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December 2006

UNCTAD ADDRESSES PREDICAMENTS OF SMALL COMMODITY PRODUCERS

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Expert Meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 11-13 December 2006, gathered experts from around the world to discuss how to enable small commodity producers in developing countries to reach global markets. The meeting gave rise to an increased understanding about the predicaments of small commodity producers, and steps were taken to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships that can deliver comprehensive solutions enabling small producers to create sustainable livelihoods.

Link to further information UNCTAD Expert Meeting website
GEF CEO Proposes Shorter Project Cycle and Reduced Pipeline at Council Meeting

8 December 2006: The Global Environment Facility's (GEF) CEO Monique Barbut opened the 5-8 December 2006 Council meeting in Washington DC, US, with a proposed “Five Point Sustainability Compact to Increase Efficiency and Impact.” Her proposal included: shifting from a project-driven to a programmatic approach by focusing strategies on a clear set of priority issues for the global environment; reducing the current project pipeline in half; appointing an “Ombudsman” in the GEF Secretariat to respond to country concerns or complaints; and redesigning the project approval cycle to reduce it from 66 to 22 months. The Council adopted decisions on several issues, including decisions to: consider options to reduce project preparation and approval cycles to less than 22 months; adopt objective criteria for project selection, pipeline management and cancellation; recommend to the Fourth GEF Assembly to designate GEF as the financial mechanism for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD); and further consider the roles and comparative advantages of GEF Agencies. The Council also approved a biosafety strategy to enhance the cost-effectiveness of capacity building efforts to implement the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The strategy will require all projects to perform a stock-taking assessment to determine clearly defined targets, and will promote the funding of regional and subregional full-sized projects when there are opportunities for cost-effective sharing of limited resources and coordination between biosafety frameworks. It will also promote medium-sized country projects or multi-country thematic projects when these are most effective. On 8 December, the Council also approved new projects within the Climate Change Convention's Special Climate Change Fund and Least Developed Country Fund (SCCF and LDC Funds). [GEF CEO's speech, 5 December 2006] [GEF Talking Points, November 2006] [GEF Council Documents, December 2006]

November 2006

MONTREAL PROTOCOL MULTILATERAL FUND APPROVES US$48 MILLION FOR PROJECTS

The Executive Committee of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol held its fiftieth Meeting from 6-10 November 2006, in New Delhi, India. Among other issues, the Committee evaluated: the status of contributions and disbursements; balances and availability of resources; the 2006 business plan; cases on non-compliance; and the status of the multilateral funds accounts. The Executive Committee approved a total of US$48 million for projects and activities in 77 developing countries, which is expected to eliminate 3,371 tonnes of ozone depleting substances (ODS) consumption. The Executive Committee also considered challenges that the Montreal Protocol still faces, including the phase out of HCFCs, which have been rapidly expanding in developing countries in recent years, and the need for the environmentally sound destruction of ODS, which would be unrecoverable and unusable. Links to further information Multilateral Fund Press Release, 11 November 2006 Meeting documents
WORKSHOP DISCUSSES COST-EFFECTIVENESS ANALYSES OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES

An expert workshop discussing ex-post policy evaluation was convened by the European Environment Agency and the Environment Agencies of Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK in Copenhagen on 7 November 2006. Presentations focused on cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) as an evaluation tool, outlining the strength and weaknesses of CEA compared to cost-benefit analysis, and the difficulties of applying CEA ex-post, in addition to addressing practical experiences with applied ex-post CEA in European environmental policy making. Link to further information Ecologic press release, 7 November 2006

October 2006

UNGA EVALUATES RESULTS OF MONTERREY CONSENSUS

The UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) stated that the global community must “bolster its efforts to meet the financing commitments laid out in the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development four years ago if the living standards of the world's poorest citizens were to be improved.” Delegates also welcomed an offer by Qatar to host a follow-up meeting in 2008 or 2009 that would examine the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus. Link to further information UN General Assembly News Release, 10 October 2006

