Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 09 No. 270
Wednesday, 10 December 2003
ARTICLE 8(J) WG-3 HIGHLIGHTS:
TUESDAY, 9 DECEMBER 2003
Delegates to the third meeting of the Open-ended
Inter-Sessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions
of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) convened in
sub-working group sessions throughout the day. Sub-Working Group I
(SWG-I) considered draft guidelines for the conduct of cultural,
environmental and social impact assessments. Sub-Working Group II
(SWG-II) discussed participatory mechanisms and genetic use
restriction technologies (GURTs). A brief Plenary session was held
in the afternoon to review progress.
SUB-WORKING GROUP I
IMPACT ASSESSMENTS: The Secretariat
introduced draft recommendations and guidelines on cultural,
environmental and social impact assessments regarding proposed
developments on sacred sites and lands or waters occupied or
traditionally used by indigenous and local communities
Liberia, on behalf of the AFRICAN GROUP, stressed
that communities are holders and owners, rather than custodians, of
traditional knowledge. SWEDEN called for considering ways to achieve
the document’s integrated approach and for collaborating with the UN
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The International Indigenous Forum on
Biodiversity (IIFB), opposed by ARGENTINA, CANADA, KENYA and the
BAHAMAS, proposed that the guidelines be binding. ARGENTINA and
JAMAICA stressed the need for a compilation of sacred sites. The
IIFB called for transparency and collection of data by indigenous
peoples. The RUSSIAN ASSOCIATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF THE NORTH
(RAIPON) suggested ethnological studies to identify sacred sites.
Draft recommendations: MEXICO proposed
acknowledging local biodiversity conservation strategies. CARE
EARTH-INDIA suggested reference to sacred species.
The AFRICAN GROUP suggested encouraging
information exchange between communities. The IIFB, ETHIOPIA and
JORDAN supported transparency and community participation in prior
planning processes. JORDAN stressed management of negative
environmental impacts. CÔTE D’IVOIRE requested addressing risks such
as waste disposal.
KENYA and the IIFB supported a financial
mechanism to allow independent evaluations by communities.
EGYPT stressed the need to protect communities
and their knowledge from the threats of globalization. RAIPON
highlighted threats caused by extractive activities to traditional
lifestyles. The GAMBIA said communities should request project
SWG-I co-Chair John Herity (Canada) said a
co-Chairs’ text will be prepared.
Draft guidelines: Purpose and approach:
CANADA suggested considering the inter-relationship between
environmental, cultural and social aspects. The IIFB recommended
addressing prevention and mitigation of impacts on traditional
lifestyles, and effects on, and participation of, women. JORDAN
recommended ensuring appropriate use of technology. BURUNDI said
assessments should take into account traditional knowledge. SWEDEN
and the US called for differentiating between the assessment and
Use of terms: On social impact
assessments, MEXICO requested considering economic, social, cultural
and political rights, and the IUCN emphasized communities’ social
and physical integrity. IRAN noted difficulties in measuring
cultural impacts. While CANADA suggested deleting the definition of
customary law, the IIFB opposed, underscoring that it does not
qualify customary law. The IIFB also requested including prior
informed consent and effective community participation in, and
review of, the definitions of assessments. INDIA proposed using CBD
definitions. The Coordinating Body of the Indigenous Organizations
of the Amazon Basin (COICA) requested reference to Convention 169 of
the International Labour Organization on Indigenous and Tribal
Peoples. The IIFB proposed that the Secretariat, in collaboration
with indigenous representatives, elaborate the terms.
Procedural considerations: Regarding
language on agreement between communities and proponents of
development projects, the AFRICAN GROUP stressed that agreed terms
or an agreement should be concluded. The IUCN said agreements should
involve authorities and be on mutually agreed terms.
Several delegates noted that agreements based on
assessments could pre-empt communities’ rights to oppose a project.
