Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 9 No. 285
Tuesday, 24 February 2004
MONDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2004
The first meeting of the Conference of the
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) serving as
the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
(COP/MOP-1) opened on Monday, 23 February, in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. Delegates convened in Plenary and working group sessions.
Plenary heard opening statements and a report on the work of the
Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
(ICCP), addressed organizational matters, and considered: procedures
for decision making by Parties of import; monitoring and reporting;
the budget for the Secretariat; and guidance to the financial
mechanism. Working Group I (WG-I) addressed information sharing and
the Biosafety Clearing-house (BCH), and Working Group II (WG-II)
considered capacity building. A contact group on the budget also
OPENING STATEMENTS: COP/MOP-1 President Dato’
Seri Law, Minister of Science, Technology and the Environment of
Malaysia, opened the meeting, noting the opportunity to establish a
harmonized system on the movement of living modified organisms (LMOs)
and enable informed decisions regarding import of LMOs. He stressed
challenges for developing countries to implement the Protocol.
Ahmed Djoghlaf, on behalf of UNEP Executive
Director Klaus Töpfer, paid tribute to the 87 Parties to the
Biosafety Protocol, urged governments to ratify, and noted that the
Protocol will help derive benefits from biotechnology while
protecting biodiversity and human health from the risks posed by
CBD Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan welcomed
the Protocol’s entry into force, highlighted the successful
completion of the BCH pilot phase, urged continued efforts to
facilitate information sharing on LMOs, and stressed the need for
adequate funding to implement the Protocol.
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: The Secretariat
explained that the COP Bureau would serve as the Bureau of COP/
MOP-1, noting the need to replace five Bureau members from countries
not currently Parties to the Protocol. Delegates elected the
following new members: Eric Mugurusi (Tanzania) for the African
Group; Pati Keresoma Liu (Samoa) for the Asia and Pacific Group;
François Pythoud (Switzerland) for the Western Europe and Others
Group; Erik Schoonejans (France) for the EU and Acceding Countries (EU);
and Sergei Gubov (Ukraine) for Central and Eastern Europe. Other
Bureau members are: John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda); Soumayila Bance
(Burkina Faso); Fernando Casas (Colombia); Desh Deepak Verma
(India); and Gordana Beltram (Slovenia).
Delegates then adopted the agenda without
amendment (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/1/1 and Add.1), and decided to
establish two working groups. François Pythoud and Amb. Philémon
Yang (Cameroon) were elected Chairs of WG-I and WG-II, respectively.
Gordana Beltram was elected Rapporteur of the meeting. Delegates
agreed to convene a daily afternoon Plenary to review progress made
by the WGs.
The Secretariat introduced, and delegates adopted
without amendment, a draft decision on the Rules of Procedure for
COP/ MOP meetings (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/1/2).
REPORTS: ICCP Chair Amb. Yang reported on the
work of the ICCP (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/1/3 and Add.1-3), highlighting
recommendations on information sharing and capacity building.
DECISION PROCEDURE: The Secretariat
introduced a note on draft procedures and mechanisms to facilitate
decision making by Parties of import (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/1/4).
The EU recommended not to re-open discussions on
the matter. Ecuador, for the ANDEAN COUNTRIES, supported by IRAN and
Colombia, for GRULAC, urged the Secretariat to identify other
possible mechanisms to facilitate decision making, and suggested
addressing the issue at COP/MOP-2. INDIA said decision making should
be considered separately from compliance.
TANZANIA said procedures and mechanisms should
respond to developing country Party needs and, with GRULAC, stressed
the need for capacity building. GRULAC also called for technology
Ethiopia, for the AFRICAN GROUP, supported by
INDIA, IRAN and GRULAC, said Parties of export should not determine
importing Parties’ decisions, but assist them to acquire expertise,
and proposed language to that effect. Delegates agreed to consider
the proposal at the next Plenary session.
MONITORING AND REPORTING: The Secretariat
presented documents on monitoring and reporting, including a draft
decision (UNEP/CBD/COP-MOP/1/10 and INF/9). Delegates approved the
draft decision without amendment.
SECRETARIAT: The Secretariat introduced a
document on the budget for the biennium 2005-2006 (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/1/11),
and delegates established a contact group, chaired by John Ashe.
GRULAC prioritized Article 18.2 (documentation for LMOs), a
Compliance Committee, and supported a zero budget increase.
GUIDANCE TO THE FINANCIAL MECHANISM: The
Secretariat introduced a document on guidance to the financial
MEXICO requested a reference to countries of
origin of genetic diversity. Many delegates stressed the need for
funding capacity building. India, on behalf of the ASIA AND PACIFIC
GROUP, called upon developed countries to financially support the
Protocol’s implementation. An NGO representative cautioned against
subordinating biosafety to rules of the World Trade Organization.
Drawing attention to an agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico
regarding documentation of LMOs used for food, feed or processing,
he stressed that non-Parties should not be allowed to undermine
Parties’ efforts to implement the Protocol.
The INTERNATIONAL INDIGENOUS FORUM ON
BIODIVERSITY highlighted the impacts of genetically modified
organisms on traditional knowledge, crops and livelihoods.
Delegates established a Friends of the Chair
group to address financial guidance.
MEDIUM-TERM WORK PROGRAMME: The Secretariat
introduced the proposed medium-term work programme of the COP/MOP (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/1/14).
Highlighting the need for broad accession to the
Protocol, GRULAC proposed not to consider commercial measures and
sanctions relating to compliance and, supported by IRAN, requested
adopting the work programme once priorities have been identified by
COP/MOP-1. The AFRICAN GROUP and INDIA suggested considering
socioeconomic issues at COP/MOP-2, rather than COP/MOP-4. IRAN
proposed holding COP/MOP meetings annually, and said considering
interim national reports by COP/MOP-2 is premature.