September 2006

WTO'S PUBLIC FORUM 2006 DISCUSSES DOHA AND BIOFUELS

The World Trade Organization (WTO) held its Public Forum 2006 under the title “What WTO for the XXIst Century?” on 25-26 September 2006, in Geneva, Switzerland. The forum gathered a wide array of civil society organizations to voice their concerns about the failure of the Doha Round and the future of the international trade regime. In a panel on opportunities and challenges for strengthening the mutual supportiveness of trade and environment in the Doha round, Achim Steiner, UNEP's Executive Director, noted the need to move forward in multilateral trade negotiations, as the suspension of Doha translated into the suspension of the global environmental governance discussions. Ted Turner, UN Foundation, told the opening plenary that it would be a 'disaster' if governments gave up on multilateral trade talks, and proposed overcoming the present deadlock through an expansion in agricultural production for biofuels. He said biofuels could absorb the excess production generated by subsidies in industrialized countries, increasing worldwide demand for agricultural products and providing a solution for climate change. Antony Burgmans, Unilever, however, cautioned that the growing world population's demand for biofuels and food would put extraordinary pressure on land and biodiversity, especially on vulnerable tropical rainforests. He urged the audience to be wary of “low-intensity” biofuels such as rapeseed oil that require several chemical inputs and have relatively low energy yields. Participants also discussed: the design of a sustainable development roadmap for the WTO; sustainability and environmental impact assessments of trade negotiations; and trade, environment and development implications of fisheries subsidies. Links to further information WTO Public Forum Bridge Trade BioRes, ICTSD, 6 October 2006
IMF-WORLD BANK TALK VOTING RIGHTS, GOVERNANCE

The voting strength of several developing countries and governance issues were high on the agenda at the latest meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. In meetings held in Singapore from 17-20 September 2006, IMF members strengthened the voting power of China and several other countries in the body. Meanwhile, the joint World Bank-IMF Development Committee, which met on 18 September, stressed issues of governance and fostering “sustainable private sector development. It also approved new publications on governance, middle income countries, trade and education, and a progress report on an Investment Framework for Clean Energy and Development. The official IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings took place from 19-20 September. In addition, the Bank and IMF held a forum with civil society representatives. Links to further information World Bank/IMF Annual meeting website Development Committee Communiqué, 18 September 2006 Report on an investment framework for clean energy and devel... BBC news report, 18 September 2006
PRIVATE SECTOR'S ROLE IN AFRICA'S DEVELOPMENT STRESSED

The private sector can play a major role in Africa's development if safeguards are created to ensure that developing countries share in the profits, according to experts meeting in New York. The comments were made during a meeting at the UN on 18 September, organized by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Link to further information UN News Centre (18 September 2006)

August 2006

GEF Assembly and Council Convene: US$3.13 Billion Replenishment Approved

28 August 2006: A Special Meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council has approved a Fourth GEF replenishment, with 32 governments agreeing to contribute US$3.13 billion to finance environmental projects over the next four years. The Council also agreed on the governance of the climate change funds, specifying, inter alia, that decisions of the Council concerning the operations of the Adaptation Fund be taken by consensus among all Council members representing participants that are parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The Council meeting, which concluded many months' negotiations on the replenishment issue, was held on 28 August 2006, in Cape Town, South Africa. Immediately after the Council meeting, the Third GEF Assembly convened, also in Cape Town, from 29-30 August. Representatives of 176 countries that are currently members of the GEF reviewed the Facility's policies and operations, meeting in Plenary and in a series of roundtables and panel discussions. During the opening Plenary, Monique Barbut, GEF's new CEO, highlighted GEF's priorities for each of its focal areas, while GEF partners presented conclusions and results of projects' implementation. Delegates took note of reports on the GEF Trust Fund and the Third Overall Performance Study of the GEF and on enhancing partnerships through NGO engagement. During the subsequent discussion, participants raised concerns over the provision of funding for land degradation and desertification, and the application of the new Resource Allocation Framework (RAF). On the RAF, many delegates noted their concerns about limitations with regard to innovation, inequitable distribution of resources across countries and focal areas, and a lack of a long-term vision. Some donors, however, praised the RAF for allocating resources on a strategic basis, and for increasing transparency of operations and results. The RAF was also addressed in one of the three High-level roundtables; the other two focusing on market-based mechanisms for financing global environmental conventions, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. [IISD RS Coverage of the GEF Assembly] [GEF Press Release, 28 August 2006] [GEF Council Documents] [GEF Assembly Documents]

