated areas of the Permanent Forum and on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); a dialogue on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people; data collection and disaggregation; and Asia and urban indigenous peoples and migration. The Forum made recommendations regarding economic and social development, health, education, culture, environment and human rights, and discussed ways for implementing recommendations within the framework of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People to achieve the MDGs. With regard to the international regime on access and benefit-sharing under negotiation in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a number of indigenous peoples and organizations meeting during the session issued a declaration on indigenous peoples' rights to genetic resources and indigenous knowledge, urging the UNPFII to prepare a legal analysis on States, peoples and sovereignty and their relationship, scope and application, to assist the CBD parties in understanding sovereignty in the context of the Convention and the role of sovereignty in developing an international regime on ABS; prepare a report on the social, cultural and economic impacts of commercialization of genetic resources and indigenous knowledge on indigenous peoples; and recommend to the CBD that, consistent with international human rights law, States have an obligation to recognize and protect the rights of indigenous peoples to control access to the genetic resources that originate in their lands and waters, and associated traditional knowledge, as such recognition must be a key element of any international ABS regime. The 2008 session, to be held from 21 April to 2 May 2008, will focus on climate change, the Pacific region and indigenous languages. Links to further information UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues UN ECOSOC press release, 17 May 2007 UNPFII press release, 25 May 2007 UN press release, 25 May 2007 Declaration on indigenous peoples' rights to genetic resourc..., 20 May 2007
ASIAN NATIONS ADDRESS WILDLIFE SMUGGLING

The Wildlife Enforcement Network, established under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), met from 22-23 May 2007, in Bogor, Indonesia. Participants agreed to work to raise public awareness of illegal wildlife trade, provide better training for law enforcement officers, and increase communication among countries in the region and with international enforcement bodies such as Interpol, as well as ways to finance the network. Links to further information Reuters News Service, 23 May 2007 Bridges Trade BioRes, 25 May 2007
SIGNATORIES OF THE CMS MOU ON THE SIBERIAN CRANE MEET

The sixth Meeting of the Signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning Conservation Measures for the Siberian Crane, an instrument developed under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), was held from 15-19 May 2007, in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The meeting brought together 50 participants from across the region, including officials from all eleven Range States (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). Highlights of the meeting included: the official launch of the Western and Central Asian Site Network for Siberian Cranes and other Waterbirds, with the inclusion of an initial ten sites from five countries; elaboration and adoption of new, detailed Conservation Plans for each of the three flyways covered by the Siberian Crane MoU; review of important considerations related to the eventual integration, within the MoU framework, of activities currently being conducted under the GEF Siberian Crane Wetlands Project, which will draw to a close in 2009; and the inclusion of two additional partner organizations in the ranks of the MoU, Wetlands International and the Cracid Conservation and Breeding Centre. Links to further information CMS press release, 18 May 2007 CMS press release, 19 May 2007
FAO ORGANIZES MEETING ON ORGANIC AGRICULTURE

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) organized an International Conference on Organic Agriculture and Food Security in connection with the 33rd Session of the Committee on Food Security. The Conference met from 3-5 May 2007, in Rome, Italy, and was organized in partnership with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, WWF and other organizations. The meeting identified organic agriculture's potential and limits in addressing the food security challenge, including conditions required for its success. Conference participants evaluated how organic agriculture can contribute to global, regional, national and household food security using the four dimensions of availability, access, stability and utilization for analytical reasons. Basic data, case studies and various ecological and economic models revealed the wealth of currently existing opportunities and challenges for global and local communities that need to be converted to concrete actions. Concluding the Conference, participants brought together findings and synthesized specific recommendations along the framework of the Right to Adequate Food. Links to further information FAO press release, 3 May 2007 Conference website Meeting report

April 2007

EUROPEANS CONSULT ON AN INTERNATIONAL MECHANISM OF SCIENTIFIC EXPERTISE ON BIODIVERSITY

The European Regional Consultation of the Consultative Process Towards an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) took place from 26-28 April 2007, in Geneva, Switzerland. Participants reached general consensus on a list of “needs” for an IMoSEB, an option for an IMoSEB to meet these needs, as well as on the goals and guiding principles for effective communication of scientific information on biodiversity. Link to further information IISDRS coverage of the meeting
Delegates at UNFF-7 Begin Deliberations

