Vol. 9 No. 387
SUMMARY OF THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL
TECHNICAL CONFERENCE ON ANIMAL GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND
The first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture took place from 3-7 September 2007, in Interlaken, Switzerland. The event was attended by an estimated 290 participants representing over 100 countries, as well as numerous UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.
This was the first intergovernmental conference to focus exclusively on animal genetic resources (AnGR). The meeting was divided into three parts. On the first day, delegates convened in a scientific forum to hear presentations and engage in discussions on the scientific aspects of AnGR. The following morning, a final version of the report, The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, was presented. Based on 169 country reports, the new publication was welcomed by participants as an authoritative survey of the sector.
However, most of the conference was taken up with negotiations on the draft Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources and on the Interlaken Declaration on Animal Genetic Resources. The draft Global Plan of Action, which contains four “priority areas” and 23 “strategic priorities” for action, was the subject of earlier discussions, including during the eleventh regular session of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) in June 2007. However, the CGRFA did not finalize the draft, which was forwarded to Interlaken for further consideration. After lengthy negotiations, the Global Plan was adopted, including a section on implementation and financing that had been the subject of considerable discussion. Delegates also adopted the Interlaken Declaration, which stresses the importance of AnGR and confirms the adoption of the Global Plan.
The successful completion of the Global Plan and Interlaken Declaration provides a framework for future action and represents the beginning of a challenging long-term process for countries and the FAO to sustainably manage the world’s AnGR for food and agriculture.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS TO ADDRESS ANIMAL GENETIC RESOURCES
The effective management of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture is considered highly important for global food security, sustainable development, and the livelihoods of over one billion people worldwide. The FAO has classified over 7600 different domestic livestock breeds currently in existence. These different breeds have been developed by farmers and pastoralists since animals were first domesticated around 12,000 years ago.
During the past two decades, however, concerns have grown about the future of livestock biodiversity. Twenty percent of classified breeds of cattle, goats, pigs, horses and poultry are now considered to be at risk of extinction, as the world’s livestock production has become increasingly based on a limited number of breeds. Since 2001, an average of one breed per month has become extinct, while genetic diversity within even the most common breeds is in decline. Animal genetic resources are also perceived to be at risk from major disease epidemics and from disasters brought on by emerging threats such as climate change. The rapid growth in global demand for livestock products also represents a major challenge for the effective and sustainable management of livestock.
During the 1990s, the international community began to respond to these concerns. In 1990, the FAO Council recommended the preparation of a comprehensive programme for the sustainable management of AnGR at the global level. As a result of this recommendation, in 1993 the FAO launched its Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources. The Global Strategy contained four elements: an intergovernmental mechanism for direct governmental involvement and policy development; country-based global infrastructure to help nations plan and implement national strategies; a technical support programme aimed at the country level; and a reporting and evaluation system to guide the Strategy’s implementation, maximize cost-effectiveness and facilitate collaboration, coordination and policy development. While the Global Strategy was not formally adopted, it has helped guide and focus efforts in this area. It also contributed towards the ongoing development of a Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (a global information system on AnGR) and the establishment of national and regional focal points.
As a result of an FAO review of progress in 1995, the CGRFA initiated a process to help further develop and implement the Global Strategy. A subsidiary body – the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture – was established, and met for the first time in 1998. The Working Group reiterated concerns about the state of the world’s AnGR and recommended the development of country-driven efforts and progress on an internationally-agreed framework.
In 2001, the FAO gave further direction to this process by inviting countries to submit national reports on the state of their AnGR. These reports were to include assessments of the contribution of farm animals to food, agriculture and rural development, the state of national capacity to manage these resources, and a list of “priority actions.” In all, 169 Country Reports were submitted. These reports highlighted the importance of farm animals to food security and sustainable development, and underscored the erosion of genetic diversity in both developed and developing countries.
Based on these Country Reports, the first global report on The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was drafted, as well as a report on Strategic Priorities for Action for the Sustainable Use, Development and Conservation of Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. At its fourth session in December 2006, the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on AnGR considered these two documents. The Working Group also recommended the development of a Global Plan Action for AnGR, to be considered at a conference on AnGR in Interlaken, Switzerland, in September 2007. Following this session, a Friends of the Chair group convened in March 2007, in Freibourg, Switzerland, to continue consideration of strategic priorities for AnGR. At the eleventh regular session of the CGRFA in Rome in June 2007, discussions on strategic priorities resulted in a draft Global Plan of Action and a draft Declaration on AnGR. The Global Plan of Action was intended to create an internationally-agreed strategic framework for addressing AnGR.
On Monday morning, 3 September 2007, Samuel Jutzi, Director, Animal Production and Health Division, FAO, opened the meeting and thanked the Swiss Government for hosting the event. He explained that there would be three components to the event: a scientific forum on AnGR during the first day; a presentation of The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture report on Tuesday morning; and discussions on the draft Global Plan of Action for AnGR and draft Interlaken Declaration during the remainder of the week.
Delegates elected Manfred Bötsch, Director-General of the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, as conference Chair. The Vice-Chairs elected were Hussein Ibrahim Abu Eissa (Sudan), Daniel Semambo (Uganda), Arthur da Silva Mariante (Brazil), David Hegwood (US), Paul Trushell (Australia), and Vanida Khumnirdpetch (Thailand).