July 2006

WTO SUSPENDS DOHA NEGOTIATIONS

The WTO General Council has suspended the Doha negotiation after meeting from 27-28 July 2006, in Geneva. The decision came after Pascal Lamy, WTO Director-General, recommended a suspension of talks due to lack of progress. Some members expressed regret at this turn of events, while others said the achievements of the negotiation should be preserved and built on in future. There was a general agreement on the need not to modify the Doha mandate or split it allowing for selective progress. Links to further information WTO news report, 29 July 2006 ICTSD Bridges, 2 August 2006 IISD Subsidy Watch, August 2006 IATP Trade Observatory, 7 August 2006 Statement by Pascal Lamy to the WTO General Council, 27 July 2006

June 2006

MADAGASCAR MEETING FOCUSES ON BIODIVERSITY AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

A symposium held in late June has focused on biodiversity's role as an engine for sustainable economic development in Africa. Organized by Conservation International, titled “Defying Nature's End: the African context,” was held from 20-24 June 2006 in Madagascar. It was attended by government officials and representatives of international organizations, conservation groups and local communities, including President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar and Jeffrey Sachs, head of the UN Millennium Project. The symposium examined how biodiversity can be conserved and become an engine for economic development in Africa. The final declaration calls for creating and expanding markets for Africa's nature, such as ecotourism and carbon trading. Other necessary steps include: expanding protected area networks and creating sustainable financing mechanisms; protecting and restoring key ecological systems linked to freshwater supply and quality; providing economic incentives for local communities to manage their forests and other natural resources sustainably; ensuring that government spending on poverty reduction is based on environmental sustainability; including the business community in seeking solutions to environmental degradation caused by industrial development; and prioritizing sustainable agriculture practices and alternatives to fuelwood and charcoal as energy sources.

Link to further information Conservation International press release (24 June 2006)
NORWAY SUBMITS PROPOSAL ON CBD-TRIPS RELATIONSHIP

Norway has submitted a proposal on suggestions for an amendment to the TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) agreement (WT/GC/W/566). The Norwegian proposal follows a submission from a group of developing countries led by India (WT/GC/W/564/Rev.1), and expresses general support for the submission. The developing countries' proposal would amend the TRIPS Agreement by requiring patent applications to disclose the country providing genetic resources used in the invention, and evidence of compliance with the country's legal requirements for prior informed consent and benefit-sharing. Including certain different elements, the Norwegian document proposes using criminal or other legal sanctions to address non-compliance with the disclosure requirements; triggering disclosure requirements for both genetic resources and traditional knowledge, even if the latter is not associated with genetic resources. Also, it proposes sending any declarations of origin to the CBD Clearing-House Mechanism. According to recent reports, at informal consultations held on the proposals, as well as during the TRIPS Council meeting on 15 June, the US, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada still opposed amending the TRIPS Agreement to introduce disclosure requirements. Japan presented a proposal on industry experiences regarding genetic resource databases (IP/C/W/572), and Canada, Australia and New Zealand similarly shared their experiences with access and benefit-sharing. The EU repeated that it is interested in mandatory disclosure requirements, but would not support enforcement measures, including revocation of patents. Along with Switzerland, the EU would prefer to amend WIPO patent rules in this regard.

Links to further information Discussions on CBD-TRIPS gain momentum with new proposals, ICTSD Trade BioRes, 16 June 2006 The Norwegian proposal (WT/GC/W/566) is available through th... IP Watch, Brazil, India get developed country support for TRIPS amendment on biodiversity, 15 June 2006 IP Watch, EU gets little support for enforcement proposal at WTO; CBD issue unresolved, 16 June 2006 IP Watch, Inside views: India, Brazil explain need for TRIPS biodiversity amendment; plus interview with Alan Oxley, 22 June 2006
WTO COMMITTEE DISCUSSES ENVIRONMENTAL GOODS

The WTO Committee on Trade and Environment Special Session (CTE-SS) has met to address the liberalization of trade in environmental goods. The Committee, which met from 12-13 June 2006, heard a new presentation by India, following previous presentations by other developing countries, which objects to a product-by-product list approach; and proposes an “environmental project approach” aimed at achieving clear environment and developmental benefits. Several proponents of the list approach, mainly developed countries, made presentations about the products they had suggested for liberalization. However, developing countries expressed doubts regarding the effectiveness of the step-by-step examination of products under the list approach, saying that discussions were going in circles. Egypt, India, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, along with several other developing countries seek to ensure that products liberalized under the environmental goods Doha mandate actually serve real environmental and developmental goals. (Sources: ICTSD, Trade Bio-Res, 16 June 2006).

