The Group reviewed the issue of the clearing-house mechanism for technical and scientific cooperation contained in the draft report, UNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.I/L.1. The Group later began to examine document UNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.I/L.1/Add.1, the second draft report of their discussion on the selection of a competent international organization to carry out the functions of a Secretariat of the Convention.
CLEARING HOUSE MECHANISM
Paragraph 2 lists the issues relating to the Clearing-house mechanism considered by the Group: characteristics of the mechanism; functions; modalities for establishment; potential range of subject areas covered; and further tasks for the Interim Secretariat. Although this paragraph was accepted without any objections, the Group moved arduously through each paragraph, picking and choosing, because the functions, modalities and the potential range of subject areas covered by the mechanisms, were not clearly delineated in the Report.
CHARACTERISTICS: Paragraph 3 and 4: New Zealand, supported by Australia, wanted to fuse paragraph 3 and 4, stating that both described the nature of the clearing-house mechanism. Brazil requested that the word "completely" be deleted from "completely transparent structure." India asked if "meta-data" could be changed to something more easily understandable and proposed adding the word "further" in subparagraph (c) to read: "small in the initial phase but capable of further development." He also wanted the deletion of "if demand and resources allow." The UK opposed this proposal. The Chair asked the UK and India to prepare text acceptable to both.
FUNCTIONS AND POTENTIAL RANGE OF SUBJECT AREAS COVERED: Paragraph 5: Canada, supported by Australia, stated that the first sentence of the paragraph be altered because it does not address functions but rather the range of subject areas covered by the mechanism. He proposed a detailed revision that would merge paragraphs 5 and 10. It was agreed that the range of subject areas of the proposed clearing house mechanism should be based upon the objectives of the Convention.
However, there was disagreement on whether components such as, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife, should be listed or not. India, supported by Brazil and others, proposed that the sentence should either not list these components or if there is a list, then the word "pharmaceuticals" should be added as well. Ethiopia, supported by Tanzania, wanted to include "micro organisms." After considerable discussion, it was agreed not to list any examples of these components. Brazil raised another issue. She wanted to add the phrase "new and additional financial resources should be available whenever necessary to implement the clearing-house mechanism."
Another problem was the suggestion by Sweden to add the phrase, "in order to promote technological cooperation among nations, in particular between partners in developing and developed countries." Canada, Japan, US and others disagreed. The US stated that it preferred a widening rather than narrowing of the scope of cooperation. Kenya, supported by the US, stated that it was not comfortable with particularizing partnerships between developed and developing countries as such partnerships could be between anyone. There was again considerable discussion on the issue and nature of partnership but it was agreed that the phrase should read: "scientific and technological cooperation and partnership among nations."
MODALITIES FOR ESTABLISHMENT: There seemed to be consensus that the establishment of a clearing-house should be based on existing structures. Several approaches were proposed. Paragraph 6 suggests a process that involves identifying and recognizing sources of information in areas including: Third World Academies of Sciences and the various national science academies; centers of excellence; universities and institutions involved in training and education; organizations that facilitate exchanges of technologies; and existing national, regional and international databases. Paragraph 7 notes that the mechanism could possibly be established within a UN organization. Important tenets include: building on existing experience, structures and relevant conventions; avoiding duplication; and maximizing cost-effectiveness and efficiency. The necessary mechanisms identified include, inter alia, meta-bases at the national, regional and international levels. Although delegates acknowledged the need to establish new institutions where they are lacking, there was heated debate between the developed and developing countries on the necessity for "new and additional resources" to strengthen and adapt existing mechanisms. The developed countries preferred to say, "new and additional resources may be necessary." In order not to deviate from the language in the Convention, consensus was reached that the report should state that, "many delegations stressed the need that new and additional resources were necessary...."
Paragraph 8: Sri Lanka provided text requiring that any traditional knowledge documented by the clearing-house mechanism not be commercialized without the benefits getting to the sources, as the notion of "copyright" does not exist with respect to traditional knowledge.
Paragraph 9 emphasizes the need for capacity-building at the national level, along the lines outlined in the report of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Meeting of Scientific Experts on Biological Diversity, document UNEP/CBD/IC/2/11, paragraphs 31 (b) and (c). It was agreed that within the framework of capacity building, "the provision of financial, technical and training support was particularly emphasized." In addition, the consortia and joint ventures could facilitate the establishment of the functioning of the Secretariat.
FURTHER TASKS OF THE INTERIM SECRETARIAT: There was no debate on the five tasks that the Interim Secretariat is mandated to undertake. These are: to continue the survey of clearing house mechanisms; to continue information collection on gaps and linkages between databases; to examine the legal implications of the clearing-house mechanism; to examine the relationship between the clearing-house mechanism and the COP; and to examine the relationship of the clearing-house mechanisms and any associated regional centers.
SELECTION OF A COMPETENT INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION TO CARRY OUT THE FUNCTIONS OF THE SECRETARIAT
The Group completed discussion of the first six paragraphs of document UNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.I/L.1/Add.1, with minor amendments. The three issues tackled in Paragraph 1 are: attributes of competent international organizations; procedure for receiving offers from interested organizations; and other matters relevant to the establishment of the Secretariat.
ATTRIBUTES OF COMPETENT INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: Paragraph 2 outlines the 11 attributes to be proposed to the COP for consideration in identifying the appropriate Secretariat. These include: the relevance of its mandate to the Convention; ability to provide technical support on the substantive work of the Convention; past involvement, or familiarity with the Convention; effectiveness in its work; the possibility to establish working relationships with other relevant conventions; experience in providing secretariat functions to intergovernmental processes; and existing organizational infrastructure. As well as: the extent to which the organization would ensure the Secretariat's autonomy and independence; the organization's expertise in the conservation of biological diversity; ability to operate on the global, regional and national levels; and ability to accommodate any future decision by the COP on the location of the Secretariat.
Paragraph 3 stipulates additional criteria that would ensure the autonomy of the Secretariat. These include: ability to support the operation of the Convention through its own budgetary mechanisms; stature of the Secretariat; and the approval process required from the organization's governing authority.
PROCEDURES OF RECEIVING OFFERS FROM INTERESTED ORGANIZATIONS: Paragraph 4 notes two procedures: either for the Interim Secretariat to request offers, or for interested organizations to indicate their interest. The Group recommended that all organizations interested in hosting the Secretariat should notify their interest to the Interim Secretariat before 15 August 1994, accompanied by details of their offer.
Paragraph 5 lists six potential organizations including UNEP, UNDP, FAO, UNESCO, IOC, DPCSD and the IUCN. Many delegates supported UNEP. However, the list should not prejudge the selection process of the COP.
Paragraph 6 recommends a second type of Secretariat that would be assisted by a consortium of agencies within the UN family. There was debate on whether this option is provided for in the Convention, but it was agreed that since the Convention did not bar the option either, it should be recommended.
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