Conference Chair Bötsch stressed the importance of AnGR and asked delegates to consider the agenda and annotated agenda (ITC-AnGR/07/1 & 2). He explained that the agenda item on the Global Plan of Action would cover the three annexes under the relevant document (ITC-AnGR/07/3), which included a draft Global Plan of Action (Annex I), text on implementation and financing the Global Plan (Annex II), and the Interlaken Declaration (Annex III). Canada noted its understanding that Annex II was being proposed as an element of the Global Plan, and delegates adopted the agenda as proposed.
Delegates convened in plenary sessions throughout the week, and in a limited number of small-group consultations on the Global Plan of Action and the Interlaken Declaration, which took up most of the week’s work. This summary outlines the discussions and outcomes under each agenda item.
On Monday, a Scientific Forum on AnGR was held, chaired by Fritz Schneider, Swiss College of Agriculture. The Forum provided an informal occasion to discuss specific AnGR issues, and involved presenters and panelists who outlined and discussed reports on four specific topics (as contained in document ITC-AnGR/07/Inf.2):
A more detailed summary on the Scientific Forum can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/vol09/enb09383e.html.
On Tuesday morning, 4 September, a ceremony was held to officially welcome delegates to the first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The ceremony included a performance of traditional Swiss alphorn music and presentations from invited speakers.
Doris Leuthard, Federal Councilor and Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Switzerland, noted that agriculture has a key role to play in fighting hunger and meeting the Millennium Development Goals. She called for a focus on conserving AnGR and ensuring sustainable use, and urged delegates to adopt the Global Plan of Action and Interlaken Declaration to reflect a commitment to structured management of AnGR for food security and sustainable development.
Alexander Müller, Assistant Director-General, Natural Resources Management and Environment Department, FAO, stressed the need for wise management of AnGR to address challenges such as climate change, rapid economic and social change, globalization, diseases, socioeconomic instability and armed conflict. Noting that changes affect every country, he said AnGR are particularly important for livelihoods in developing countries, and that at least one livestock breed has become extinct each month over the past seven years. Müller called on delegates to set the basis for international efforts to promote sustainable use and improve livelihoods in developing countries.
Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), noted that parties to the CBD recognize AnGR as essential for food security. He looked forward to the adoption of the Global Plan and Interlaken Declaration and said these would help further the objectives of the CBD. He highlighted a number of relevant issues, including ongoing work under the CBD on access and benefit sharing, the importance of indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge, the fruitful partnership with FAO, and the significance of the 2010 biodiversity target.
André Nietlisbach, Secretary-General, Direction of Economic Affairs, Canton of Bern, Switzerland, welcomed participants to Interlaken and the region. He noted the Canton’s commitment to sustainable development and its unique animal breeds, observing that “once genetic material is lost, it is lost forever.”
Urs Graf, Mayor of Interlaken, welcomed participants to his city and wished delegates a successful outcome.
On Tuesday morning, delegates considered the agenda item on the new report, The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Irene Hoffmann, Chief of FAO’s Animal Production Service and Conference Secretary, introduced the report, observing that it would be an important reference tool for the next five to ten years. Highlighting that the report was the result of a process initiated in 2001, she underscored the concerted effort at the national level to prepare 169 Country Reports. She expressed her gratitude to all involved and said the report provided an important baseline for decisions on the Global Plan of Action.
Barbara Rischkowsky, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (and formerly of FAO), outlined the content of the report, explaining that it contained five sections, which addressed: the status of AnGR; livestock sector and trends; the state of capacities, institutions and stakeholders; the need for research; and needs and challenges in AnGR management. She expressed hope that a clear Global Plan of Action would be adopted that included implementation mechanisms, along with a strong Interlaken Declaration supporting immediate action to maintain AnGR.
Many delegates welcomed the report and called for its wide dissemination and translation into other UN languages. Colombia emphasized that the Global Plan would need to contain a solid financial mechanism that addressed the needs identified in the report. The International Federation for Organic Farming highlighted the contribution that organic farming can make towards maintaining genetic resources through market systems.
Irene Hoffmann described the report as a “starting point” and requested that delegates keep the global breed database updated. She thanked China for producing a Chinese version and appealed for funds to facilitate other translations.
At the invitation of Conference Chair Manfred Bötsch, a civil society representative, Maryam Rahmanian, Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment, Iran, presented the Wilderswil Declaration on Livestock Diversity on behalf of 30 organizations of pastoralists, indigenous peoples, smallholder farmers and NGOs who had met in parallel to the Interlaken Conference at the “Livestock Diversity Forum: Defending food sovereignty and livestock keepers’ rights.” Rahmanian described the global livestock crisis caused by the imposition of industrial livestock breeding and production systems, and highlighted the consequences for local communities, including: loss of small and family-based production, smallholder bankruptcies and suicides, and economic dependency. She affirmed the Livestock Diversity Forum’s commitment to fighting for the rights of livestock keepers, including land, water, culture, education and training, rights and access to local markets. Rahmanian commended the analysis in The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources report of the key causes leading to the destruction of biodiversity and highlighted that it identified industrial livestock systems as a primary cause. However, she expressed concern that the draft Global Plan of Action fails to address these causes. Rahmanian said it is unacceptable for governments to agree on a plan that does not challenge policies that lead to biodiversity loss, adding that civil society organizations have no interest in a plan that provides “weak support for a collapsing livestock production system.” She reaffirmed civil society’s commitment to organizing itself in order to save livestock diversity and concluded that “defending livestock diversity is not a matter of genes, but of collective rights.”