Link to further information WTO Website
GEF Council Appoints New CEO, Makes Progress on Replenishment

9 June 2006: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council has elected a new CEO, while progress has also been reported in a GEF Trust Fund meeting on the Fourth Replenishment of its funding. Monique Barbut of France, a former Director of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, was confirmed as the new GEF CEO during the latest Council meeting, which took place from 6-9 June 2006 in Washington DC. Meanwhile, at a GEF Trust Fund meeting on the Fourth Replenishment held on 5 June, donors reportedly made significant advances towards guaranteeing pledges for the fourth replenishment at levels around 10% below current GEF funding. The Council meeting also considered the GEF's annual performance report, the Special Climate Change Fund's status report, a strategy for financing biosafety activities, a private sector strategy and progress in the implementation of the Resource Allocation Framework (RAF). [GEF Council Documents] [Press release; 9 June 2006] [GEF Fourth Replenishment documents]
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES TABLE PROPOSAL TO ADDRESS CBD-TRIPS RELATIONSHIP

In an effort to begin text-based negotiations on the relationship between the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the WTO Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), India, along with Brazil, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Peru, Thailand and Tanzania, have submitted a proposal to amend the TRIPS Agreement. The relationship between the CBD and the TRIPS Agreement is an outstanding implementation issue according to the Doha Ministerial Declaration, under consideration in the TRIPS Council and in consultations under WTO Deputy Director General Rufus Yerxa, with extensive discussions on a mandatory requirement for the disclosure of origin of biological resources and/or associated traditional knowledge in patent applications. The Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration noted that the General Council shall review progress and take any appropriate action no later than 31 July 2006. According to the proposal, “Where the subject matter of a patent application concerns, is derived from or developed with biological resources and/or associated traditional knowledge, Members shall require applicants to disclose the country providing the resources and/or associated traditional knowledge, from whom in the providing country they were obtained, and, as known after reasonable inquiry, the country of origin. Members shall also require that applicants provide information including evidence of compliance with the applicable legal requirements in the providing country for prior informed consent for access and fair and equitable benefit-sharing arising from the commercial or other utilization of such resources and/or associated traditional knowledge.” Links to further information The proposal/communication from Brazil et al., 6 June 2006 (use the WTO search engine for document “WT/GC/W/564/Rev.1”) IP Watch, “Developing countries propose TRIPS amendment on disclosure,” 1 June 2006 IP Watch, “Biggest Developing Countries Present TRIPS Amendment Proposal,” 7 June 2006

May 2006

CONFERENCE ON DEVELOPMENT ECONOMICS FOCUSES ON INFRASTRUCTURE FOR DEVELOPMENT

The Annual World Bank Conference on Development Economics has focused on “Rethinking Infrastructure for Development.” The event, which took place from 29-30 May 2006 in Tokyo, addressed several major topics related to infrastructure, including growth, climate change, energy efficiency, rural development, agriculture and the implications for regional cooperation. Conference participants called for new analytical and evaluation tools to help decision-makers take infrastructure choices that deliver vital services such as energy, transportation and water, to facilitate growth and achieve the MDGs, while also remaining cost-effective and friendly to the environment. In his closing speech, François Bourguignon, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, World Bank, noted the need to: deepen analysis on links between infrastructure and growth; strike the right balance between public and private involvement; deal with cross-border or global externalities; and improve data and evaluation to achieve an ambitious infrastructure agenda. Links to further information Conference webpage World Bank press release, 1 June 2006

