Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 9 No. 274
Monday, 9 February 2004
SEVENTH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE
CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY AND FIRST MEETING OF THE PARTIES
TO THE CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOSAFETY:
9-27 FEBRUARY 2004
The Seventh Conference of the Parties (COP-7) to
the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) opens today at the
Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It will be
followed by the COP serving as the first Meeting of the Parties to
the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP-1).
COP-7 participants will consider a range of
priority issues, including: mountain biodiversity; protected areas (PAs);
implementation of the target to significantly reduce the current
rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, adopted at COP-6 and endorsed by
the World Summit on Sustainable Development; technology transfer and
cooperation; and access and benefit-sharing (ABS). Participants will
also discuss the budget for 2005-2006, financial resources and
mechanism, and guidelines for the third national report. Work on
these, and other issues, will be split between two working groups.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CBD AND THE CARTAGENA
PROTOCOL ON BIOSAFETY
The CBD, negotiated under the auspices of the UN
Environment Programme, was adopted on 22 May 1992, and entered into
force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 188 Parties to the
Convention. The CBD aims to promote "the conservation of biological
diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and
equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic
resources." Article 19.3 of the CBD provides for Parties to consider
the need for and modalities of a protocol setting out procedures in
the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified
organisms (LMOs) that may have an adverse effect on biodiversity and
THE BIOSAFETY PROTOCOL: The Cartagena
Protocol on Biosafety (Biosafety Protocol), adopted on 29 January
2000, entered into force on 11 September 2003, 90 days after its
50th ratification. There are currently 82 Parties to the Protocol.
The Biosafety Protocol addresses the safe transfer, handling and use
of LMOs that may have an adverse effect on biodiversity, taking into
account human health, with a specific focus on transboundary
movements. It establishes an advance informed agreement (AIA)
procedure for imports of LMOs for intentional introduction into the
environment, and also incorporates the precautionary approach, and
mechanisms for risk assessment and risk management. The Protocol
establishes a Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) to facilitate
information exchange, and contains provisions on capacity building
and financial resources with special attention to developing
countries and those without domestic regulatory systems.
COP-1: At the first COP (November - December
1994, Nassau, the Bahamas), delegates set the general framework for
the Convention’s implementation. Parties also established an
Open-ended Ad Hoc Group of Experts on Biosafety, which met in
Madrid in July 1995. Most experts favored the development of a
protocol on biosafety under the CBD.
COP-2: At the second meeting of the COP
(November 1995, Jakarta, Indonesia), delegates adopted, among
others, a decision on marine and coastal biodiversity, and
established an Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety (BSWG)
to elaborate a protocol "on biosafety, specifically focusing
on transboundary movement of any LMO that may have an adverse effect
on biological diversity," based on the Madrid report.
COP-3: The third meeting of the COP (November
1996, Buenos Aires, Argentina) took decisions on, inter alia,
the elaboration of work programmes on agricultural and forest
biodiversity and on a Memorandum of Understanding with the Global
Environment Facility (GEF).
COP-4: At its fourth meeting (May 1998,
Bratislava, Slovakia), the COP adopted a range of decisions,
including on inland water ecosystems and on Article 8(j) on
traditional knowledge and related provisions. Delegates decided that
the agenda of the extraordinary meeting, to be convened for the
purpose of adopting a protocol on biosafety, would address matters
relating to its adoption and preparations for COP/MOP-1.
BIOSAFETY WORKING GROUP: The BSWG met six
times between 1996 and 1999. The first two meetings identified
issues and terms, and helped articulating positions. By the third
meeting, in October 1997, delegates had produced a consolidated
draft text to serve as the basis for negotiation. The fourth and
fifth meetings focused on reducing and refining options for each
article of the draft protocol. At the final meeting of the BSWG
(February 1999, Cartagena, Colombia), delegates intended to complete
negotiations on the draft protocol for submission to the first
Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (ExCOP).
EXCOP: At the first ExCOP (February 1999,
Cartagena, Colombia), delegates could not agree on a compromise
package that would finalize the Protocol, and the meeting was
suspended. Outstanding issues included: the Protocol’s relation to
other agreements, especially those related to trade; the inclusion
of commodities within the Protocol’s scope; the application of the
AIA procedure, particularly with regard to the precautionary
approach; and requirements for documentation and identification.
Following suspension of the ExCOP, three sets of informal
consultations were held to address outstanding issues. Five major
negotiating groups emerged during the Cartagena meetings: the
Central and Eastern European Group (CEE); the Compromise Group
(Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea and Switzerland, joined
later by New Zealand and Singapore); the European Union; the Miami
Group (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, the US and Uruguay); and
the Like-minded Group (the majority of developing countries).
RESUMED EXCOP: The resumed ExCOP (January
2000, Montreal, Canada) adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
Decision EM-I/3 established the Intergovernmental Committee for the
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP) to undertake preparations for
COP/MOP-1, and requested the CBD Executive Secretary to prepare work
for the development of a BCH.
COP-5: At its fifth meeting (May 2000,
Nairobi, Kenya), the COP adopted decisions on, inter alia, a
work programme on dry and sub-humid lands, the ecosystem approach,
ABS, and the Convention’s operations. Delegates also adopted a work
plan, which included issues for consideration by the ICCP at its
first two meetings. During a special ceremony, 67 countries and the
European Community signed the Biosafety Protocol.
ICCP-1: The first meeting of the ICCP
(December 2000, Montpellier, France) discussed information sharing
and the BCH, capacity building, the roster of experts,
decision-making procedures, compliance, and handling, transport,
packaging and identification (HTPI) (Article 18). ICCP-1 concluded
with recommendations for intersessional activities and synthesis
reports on each substantive item to be further considered by ICCP-2.
