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THE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The informal paper prepared by a group of OECD scientific advisers on the terms of reference of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST), the roster of independent experts and ad hoc panels, was used as the basis for discussion, after which the Secretariat compiled a new paper, A/AC.241/WG.II(VII)/CRP.1, including the conclusions of the informal discussions. Part of this paper will serve as the negotiating text at INCD-8.

General terms of reference of the CST: Developed country delegations said the Committee on Science and Technology (CST) should provide advice, evaluate institutions and networks, recommend areas of research appropriate to support the CCD and evaluate the scientific aspects of implementation. Although open to all, the CST needs a smaller Bureau or core group to direct its operations. The COP should specify criteria for the roster of experts, possibly including membership in international scientific associations, degrees, and field experience. Others emphasized that the CST should not conduct or fund new research. It should provide advice to the COP and distribute information based on the past 20 years of research. The CST should be multidisciplinary and diverse, but its size and cost should be kept to a minimum — one member per Party. Developing country delegations did not want to restrict or limit CST membership. It must be open, multidisciplinary and contain regional representation. Requiring international scientific membership would be discriminatory to developing country scientists.

Functions: There were a number of conflicting proposals regarding sections on evaluation of networks and institutions, research and review activities, technology transfer, and evaluation and exchange of information. It was finally suggested that all these paragraphs be merged into one section called "Evaluation."

Structure and Membership: There was general agreement that CST membership should be limited, drawn from representatives of the Parties to the CCD, and multidisciplinary. Experts also can be designated by governments. Some delegates suggested the inclusion of sectoral groups such as women, regional and international organizations, and NGOs. There seemed to be consensus on the need for a Bureau for the CST.

Transparency: One delegation suggested deleting the reference to the accessibility of the work of the CST to all those who are interested, because it would be too costly for the CST to publish its work.

Programme and budget: There was no agreement on whether the CST should develop a plan of action and a budget, which should be part of the overall budget of the COP. It is unclear how the plan of action can be separated from the budget. Some suggested that the COP should make available sufficient funds for the CST to enable it to carry out its activities, while others stressed that the CST should not give any directives to the COP.

Sessions of the CST: Delegates discussed the timing of CST meetings relative to those of the COP. It should be possible for the CST to meet just before the COP meetings. Others questioned whether the CST should be presenting reports at COP meetings.

The CST and the roster of experts: It was proposed that the CST shall advise the COP on the structure and membership of the Roster of Independent Experts. Some delegations suggested deleting this, since the INCD can only state that the CST will have, among its functions, that of updating the roster of experts. One of three alternatives said that "The CST shall propose the selection and evaluation criteria of members in the roster of experts, take decisions on the nomination of candidates and propose the removal of any candidates on the basis of evaluation or assessment." Some delegates noted that only the COP has the authority to determine who is placed on or removed from the roster.

The CST and ad hoc panels: Delegates pointed out that the Convention provided for the COP, not the CST, to establish ad hoc panels. Thus, the CST can only be "invited to advise" the COP on this matter.

Relations with other conventions and international organizations: It was generally accepted that the CST should keep itself informed of the activities of the scientific advisory committees of other conventions and of relevant international organizations to ensure that its work does not duplicate the work of these committees.

Areas of activities of the CST: There were objections to listing activities because it is difficult to include all the disciplines.

To conclude this agenda item, the Working Group introduced a draft decision on the terms of reference that instructs the Secretariat to prepare a document that will contain two sections. The first section, which will be negotiated at INCD-8, will cover the terms of reference of the CST based on the discussions at this session and written comments that are received before 15 October 1995. The second section, which will only be discussed at INCD-8, will be a compilation text on the ad hoc panels and roster of experts as contained in the current CRP.1 document, as well as additional comments received by 15 October 1995.

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