On Tuesday afternoon, delegates turned their attention to the agenda item on the “Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources.” In their work, Conference Chair Bötsch asked participants to focus on a document forwarded by the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) at the conclusion of its eleventh regular session, held in June 2007 (CGRFA-11). This document (ITC-AnGR/07/03) contained three annexes. The first two annexes contained text relating to the Global Plan of Action, while a third annex contained a draft “Interlaken Declaration” that stressed the importance of AnGR and confirmed the adoption of the Global Plan.
Annex I contained a draft Global Plan of Action that included an Introduction and a second, longer section entitled “Strategic Priorities for Action.” This second section detailed four “priority areas” and 23 “strategic priorities” for action. Annex I was the subject of lengthy discussions, particularly on the final strategic priority, which dealt with resources and financing. Discussions on this final strategic priority in Annex I were also linked to talks on Annex II, which contained related text on “implementation and financing of the Global Plan.” After lengthy negotiations throughout Wednesday and Thursday, both on the content of these annexes and how they should fit together, delegates finally agreed to a revised document that included both Annex I and Annex II as part of the Global Plan.
The final version of the Global Plan (ITC-AnGR/07/Report) includes the Introduction (Section I) and Strategic Priorities (Section II) originally contained in Annex I of the draft. In addition, the original Annex II, on implementation and financing, was added to the Global Plan as Section III. A summary of the negotiations and the final text of the Global Plan of Action is outlined below.
SECTION I: INTRODUCTION: The introduction to the Global Plan had largely been approved in the draft forwarded by CGRFA-11, with questions remaining primarily over text addressing traditional rights of livestock keepers and international transboundary breeds. In addition, a footnote in the introduction that sought to define the term “animal genetic resources” was also the source of some disagreement in Interlaken.
Concerns over the definition of AnGR contained in a footnote to the introduction were first raised by Brazil on Wednesday. He expressed concern about the broad definition used in the footnote and suggested inserting a specific reference to “farm” animals. Irene Hoffmann, FAO, noted previous discussions on this topic and explained the rationale behind the current formulation. After two days of discussions, Brazil accepted the original footnote, but added text requesting FAO to “further develop these working definitions.”
Delegates also discussed text referring to “transboundary breeds,” in particular the legal implications of this term. After some discussion, delegates agreed to language proposed by Chair Bötsch based on input from the FAO Legal Counsel. This text, contained in a footnote, stated that “it is intended that the use of the term ‘transboundary breeds’ does not affect the sovereign rights of countries within their national jurisdictions,” which delegates accepted. Delegates also agreed to delete language requesting the FAO to further develop this terminology.
Another area of debate was the subject of livestock keepers’ rights and whether these existed in all countries. Representatives of Africa and of Latin America and the Caribbean supported inclusion of text referring to national legislation supporting such rights, with Kenya questioning whether rights could exist in the absence of legislation. However, Asia and Peru countered that many countries lack national legislation addressing livestock keepers’ rights. After some discussion, delegates agreed to compromise text proposed by Chair Bötsch that recognized the important “role” of livestock keepers, pastoralists and local communities in utilization and development of livestock resources, and noted that “in some countries, livestock keepers have specific rights, in accordance with their national legislation, or traditional rights, to these resources.”
Final Outcome: The introduction to the Global Plan of Action stresses that AnGR for food and agriculture are an essential part of the biological basis for world food security, and contribute to the livelihoods of over one billion people. It presents the background to the development of the Global Plan, including the work of CGRFA and the country-driven process that led to the preparation of The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources report. The introduction also sets out the rationale behind the Global Plan, noting the issues and concerns regarding AnGR raised in the State of the World report, including the loss of AnGR and the challenges facing policy-makers, rural communities, livestock keepers and other groups, as well as issues relating to capacity building and human and financial resources.
The introduction also outlines its aims and strategies, explaining that it is intended as a “rolling plan” with an initial time horizon of ten years and provisions for the sustainable use, development and conservation of AnGR at the national, regional and global levels. It also states that countries are fundamentally interdependent with respect to AnGR for food and agriculture, and consequently international cooperation is necessary.
SECTION II: STRATEGIC PRIORITIES FOR ACTION: This 20-page section of the Global Plan of Action sets out a series of four “strategic priority areas” that contain a total of 23 individual “strategic priorities.” Below is a summary of the negotiations and outcomes from each of these four priority areas.
Strategic Priority Area 1: Characterization, Inventory and Monitoring of Trends and Associated Risks: This section required very little discussion in Interlaken, as the draft text forwarded from the CGRFA had been cleared of almost all brackets. Only one issue required any substantive discussion, relating to national species and breed development strategies (Strategic Priority 4). The original text noted that, while plans and programmes are formulated at the national level, cooperation among countries may be needed. Some delegates were sensitive to reference to “transboundary” issues, however, and participants agreed to delete text referring to some issues being “transboundary in nature” in favor of language noting that “in some cases cooperation with other countries may be required.” With this agreement, delegates rapidly finalized this section of the Global Plan of Action.
Final Outcome: The final text of Strategic Priority Area 1 stresses in its introduction the importance of understanding the diversity, distribution, basic characteristics, comparative performance and the current status of each country’s AnGR. It notes current gaps in data and information, and sets a long-term goal of improved understanding of these issues, to facilitate and enable decision-making for their sustainable use, development and conservation.
