In his opening remarks, ICCBD Chair Amb. Vicente Sanchez noted that over 90% of the UN had signed the Convention on Biological Diversity and 31 countries, including most recently the Philippines, had already ratified it. This highlights the importance accorded by the UN to the biodiversity issue as well as the serious responsibilities of the ICCBD in expediting the process so the COP will be able to resolve outstanding issues.
Sanchez then resumed yesterday's unresolved debate on procedural matters. He reminded delegates that the draft rules of procedure were those employed throughout the INC process. After cautioning the Committee that too much time had already been taken up on non-substantive matters, he emphasized that the rules of procedure were intended to help the Committee's substantive work. Sanchez first called upon France to address its proposed amendment to Rule 28 regarding translation. France decided to modify its amendment to accommodate concerns raised by the Bahamas.
The Chair then resumed discussion on Rule 45, related to subsidiary organs. Explaining that their concern over intersessional activity was based on geographical realities rather than political concerns, Brazil presented compromise text to their amendment. The new language would permit intersessional meetings that would be open-ended and according to the terms of reference to be decided by the Committee. Nigeria raised concerns. The rules of procedure were adopted with the understanding that Brazil and Nigeria would draft new wording for this amendment.
The Chair then moved on to the next order of the day: the annotated agenda and the programme of work. He called upon Angela Cropper, the Executive Secretary, to describe how these matters had been decided. The Chair reported that the Committee would break into two working groups in the afternoon and continue until Plenary resumed sometime on Thursday, with the possibility of an evening Plenary. Sanchez also reported that the Committee would have to establish agendas for both this session and a possible additional meeting of the ICCBD. Malaysia made several key points regarding the programme of work. She warned that this meeting should not be used as an opportunity to rewrite the Convention or to attempt to operationalize it in ways to further the interests of certain groups. She also objected to the Interim Secretariat's overly optimistic analysis of biosafety, noting that the precautionary principle alone would preclude reference to the "good safety record." Malaysia proposed that biosafety be addressed in Working Group I and that technical cooperation be transferred to Working Group II.
Brazil supported Malaysia's proposals and reminded the Plenary that the ICCBD is not a scientific forum but, rather, an intergovernmental committee. While Resolution 2 must be respected, the "eleventh hour" circumstances in which it was approved must be borne in mind. Sweden also supported Malaysia's proposal in light of the political nature of the topic of technical cooperation and capacity building. Nigeria requested that the Secretariat prepare background documents for the issues of ownership and access to ex situ collections as well as farmers' groups rights. India requested that priority be accorded to the issues of financial institutions, technology transfer and capacity building in Working Group II. The Chair acknowledged the wide support for the African proposal and then moved on to brief country statements on national activities.
COUNTRY STATEMENTS: Nigeria stated that a national action plan on biodiversity will be developed pending financial and technical support. It has conducted studies with UNEP to ascertain the type of institutions needed to promote biodiversity conservation. Mexico created a national commission on biodiversity in 1992. Denmark has developed a national biodiversity conservation strategy. It has increased its GEF funding contribution and will gradually increase its ODA funding by over 50% in the next decade. The Philippines has established a national council for sustainable development to implement Agenda 21. Chile stated that its plan of action will be completed this year. Peru noted the need to build capacity and the use of private companies in the development of gene banks. The Bahamas reported that it has recently established an environment ministry and that it is consulting with UNEP in the development of environmental guidelines that could be used as a model by similar countries.
GEF: Ian Johnson, GEF Administrator, reviewed recent developments relevant to the ICCBD discussions. The US$300 million that has been allocated for biodiversity projects has generated much more debate than the other three functional areas of the GEF. He said that the replenishment would be carried out together with the restructuring at the amount of two to three times that of the pilot phase. The participants had discussed the paper on "Elements of a restructured GEF" as a precursor to a final agreement. He noted agreement regarding: universal participation; and the need for the GEF to be accountable to the COP for policies, programme priorities and eligibility criteria for Convention activities. There is support for: a primarily consensus-based decision making process; a functionally independent Secretariat; and a formal deliberative structure to discuss GEF policies. Discussion continues on a system for a participants' assembly. He noted the presumption that the GEF would not necessarily be the sole financial mechanism for the Conventions.
FAO: Hartwig de Haen spoke from a summary information paper on the FAO and Resolution 3 of the Nairobi Final Act. The paper listed three points adopted by the FAO following the Fifth Session in April 1993 of the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources related to the Convention on Biological Diversity: adaptation of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources in harmony with the Convention; access on mutually agreed terms to plant genetic resources, including ex situ collections not covered by the Convention; farmers' rights.
Working Group I was convened for the first time Tuesday afternoon by the newly-elected chair, Professor S.K. Ongeri from Kenya. The first item on the agenda was the selection of the rapporteur, Nordahl Roalds"y from Norway. Moving to the first substantive item, "conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity," the Chair confirmed that the objective was to share experiences at the national level, and to articulate views and recommendations for the COP.
Mexico, later supported by Colombia, suggested that the biodiversity collections held in Northern countries should be inventoried. India stated that information sharing should be carried out regarding conservation tools and that ex situ efforts must be further strengthened to complement the work of developing countries in restoring species and degraded habitats. The US suggested that Convention Articles 6-14 provide a good basis upon which to develop national programmes and strategies. He referred to the newly-established US National Biological Survey, bilateral efforts, and the reform of key sectors that have promoted non-sustainable use in the past. Uganda urged the establishment of regional programmes to address shared biological resources. Colombia highlighted the need for national inventories of cultivated plants and wild species, the collection of genetic material, and integration of environmental corridors with protected areas.
Morocco called for a global study of sites in need of protection. He further stated that in order to achieve the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, proper in situ conservation in agreement with the local population is first needed.
Belgium, on behalf of the EC, stated that all countries needed support to implement the Convention, and pledged to support each other in the implementation of Articles 6-19. Full incremental costs must be agreed between the financial mechanism and developing countries. Costa Rica noted that one quarter of the country is protected as preserved areas and that national legislation under the Convention has recently been enacted. Canada noted that its national biodiversity strategy was developed in an open process with the participation of all the major stakeholders. He suggested that this meeting should focus on quick-start processes for national biodiversity strategies. Zimbabwe, noting the problems with its land tenure system, referred to the importance of ensuring local population access to wildlife resources. Brazil noted that some of the proposals made by the Secretariat went beyond the scope of the Convention. Many delegations such as Mozambique and Peru stated that national implementation is dependent on the completion of national inventories. Syria described its efforts to halt biodiversity loss through education. Fiji referred to the creation of its conservation areas where traditional communities can live sustainably. The Cook Islands referred to the South Pacific regional approach to resource inventories, management, education and species preservation. WRI stated that Article 6 enabled States and individuals to identify assets and objectives in resource planning. GLOBE requested the creation of a "Women and Biodiversity Division" within the Secretariat to recognize and promote the full involvement of women in all levels of policy and decision-making.
UNDP described its capacity building programmes and its GEF-related activities. UNEP described its involvement in the administration of CITES and the Migratory Species Convention, GEF-related activities, national case studies and policy development generally. The World Bank referred to its 30 investment projects, its various funds, and GEF-related issues such as the need for further clarification of the concept of incremental costs.
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