The EU and NORWAY called for adopting a system of
unique identifiers and, with TURKEY, for addressing risk assessment
and management. KENYA prioritized liability and redress, capacity
building and information sharing, and TURKEY notification, advanced
informed agreement (AIA), socioeconomic issues, and Article 18
(handling, transport, packaging and identification). NORWAY and
CANADA supported addressing emerging issues. AUSTRALIA requested
that the work programme focus on core elements for implementation.
An NGO representative expressed concern about
postponing consideration of public participation to COP/MOP-3. The
GLOBAL INDUSTRY COUNCIL presented activities regarding guidelines
and model AIA language. President Dato’ Seri Law encouraged
consultations on proposed amendments.
WORKING GROUP I
INFORMATION SHARING AND THE BCH: The
Secretariat introduced documents on information sharing and the BCH
(UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/1/5 and INF/1, 13, 14, 17 and 18). Many
delegates said the BCH is essential for the Protocol’s effective
implementation, and requested that it enter into its operational
SWITZERLAND and CANADA stressed the need for a
practical mechanism. The ASIA AND PACIFIC GROUP supported
transparency and equity. NORWAY said the BCH should be regularly
updated and user friendly and, with the EU, ROMANIA and BULGARIA,
contain information on unique identifiers for LMOs. IRAN supported
using the OECD guidance on unique identifiers as a model, while
BRAZIL recommended addressing other systems.
NORWAY stressed the need for training and, with
JAPAN and the ASIA AND PACIFIC GROUP, suggested encouraging
non-Parties to contribute information.
Several delegates stressed developing countries’
difficulties in accessing and using the BCH, and called for
assistance. Uganda, for the AFRICAN GROUP, stressed the need for
capacity building and, with the ASIA AND PACIFIC GROUP, for
developing non-internet based mechanisms. SOUTH AFRICA, supported by
many, said capacity building should include developing countries
that have signed, but not yet ratified, the Protocol.
MEXICO highlighted an agreement on transboundary
movements of LMOs, including information exchange, among Parties to
the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The REPUBLIC OF KOREA emphasized the need to
develop and continuously adapt a common reporting format. MALAYSIA
called for increasing support for regional cooperation. ARGENTINA
underlined the need for resources and equipment to operationalize
the BCH. KIRIBATI and MALAYSIA suggested that COP/MOP-1 endorse
extending UNEP’s capacity-building programme for developing
countries ratifying the Protocol in 2004 and 2005. The FAO noted its
initiative to make available country information on food safety,
plant health and phytosanitary measures.
WORKING GROUP II
CAPACITY BUILDING: The Secretariat introduced
relevant documents on capacity building and the roster of experts (UNEP/
CBD/BS/COP-MOP/1/6 and Add.1-3).
Many delegates supported establishing a
coordination mechanism and adopting the capacity building action
plan. Several delegates stressed capacity building for risk
assessment and management. KENYA said African countries require
capacity to make informed choices, and the EU emphasized the need
for demand-driven capacity-building initiatives.
CANADA requested synergy between the Secretariat
and the GEF in providing technical assistance. ETHIOPIA, supported
by many, called for focusing on mechanisms for identifying and
testing LMOs. INDIA and others requested comprehensive institutional
capacity building. PAKISTAN and NAMIBIA urged capacity building for
signatory States in order to expedite the ratification process.
COLOMBIA stressed the need for field projects
responding to countries’ needs. CAMEROON and the GENE CAMPAIGN
proposed including socioeconomic aspects in the action plan. FAO
highlighted the relevance of Codex Alimentarius and the
International Plant Protection Convention. BRAZIL said capacity
building should be differentiated according to importer and exporter
ETHIOPIA suggested clarifying the role of the
private sector in capacity building. IRAN called for further
involving NGOs, and EGYPT said the private sector and NGOs involved
in capacity building should be qualified and supervised by
governments. PERU and TURKEY called for references to countries of
origin and centers of biodiversity. The US called for focus on
access to, and use of, the BCH.
Regarding the roster of experts, CAMEROON
suggested including a list of Parties providing assistance. BRAZIL
suggested limiting the number of expert nominations per country and,
with CHINA, requested a regional balance in using experts.
Delegates addressed, inter alia, the
establishment of the Protocolï¿½s Trust Funds and its shared costs
with the Convention. Chair Ashe said a Friends of the President
group will advise on the financial implications of decisions made in
IN THE CORRIDORS
The first official steps of COP/MOP-1 proceeded
rather uneventfully, with several developed countries waiting for
developing countries to take the lead in the discussions.
Nevertheless, debates have started animating corridors and side
events, with handling and labeling emerging as one of the major
bones of contention. Compliance is expected to also become a
potential stumbling block this week.
Amidst a clear mandate to produce specific
outcomes on compliance and liability, and a plethora of developments
within regional and international organizations, many delegates are
hoping for concrete outcomes focused on helping countries to move
from planning to action.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
WORKING GROUP I: WG-I will convene at 10:00
am in the Dewan Merdeka Hall to start discussing handling,
transport, packaging and identification (Article 18), and other
issues for implementation. Look for a Chairï¿½s text on information
sharing and the BCH.
WORKING GROUP II: WG-II will meet at 10:00 am
in Room TR4 to begin discussions on compliance, and liability and
redress. Look for a Chairï¿½s text on capacity building.
CONTACT GROUP: The contact group on the
budget will meet at 11:00 am in the VIP room.
PLENARY: Plenary will convene at 5:30 pm in
the Dewan Merdeka Hall to review progress by the WGs.