The text under this section also outlines two “strategic priorities” relating to characterization, inventories and monitoring, and specific “actions” in each case. The two strategic priorities are as follows:
Strategic Priority Area 2: Sustainable Use and Development: This section required very little discussion in Interlaken, as the draft text forwarded from the CGRFA had been largely agreed. The section was quickly approved by delegates.
Final Outcome: The final text of Strategic Priority Area 2 notes in its introduction the growing challenge of achieving food security and sustainable development, and the challenges facing developing countries in particular. It sets a long-term goal of enhancing sustainable use and development of AnGR in all relevant production systems, as a key contribution to achieving sustainable development, poverty eradication and adaptation to the effects of climate change.
The text under this section also outlines four “strategic priorities” relating to sustainable use and development:
Strategic Priority Area 3: Conservation: Delegates discussed elements of Strategic Priority Area 3 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. While most priorities under this area did not require negotiation, delegates spent significant time on two contentious elements. These focused on the specific strategic priorities that dealt with “national conservation policies” (Strategic Priority 7) and “establishing or strengthening in situ conservation programmes” (Strategic Priority 8).
Regarding the text on national conservation policies, debate focused on reference to “non-trade distorting” incentives in support of AnGR conservation. Delegates were divided over the inclusion of this reference. While India, Pakistan, the African regional group, and others preferred to remove the text, the North American region, South-West Pacific, Argentina, Brazil and others supported retaining it. After further discussion, Chair Bötsch proposed compromise text, which stated that “providing support for such measures is consistent with existing international agreements,” rather than referring to “non-trade distorting.” Delegates agreed to this formulation.
Another issue that was debated in relation to the strategic priority on national conservation policies was the issue of providing and catalyzing incentives for producers and consumers to support conservation of AnGR considered “at risk.” Representatives of Africa, Asia and Europe favored deletion of the term “at risk,” while the Near East, North America and the South-West Pacific preferred to maintain the reference. After lengthy discussions, delegates agreed to retain the reference to AnGR “at risk,” qualifying that this should be “as evaluated by individual countries” and consistent with existing international agreements.
Regarding text on in situ conservation programmes, discussion focused on language suggesting that, in cases where market-based approaches to in situ conservation are not possible, “non-trade distorting” direct payments may be necessary. Delegates were again divided on the inclusion of reference to “non-trade distorting.” After extensive debate, delegates agreed to alternative text proposed by Australia stating that in cases where market-based approaches are not possible, support for in situ conservation of animal resources may be necessary.
Final Outcome: The final text of Strategic Priority Area 3 notes in its introduction the long-term threat that the erosion of AnGR poses to food security and rural development, and the finding of The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources report that 20 percent of all reported breeds are at risk of extinction. It sets a long-term goal of securing the diversity and integrity of the genetic base of AnGR by better implementing and harmonizing measures to conserve these resources, both in situ and ex situ, including in the context of emergencies and disasters.
The text under this section also outlines five “strategic priorities” relating to sustainable use and development, which are:
Strategic Priority Area 4: Policies, Institutions and Capacity Building: Delegates discussed elements of Strategic Priority Area 4 on Wednesday and Thursday. While most priorities under this area did not require negotiation, delegates did discuss language on two of the twelve strategic priorities contained in Strategic Priority Area 4. The two topics related to the roles and values of AnGR and the contribution of livestock keeping communities (Strategic Priority 18) and strengthening efforts to mobilize resources, including financial resources (Strategic Priority 23).
On Wednesday, delegates considered the roles and values of AnGR and the contribution of livestock keeping communities. The European regional group, supported by Latin America and the Caribbean and by North America, observed that “rights” with respect to these communities had not been defined. Africa, the Near East and others proposed referring to the “needs and rights of livestock communities.” An informal group was established to resolve the issue and on Wednesday evening Jimena Nieto (Colombia) reported back to plenary on the results of the group’s discussions, introducing compromise text referencing livestock keepers’ rights “at the national level.” This formulation was agreed to by delegates.
Discussions on strengthening efforts to mobilize resources for AnGR (Strategic Priority 23) were considered in parallel with the discussions on a separate text on implementation and financing (which ultimately was added to the Global Plan as a new Section III). These two related texts were negotiated together in an informal group facilitated by David Hegwood (US) (see the section on Implementation and Financing below).
On Thursday afternoon, Hegwood reported to plenary on the results of the informal discussions, indicating that that Strategic Priority 23 and Section III reflected two elements of the same issue, with the former addressing financing and resource needs and the latter dealing with implementation. He outlined the result of deliberations and said that textual changes to Strategic Priority 23 had been kept to a minimum wherever possible. Delegates then adopted the text as forwarded by the informal group.
Final Outcome: The final text of Strategic Priority Area 4 notes in its introduction that in many cases national policies and regulatory frameworks for AnGR are still partial and ineffective, and that policy and legislative development is required. It sets a long-term goal of establishing cross-cutting policies and legal frameworks and strong institutional and legal capacities for successful medium and long-term planning.
The text under this section also outlines twelve “strategic priorities” relating to policies, institutions and capacity building. The twelve strategic priorities are:
SECTION III: IMPLEMENTATION AND FINANCING: Disagreement over financial matters had been anticipated at the onset of the meeting, given that two extensively bracketed texts were forwarded to Interlaken from CGRFA-11 One of these texts was the draft Global Plan of Action’s Strategic Priority 23 (ITC-AnGR/07/3, Annex I), and another, longer text focused on “implementation and financing of the Global Plan of Action” (ITC-AnGR/07/3, Annex II).