April 2006

BUDGET VOTE THREATENS UN REFORMS

UN membership appears polarized over the budgetary implications, the pace and the modalities of proposed UN Reforms. Opposing some of the specific recommendations for UN management reform proposed in UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report “Investing in the United Nations: For a Stronger Organization Worldwide,” the group of developing countries (G-77/China) submitted a draft resolution in the General Assembly's Fifth (Budget) Committee calling for several further reports and studies to further justify the proposed reforms. The group also opposed budgetary procedures or financial regulations being implemented without the General Assembly's prior review and approval, and strategic discussions being held in “meetings of manageable size” possibly through dividing up the workload of the Fifth Committee among select working groups of limited membership. The G-77/China prioritized instead the General Assembly's oversight role for administrative and budgetary matters, with a view to ensuring full, effective and efficient implementation of all mandated programmes and activities and protecting the right of each Member State to have an equal say in UN decision-making regardless of financial contribution to the UN budget. The G-77/China proposal was opposed by several developed countries that feared a slow down of the whole UN reform process – including environmental governance reforms – and cautioned against “cherry-picking” among the Secretary-General's interrelated proposals. Breaking a longstanding tradition of consensus decision-making, the Administrative and Budgetary (Fifth) Committee approved the resolution proposed by G-77/China by a vote of 108 countries in favor to 50 against with 3 abstentions on 29 April 2006. The resolution was adopted by the General Assembly on 8 May 2006, by a vote of 121 to 50 with two abstentions. Developed countries that voted against the resolution collectively represent over 80% of budget contributions, thus giving rise to concerns that approval of the UN budget on 30 June 2006 will be tied to progress on management reforms. The Bush administration, for instance, has signaled it may block UN funding unless the organization carries out management reforms by June. Several observers considered that this budget vote has led to a polarization of UN Members' positions not seen “since the 1970s” or the “invasion of Iraq.” Expressing regret about the vote, Secretary-General Annan urged States to work together to rebuild the spirit of mutual trust and remain committed to the principles of UN reform. Links to further information UN press release (April 2006) UN press release (May 2006) UN Secretary-General's Statement General Assembly Draft Resolution A/C.5/60/L.37 Reuters Financial Times Washington Post BBC NEWS
UN HOLDS HIGH-LEVEL MEETING WITH WTO, IMF, WORLD BANK

A high-level meting of the UN's Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods institutions, World Trade Organization and UN Conference on Trade and Development has been held at UN headquarters in New York. The meeting, which took place on 24 April 2006, focused on issues such as the Doha trade round and trade-distorting subsidies for agriculture, the “Aid for Trade Initiative,” matters relating to financing for development, debt relief, and the risks of protectionism. Round table discussions were held under the overall theme, “Coordination and cooperation in the context of the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and the 2005 World Summit Outcome.” Link to further information UN briefing, 24 April 2006
BRETTON WOODS “SPRING MEETINGS” FOCUS ON CLEAN ENERGY, IMF REFORM

The International Monetary Fund-World Bank Spring Meetings held on 22-23 April, in Washington DC, have focused on ways to finance clean energy in developing countries, and on the role of governance in meeting worldwide social, health, and economic goals. In addition, discussions also focused on possible reforms to the IMF. Aid, trade, and debt relief were also on the agenda of the joint World Bank-IMF Development Committee, the body that sets policy on development issues and advises on financial resources required to promote economic development in developing countries. The Committee considered a Global Monitoring Report 2006, measuring progress toward UN Millennium Development Goals, and a report on an Investment Framework for Clean Energy and Development. However, it was reforms to the IMF that generated the most media interest, particularly questions on how to adapt the IMF to changing global circumstances, including crisis prevention and the possible monitoring of exchange rates. Links to further information Official meeting website BBC news report, 23 April 2006 World Bank press release, 18 April 2006
WIPO MEETING ADDRESSES PROPOSAL ON DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS

A group of developing countries have proposed taking into account disclosure of origin of genetic resources and other biodiversity-related issues in discussions on patent law. The suggestion was made at an informal meeting of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Standing Committee on the Law of Patents, held from 10-12 April 2006, in Geneva, Switzerland. During the meeting, a group of developing countries suggested that discussions on the draft Substantive Law Patent Treaty, aiming to standardize and harmonize global patent rules, should take into account disclosure of origin of genetic resources and other biodiversity-related issues, including prior informed consent, benefit-sharing and exemptions from patentability. Furthermore, India proposed that the Committee hold joint meetings with the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. Member States concluded that it was premature to establish a work programme for the Committee at this stage, and decided to refer the matter to the WIPO General Assembly meeting in September 2006. Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes vol.6, no.7, 14 April 2006 IP Watch, 10 April 2006 IP Watch, 11 April 2006 WIPO press release, 13 April 2006
GEF HOSTS CLIMATE FUND MEETINGS IN BANGLADESH