April 2007: The seventh session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF-7) commenced this week at UN Headquarters in New York. Participants adopted an agenda that calls for them to formulate and adopt a multi-year programme of work (MYPOW), including a description and scheduling of the tasks for the period 2008-2015, and to conclude and adopt a non-legally binding instrument (NLBI) on all types of forests. A multi-stakeholder dialogue is also scheduled to present stakeholders' priority areas of action with respect to the MYPOW and salient themes and perspectives on the NLBI. Other agenda items include consideration of enhanced cooperation and policy and programme coordination, and provision of further guidance to the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). Preparatory meetings for UNFF-7 were held in Liberville, Gabon (3-4 April 2007) for African countries, and in Bogotá, Colombia (25-27 March 2007) for member countries of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO). Participants discussed the MYPOW, the NLBI, means of implementation and regional involvement. [IISD RS coverage][ECOSOC News Release, 13 April 2007]

March 2007

G8+5 ENVIRONMENT MINISTERS CALL FOR ESTIMATING COST OF BIODIVERSITY LOSS

During their 16-17 March 2007 meeting in Potsdam, Germany, Environment Ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) developed countries and five major developing countries (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) called for a study to analyze the global economic benefit of biodiversity, the costs of biodiversity loss and the failure to take protective measures versus the costs of effective conservation. The study will be modeled on the Stern Report estimating the economic costs of global warming. Links to further information AFP, 16 March 2007 Environment News Service, 16 March 2007 G8 Information Centre, reproduction of “The Potsdam Initiati...
CMS SCIENTIFIC COUNCIL CONCLUDES

The 14th meeting of the Scientific Council of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) convened from 15-17 March 2007, in Bonn, Germany. The Council reviewed progress in relation to its Strategy Implementation Plan for 2006-2011 and agreed that, while significant progress has been made in some activities, the challenges posed by the Strategic Plan require a renewed effort. In this regard, the meeting established intersessional working groups on climate change and migratory species, by-catch, sustainable use, and animal diseases. The Council also considered the status and future prospects of the CMS Small Grants Programme to support conservation and research activities, and made a strong plea for securing adequate funding for the programme. Finally, the meeting suggested several species suitable for listing on the CMS Appendices across various taxonomic groups. Links to further information CMS press release, 4 April 2007 Documents for the meeting
CMS HOLDS CETACEAN CONSERVATION MEETINGS IN SAMOA

The first meeting of the Signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding for the Conservation of Cetaceans and their Habitats in the Pacific Islands region, an agreement developed under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), was held from 5-9 March 2007, in Apia, Samoa. It was combined with the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) meeting to review their action plan on whale and dolphin conservation, an outreach workshop funded by Germany to discuss the possible contribution of CMS in the Pacific region with a focus on cetacean conservation, as well as an Australian-funded workshop on by-catch. During the week, the CMS Secretariat also released for the first time the Year of the Dolphin poster. Links to further information CMS press release, 5 March 2007 CMS press release, 5 March 2007 CMS press release, 6 March 2007
BIOSAFETY PROTOCOL COMPLIANCE COMMITTEE MEETS IN OPEN SESSION

The Compliance Committee under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety held its third meeting from 5-7 March 2007, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting was conducted in an open session and accordingly, the Third World Network attended as an observer. The Committee re-elected Veit Koester and Mary Fosi Mbantenkhu as its Chair and Vice-Chair respectively, for two-year terms. The Committee made a number of suggestions regarding completing and updating the document prepared by the Secretariat on repeated non-compliance (UNEP/CBD/BS/CC/3/2), and noted that no case of non-compliance was brought to its attention since it began its functions. It agreed to propose, for the consideration of the Meeting of the Parties, an indicative list of measures that may be taken in cases of repeated non-compliance, including measures such as suspension of trade, and/or suspension of rights or privileges. It further agreed that, in preparing its report on general issues of compliance as requested by the Meeting of the Parties, it would take into account only the information provided in national reports and in the Biosafety Clearing-House. The Committee agreed to conduct its fourth meeting in an open session during the first week of December 2007, in Montreal, Canada. Link to further information The meeting's report
AFRICAN REGIONAL CONSULTATION CONSIDERS POSSIBLE IMoSEB