In Interlaken, delegates focused first on the text on implementation and financing (Annex II), before considering Strategic Priority 23. These matters were taken up on Wednesday in plenary, and at length on Thursday both in plenary and in a small informal group chaired by David Hegwood (US).
A key issue was what to do with these two texts on financing. North America proposed keeping the entire text on implementation and financing (Annex II) bracketed, expressing concern over duplication with the Interlaken Declaration and the text in Strategic Priority 23. He questioned the relevance of the document and asked for rationalization and consolidation of all financial items. However, the European regional group, Asia, the Near East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa supported incorporating Annex II as an integral, third section (Section III) of the Global Plan, emphasizing that a framework on implementation and financing should form an essential outcome of the conference. Participants also debated the text contained in Strategic Priority 23. The Near East preferred to retain the text, while Europe supported deletion on the grounds that financial issues would be addressed under implementation and financing in the proposed Section III of the Global Plan. Asia disagreed, observing that Strategic Priority 23 identified needs, while Section III would deal with implementation. North America again called for financial matters to be consolidated.
These disputes were eventually resolved in an informal group, which considered financial issues as a “package” and discussed how to avoid perceived duplication. On Thursday evening, Hegwood reported back to plenary that the group had identified three pillars that the text should address, namely technology transfer, capacity building, and financing and resources. He explained that the Global Plan’s Strategy Priority 23 and Section III (formerly Annex II) reflected two elements of the same issue: perceived needs under Priority 23 and implementation under Section III. Therefore, both would be included in the Global Plan of Action. He also explained that textual changes had been kept to a minimum wherever possible, although some regrouping and amendment of text had been required to make the text flow and for consistency. Participants approved of the proposal to address financing under both Strategic Priority 23 and Section III.
As well as the discussions on how to structure the outcomes on financing, delegates also deliberated on the specific text. In Section III, a paragraph on strategic investments and incentives was the subject of disagreement. While the Near East and Europe supported reference to this, the South-West Pacific proposed “maintenance of incentives.” North America added “provided that such incentives are consistent with relevant international agreements,” and delegates ultimately agreed to North America’s formulation.
Discussion was also required on the subject of “new and additional” resources. Latin America and the Caribbean sought inclusion of text referring to this, but not all regional groups could agree. In particular, some developed countries were cautious about committing to language on “new” resources. After further discussion, delegates agreed to a compromise proposed by Peru to refer to “additional” but not to include a reference to “new.” With agreement on this issue, the entire text was agreed by delegates on Thursday evening, and formally adopted in plenary the following day.
Final Outcome: Section III of the Global Plan, on implementation and financing (ITC-AnGR/07/Report), states, inter alia, that:
the main responsibility for implementing the Global Plan rests with national governments, with each country determining its own priorities in light of those agreed in the Global Plan;
the FAO’s essential role in supporting country-driven efforts to implement the Global Plan, especially to support developing countries and countries with economies in transition, is recognized;
the importance of developing and transferring environmentally-sound technologies related to the inventory, characterization, sustainable use, development and conservation of AnGR is recognized; and
despite efforts to increase public awareness through national governments, international organizations and agencies, the necessary financial resources for the implementation of the Global Plan by developing countries and countries with economies in transition are insufficient.
In addition, the section states that countries should make every effort to provide, in accordance with their capacities, support with respect to national strategic priorities that are intended to achieve the objectives of the Global Plan. It adds that governments of developed countries should attach due attention, including funding, to the implementation of activities within the strategic priority areas of the Global Plan. Finally, it concludes that voluntary contributions should be encouraged, in particular from the private sector and non-governmental organizations, for the implementation of the Global Plan.
Chair Bötsch introduced the draft Interlaken Declaration (ITC-AnGR/07/3, Annex III) on Wednesday. With a significant amount of the text already agreed by CGRFA-11, delegates focused on resolving issues around remaining bracketed text, which addressed issues including responsibilities, ownership of AnGR, access to technologies, and new and additional resources. By Thursday evening, delegates had finalized text on all these outstanding issues.
On the interdependence of countries (paragraph 3), participants agreed to amend a reference to “common and differentiated” responsibilities to refer instead to “common and individual” responsibilities.
Regarding text on local and indigenous communities (paragraph 11), delegates were divided over two alternate formulations. There was particular discussion over a reference to the impact of “ownership and management” of AnGR, with the European regional group seeking to delete the reference to ownership, while other groups favored retention of the term. Participants agreed to a formulation that retained reference to “ownership and management of the genetic resources of their livestock.”
Delegates devoted considerable time to language on access to technologies (paragraph 14). Discussions focused on transferring or sharing technologies, including whether to include text on providing “concessional and preferential terms.” Participants finally agreed on a shorter formulation proposed by Peru referring to facilitating technology for sustainable use, development and conservation of AnGR consistent with relevant international obligations and national laws.
On Thursday afternoon, delegates addressed text acknowledging that provision of new and additional resources can increase the world’s ability to address sustainable use (paragraph 17). Participants negotiated text in the remaining brackets, focusing on whether or not to refer to “new” resources and whether to “strongly” recommend concrete steps to ensure a “significant” increase in financial resources. Brazil stated that its agreement to delete “new” in other parts of the text had been contingent on the term being retained in this paragraph, but agreed to the deletion of “strongly.” The US suggested a “substantial” rather than “significant” increase in finances, but the South-West Pacific preferred an “adequate” increase. Delegates eventually agreed to include a reference to “new” and additional resources and an “adequate” increase in financial resources.
