The Second Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Convention on Biological Diversity (ICCBD) was convened at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi yesterday morning. The Chair, Amb. Vincente S nchez, opened the meeting by welcoming the participants. He noted that we are entering a new phase that requires all nations to undertake the commitments made in the Convention. The Convention has rapidly entered into force and the first COP is only five months away, which will require this session to address, as a priority, the decisions that will have to be made by the COP in November. He praised the work of the Secretariat and the leadership of Angela Cropper, ICCBD Executive Secretary, in preparing for this meeting. The restructured GEF has now been approved by the UNEP Governing Council and was previously approved by the World Bank and UNDP, and delegates at this session will have to decide if the GEF meets their needs.
The Executive Director of UNEP, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, in her welcoming address highlighted the contributions made by the Chairman of ICCBD and noted the relevance of the theme of the recent celebration of World Environment Day- "One Earth, One Family" for the current session of the ICCBD. She pointed out that UNEP was ready to continue assisting member states towards the evolution of the Convention and set up a collaborative network of UN agencies, scientific institutions, regional centers and NGOs. She stated that the first COP would require political skill and will and suggested the idea of convening high-level segments of the COP to facilitate implementation. Dowdeswell noted that four countries had offered to host the first COP-the Bahamas, Kenya, Spain and Switzerland - and the selection of the venue had been carefully considered. Countries were reminded that for a country to be invited to the first COP it would have to deposit its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession by 30 August, 1994. She informed the delegates that the first COP will take place from 28 November to 9 December 1994 in Nassau, The Bahamas, and pointed out that the decisive factor in the choice was the fact that Bahamas had not expressed an interest in hosting the permanent Secretariat to the Convention. Thanks were expressed for the financial assistance provided by Canada, Denmark, EEC, Japan, Norway, Sweden, UK and USA for the representation from 58 developing countries in the Intergovernmental Meeting of Scientific Experts held in Mexico two months ago. Appreciation was also expressed to Australia, Denmark, EEC, Japan, Netherlands and Switzerland for their financial support that allowed 120 participants to attend this meeting in the hope that such support would be shown at the first COP as well. Finally, Switzerland was thanked for its assistance in establishing the Interim Secretariat. The delegate from the Bahamas expressed his Government's pleasure for being chosen to host the first COP and assured delegates that his Government would not be seeking to host the permanent Secretariat.
The organizational matters (Agenda item 2) were then addressed. Introducing the provisional agenda (UNEP/CBD/IC/2/1), S nchez noted that the substantive matters were organized in three sections: Preparation for the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (Agenda item 4.1); Matters arising from the work of the Intergovernmental Committee at its first session (Agenda item 4.2); and Other Matters for action by the Conference of the Parties at its first meeting, to which the Intergovernmental Committee can contribute (Agenda item 4.3). Given the large number of agenda items, it was agreed that priority be given to agenda items 2 (Organizational matters), 3 (Adoption of the report of the first ICCBD), 4.1 (Matters requiring action at the first COP), 4.3.2 (Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice: functions, terms of reference, organization and operation), and 6 (Adoption of the report).
At the request of Sri Lanka, Sweden, Brazil and Germany the issue of addressing participation in the 1995 session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was placed on the agenda, as item 4.3.2.
The agenda was adopted on the understanding that issues had been prioritized, and time constraints may limit all items being addressed. It was also agreed that the Plenary will revisit this schedule on Monday. The proposed organization of work, as contained in UNEP/CBD/IC/2/1/Add.2/Rev 1, which reflected the agreed prioritization, was then adopted.
S nchez announced that Rapporteur, Mr. S. Ahmad (Pakistan) and Vice-Chair, Mr. G. Zavarzin (Russian Federation) were unable to attend. He requested that the Asian and Eastern European regional groups each submit the name of another candidate on Tuesday.
ADOPTION OF REPORT OF FIRST SESSION ICCBD
The report as contained in document UNEP/CBD/IC/2/2 was adopted with very little discussion.
REVISED DRAFT RULES OF PROCEDURE
The Chair noted that all the proposed changes received in writing had been included in the document. Taking into account the legally binding nature of the document, he felt that the two working groups and the plenary sessions do not lend themselves to the drafting exercise required. S nchez, supported by Italy, proposed that a small group of lawyers/experts be convened, one from each region, as "friends of the Chairman" to revise the draft rules of procedure before discussion in Plenary. He asked each regional group spokesperson to nominate one person. The representative from Mexico supported by Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas and Mauritius disagreed, choosing instead to discuss this in Plenary as a first step. In a spirit of compromise, the Chair withdrew his proposal and suggested that the Plenary be convened on Wednesday specifically to discuss this matter.
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