The US suggested including a "no-action" option. CÔTE D’IVOIRE
stressed that environmental impact assessments (EIAs) should correct
wrong approaches but not stop developments.
CANADA supported indigenous participation at all
stages of the assessment process, not only in decision making. The
IIFB suggested language on the identification of liable parties and
their obligation to compensate for adverse impacts. RAIPON
recommended listing participants in, and identifying stages of,
On public consultation of proposed developments,
NIGER and LIBERIA said means of notification should include village
and town meetings. BURKINA FASO proposed considering obligations
under regional and international agreements to address transboundary
On identification of affected communities and
stakeholders, delegates discussed the concepts of communities and
stakeholders, and agreed to a proposal by CANADA that communities be
invited to participate in the development process.
On mechanisms for community participation,
BURKINA FASO stressed the need to involve communities in
assessments. KENYA called for reference to national legislation.
The AFRICAN GROUP and RAIPON called for
establishing processes for recording communities’ views and, with
CANADA, YEMEN and CÔTE D’IVOIRE, shared concerns regarding the
appropriateness of using audio or video recording. The AFRICAN GROUP
proposed rural appraisal methods, while RAIPON, COICA and the IIFB
suggested choosing means in agreement with affected communities.
Integration of assessments: RAIPON said
the link between communities and biodiversity should be assessed.
The BAHAMAS and RAIPON suggested addressing the economic valuation
of cultural resources. The IUCN highlighted possible impacts on
systems of transmission of traditional knowledge.
Regarding EIAs, delegates discussed language on
the need to respect land and treaty rights. CANADA said national EIA
legislation should respect community rights established under
domestic law, and noted that EIA processes can contribute to their
protection by documenting communities’ activities and customs. The
IIFB objected referring to domestic legislation.
The IIFB proposed language differentiating direct
and indirect impacts of development projects, and addressing the
impacts of invasive alien species.
Regarding baseline studies, the US proposed
addressing the issue of baselines at the national level.
SUB-WORKING GROUP II
PARTICIPATORY MECHANISMS: The Secretariat
introduced a note on mechanisms to promote effective participation
of indigenous and local communities (UNEP/CBD/WG8J/3/6), the report
of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Traditional
Knowledge and the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) on communication
mechanisms (UNEP/CBD/WG8J/3/6/Add.1) and a note on cooperation among
environmental conventions concerning indigenous and local
communities’ participation (UNEP/CBD/WG8J/3/6/Add.2).
Many delegates supported creating a
biodiversity-specific fund to support indigenous participation, with
CHINA recommending that it be voluntary, and the IIFB and NEW
ZEALAND that it be independent. ARGENTINA and BRAZIL requested that
governments select the indigenous representatives funded through
such a mechanism. NEW ZEALAND and the INDIGENOUS WOMEN’S
BIODIVERSITY NETWORK (IWBN) said applications to the fund should not
go through governments. HAITI and the IIFB said funding should cover
education and capacity building for indigenous participation at
local and international levels.
The INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF SAINT LUCIA recommended
developing national participatory mechanisms for indigenous peoples
that would also allow collecting traditional knowledge. The
COORDINATING ORGANIZATION OF ARGENTINIAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
ASSOCIATIONS supported establishing a national advisory committee
and promoting capacity building. The IWBN recommended references to
indigenous women’s role in preserving and transmitting traditional
knowledge. The IIFB suggested that countries report on indigenous
participation and benefit-sharing, according to indigenous
ASOCIACION IXACAVAA, opposed by BRAZIL, supported
synergies between multilateral environmental agreements regarding
indigenous participation. COSTA RICA stressed legal differences
between the concepts of indigenous peoples and local communities,
and the need to address representation issues.