The African Regional Consultation of the Consultative Process Towards an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) brought together over 90 experts in the second of a series of regional meetings for the IMoSEB process. Participants at the consultation, which convened from 1-3 March 2007, in Yaoundé, Cameroon, heard presentations, exchanged views and discussed needs identified and various options on a possible IMoSEB. They considered expertise for Africa and potential users of an IMoSEB; discussed institutional and financial aspects of an IMoSEB; reached general consensus on the need for an IMoSEB; and identified an interest in exploring a pilot project for the African region. Link to further information IISD RS coverage

February 2007

BIOSAFETY PROTOCOL LIABILITY WORKING GROUP PREPARES TO ENTER NEGOTIATIONS

The third meeting of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts on Liability and Redress in the context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety convened from 19-23 February 2007, in Montreal, Canada. Deliberations focused on a working draft prepared by the Co-Chairs synthesizing proposed texts and views submitted by governments and other stakeholders on approaches, options and issues identified pertaining to liability and redress in the context of Article 27 of the Biosafety Protocol. Delegates worked through the elements and options included in the Co-Chairs' synthesis and were asked to submit operational text. They also held regional meetings and consulted informally to formulate and clarify their positions. With an eye towards the end of the Working Group's mandate at COP/MOP-4 (May 2008, Bonn, Germany), participants expressed satisfaction that this meeting had achieved progress in preparing to enter the negotiating phase at the Working Group's next meeting, to be held in Montreal in October 2007. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting
TRIPS COUNCIL DISCUSSES DISCLOSURE OF ORIGIN

At the 13 February meeting of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council, Members discussed the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Positions generally remained unchanged: the group of developing countries (Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, India, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand, Tanzania, Ecuador and South Africa), which had proposed text on disclosure of origin, asked to proceed with text-based negotiations, and were supported by a number of African countries. Other developed countries said it was premature to discuss disclosure-related issues, while the EU preferred to address the issue at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. Meanwhile, WTO Deputy Director-General Rufus Yerxa is holding informal consultations on how to move the issue forward. Links to further information Bridges Trade BioRes, 16 February 2007 IP Watch, 14 February 2007
COALITION AGAINST WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING MEETS IN NAIROBI

The Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking, a voluntary public-private coalition of like-minded governments and organizations aiming to address the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade, met in Nairobi, Kenya on 10 February 2007. This meeting was held just after the conclusion of the 24th Session of the UNEP Governing Council /Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-24/GMEF). During the meeting, a proposed operational framework for 2007-2009 was launched. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the meeting

January 2007

NORTH AMERICAN CONSULTATION ON IMoSEB GENERATES PROPOSALS

Over 60 experts at the North American Regional Consultation of the Consultative Process Towards an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) exchanged views and discussed various options on a possible IMoSEB during a 30-31 January 2007 meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Participants did not achieve consensus on a new mechanism, but did generate views and proposals that are expected to contribute to future discussions on the topic. Links to further information IISD RS coverage IMoSEB website
BIODIVERSITY EXPERTS DISCUSS CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN

The group of technical experts on an internationally recognized certificate of origin/source/legal provenance of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met from 22-25 January 2007, in Lima, Peru. In the framework of the CBD discussion on access and benefit-sharing (ABS), such a certificate would serve as a mechanism to ensure transparency in the flow of genetic resources. The group discussed different options for the certificate, their feasibility, implementation challenges, and potential costs and benefits. The report of the meeting will be forwarded to the fifth meeting of the CBD Working Group on ABS, to be held from 8-12 October 2007, in Montreal, Canada. Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 2 February 2007 The report of the meeting will be available at the CBD website