A meeting on the Least Developed Countries Fund to offset the adverse impacts of global climate change was held on 4-6 April 2006 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The meeting reviewed proposed arrangements to support projects identified in National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) in light of recent decisions of the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC, as well as NAPA outputs, and began the preparation of projects to address the most urgent and immediate adaptation needs of the Least Developed Countries. Link to further information News release, GEF, 12 April 2006
INTER-AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK DISCUSSES CARBON MARKETS, AMAZON AND CLEAN ENERGY

The Inter-American Development Bank has concluded its 2006 Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors, highlighting its efforts to be carbon neutral and holding several seminars on environment-related issues. The meeting, which took place in Belo Horizonte, is believed to be the first carbon neutral multilateral bank meeting. Alongside the event, which took place in early April, a seminar was held on “Development of the carbon market and the agro-energy sector.” The seminar addressed the Brazilian Carbon Market, a joint initiative between the Brazilian Mercantile and Futures Exchange (BM&F) and the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, to develop an efficient trading system for Certified Emission Reductions aligned with the principles underlying the Kyoto Protocol. A second seminar on “Amazonia in the 21st Century: Challenges for Regional Development,” brought together experts from several of the eight countries with territory in the Amazon to examine how innovative approaches can protect the region's vital resources and environmental services, in a period of rapid change. For example, participants considered how the emerging carbon market could be a major force not just in protecting Amazonian forests, but also in financing reforestation, by allowing investors to receive fixed annual returns that anticipate the future forest growth. Finally a seminar on “Financing of clean energy” addressed the need for countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to raise their living standards, while stimulating innovative technologies to produce clean energy from nontraditional sources. The IDB president pledged the Bank's support to create policy and financial environments that will spur investment in environmentally and socially sustainable energy projects through IDB's guarantees. Links to further information Development of the carbon market and the agro-energy sector, IDB Press Release, 2 April 2006 Amazonia in the 21st Century: Challenges for Regional Develo..., IDB Press Release, 31 March 2006 Financing of clean energy, IDB Press Release, 31 March 2006

March 2006

CBD-TRIPS DISCUSSIONS RESUME

Differences on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity remained at the TRIPS Council meeting held on 14-15 March 2006. Further submissions, however, shed light on Members' positions. In its new submission, the US reiterated its opposition to the proposed multilateral requirement for disclosure of origin of biological materials and related traditional knowledge in patent applications, arguing that disclosure requirements would not prevent mistakenly issued patents and indicating the necessity for national laws on access and benefit-sharing, outside the patent system. Proponents of the requirements acknowledged that disclosure requirements were in themselves unlikely to stop biopiracy. They indicated, however, that the problem is not only the quality of patents, but also the lack of knowledge regarding foreign patent applications involving their genetic resources. In another submission, they provided definitions of the technical elements required to fulfill the Doha Declaration paragraph 19 mandate on the CBD-TRIPS relationship. In separate informal consultations mandated under paragraph 12 of the Doha Declaration and led by WTO Deputy Director-General Rufus Yerxa, members examined a list of eleven questions on the CBD-TRIPS relationship, focusing on the different arguments for and against disclosure requirements. These consultations continued on 23 March, with China and Norway joining Brazil, Peru, India and other developing countries calling for text-based negotiations on disclosure. Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, 17 March 2006 IP Watch, 15 March 2006 IP Watch, 16 March 2006 IP Watch, 24 March 2006
WORLD BANK ENERGY WEEK PREPARES INPUT FOR CSD-14

The World Bank Group's Energy Week (6-9 March 2006, Washington DC, USA) gathered policy makers and practitioners engaged on strategic issues of energy and development. Building on the G8 Plan of Action adopted at Gleneagles, the meeting will also contribute to the discussions on energy and development that will be taken up at the fourteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-14) in May 2006. Energy Week 2006 combined a three-day executive conference with information sharing events. The event was opened by Paul Wolfowitz, President of the World Bank, who highlighted the renewed focus on the interaction between energy, the environment and poverty. He highlighted that the World Bank will make proposals to accelerate investment in clean energy so that developing countries can meet energy demand for growth and for poverty alleviation in an environmentally sustainable way. An example of this effort is a proposal currently under consideration for a new Clean Energy Financing Vehicle that would blend grants and carbon finance to support the use of clean energy technologies. Jamal Saghir, Director, World Bank, and JoAnne DiSano, Director of Sustainable Development, UN and Head of the CSD Secretariat, co-chaired the closing session and presentation of conclusions, which will be made available to participants and forwarded to CSD-14. More information: World Bank Energy Week, March 2006
ASIA DESERVES “BETTER DEAL” ON AID – UN OFFICIAL

