The closing Plenary commenced on Friday, 6 September, with substantial debate over organizational and procedural matters, including the draft recommendation on the modus operandi of SBSTTA, before proceeding to adopt draft recommendations developed in the working groups.
ORGANIZATIONAL AND PROCEDURAL RECOMMENDATIONS: Delegates first discussed the Chairs draft recommendation on the<M> modus operandi of SBSTTA (UNEP/CPD/SBSTTA/2/CRP.1). Several amendments were accepted without discussion, such as INDIAs amendment in Annex 2 that only some delegates felt intersessional work would be necessary. There was also agreement on Secretariat representation at meetings of other bodies. With regard to regional meetings in preparation for SBSTTA work, the NETHERLANDS proposal for specifying meetings for specific items in combination with other scientific regional meetings was accepted.
On the paragraph dealing with working languages, numerous countries requested that Spanish be included. CHINA and HUNGARY, on behalf of the Eastern European Group, also expressed views advocating working languages. A new paragraph initiated by NEW ZEALAND was added, suggesting that the Secretariat should prepare a document analyzing the implications, particularly financial, of adding to the working languages of the SBSTTA, and on the preferred languages of the Parties. The final version of the paragraph noted that concern was expressed by several delegations, and that these delegations felt that the other official languages of the UN should be included as working languages of the SBSTTA. MONACO also mentioned problems with French translations.
On election of officers, CANADA proposed new language specifying that the Chairs term of office will begin at the beginning of one ordinary SBSTTA meeting and continue until the beginning of the following one. ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, supported by DOMINICA and JAMAICA, expressed concern about the transitional arrangements. The need for satisfactory transitional arrangements was put into a new paragraph.
The US proposed peer review and the inclusion of scientific societies in a paragraph on liaison groups. After much discussion of scientific societies and the concept of peer review, and an additional proposal on NGOs with competence in the field by ARGENTINA, a proposal by SWEDEN was accepted. As a result, a reference to scientific peer review processes was placed in a paragraph on the use of a roster of experts, along with a suggestion that the Secretariat, along with other bodies, would make full use of the roster.
In the paragraph on liaison groups, SWEDEN, supported by NEW ZEALAND and ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, proposed that liaison groups should be responsible to the Executive Secretary alone. Following a proposal by SWEDEN, JAMAICA insisted that regional as well as global scientific organizations be specified. ARGENTINA noted the need to ensure competence in the field. A contact group met to formulate compromise language. The paragraph ultimately stated that in the preparation of documentation, and to ensure the use of available competence available within international and regional organizations, including non-governmental organizations and scientific unions and societies, qualified in fields relating to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, the Executive Secretary may establish, in consultation with the Chair and the other members of the Bureau of the SBSTTA, liaison groups, as appropriate.
In a paragraph on development of the roster of experts, the NETHERLANDS and INDIA added a reference to accessibility of the roster through the clearing-house mechanism. The CHAIR invited the SBSTTA Executive Secretary to read decision II/10 of the COP on compiling the roster of experts. This was used to replace part of the draft paragraph under discussion. SWEDEN said the issue of governmental legitimization of the roster may have to be taken up by the COP.
The CHAIR next introduced the Draft Provisional Agenda of SBSTTA-3 (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/CRP.2) and suggested that this item be discussed along with the Medium-term programme of work for the period 1995-1997 (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/17). He invited consideration of the views expressed at the Plenary, the COPs view that its agenda should be reflected in the SBSTTAs work programme, and the issues identified at SBSTTA-2 for further consideration. He suggested that SBSTTA-3 look at freshwater ecosystems since this was on the COP agenda. He also noted the long list of issues in the draft programme and the need for a discussion with the COP. It would be difficult for the SBSTTA to provide in-depth analyses on all the issues.
The NETHERLANDS, supported by AUSTRIA, AUSTRALIA and INDIA, listed the items on the agenda, including water ecosystems, marine and coastal biodiversity, forests, and agricultural biodiversity, and said a technical discussion would be difficult. He did not know which experts he should bring to the next SBSTTA. He suggested seeking further guidance from the COP on prioritization of the items on the provisional agenda because it was far too ambitious. AUSTRIA asked that a reference to environmental impact assessments be consistent with that of the CBD. AUSTRALIA recalled that his delegation suggested codifying agenda items to indicate levels of priority. INDIA added that the COP should provide guidance on SBSTTAs advisory role on the issue of identifying and protecting the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities. ARGENTINA made a reservation on the paragraph on indigenous and local communities and said it was not consistent with Article 8(j) of the CBD. The CHAIR agreed that there is a need for some indication of the issues requiring in-depth work.
The draft provisional agenda for SBSTTA-3 (UNEP/CBD/ SBSTTA/2/CRP.2) was adopted. Delegates agreed that the third meeting of the SBSTTA will be held in Montreal from 14-18 July 1997 (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/19). The adoption of the dates of SBSTTA-3 took into consideration CANADAs appeal for the dates to be tentative depending on the dates of COP-4. ZIMBABWE, on behalf of the African Group, stressed the need for financial support for developing countries for implementation of the Convention.
SUBSTANTIVE RECOMMENDATIONS: The Chair of Working Group 1 presented the draft report of the working group (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/L.3 and Corr.1), which contained the draft recommendations as an Annex. The Plenary adopted the document. The Chair of Working Group 2 then presented his draft report (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/L.2), which also contained draft recommendations as an Annex. On Agenda Item 3.4 (Practical Approaches for Capacity Building), CANADA added to the preamble the recognition that biological collections are the basis of taxonomy and are also sources of genetic resources. He also suggested deleting the reference to access to genetic resources in the paragraph calling for adoption of mutually agreed instruments for exchange of biological specimens. The UK proposed that this paragraph refer to those concerned rather than Parties.
Disagreeing with CANADAs further suggestion, MALAWI and INDIA insisted on retaining the call for material transfer agreements in addition to equivalent instruments for exchange of biological specimens. CANADA accepted this compromise and COLOMBIA expressed approval. The UK proposed deleting the reference to exchange of information in the same sentence on exchange of biological specimens, arguing that transfer of information is already mentioned in the decisions on the clearing-house mechanism. In spite of MOROCCOs strong opposition, the term information was deleted .
The recommendation on Agenda Item 3.5 (Technology transfer), was amended by SWITZERLAND so that the involvement of the private sector particularly refers to examining options for incentive mechanisms. The draft report, with other changes mentioned by the Secretariat, was then adopted. The Plenary then adopted the draft report of SBSTTA-2 (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/ L.1 and Add.1).
CLOSING STATEMENTS: In a brief closing statement, SBSTTA Chair Peter Johan Schei (Norway) remarked on the need to be very focused on scientific and technical matters, characterizing the SBSTTA as a political advisory body. He added that the SBSTTA needs to improve its cooperation with the scientific community and to make sure that the agenda is not overloaded. He closed the meeting on a positive note, praising delegates for achieving solid recommendations incorporating, in particular, improvements to the modus operandi. Finally, he acknowledged the enormous task that had been faced by the new Secretariat in preparing documents for SBSTTA-2, achieved while simultaneously preparing for the first session of the Biosafety Working Group as well as COP-3. He adjourned the meeting at 5:45 p.m.
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