SUBSDIARY BODY ON SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL AND TECHONOLOGICAL ADVICE
The Group continued its fourth paragraph-by-paragraph reading of document UNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.1/CRP.3.
In the reading of paragraph 8 there were several amendments made after long deliberations. These were with regard to the component and structure of the SBSTTA. The following were explored as a basis for structuring the SBSTTA under 8(c): a panel to deal with specific issues; a committee with equitable geographical representation; and a two tier body. An amendment was proposed and adopted regarding the utilization of local and regional expertise especially in regard to the two tiered body. A small steering committee with equitable geographical representation may be created if the COP so decides.
Paragraph 9 to 15 dealt with the multidisciplinarity of the SBSTTA and discussion revolved around whether these paragraphs may be condensed and/or in an annex. Regarding paragraph 10, the group agreed that it was crucial to have expertise in the SBSTTA covering the main objectives of the Convention which were conservation, sustainable use and fair and equitable sharing of benefits. The issues of technology transfer as part of these objectives was brought up but it was agreed that it would be included in paragraph 11. Reference would be made to Article 25, subparagraph 2 (c) of the CBD.
Paragraph 11 concerned the broad expertise on the various obligations and actions which the Parties would undertake under the Convention. In this paragraph, reference to Annexes VI through VIII in the reports of the Open ended Intergovernmental Meeting of Scientific Experts (UNEP/CBD/IC/2/11 and UNEP/CBD/IC/2/Inf 2) were added. Paragraphs 12 to 15 were cut out of the main document and added as an annex. Paragraph 16 refered to the ways to reduce the need for all types of expertise in each SBSSTA meeting by focussing on a limited number of topics.
The Group then considered a draft report on the need for, and modalities of, a protocol on biosafety as contained in document UNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.1/CRP.4. Paragraph 1 listing the topics under discussion, biotechnology and the safe transfer, handling and use of LMOs, the need for and modalities of, a protocol, and consideration of guidelines and codes of conduct, was accepted.
Paragraph 2 regarding a general agreement on the need for adequate and transparent safety and border-control procedures was also accepted. Paragraph 3 expressing the need by developing countries to install safety procedures saw an addition by Sri Lanka stating that LMOs will mutate and change with time and hence, the question of accountability in the case of local and national disasters is important.
Paragraph 4 deals with the various views expressed by delegates in their earlier discussion on Article 19 (3) of the CBD. It requires the COP to consider the need for and modalities of, a protocol. New Zealand included a reference to the vulnerability of island biodiversity to (harmful) alien species. The US added that several representatives felt that the step-by-step process must begin by consideration of the need for a protocol. Brazil and India stressed the urgent need for a biosafety protocol, given the testing of transgenic species in developing countries with weak biosafety mechanisms. Deadlock ensued into the evening, over whether the paragraph adequately captured the views expressed by delegates. Japan, US, Australia and others stated that there were a number of delegates who talked of the need to follow a step-by-step process. India, Brazil, Ethiopia and others stated that most delegates favoured a protocol. Germany, on behalf of the EC, provided another addition: "A significant number of delegations expressed support for immediate work on the protocol while many others stated that a process should be initiated in order to come to an informed position as regards the need for and modalities of, a protocol." This lead to a more protracted debate on whether "many others" could be understood to be more or less than a "significant number." Malawi, Cuba, and others argued that the majority supported a protocol while only some others were in favour of a step-by step process. At one point, Mauritius called for a show of hands to lay the issue to rest. Australia recommended removing "many" and leaving "others." Canada, supporting Germany, provided a summary of the earlier discussion and laid out the four options considered: immediate action for protocol; COP to take immediate action to consider the need for a protocol; a step-by-step process to draft a protocol; and a step-by-step process to determine the need for a protocol. A contact drafting group chaired by Germany was asked to prepare acceptable text.
Paragraph 5 on the process for developing technical guidelines was amended by the UK and accepted. Paragraph 6 on national biosafety capacities was accepted as amended by the Netherlands. Paragraph 7 on what the Committee should recommend to the COP regarding the protocol saw deadlock on the kind of working group to be established by the COP to draft a protocol. Malayasia wanted an expert group with regional representation; Sweden, an ad-hoc working group; and Cote d'Ivoire, an open ended working group. Nothing was resolved.
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