New research showing that aid donors are overlooking Asia in favor of Africa must be addressed, according to the head of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The findings, which are in a report on “Achieving the MDGs in Asia: a Case for More Aid?” suggest that Asia has received considerably less aid than other regions when population, income and poverty levels are taken into account. UNESCAP Executive Secretary Mr Kim Hak-Su delivered the key findings of the report at the two-day “Asia 2015 Conference Promoting Growth, Ending Poverty” in early March 2006. More information: UN news centre, 6 March 2006
ECONOMISTS, POLITICIANS DISCUSS GREEN GROWTH

Economists and European politicians at a forum on green growth have noted that, while environmental policies will probably not have a significant positive impact on national economic growth and employment levels, well-designed environmental policies also will not normally have a negative impact either. The twenty-some economists plus a number of policy makers, including Danish Minister for the Environment Connie Hedegaard, attending the Environmental Assessment Institute's “Green Roads to Growth Forum” from 1-2 March in Copenhagen, Denmark, added that environmental policies “should primarily be focused on achieving the desired environmental improvements in a cost-effective way – and not be given the ‘responsibility' for ‘solving' other major policy objectives.” They also discussed the case for some subsidies for research and development of environmentally friendly technologies, given the positive spillovers and the fact that the inventors do not reap all the benefits. They said policies to support development of new technologies should be broad-based and targeted at the environmental problem areas at hand, not at specific technological solutions. More information: The Environmental Assessment Institute The meeting's Facilitator's summary
ANNAN URGES “POLITICAL COURAGE” IN SECURING FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT

Addressing the Ministerial Conference on Innovative Sources of Financing for Development held on 28 February and 1 March 2006 in Paris, France, the UN Secretary-General has emphasized the importance of innovative sources of funding to complement to traditional forms of aid. Although such innovative sources on their own they may not generate enough funding to reach the Millennium Development Goals, Kofi Annan stressed that they do have the potential to generate new resources for development, and said they needed to be channeled more effectively. Participants also reviewed the different options for innovative financing sources, stressing the need to continue discussions at an international level, including on international solidarity levies, the International Finance Facility and its immunization pilot programme. The need to focus on reducing tax evasion and facilitating and lowering remittance costs for migrant workers were also discussed, as was an “air ticket solidarity contribution.” Participants also agreed to meet again in 2007 at a Forum on Innovative Financing for Development sources, to “build on the momentum created in New York in September 2004, renewed in September 2005 and continued during this conference.” Links to further information UN Press release, 28 February 2006 Chair's summary of the meeting, 1 March 2006

February 2006

WTO NEGOTIATIONS DISCUSS HOW TO IDENTIFY ENVIRONMENTAL GOODS

During an informal 21-22 February meeting of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment Special Session, members decided on a work plan to start proceeding with the identification of environmental goods for the purpose of liberalizing trade in such goods. However, divisions reportedly remained over the broad approach to follow when liberalizing trade in environmental goods, as well as on the overall scope of products to be discussed. Also, while members agreed that there is a distinction between goods that only have environmental uses and those that have additional purposes as well, they could not agree on a procedure for discussing such dual or multiple-use products. They also remained undecided about how to address issues such as special and differential treatment for developing countries and non-tariff barriers. Link to further information ICTSD-Bridges news report, 1 March 2006
CHANGING ROLE OF BUSINESS HIGHLIGHTED AT WBCSD EVENT

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has hosted a discussion on “The Role of Business in Tomorrow's Society.” The 20 February 2006 event gathered 250 participants from business, government, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in Geneva to consider the role of business in addressing challenges such as poverty and climate change. Participants also discussed the WBCSD's manifesto from its new publication, “From Challenge to Opportunity: The Role of Business in Tomorrow's Society.” Representatives of non-governmental organizations highlighted the importance of actions and efforts to solve the structural problems behind poverty, while noting that the manifesto represents a positive sign. WBCSD President Björn Stigson noted that “many of us would not have been talking to each other on this topic when the WBCSD started out ten years ago, let alone sit in the same room. This debate shows that business has earned its seat at the table with regard to addressing the global challenges.” Links to further information Report of the discussion, 21 February 2006 WBSCD publication, “From Challenge to Opportunity: The Role ...
EAST AFRICA DIALOGUE CONSIDERS BIOTECHNOLOGY, TRADE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

