@HEAD2.5 = PLENARY
The opening meeting of the first session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Convention on Biological Diversity was convened on 11 October 1993 by UNEP Executive Director Elizabeth Dowdeswell. In her statement, Dowdeswell called on delegates to address both substance and procedure in the limited time available. She stated that the critical need to achieve sustainability in the face of threats to survival has brought this Committee together on the eve of the entry into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Dowdeswell stated that the Convention is a carefully-balanced agreement with far-reaching commitments for all Parties. Not only will the Committee need to be tolerant of a wide range of approaches for achieving the objectives of this Convention, but the Committee should also embrace and build strength upon that diversity.
Dowdeswell then introduced the new staff of the Interim Secretariat: Angela Cropper, Executive Secretary (Trinidad and Tobago); Dr. Arturo Martinez, biologist (Argentina); Dr. Joseph Mulongoy, biotechnologist (Zaire); Susan Bragdon, lawyer (US); Manab Chakraborty, economist (India); Song Li, financial instruments specialist (China); and Lone Johansen, communications specialist (Denmark).
Dowdeswell referred to the agenda specified in Resolution 2 of the Nairobi Final Act that was designed to achieve international cooperation pending the entry into force of the Convention, and noted that Governments had recognized the need to act immediately. While nations develop strategies and national action plans on biodiversity, international technical and financial cooperation is needed to support those activities. The goal for this week is to elaborate ideas on how such international cooperation might best be facilitated. She said that over recent months, the Interim Secretariat had consulted widely with Governments on the issues and had received a tremendous amount of input. Dowdeswell insisted that the ICCBD is not a negotiating forum because the Convention has already been negotiated. She said that the challenge for the meeting would be to collect guidance, ideas, comments and concerns from Governments to provide the raw material for the development of specific proposals for the COP.
Dowdeswell noted the participation of more than 120 Government delegations, 80 non-governmental organizations, and many representatives of UN agencies and other intergovernmental organizations. After her speech, Dowdeswell informed the Plenary that, in the interest of broad representation, opening statements would be given by representatives of the Global Biodiversity Forum, FAO, and the Brazilian Government. [Return to start of article]