Shortly after 8:00 pm on Thursday, delegates finalized the text for the Interlaken Declaration, which they adopted formally in the closing plenary on Friday (ITC-AnGR/07/Report).
Final Outcome: The final text of the Interlaken Declaration recognizes the essential roles and values of AnGR for food and agriculture, in particular their contribution to food security for present and future generations. The text of the Interlaken Declaration contains nineteen paragraphs that, inter alia:
On Friday afternoon, delegates reconvened for the final plenary session to consider the draft report of the conference (ITC-AnGR/07/Report). The report contained an outline of discussions under all agenda items, as well as two appendices. Appendix 1 contained the text of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, while Appendix 2 contained the final version of the Interlaken Declaration. Delegates adopted the report with only minor amendments.
José María Sumpsi Viñas, Assistant Director-General, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, FAO, described it as a “good day” for the FAO and congratulated delegates on behalf of Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the FAO, for a “historic result” that will “define action on AnGR for many years to come.” He described the Global Plan as the first concrete international instrument to address AnGR-related challenges in a systematic way, and called for sustained efforts by all stakeholders to ensure its implementation. He concluded by thanking FAO colleagues and Chair Bötsch for their work.
Many delegates thanked the Bureau, the Secretariat and other organizers, and colleagues for their hard work before and during the conference.
Reflecting on next steps, Australia, speaking for the South-West Pacific region, thanked all participants and other members of the South-West Pacific regional group. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) said he would support implementation of the Global Plan among the 22 members of his regional group, and that SPC would act as a focal point to coordinate efforts. He underscored the need for fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of the sustainable utilization of AnGR, and expressed concern about their misappropriation.
Côte d’Ivoire, speaking for Africa, expressed hope that the Interlaken Declaration would not become a “dead letter,” but would serve as a compass to facilitate the sustainable use of AnGR. Poland, speaking for the European regional group, said the Interlaken Declaration was “highly significant” and that “everyone has a common interest and passion in securing a more sustainable future for AnGR.”
Thailand, on behalf of Asia, expressed satisfaction with the conference outcome, noting the Global Plan’s significance for the region and the importance of implementation at the country level. Canada, for North America, described the Global Plan as a “starting point” and “milestone,” underscoring the need for sustainable use and conservation of AnGR for food security, sustainable agriculture and agro-biological diversity. Argentina, for Latin America and the Caribbean, reiterated the importance of the Global Plan, which he said concluded a long period of negotiation.
Conference Chair Manfred Bötsch thanked delegates for their excellent spirit of openness and cooperation, which he labeled the “spirit of Interlaken.” He noted that discussions had not always been easy, but that they had certainly been productive. He said the Global Plan was an important step forward, and would provide a framework for future action. However, he added that there was still a long way to go to achieve the sustainable use, development and conservation of AnGR for food and agriculture, which he said would require political will and human and financial resources. He noted Switzerland’s commitment to this ongoing work, and that it was now “up to all of us” to move forward. He thanked participants, the FAO team for organizing the conference, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Norway and Spain for their financial contributions, the interpreters, the conference center staff, and the organizing Swiss team of François Pythoud, Barbara Rychen and their colleagues. He presented Irene Hoffmann of FAO with a Swiss bell that he had used to summon delegates to plenary sessions, to thank her for her contribution to this process.
Irene Hoffmann, FAO, said the development of the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources report and the Global Plan was the result of a long process, and she was delighted at the success of this conference. She thanked the organizers of side events and noted the “space” given at this conference for learning and networking, as well as for the negotiations. She thanked the Swiss Government, Manfred Bötsch for his effective chairing of the meeting, the CGRFA, and everyone involved, and looked forward to implementing the outcomes of this conference.
Clive Stannard, CGRFA, said this conference had launched a whole new series of activities that would play an important role at a critical time. He noted a desire to conduct similar work to review the state of the world’s genetic resources, expanding studies into other related fields. He thanked his colleagues at FAO and in the Swiss Government, and congratulated participants on a successful conference.
Chair Bötsch declared the conference closed at 2:35 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE INTERLAKEN CONFERENCE
The Interlaken Conference was the first intergovernmental meeting to focus exclusively on animal genetic resources. The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture warns of the serious erosion of livestock genetic diversity and resulting risks to food security and the livelihoods of over one billion people. It was up to delegates in Interlaken to reach agreement on a Global Plan of Action and a political Declaration to address these real and pressing problems.
The successful completion of the Global Plan and Interlaken Declaration provides a framework for future action, but did not resolve all of the issues on the table. As the meeting drew to a close, Conference Chair Manfred Bötsch labeled the outcome as one important step in the right direction. Bötsch was right. With major concerns over defining livestock keepers’ rights and questions over intellectual property yet to be addressed in any meaningful way, the Global Plan and Interlaken Declaration represent the beginning, not the culmination, of a challenging long-term process for countries and the FAO of sustainably managing the world’s animal genetic resources for food and agriculture. This analysis reviews the Conference’s two most contentious issues, which were financing and implementation, and provides commentary on the future challenges relating to livestock keepers’ rights and intellectual property rights.