An Eastern African Dialogue on Biotechnology Policy-making, Trade and Sustainable Development was organized by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the African Technology Policy Studies Network. The meeting was held from 15-17 February 2006, in Jinja, Uganda, and was co-hosted by the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development. With the aim of supporting the formulation of coherent, informed and inclusive policies on trade, biotechnology and sustainable development at the national, regional and multilateral levels, the dialogue aimed to facilitate the exchange of views among stakeholders, identify commonalities and differences in countries' and stakeholders' priorities and approaches, support the understanding of East African concerns in global debates, and strengthen the capacity to integrate the policy issues at the interface of trade, biotechnology and sustainability. Link to further information ICTSD webpage, February 2006
PROVISIONAL WTO RULING ON GMO PRODUCTS REJECTS EU MORATORIUM AND MEMBER STATES' BANS

The World Trade Organization has produced a long-awaited provisional decision on the trade dispute between the EU and the US, Canada and Argentina on the moratorium for the approval of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the EU and the ban by several EU states on specific biotech products. This provisional decision, which will be circulated to parties to the dispute, addresses three main issues. Firstly, it confirms that a de facto moratorium on GMO-product approvals existed in the EC between 1998 and 2003, resulting in a failure to complete individual approval procedures without undue delay, as required by the SPS Agreement (Article 8 and Annex C). Secondly, the decision concludes that this moratorium resulted in undue delays in the approval procedures of 24 biotech products. Thirdly, it establishes that countries which banned specific products that were previously approved for use within the EC did not provide sufficient scientific evidence to justify risks to human health and/or the environment, thus failing to meet obligations under the SPS Agreement. Pursuant to these findings, the Panel requests the EC to bring the relevant measures in conformity with its obligations under the SPS Agreement, although it recognizes the end of the de facto moratorium with the approval of Bt-11 sweet maize in 2004, and thus makes no recommendations on its first point. Links to further information Provisional WTO Panel decision, February 2006 Development of the EU biotech case, Trade & Environment.org website, February 2006 ICTSD Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest coverage, 8 February ...
RENEWABLE ENERGY FORUM CONSIDERS LESSONS, PROSPECTS

A policy forum has highlighted the challenges and opportunities presented by renewable energies, focusing on policy options for developing countries. The “International Grid-Connected Renewable Energy Policy Forum” – held from 1-3 February 2006, in Mexico City – was organized by the Energy Ministry of Mexico, the GEF, the World Bank, the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme and the Global Wind Energy Council. Link to further information Forum website Seizing the window of opportunity, World Bank statement, 1 February 2006 Countries Urged to Expand Use of Efficient Energy, Address C..., World Bank statement, 1 February 2006

January 2006

DAVOS BOOSTS TB PLAN AND CLIMATE CHANGE AGENDA, SETS TRADE DEADLINE

The annual World Economic Forum event in Davos, Switzerland has ended with a boost in funding for the Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis, high-profile support for prioritizing action on climate change, and a new deadline for trade talks. The anti-tuberculosis campaign received a US$600 million shot in the arm with a funding pledge from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. Meanwhile, former US President Bill Clinton has urged renewed vigor and energy to tackle climate change, including a focus on public-private partnerships. Trade negotiations held alongside the Davos event also generated some forward momentum, with senior diplomats agreed on a work programme to finalize discussions on a range of issues in 2006. Davos participants also addressed a host of other issues, including corporate and social responsibility, global and regional economic and political trends, UN reform, energy issues, global security and nuclea proliferation, HIV/AIDS, energy and labor challenges. The event was held from 25-29 January 2006. World Social Forum Challenges Davos Approach Meanwhile, the 2006 World Social Forum, billed as an alternative to Davos, has taken place in Mali (19-23 January) and Venezuela (24-29 January). The grassroots event attended mostly by civil society representatives, takes a more critical view of globalization and seeks to advance the agenda of those living in poverty. A further meeting is expected to take place in Pakistan in late March 2006. Links to further information World Economic Forum 2006 official website BBC news reports, January 2006 World Social Forum 2006, Mali World Social Forum 2006, Venezuela World Social Forum 2006, Pakistan