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PLENARY

OPENING OF THE MEETING: The President of COP-2, Indonesia’s Minister of Environment Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, opened the third session of the Conference of Parties to the CBD and urged delegates to consider the Convention in the broader context of international action. Minister Maria Julia Alsogaray, Argentina’s Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, was then elected by acclamation to serve as President of COP-3. She called for effective measures to implement the Convention and highlighted important issues, including: resource availability; the financial mechanism; the establishment of norms to guide sustainable agricultural practices; and access to genetic resources.

Mohamed El-Ashry, CEO of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), noted that relations have been strengthened between the GEF and the Convention Secretariat and underscored the importance of partnership-building in the search for sustainable development.

Reuben Olembo, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, acknowledged progress made by the CBD to date, but cautioned that the COP can no longer theorize but must act now. He expressed hope that COP-3 would: initiate implementation of the CBD; adopt additional practical resolutions; resolve outstanding issues; improve intergovernmental interaction; and devise a mechanism for the Council of the GEF to solve the urgent needs of the CBD.

CBD Executive Secretary Calestous Juma noted distinctive phases of the CBD: COP-1 established the organs necessary for internal function; COP-2 adopted decisions needed to make the transition toward implementation; and COP-3 should attempt to implement the CBD in the context of decisions made at COP-2, with few changes. He called for implementation of the clearing-house mechanism (CHM) and enhanced collaboration among related institutions. Deputy Assistant Administrator of UNDP Thelma Awori emphasized the centrality of the CBD’s goals to the organization’s programmes and affirmed UNDP’s commitment to working in supportive partnership with UNEP, the CBD Secretariat and other institutions to implement the Convention.

Costa Rica, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, emphasized both the need to prioritize the steps necessary to implement the Convention and the importance of promoting the third objective of the Convention, the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources.

INTERSESSIONAL ACTIVITIES: Secretary of State for the Ministry of Agriculture Feiter (Germany) presented the report from the Fourth International Technical Conference on Plant and Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) held in Leipzig from 17-23 June 1996. He stated that delegates adopted a Global Plan of Action (GPA) for the conservation and utilization of PGRFA and the Leipzig Declaration. He called for immediate implementation of the GPA at all levels.

The host countries of each of the four regional preparatory meetings reported the results of their meetings, which were held in the weeks preceding COP-3. The report of the Central and Eastern European Regional Preparatory Meeting (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/Inf.28) outlined 14 recommendations, including training of national and regional focal points to coordinate regional and sub-regional activities. The report of the African Regional Preparatory Meeting (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/Inf.29) emphasized the urgent need for access to financial resources and scientific and technical capacity-building, and deplored the under-representation of African countries in CBD-related meetings. The report of the Asian Regional Preparatory Meeting (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/Inf.30) expressed concern regarding the growing perception of the CBD as a conservation tool and called for equal consideration of all three CBD objectives. The report of the Latin American and Carribean Regional Preparatory Meeting (UNEP/CBD/COP/ 3/Inf.31) recommended: a two-year budget cycle to ensure smooth functioning of the administration of the CBD; Secretariat staff positions to address the specific needs of SIDS; and use of the Internet to complement, rather than replace, regular distribution through government-designated channels. The Chair of SBSTTA-2, Peter Johan Schei (Norway), introduced the report of SBSTTA-2 (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/3) and highlighted recommendations not on the COP-3 agenda, such as developing linkages with the existing scientific community and receiving clear advice from the COP on how to “get things developed” at SBSTTA-3. The PRESIDENT postponed discussion on the SBSTTA-2 report.

ITALY presented the results of the International Symposium on Mediterranean Biodiversity held from 14-15 October in Rome. Highlighting the historical, cultural and biogeographic importance of the Mediterranean, he called for a “common science-based” approach to regional cooperation. SYRIA, reporting on an intersessional Arab regional meeting on biodiversity, underscored the need for the COP to consider the importance of preserving ancient monuments and the role of Arab women in protecting biodiversity.

A representative of the GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY FORUM, which was held from 1-3 November in Buenos Aires and attended by 145 people from 35 countries, outlined the results of the meeting’s four workshops: investment in biodiversity; agriculture and biodiversity; integrating biodiversity and land use; and biodiversity and indigenous peoples. COORDINADORA INDIGENA DE LA CUENCA AMAZONICA noted that indigenous peoples’ knowledge and practices have been taken without consent or compensation, and called for recognition of their right to self-determination and respect for the integrity of their lands and territories. NEPAL FEDERATION OF NATIONALITIES outlined several recommendations for the implementation of Article 8(j) (indigenous knowledge, practices and innovations) including: realization of indigenous peoples’ focal point positions within the Secretariat; funding to facilitate participation of indigenous peoples in all aspects of work of the CBD; development of alternatives to current IPR systems for the protection of indigenous knowledge systems; a moratorium on bioprospecting and ethnobotanical collections within indigenous peoples’ territories pending adequate protection mechanisms for indigenous knowledge; and an open-ended intersessional working group on indigenous peoples and biodiversity.

OTHER INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS: Delmar Blasco, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention), noted that the Ramsar Convention shares many of the same objectives as the CBD and expressed his eagerness to implement the goals of the Memorandum of Cooperation signed between the Ramsar Convention and the CBD in January 1996.

Arnulf M�ller-Helmbrecht, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (Bonn Convention), announced the agreement between the Bureau of the Bonn Convention and the CBD Secretariat on a Memorandum of Cooperation in June 1996. He highlighted the need for a common approach to conservation and utilization among the two conventions and appealed to the Parties to the CBD who have not yet done so to sign the Bonn Convention so that conservation measures can be undertaken in a more comprehensive manner.

Salvano Brice�o, representing the Desertification and Climate Change Secretariats, outlined the activities under each convention and called for closer and more effective cooperation between the “Rio conventions,” especially in the area of public education and participation.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: The Executive Secretary highlighted two unresolved issues — contributions to the CBD Trust Fund and voting procedures. The President invited comments on the provisional organization of work (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/1/Add.2). AUSTRALIA’s proposal to discuss the budget of the Trust Fund after the medium-term work programme was supported by COLOMBIA, and its suggestion to create a limited number of small working groups to facilitate full consideration of the COP-3 agenda was supported by the EU. COLOMBIA, SENEGAL and the SEYCHELLES cautioned against simultaneous working group meetings. COLOMBIA emphasized implementing all three objectives of the CBD in a balanced manner.

The Executive Secretary called for the establishment of a budget for 1997, noting the need for an indicative budget at a minimum.

Also during the Plenary, the annotated provisional agenda (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/1/Add.1) was adopted and Bureau members were elected as follows: Suzana Guziova (Slovakia) and Igor Glukhovtsev (Kazakhstan); Manfred Schneider (Austria) and Louis Currat (Switzerland); Fran�ois Ndeckere-Ziangba (Central African Republic) and Terry Jones (Seychelles); and Mohammed Reza Salamat (Iran) and Ra�d Bani Hani (Jordan). The Latin American and Caribbean regional group had not yet appointed its representatives.

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