FROM LEIPZIG TO INTERLAKEN AND BEYOND
Some participants observed the striking resemblance between Interlaken and the Leipzig Conference on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). Held in 1996, Leipzig launched the report on the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources, finalized the Global Plan of Action on PGRFA and adopted the Leipzig Declaration. This in turn ultimately led to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. Modeled on the Leipzig Conference, the Interlaken Conference aimed to achieve analogous outcome documents for animal genetic resources. Similarities also exist between the issues that were raised: both conferences focused particularly on financing, and while farmers’ rights and access and benefit sharing were contentious at Leipzig, livestock keepers’ rights and intellectual property rights were divisive in Interlaken. Yet despite the parallels, delegates in Interlaken were keen to emphasize the differences between protecting animal and plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. For instance, while publicly-owned gene banks hold comprehensive stocks of plant genetic resources, animal genetic resources are privately owned by livestock keepers. In addition, the challenge for plant genetic resources is controlling their removal, while for animal genetic resources the major problem is the introduction of exotic breeds. Such differences have led to commentators asking whether the Interlaken Conference is the start of a process that will culminate in an international treaty on animal genetic resources or whether another avenue is more appropriate.
FINANCING AND IMPLEMENTATION
Disagreements over financing are an inevitable part of multilateral environmental negotiations and this also proved to be the case in Interlaken. From the outset it was clear that there was a significant gulf between developed and developing countries. The document on implementation and financing forwarded to the Conference by the CGRFA was fully bracketed, reflecting developed countries’ reluctance to take on further commitments. This was evidenced by North America’s position at the start of the conference, calling into question whether a separate text on finance was necessary and, if it was, whether it should form a part of the Global Plan.
In Interlaken, two particular finance-related issues stood out. The first relates to whether there should be “new” or “additional” financial resources. North America and Europe’s opposition to “new” sources of funding stems from their reluctance to open up the possible establishment of new processes or institutions. Latin America, Africa and Asia reiterated their insistence at the eleventh regular session of CGRFA in June 2007 that without funding commitments from developed countries the Global Plan of Action would represent nothing more than a restatement of aims. According to many participants, the eventual compromise to remove any reference to “new” from the Global Plan, but to include it in the Interlaken Declaration, reflects the tacit understanding between North and South. While developed countries would not cede on language specifying the need for “new” mechanisms for funding in an action plan, developing countries required a strong statement in the political outcome (the Declaration) on the importance of addressing funding issues. The outcome was acceptable to North America and Europe and provides developing countries with the political leverage they require to access new funding.
The second major issue was trade-related. Australia, speaking for the South-West Pacific region, pushed for language limiting the ability of countries to provide domestic subsidies under the guise of incentives for the conservation of species “at risk.” The argument, which to some extent echoed WTO debates, arose over a section dealing with national and in situ conservation policies and programmes. India, Switzerland, Europe and Africa objected to North America, Australia, Iran, Argentina and Brazil’s calls for any reference to incentives to be qualified that they be “non-trade distorting.” The latter group’s insistence on the insertion was intended to deny countries the option of circumventing trade agreements under the guise of environmental payments. The final version of the text refers to consistency with existing international agreements, thus guaranteeing for Australia, North America and others that the Global Plan does not provide room for evading any trade obligations while allowing room for countries who decide to provide incentives for in situ conservation measures to do so under the exceptions contained in trade agreements.
LIVESTOCK KEEPERS’ RIGHTS
Unlike financing, one issue that did not receive as much of a focus as some felt it deserved was livestock keepers’ rights. The concept of livestock keepers’ rights is not internationally recognized and developed counties in particular were wary of creating rights and obligations in the absence of an accepted definition. This factor led to those advocating for the concept’s inclusion, such as Asia and the Near East, having to accept a watered down recognition of livestock keepers’ “contributions” to animal genetic resources and to “relevant rights that may exist at the national level.” This result did not please many civil society groups, for whom livestock keepers’ rights are a fundamental issue. To them, the guardians of much of the world’s animal genetic resources need to be protected and supported if the Global Plan is to have any meaningful impact on the ground. For some government and UN experts, though, the compromise text merely shows that the Global Plan is just one step forward, and that these issues are playing out in other forums, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity. “Those hoping for a definitive answer on this issue in Interlaken were always going to be disappointed,” said one veteran.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
Another topic that received little attention in Interlaken was the subject of intellectual property rights. Delegates agreed that the issue is more appropriately dealt with in forums such as the World Intellectual Property Organization. Accordingly, reference to these rights in relation to technology transfer was dropped from the Interlaken Declaration in favor of language stipulating that any transfer should be “consistent with relevant international obligations and relevant national laws.” However, most experts also agreed that this is a topic that cannot be pushed back indefinitely, given the advances of biotechnology and genetic sciences that are raising the importance of intellectual property rights for the future of animal genetic resources.
In Interlaken, as in Leipzig, the CGRFA launched a progressive agenda on genetic resources for food and agriculture. It has used a “State of the World” report to galvanize international efforts to conserve and sustainably use genetic resources, helped broker a Global Plan that balances a number of competing agendas and achieved what most view as a reasonably strong Declaration. It is a positive start to the Commission’s recently agreed multi-year programme of work and provides a solid basis for ongoing efforts in the area. All of this flies in the face of commentators who before the meeting had warned that the conference might be “premature.”
