Article 18 (3) of the Convention states that the first COP will determine how to establish a clearing-house mechanism to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation. The Working Group noted that very little information had been received in response to the Interim Secretariat's questionnaire surveying existing clearing-house mechanisms, and asked the Secretariat to continue its survey and include the International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs).
The issues before the Group included: discussion on the range of subject areas for technology development, cooperation and transfer; sources of financial support; recommendations to the COP on how to establish and use the mechanism; and guidance to the Interim Secretariat for preparation for the COP.
The US proposed the creation of a biodiversity centre where all Parties could generate and use data on biodiversity. Several developing countries emphasized the need for national capacity building and institution creation. The Netherlands and Brazil supported the creation of regional data centers. 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 of genetic resources. Several developed countries stated that the key element is a needs-driven system. Delegates also discussed provisions for obtaining financial and technical support as consortium or joint ventures. Some developed countries expressed their concern about the implications of brokerage roles for the mechanism.
By the conclusion of these discussions, a number of issues still remained to be clarified. These include: the role and nature of the clearing-house mechanism, for instance whether it should be a directory service or a more active information exchange system; the range of subject areas to be covered; its links to the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice; and its funding. Most of the countries expressed a preference for a decentralized clearing-house mechanism, as expressed in the Report of the Mexico City Meeting (UNEP/CBD/IC/2/11).
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