The President of the Plenary, Dr. Ivy Dumont, said that the ministers participation is a testimony of their commitment to implement the provisions of the Convention and sends a strong political message.
UNEP: Elizabeth Dowdeswell, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP, said that the ministerial segment of the COP is of great political importance given the significance of the Convention for sustaining human development, preserving life and advancing the principle of equity among nations. She said that firm and unwavering commitment, clear policy and fast action are required, given the threat to species and ecosystems and the necessity for human progress. She noted that there are indications that the Earth is on the verge of an unprecedented wave of species extinction, one that would be unequaled in its scope, human cause and impact. She called for a dual contract: first, between humankind and the Earth; and secondly, between humankind and itself, based on solidarity, mutual reliance and equity.
CSD: Dr. K. T�pfer (Germany), Chair of the CSD, said that the COP is an important event, especially for the CSDs focus on cross- sectoral issues and land-use. He underlined the need for improved land-use policies that permit utilization of resources without destroying them for future generations. He said that the CSD will develop indicators of sustainability for various sectors, including agriculture and biodiversity. He emphasized the interrelationship and importance of work of both the COP and the CSD in all areas, especially with regard to forests. The CSD will also address the question of a binding instrument on biosafety.
BAHAMAS: Janet G. Bostwick, Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that the Bahamas welcomed the priority the COP has assigned to marine biological diversity and proposed to explore increasing reef biomass through culture and ranching techniques. Noting that the SIDS Programme of Action contains essential elements of consensus, she called on the SBSTTA to play a vital role in its implementation. She stated that access to and transfer of technology and capacity-building are essential. She recommended that funding procedures under the financial mechanism be simplified. She added that countries that have had limited access to GEF should be given special consideration.
ALGERIA: Meziane Cherif Abderahmane, Minister of Interior and Environment, on behalf of the G-77 and China, called for: new and additional financial resources so that developing countries could meet incremental costs of conservation; technology transfer in conjunction with capacity-building; and equitable sharing of benefits. He noted that ecological degradation stems largely from unfair commercial practices and irrational consumption in industrialized countries. He further cited poverty eradication as a priority issue and appealed to developed countries to recycle part of the public debt - an act he described as an outstanding testimony to universal solidarity. INDIA: Kamal Nath, Minister for Environment, called for immediate resolution on the issue of biosafety and recommended construction of adequate safeguards against hasty experimentation and use of GMOs. He referred to the fear that the developing world would become a playground for GMOs and to the need for a legally binding protocol. He presented technology transfer as two-way process - not just the Souths resources and the Norths technology, but an equal and fair exchange of the natural resources and knowledge of the South and the technical expertise and financial resources of the North. He emphasized the importance of knowledge and practices of indigenous and traditional communities. He noted the harsh fact that a small proportion of financial benefits reaches indigenous communities from intellectual property rights in areas such as medicine, health care, agriculture and nutrition.
CANADA: Clifford Lincoln, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment, noted that Canada was among the first to ratify the Convention and highlighted implementation efforts at the national level, a forest strategy, its contribution to the GEF and the reorientation of development assistance towards sustainable development. He stated that the Convention has the potential to become an important dynamic force because it goes beyond classical notions of conservation and emphasizes innovative concepts such as capacity-building and benefit- sharing. He issued a special plea for the COP to consider the role of indigenous peoples in its future work plans. He concluded that the Convention is ultimately a question of values and of equity.
SWITZERLAND: Dr. Philippe Roch, Director of the Federal Office of Environment and Forests, expressed dismay at the COPs lack of reference to the potential role of the private sector, and underscored Switzerlands plans to organize, in conjunction with the International Academy of Environment in Geneva, a global forum on the contribution of business to biodiversity conservation. He applauded the COPs decision to adopt the GEF as the financial mechanism, even if only on an interim basis. Finally, he underscored his countrys bid to host the Secretariat. He explained that the COP would benefit from full integration into Genevas established network of international organizations and permanent missions, including a proposed universal facility which would house missions of developing and smaller countries.
CHINA: Mr. Wang Yuging, Deputy Administrator of the National Environmental Protection Agency, highlighted his countrys implementation initiatives. He called for: the integration of conservation activities with developing countries policies on economic development and poverty alleviation; technology transfers based on concessional and preferential terms; an accelerated GEF approval process (guided by all Parties to the COP); balanced participation of developed and developing countries in the SBSTTA; and a medium-term work programme, which reflects financial, technological, benefit-sharing and clearing- house concerns. US: Timothy H. Wirth, Assistant Secretary of State for Global Affairs, underscored American willingness to pursue opportunities for practical cooperation, including sharing technology, techniques and scientific information, to meet the goals of the Convention. He highlighted USAIDs US$74 million portfolio of projects with more than 40 developing countries as well as its International Coral Reef Initiative. He applauded the COPs support for the restructured GEF and explained that this decision sends the necessary signal to move forward on biodiversity initiatives. Finally, he indicated his administrations intent to continue to seek ratification based on President Clintons decision to bring the US into the mainstream of international environmental cooperation.