Yet countries are now responsible for the implementation of the Global Plan they have adopted and in this regard they face significant challenges. The Strategic Priorities set out in the Global Plan require major policy consideration at the national level, and despite the inclusion of a section on implementation and financing, developing countries expect difficulties in leveraging the necessary funding. Civil society groups excoriated the outcome for not being sensitive enough to the needs of small-scale livestock breeders in developing countries, the custodians of most of the world’s animal genetic resources for food and agriculture. The further articulation of the concept remains a significant challenge. At the same time, countries will be forced by the inexorable advance of technology to address the increasingly complex world of biotechnology and intellectual property rights. Related to these questions is the uncertainty of the future of the process, with different views on whether an international treaty is an obvious next step or an unnecessary distraction from the newly-adopted Global Plan.
Despite the positive outcome of the Conference, many major policy issues remain on the table. The public backing given by governments to the CGRFA has greatly increased the odds of it making a useful contribution to the resolution of these multifaceted issues. Considering the stakes for the future of the world’s animal genetic resources, there is still everything to play for.
WORLD GATHERING OF NOMADS AND TRANSHUMANT HERDERS: The World Gathering of Nomads and Transhumant Herders will take place from 8-16 September 2007, in Segovia, Spain. For more information, contact the Secretariat at: tel: +34-915-234-784; fax: +34-921-412-535; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.nomadassegovia2007.org/
FIFTH MEETING OF THE CBD AD HOC OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT SHARING: The fifth meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-Sharing will take place from 8-12 October 2007, in Montreal, Canada. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.cbd.int/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=ABSWG-05
FIFTH MEETING OF THE CBD WORKING GROUP ON ARTICLE 8(J): The fifth meeting of the CBD Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions will take place from 15-19 October 2007, in Montreal, Canada. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.cbd.int/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=WG8J-05
FOURTH MEETING OF THE WORKING GROUP ON LIABILITY AND REDRESS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOSAFETY: This meeting will take place from 22-26 October 2007, in Montreal, Canada. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.cbd.int/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=BSWGLR-04
SECOND SESSION OF THE ITPGR GOVERNING BODY: Organized by the FAO, the second session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture will be held from 28 October to 2 November 2007, in Rome, Italy. For more information, contact: Shakeel Bhatti, ITPGR Secretary; tel: +39-06-570-53057; fax: +39-06-570-56347; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.planttreaty.org
FIFTH TRONDHEIM CONFERENCE ON BIODIVERSITY: The fifth Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity will be held from 29 October - 2 November 2007, in Trondheim, Norway, under the theme “Ecosystems and people - biodiversity for development – the road to 2010 and beyond.” For more information, contact: Norway’s Directorate for Nature Management; tel: +47-73-58-05-00, fax: +47-73-58-05-01; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.trondheimconference.org/
SIXTH MEETING OF THE CBD AD HOC OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT-SHARING: The sixth meeting of the CBD Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-Sharing will meet from 21-25 January 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.cbd.int/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=ABSWG-06
SECOND MEETING OF THE CBD AD HOC OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP ON PROTECTED AREAS: The second meeting of the CBD Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Protected Areas will take place from 11-15 February 2008, in Rome, Italy. This meeting will consider future action on the Programme of Work on Protected Areas, including country reports on implementation and recommendations from a series of workshops. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/default.shtml
THIRTEENTH MEETING OF THE CBD SUBSIDIARY BODY FOR SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVICE: The 13th meeting of the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 13) will take place from 18-22 February 2008, in Rome, Italy. This meeting will review progress in the CBD’s implementation and address scientific and technical issues in relation to the Convention. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/default.shtml
CARTAGENA PROTOCOL COP/MOP 4: The fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP-4) will take place from 12-16 May 2008, in Bonn, Germany. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/default.shtml
NINTH CONFERENCE OF PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: CBD COP-9 will take place from 19-30 May 2008, in Bonn, Germany, including a high level segment from 28-30 May. The COP will consider, inter alia, progress in the implementation of the Programme of Work on Protected Areas and recommendations arising from the second Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Protected Areas. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.cbd.int/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=COP-09
TWENTY-THIRD WORLD POULTRY CONGRESS: WPC 2008 will take place from 29 June to 4 July 2008, in Brisbane, Australia. For more information, contact the Conference Secretariat; tel: +61-7-3858-5594; fax: +61-7-3858-5549; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.wpc2008.com/
FIFTH HORIZONS IN LIVESTOCK SCIENCES CONFERENCE: The fifth Horizons in Livestock Sciences conference will take place from 28-30 October 2008, in Christchurch, New Zealand. For more information, contact the Conference Secretariat: tel: +64-3-3253-661; fax: +64-3-3253-685; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.livestockhorizons.com/
TENTH WORLD CONFERENCE ON ANIMAL PRODUCTION: WCAP 2008 will take place from 23-28 November 2008, in Cape Town, South Africa. For more information, contact: WCAP 2008 Secretariat; tel: +27-12-420-3276; fax: +27-12-420-3290; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.wcap2008.co.za/
TWELFTH REGULAR SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE: CGRFA-12 will convene its twelfth regular session in Rome in the third or fourth quarter of 2009 (exact dates to be confirmed). For more information, contact Clive Stannard, Senior Liaison Officer, CGRFA Secretariat, tel: +39-06-570-55480; fax: +39-06-570-53057; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.fao.org/ag/cgrfa/default.htm