Chile, Slovakia, on behalf of the Eastern European Group, Zaire, the Philippines, Cuba, Brazil, Malawi and Sri Lanka recommended examination of a biosafety protocol in the medium-term programme of work. The UK supported Germanys recommendation for a two- track process and said that it was developing national guidelines for biosafety jointly with the Netherlands. Australia said an open ad hoc working group should conduct a rigorous and objective analysis of the need for a protocol. Slovakia, on behalf of the Eastern European Group, called for biosafety to be considered by COP-II, including a working group on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and a moratorium on GMOs until a protocol is negotiated. She also recommended consideration of a forest protocol by COP-II or III. Zaire said a protocol should mention the risk of release of GMOs and recommended the inclusion of monitoring using local experts, risk assessment and in situ conservation. Cuba supported Brazil and Colombias call for a protocol to be prepared as soon as possible. Brazil reiterated the need for a working group on a protocol. UNIDO suggested that the COP consider taking the guidelines and the voluntary code of conduct developed by the Interagency Working Group composed of UNIDO, FAO, the WHO and UNEP as a basis for further action. Australia, speaking on behalf of Japan, the US, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and Mexico, recommended a three-year planning horizon with the following routine matters: a report from the financial mechanism; reviews of programme priorities, the SBSTTA, and the clearing-house mechanism; a report on relations with other conventions and institutions; a budget; national plans and related matters under Article 6. She said that COP-II should address guidelines for national reports and progress on genetic resources and in situ conservation. The Philippines said access to genetic resources cannot be separated from the rights of indigenous peoples and underscored the need for community involvement. Malawi requested inclusion of genetic resources, country studies and capacity building and proposed consideration of protocols on farmers and community rights, technology transfer and biosafety. The Council of Europe suggested that a meeting be included in the work programme to consider appropriate coordination between conventions. The Ramsar Convention said that it and others including CITES and Berne Convention have amassed field experience that need not be duplicated. The Bonn Convention noted that it could provide information on migratory species. UNESCO offered assistance in promoting research and education citing work in biodiversity, an upcoming meeting on international cooperation for biodiversity, and a biodiversity guide for teachers to be distributed globally, especially in developing countries. FAO emphasized its work related to preservation of plant genetic resources for food production and access to ex situ genetic collections, including those of the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) that it now manages. Sweden stressed the importance of biotechnology, and said that the expanding use of biotechnology required an independent expert body. He said that the Convention sets restrictions on access to genetic resources, and hence, the management of the biotechnology market should be a standing item on the COP programme of work. He said that COP-IIIs consideration of intellectual property rights should be coupled with farmers and indigenous peoples rights. Malaysia supported Swedens recommendation to consider access to genetic resources at COP-II and recommended coordination with FAOs negotiations on plant genetic resources. The Chair summarized several points of general agreement on the work programme, including: the necessity of a flexible programme of work; the programme should be developed on the basis of desired outcomes, resources required, the role for the SBSTTA, and a time frame for each item; the programme should include standing and rolling items; the work programme should follow the main objectives of the Convention; a clear distinction must be made between the COPs agenda and work programme; the work programme should cover three years; there is an emerging consensus on the ways and means to implement Article 19 on the need for and modalities of a biosafety protocol; an open-ended working group of experts on biosafety should be organized in the intersessional period but that differences of opinion on guidelines and a protocol need to be clarified. Algeria also circulated a draft decision from the G-77 and China on financial resources and a financial mechanism. The decision: adopts the programme priorities for access to and utilization of financial resources and the list of developed country parties in Annex I; designates the restructured GEF as the interim institutional structure for a financial mechanism; authorizes the Interim Secretariat to sign the MOU with the GEF; requests a study by the Secretariat for COP-II on modalities for the establishment of the financial mechanism and a second study on establishment of a Biodiversity Fund and on mobilization of new and additional resources for the Fund; and requests that a review of financial resources and the interim arrangements for the financial mechanism be addressed by COP-II.