MALAYSIA: Law Heng Dieng, Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, called for a new partnership between technology rich countries and genetically rich countries. He urged for adequate representation from developing countries in the SBSTTA and that the clearing-house mechanism serve as a vehicle for technology transfer. He referred to the urgent need to examine plant genetic resources originating in developing countries now in the possession of multinational corporations. He also called for a legally binding biosafety protocol.
FINLAND: Sirpa Pietik�inen, Minister of Environment, noted the need to commence work for a biosafety protocol without delay. She said that decisions regarding the GEF should be finalized as soon as possible so as not to jeopardize the next replenishment. She described forests as the most significant terrestrial ecosystems for biodiversity and said that their conservation is a critical matter for consideration by future COPs. INDONESIA: Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, Minister for Environment, questioned the type of partnership on which the Convention should be based. He called for: new and additional financial arrangements to promote national conservation efforts; regional cooperation among developing countries; and a protocol on biosafety. He also addressed the issue of national authority in determining access to genetic resources and intellectual property rights. He endorsed the COPs designation of the restructured GEF as the interim financial mechanism, but cautioned that this decision should not preclude consideration of other financial sources.
SRI LANKA: Dr. D. Nesiah, on behalf of Srimani Athulathmudali, Minister of Transport, Environment and Womens Affairs, stressed the need to understand the causes that contribute to the destruction of biodiversity namely: indiscriminate felling of primeval forests; mining of coral reefs; overfishing; over- exploitation of economically valuable species; and chemical pollution. He concluded by offering Sri Lanka as a location for a future meeting of the COP.
GHANA: Dr. Christina Amoako-Nuama, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, said that the spirit of partnership is the only way forward to rectify past injustices and the role they have played in ecological destruction. She acknowledged that national projects must conform to national priorities and national development strategies. BURKINA FASO: Anatole G. Tiendrebeogo, Minister of Environment and Tourism, spoke on behalf of the African Group of Environment Ministers. He welcomed the selection of UNEP for the Secretariat and noted that Africa deserves special attention from the international community to save its biodiversity resources. He noted that the subsidiary bodies need the necessary level of financial resources to begin their work as soon as possible.
MAURITIUS: Bashir Ahmed Khodabux, Minister of Environment and Quality of Life, noted that population growth and poverty were the most significant threats to biodiversity and could not be contained effectively without adequate investments and transfer of technology. He highlighted the special needs of Africa, and the high vulnerability of SIDS. He called for action on: a protocol on access to genetic resources, technology transfer, farmers and community rights. He supported a separate fund for the Convention distinct from that of the GEF to be placed under the control of the COP.
NORWAY: Bernt Bull, Deputy Minister of Environment, called for a balance between conservation, sustainable use and innovative approaches to deal with biodiversity resources that exist outside protected areas. He underscored the need to reward sustainability in sectors such as agriculture. He added that the equitable sharing of benefits among and within countries is of utmost importance. He said that the best scientific knowledge, as well as indigenous knowledge, must underlie decisions and actions. COLOMBIA: Cecilia Lopez Monta�o, Minister of Environment, said that the Convention must take into account poverty, and noted that some of the most biologically diverse areas are the most under-developed. She said that development of biotechnology can represent a high cost for developing countries if no mechanism is established to protect the rights and intellectual property of farmers and indigenous peoples. She added that benefit sharing under the Convention cannot be isolated from global processes related to intellectual property. She expressed concern that the COP had not financed activities related to a biosafety protocol and hoped that the process would not be curtailed for lack of funds.
UGANDA: Muganwa Kajura, Minister of Natural Resources, noted that several projects aimed at the conservation of biological diversity have been developed including, the Mt. Elgon and the Kibale-Semliki Conservation projects and the national wetlands programme. Regional cooperation with Kenya and Tanzania in the GEF project on institutional support for the protection of East African biodiversity was also mentioned. He supported the GEF as an interim financial mechanism. GRENADA: The Ministerial representative from Grenada reiterated his commitment as a SIDS to uphold the principles of the Barbados Declaration. He said that the problems affecting marine and terrestrial biodiversity result largely from inappropriate land use practice and fishing methods. He noted the importance of a technology transfer mechanism.
PHILIPPINES: Angel Alcala, Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, said that new and additional resources must be provided to developing countries through a transparent and democratic mechanism. He called for exploration of new modalities of development assistance, including national environmental funds. He urged for the negotiation of a biosafety protocol for COP-II and steps to be taken to prevent genetic piracy. He also called for community and NGO involvement. MONGOLIA: Dr. T. Shiirevdamba, Vice-Minister for Nature and Environment, referred to the GEF-funded Mongolian Biodiversity Project and cooperative agreements with the Russian Federation and China. He referred to Mongolias ecological crisis and its movement towards a free- market economy.
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