SELECTION OF A COMPETENT INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION
The Chair, Prof. S. Ongeri (Kenya), referred to the document prepared by the Interim Secretariat (UNEP/CBD/IC/2/6) on the selection of a competent international organization that would function as the Secretariat. He highlighted Article 24 of the Convention that establishes a secretariat, lists its functions and provides that the first COP shall "designate the secretariat from amongst those existing competent international organizations which have signified their willingness to carry out the secretariat functions under this Convention." He requested interested organizations to declare themselves but no international organization came forward at this session. Discussions focused on the following broad areas:
LIST OF ATTRIBUTES: Several delegates including Cte d'Ivoire, India, Malawi and Burundi pointed out that selection was difficult without knowing the attributes for an agency. India, supported by Norway, stated that the Secretariat should not be composed of a small number of experts but should engage in informal consultations with science agencies and NGOs at the regional and national level. Australia proposed that ease of accessibility to governments and NGOs be added to the list and this was supported by others. Sweden added that the Head of the Secretariat should be responsible only to the COP and that the budget of the Secretariat should be separate to ensure autonomy. Brazil said that one of the criteria for selection should be an organization's ability to implement the sustainable use and equitable sharing of resources.
LOCATION OF THE SECRETARIAT: Australia proposed the idea of "co-location" of the Secretariats of Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification in the same place. He recommended a UN headquarters city as a place of co-location for the Secretariats to facilitate coordination, cut costs and increase ease of access. This proposal was supported by Japan, UK, New Zealand, Switzerland and France. Sweden suggested that the location be selected at the COP. Sri Lanka, supported by Uruguay, stated that physical proximity of the 3 secretariats is less important given the information super highway. Cte d' Ivoire supported by Zaire and Tunisia sought to allow regional groups to discuss this issue.
REVIEW OF SECRETARIAT: UK supported by Sri Lanka and others stated that the COP might want to review the work of the Secretariat. Norway emphasized the need to ensure continuity. Kenya supported the nomination of UNEP as one of the most competent organizations which was reaffirmed by several delegations. UK and Canada noted that the Secretariat could be a partnership between organizations. Sweden suggested five agencies: UNEP, FAO, DPCSD, UNESCO and UNDP. In addition, some countries, including Zaire and New Zealand, indicated their support for UNESCO and the IUCN. UK cautioned that the report of the Group should make it clear that it did not aim to prejudge any particular international organizations.
The Chair summarized that the list of criteria including the Australian and Brazilian recommendations, met with the approval of the group and should be sent to plenary. There was concurrence on the autonomy and independence of the Secretariat. A recommendation of periodic review of the Secretariat was included and the deadline of the middle of August was set for interested organizations to submit their bids to the Interim Secretariat.
Discussion continued in the afternoon on the process by which interested and competent international organizations might be presented to the COP (paragraph 10). The US and UK wanted a discussion on the process by which the COP might evaluate and select a competent organization. Due to ambiguities in the French translation, Cte d'Ivoire asked for the deletion of subparagraph (f) on the willingness of an organization to host the Secretariat irrespective of the country of its location; but UK proposed a simplification of the language and worked with Cte d'Ivoire and Senegal to recommend this. It was agreed to modify subparagraph (d) on operational autonomy to include an independent Secretariat with budgetary autonomy.
INFORMAL DISCUSSION OF CLEARING-HOUSE MECHANISM: Informal discussions on the draft report of the clearing-house mechanism UNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.1/CRP.1 was then undertaken. The discussions focused around the following issues: characteristics of the clearing-house mechanism; potential range of subject areas covered; functions of the mechanism; and resources for strengthening or adapting existing institutions.
[Return to start of article]