ICCP-2: The second meeting of the ICCP
(October 2001, Nairobi, Kenya) developed recommendations on issues
including: information sharing; HTPI; monitoring and reporting;
capacity building; the roster of experts; guidance to the financial
mechanism; and decision-making procedures for Parties of import.
COP-6: At the sixth meeting of the COP (April
2002, The Hague, the Netherlands), Parties adopted the Convention’s
Strategic Plan and an expanded work programme on forest
biodiversity. They also adopted decisions on a wide range of issues,
including on invasive alien species, the Global Strategy for Plant
Conservation (GSPC), and the Bonn Guidelines on ABS. Decisions of
relevance to the Biosafety Protocol included those relating to the
application for CBD Secretariat observer status to the WTO
Committees on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards and on Technical
Barriers to Trade.
ICCP-3: At the third meeting of the ICCP
(April 2002, The Hague, the Netherlands), delegates adopted
recommendations to COP/MOP-1 on: liability and redress; procedures
and mechanisms to ensure compliance; information sharing and the
BCH; capacity building; the roster of experts; HTPI (Article 18);
monitoring and reporting; and other issues for implementation.
LIAISON GROUP ON CAPACITY BUILDING FOR BIOSAFETY:
The meeting of the Liaison Group on capacity building for biosafety
(November 2002, Montreal, Canada) reviewed initiatives and gaps in
implementing the Action Plan for Building Capacities for the
Effective Implementation of the Protocol, and considered indicators
for monitoring the implementation of the Action Plan and modalities
for operationalizing its Coordination Mechanism.
WORKSHOP ON LIABILITY AND REDRESS IN THE CONTEXT
OF THE CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOSAFETY: This workshop (December
2002, Rome, Italy) reviewed existing legislation and relevant
international law in the field of liability and redress for damage
resulting from transboundary movements of LMOs. Participants also
considered the type of activities or scenarios that might be covered
by Article 27 of the Biosafety Protocol, objectives and functions of
liability rules and procedures, the definition of damage, and
SBSTTA-8: During its eighth meeting (March
2003, Montreal, Canada), the Subsidiary Body on Scientific,
Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) focused on mountain
biodiversity and adopted recommendations on inland waters, marine
and coastal biodiversity, dry and sub-humid lands, biodiversity and
tourism, and SBSTTA operations.
MYPOW: The Open-ended Inter-Sessional Meeting
on the Multi-Year Programme of Work of the COP up to 2010 (MYPOW)
(March 2003, Montreal, Canada) adopted recommendations, including
on: achieving the 2010 target to significantly reduce the current
rate of biodiversity loss; the multi-year programme of work of the
COP up to 2010; evaluation of progress in implementing the
Convention and the Strategic Plan; and the CBD’s contribution to the
Millennium Development Goals and the Commission on Sustainable
LIAISON GROUP OF TECHNICAL EXPERTS ON THE
BIOSAFETY CLEARING-HOUSE: The meeting of the Liaison Group of
Technical Experts on the BCH (April 2003, Montreal, Canada)
considered and made recommendations on the status of implementation
of the BCH, national experience in using the BCH pilot phase, and
requirements to establish national components for participation in
the BCH and associated technical issues.
SBSTTA-9: The ninth meeting of the SBSTTA
(November 2003, Montreal, Canada) focused on PAs and on technology
transfer and cooperation. Delegates also considered biodiversity and
climate change, monitoring and indicators, and incentive measures.
WORKING GROUP ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT-SHARING:
At the second meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group
on ABS (December 2003, Montreal, Canada), delegates initiated
discussions on the process, nature, scope, elements and modalities
for an international ABS regime. Parties also adopted
recommendations, including on reports on experiences with the Bonn
Guidelines on ABS, use of terms, compliance measures with prior
informed consent and mutually agreed terms, and capacity building.
WORKING GROUP ON ARTICLE 8(J): The third
meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Inter-Sessional Working
Group on Article 8(j) (December 2003, Montreal, Canada) considered,
among others, the integration of the work programme on Article 8(j)
into the CBD thematic areas. Delegates finalized the Akwï¿½: Kon
Guidelines on impact assessments, recommendations for concrete steps
to increase indigenous participation in the CBD process, and
proposed elements for a sui generis system for the protection
of traditional knowledge.
OTHER MEETINGS: Numerous other intersessional
meetings were held, addressing issues including: biodiversity of
inland waters (June 2002, Wageningen, the Netherlands); traditional
knowledge and the Clearing-House Mechanism (February 2003, Santa
Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia); a framework for implementing the 2010
target (May 2003, London, UK); biodiversity and climate change (May
2003, Helsinki, Finland); mountain biodiversity (July 2003, Rome,
Italy); the GSPC (October 2003, Kerry County, Ireland); and the
implementation of the work programme on forest biodiversity
(November 2003, Montpellier, France).
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
OPENING PLENARY: COP-7 will open at 10:00 am
in the Dewan Nerdeka Hall to consider organizational matters and
hear reports on intersessional activities. A keynote presentation
will be delivered by David Suzuki, Chairman of the David Suzuki
WORKING GROUPS: At 3:00 pm, WG-I will start
considering mountain biodiversity, and WG-II will address technology
transfer and cooperation.
OTHER: Look for the Presidentï¿½s Proposal for
a draft decision on invasive alien species, which is said to receive
support by most regional groups. Informal consultations on this
issue are also planned.