The Second Extraordinary Session of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA-EX2) was held at FAO Headquarters in Rome from 22-27 April 1996. During the week-long meeting, delegates addressed several issues in preparation for ITCPGR-4. These included: the first comprehensive Report on the State of the Worlds PGR, which will be forwarded to the Conference; and a heavily bracketed GPA, which was further consolidated by a three-day working group meeting held from 10-12 June in Rome. The draft text of the Leipzig Declaration, which is expected to be one the Conferences key outputs, remains subject to substantial negotiation. Delegates also agreed to hold the Commissions third extraordinary session on the IU in early December 1996, immediately preceded by a meeting of a working group that will prepare a simplified text to serve as a basis for the Commissions negotiations.
STATE OF THE WORLD REPORT: The Commissions discussion of this agenda item was based upon document CGRFA-EX2/96/2, the first Report on the State of the Worlds PGR. This document, the first world-wide assessment of the state of conservation and utilization of PGR, is based upon information gathered through a country-driven process, including 150 Country Reports and 11 regional and sub-regional meetings.
Additional information was provided by the FAO World Information and Early Warning System, international institutions, NGOs and the private sector. In discussing the Report, delegates commended the bottom-up and cooperative approach between countries and institutions that was utilized in its preparation.
The Reports content and its status were the two foci of discussion. In addressing content, delegates made general comments in the Plenary on the Report as a whole, rather than reviewing it paragraph-by-paragraph. Debate regarding its status centered around whether it should be endorsed by the Commission, or serve as an informative background paper.
It was finally decided not to endorse the Report formally, but to recognize it as a background document, which would be periodically updated and revised, in order to serve as a comprehensive source of information. Delegates also requested the Secretariat to forward a revised version of the Report to Leipzig, based upon written submissions by governments.
GLOBAL PLAN OF ACTION: The Commission used the draft GPA (document CGRFA-EX2/96/3) as the basis of negotiations. Since Plenary discussion on the GPA proceeded slowly, the Chair established a parallel open-ended drafting group to consider written submissions and oral comments put forward during the plenary. Under the direction of the Rapporteur, F.J. Marroni de Abreu (Brazil) , the drafting group met nine times but completed only a partial reading. As a result, the drafting group was unable to submit successive sections to the Plenary for a second reading, as originally planned. Further discussion on the heavily bracketed text was referred to a working group to be convened just prior to the Leipzig Conference.
Financing of the GPA was a major point of debate. The Plenary was temporarily suspended to allow for informal consultations among delegations on this issue. Heads of regional groups were requested to keep the Bureau informed of deliberations and on this basis, a Chairs text was presented to the Friday afternoon plenary as follows: We recognize the need for financial resources in order to implement the GPA and we commit ourselves to discuss this matter during the Leipzig Conference.
There was considerable discussion as to whether or not the IU should be referred to within the GPA. The issue of forest genetic resources was a further point of debate, as some countries stated that they did not believe that forest genetic resources fell within the mandate of the Commission. It was finally agreed that all reference to forests be deleted from the GPA.
The reference to Farmers Rights within the context of in situ conservation of PGR was an area of debate, as were the linkage between ex situ collections, the need to respect national sovereignty over genetic resources and the ongoing transfer of genetic resources.
LEIPZIG DECLARATION: The Commissions discussion of this agenda item was based upon document CGRFA-EX2/96/4, which contained a preliminary draft of a declaration that might be adopted during the Fourth International Technical Conference. Following a brief discussion in the Plenary of this document, the AFRICAN GROUP, GRULAC and the EU each tabled their own written versions of the Leipzig Declaration (LD). These regional drafts were consolidated into a new draft declaration. Following the Plenarys discussions, countries made general comments and then worked through the LD paragraph-by-paragraph. By the end of the meeting, however, large sections of the LD remain bracketed and open to further negotiation in Leipzig.
INTERNATIONAL UNDERTAKING: The Commission addressed the revision of the IU (document CGRFA-EX2/96/6) in preparation for substantive negotiations to be held at the Third Extraordinary Session of the Commission in early December 1996. In order to focus further negotiations, a working group will meet immediately prior to this meeting to prepare a simplified draft text on the three main issues of scope, access and equitable benefit-sharing. This text will draw on further comments made by governments and technical information contained in agreements made at the Leipzig Conference.
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