ZAMBIA called for translating and simplifying the
language of the CBD. SENEGAL said the CHM is the primary source of
information, and called for national information workshops. CANADA
suggested considering communication arrangements other than national
focal points for countries with decentralized governments and
diverse indigenous communities. The CARIBBEAN ANTILLES INDIGENOUS
PEOPLES CAUCUS supported developing electronic communication
GENETIC USE RESTRICTION TECHNOLOGIES: The
Secretariat introduced: the report of the AHTEG on GURTs
(UNEP/CBD/WG8J/3/INF/2); decision VI/5 of the Conference of the
Parties (COP) on agricultural biodiversity requesting the AHTEG to
report to the Article 8(j) Working Group prior to COP-7; and SBSTTA
Recommendation IX/2 to transmit the AHTEG’s report to COP-7.
The INDIGENOUS PEOPLES COUNCIL ON BIOCOLONIALISM
(IPCB) and the IIFB supported the AHTEG report and its consideration
as soon as possible, highlighting that testing and commercialization
of GURTs will pose serious threats to indigenous livelihoods. The
IPCB called on the Working Group to recommend establishing a process
to review and assess GURTs’ impacts on indigenous peoples and
implement the AHTEG’s conclusions. UGANDA said GURTs can make
communities dependent on foreign technologies. The IIFB and ZAMBIA
called for a precautionary approach.
BRAZIL presented its proposal on GURTs,
emphasizing: development of national regulatory frameworks to assess
their use; promotion of further research, including field testing;
and disapproval of commercial use that may adversely affect
smallholder farmers and indigenous agrobiodiversity. She requested
forwarding the proposal to COP-7.
ITALY, on behalf of EC Member States and acceding
countries (EU), supported by NAMIBIA, the IIFB, UGANDA and
SWITZERLAND, opposed the Brazilian proposal, noting its
encouragement of field testing and focus on the environmental
impacts on agrobiodiversity, and suggested that the Working Group
discuss the socioeconomic aspects of the AHTEGï¿½s report. ARGENTINA
expressed concern regarding the AHTEGï¿½s composition, and suggested
forwarding the Brazilian proposal as an information document to
COP-7, including reservations made by parties.
Noting the lack of reliable scientific data on
GURTs, the US said claims about their negative impacts on
communities were premature. TANZANIA suggested considering the issue
at the next meeting of the Article 8(j) Working Group.
SWG-II co-Chair Diann Black Layne (Antigua and
Barbuda) said a co-Chairsï¿½ text will be prepared.
SWG-I co-Chairs Herity and Earl Stevenson (Peguis
First Nation), and SWG-II co-Chairs Black Layne and Lucy Mulenkei
(African Indigenous Womenï¿½s Network) reported on progress made by
SWG-I and SWG-II, respectively.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Inspired by the snow cap covering Mont Royal,
SWG-I delegates graciously glided through the guidelines for impact
assessments, with participants building on progress made at the
second meeting of the Working Group. While some expressed hope that
the thorough treatment of the document early in the week would avoid
late night sessions, others noted that the absence of means for
implementation of the guidelines diminishes expectations for the
development of a meaningful outcome.
In the meantime, SWG-II delegates skated around
GURTs, and many indigenous delegates remarked that they would have
needed more to time to prepare for the discussions, not initially on
the agenda. Finishing way ahead of the afternoon Plenary session,
some participants expressed concerns that valuable time was being
wasted, considering the heated discussions that the co-Chairsï¿½ text
on sui generis systems may trigger. One delegate noted that
the choice not to rush consideration of sui generis systems
may actually benefit indigenous delegates in leaving them time to
prepare on complex and sensitive issues.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
SUB-WORKING GROUP I: SWG-I will convene at
10:00 am in Room I to continue considering impact assessments,
address technology transfer, and discuss a co-Chairsï¿½ text on the
composite report on status and trends. Discussions on these items
will continue in the afternoon.
SUB-WORKING GROUP II: SWG-II will convene at
10:00 am in Room II to discuss co-Chairsï¿½ texts on sui generis
systems for the protection of traditional knowledge, participatory
mechanisms, and GURTs. Discussions on these items will continue in
PLENARY: Plenary will meet at 5:30 pm to review