The first item for consideration before the group was the Clearing-house mechanism for technical and scientific cooperation. (UNEP/CBD/IC/2/7) The Chair, Prof. S. Ongeri (Kenya) began by referring to Article 18 Paragraph 3 of the Convention, which states that the first COP will determine how to establish a clearing-house mechanism to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation. He noted that very little information had been received in response to the questionnaire surveying clearing-houses prepared by the Interim Secretariat (Annex 1). He stated that the real issues that need to be deliberated are: discussion on the range of subject areas from technology development, cooperation and transfer, and sources of financial support; recommendations to the COP on how to establish and use the clearing house mechanism; and guidance to the Interim Secretariat for preparation for the COP.
Australia wanted the use of a clearing-house mechanism to be considered as part of the larger mission to build national models of technology transfer. The US delegate mentioned the creation of a national biodiversity information center where all parties could generate and use data on biodiversity. Burundi, Cte D'Ivoire, Zaire, Malawi, India and others emphasized the need for capacity building and institution creation. Brazil supported the creation of regional data centers rather than new institutions and noted that the clearing house mechanism was a cooperation mechanism and not a mechanism of technology transfer. Venezuela wanted a joint-venture between an agency in the North and one in the South.
Sweden was in favor of a more ambitious clearing-house mechanism that would straddle technical cooperation and technology transfer so as to deal with the fair and equitable use and sharing of genetic resources. Sri Lanka highlighted the importance of including traditional knowledge. Australia supported the US idea of a directory service but was interested in the Swedish idea of technology transfer facilitation. Germany, Canada and the US wanted to use existing institutions and Canada and UK agreed that the key element is a needs driven system. The Netherlands stated that the focal point should not be new institutions but regional focal points. The Philippines discussed the establishment of a regional center in the ASEAN region. Sweden stated that some system be developed to protect biological diversity by introducing the idea of a global register because data and information are no longer a free goods. Sri Lanka stated that input data be subject to some form of control.
The Chair maintained a focused discussion and consequently the Working Group completed its discussion of this item ahead of schedule. Most of the countries expressed a preference for a decentralized clearing-house mechanism as expressed in the Report of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Meeting of Scientific Experts on Biological Diversity held in Mexico.(UNEP/CBD/IC/2/11) The session was concluded with the recognition that it is one clearing-house mechanism and there is a consensus on accepting the above report.
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