The Secretariat introduced the document UNEP/CBD/COP/1/8 and the Information Paper (UNEP/CBD/COP/1/Inf.9) on the aims, scope, function and governance of a clearing-house mechanism that was circulated at the request of Sweden. Sweden noted that it contracted the Swedish Environmental Institute (SEI) to conduct a study on the aims, scope, functions and governance of a broad-based clearing-house mechanism and reported that a workshop sponsored by the Bahamas and Sweden had been conducted. He said a clearing-house mechanism should promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation, particularly for developing countries, in accordance with Article 18 of the Convention. While he agreed with the Secretariat document that a mechanism will have to be developed gradually, he noted that such a mechanism should not just be a switchboard for data and services but should take a more active role in providing brokerage services and facilitating national capacity building. The following organizations were included in the governance section of the information paper: UNDP, UNIDO, FAO, CGIAR, UNEP, WHO, TFAP,the GEF, the World Resources Institute and the SEI. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that the key issue regarding scientific and technical cooperation was access to, and transfer of environmentally sound technology taking into account the needs of developing countries. He said the mechanism should be administered by the Secretariat under the authority of the COP. Colombia, supported by Chile, was concerned that the mechanism not be extractive in nature regarding traditional knowledge. Germany, on behalf of the EU, supported by Japan and others said that scientific and technical cooperation and information exchange should be improved, stressing cooperation through regional centres funded either multilaterally or bilaterally. He said that the information systems of UNEP, IUCN, World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UNIDO, and UNDP should not be duplicated. Malaysia suggested a special focus on access to genetic resources and sharing of its benefits, as well as biotechnology and biodiversity prospecting. Japan said that since the mechanism is a part of the Convention, its funding should come from the Convention budget. He felt that the mechanism should not engage in brokerage services. Zambia said that this mechanism should be supported within the financial mechanism. New Zealand supported: regional centres; an electronic network with a decentralized structure; focus on the needs of end-users; and administration of the mechanism by the Secretariat. Egypt noted the limited access of developing countries for data management and storage. Australia supported establishment on an incremental basis and functions that would include provision of information on plans and strategies on all levels as well as information on methodologies for assessing and valuating biological resources. Brazil called for a decentralized clearing-house mechanism to facilitate access to information by country Parties. He said that information should not be disseminated until rules regarding access are adopted. Canada said that the mechanism should link Parties with problems and centres for solutions. Switzerland called for a mechanism that would be operational immediately with the COP to provide a political oversight role and the SBSSTA to provide technical support. The UK suggested that the clearing- house mechanism be limited to information retrieval and referral and not be authorized to provide brokerage services. The US recommended that the clearing-house mechanism be a pointer to the data with access open to non-parties and that it not play a brokerage role. India supported the pilot phase for the clearing- house and called for its financing to be covered by sources other than the financial mechanism of the Convention. CABI noted its role in providing world-wide delivery of specialized information and offered to share its expertise. An NGO representative speaking on behalf of NGOs questioned the appropriateness of the clearing-house to deal with such sensitive issues as the right to genetic information. The Chair summarized some of the key themes that were raised during the clearing-house mechanism discussion: 1) all delegates recognize the importance of the clearing-house mechanism; 2) the phased approach is desirable; 3) it should have a wide range of functions, including information-sharing related to the Conventions objectives; 4) existing institutions must be used; 5) a small and efficient coordinating focal point is desirable; 6) decentralization is important; 7) the network should function at regional and subregional levels; 8) the COP should have political oversight; 9) there is general support for most of the proposals contained in the Secretariat document.
The Secretariat introduced document UNEP/CBD/COP/1/9. The Chair announced that the location of the Secretariat is now item 11 of the revised agenda. The Bureau has recommended that the location issue should be dealt with by the Plenary at its next session on Monday afternoon. The Chair asked delegates to consider three issues: selection of the organization to carry out the permanent secretariat function; extension of the Interim Secretariat pending the establishment of the permanent secretariat; what form the interim process should take until the permanent secretariat is established. Most countries favored continuation of the Interim Secretariat until the permanent secretariat is established. There was virtual agreement that UNEP is best suited to take on the permanent secretariat role. The US noted that UNEP was the only body to meet the criteria established by ICCBD-2. Australia said that the selection of UNEP must not influence the decision of the COP on the location issue, nor should it preclude the possibility of drawing from other sources. Many countries, including the EU, and several G-77 countries preferred one body, rather than a consortium to carry out secretariat functions. Although many countries supported the need for close cooperation with other organizations. Sweden called for a draft agreement to outline the terms of the arrangement of UNEPs role, as well as the basis for cooperative ventures with other organizations. Organizations such as the IUCN, UNDP, FAO, and UNESCO highlighted their areas of expertise and willingness to participate with the secretariat. Australia recommended the need to establish a process for reaching a decision on this issue. Germany, on behalf of the EU, reiterated the need for this COP to take a final decision regarding the secretariat. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China said that additional comments on this matter would be discussed pending consultations.
[Return to start of article]