The thirteenth regular session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) was held 18-22 July 2011 at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy. It was attended by over 200 participants, including governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and international agricultural research centers.
After a week of lengthy contact group discussions, often late into the night, the meeting adopted the Second Global Plan of Action (GPA) on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA), a major milestone in the CGRFA Multi-year Programme of Work (MYPOW). CGRFA 13 also adopted a roadmap on climate change and GRFA and decided to establish an Ad Hoc Technical Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) for GRFA. Furthermore, the meeting considered: biotechnologies for the conservation and sustainable use of GRFA; cooperation with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and other international conventions and organizations; aquatic GR; biodiversity of micro-organisms and invertebrates for food and agriculture; targets and indicators; MYPOW implementation and review; and the Commission’s status and profile.
CGRFA 13 was preceded by a Special Information Seminar on Climate Change and GFRA, which sought to inform delegates about the role of GRFA in food security in the context of climate change, as well as for mitigation and adaptation. Panel presentations focused on: risks and opportunities of GRFA in the sectors of animal, plant, aquatic, forest, microorganism and invertebrate GR; and challenges and responses in integrating GRFA concerns in climate change activities at different levels. For more information about the seminar, see: http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/cgrfa13/html/ymbvol168num2e.html
Delegates leaving Rome felt that the meeting had been a success, particularly in view of the action to be taken by the Commission on climate change and ABS. With respect to the last minute conclusion of the GPA and the very heavy agenda, some noted, however, that the Commission is experiencing growing pains as it continues the expansion of its activities into all sectors of GRFA management and new challenges, such as climate change and ABS implementation.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CGRFA
The FAO Commission on Plant Genetic Resources was established in 1983. Renamed the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in 1995, it currently comprises 173 countries and the European Community. The Commission’s main objectives are to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of GRFA, as well as the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use.
The Commission develops and monitors the Global System on Plant Genetic Resources and the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal GR. It also facilitates cooperation between the FAO and other relevant bodies on GRFA policy issues, including the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Its regular sessions are held every two years and extraordinary sessions are convened when necessary. The Commission also maintains three subsidiary bodies, the Intergovernmental Technical Working Groups (ITWGs) on plant, animal and forest GR to address specific issues in these sectors.
PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES: The development of the Global System on Plant Genetic Resources began in 1983. The Global System contains two key elements: the Report on the State of the World’s (SoW) PGRFA and the GPA for the conservation and sustainable utilization of PGRFA. The first Report on the State of the World’s PGRFA was presented at the fourth International Technical Conference held in Leipzig, Germany, in 1996. The GPA, adopted through the Leipzig Declaration, comprises a set of activities covering capacity building and in situ and ex situ conservation of PGRFA. The Global System also includes: the non-binding International Undertaking (IU) on PGRFA; the International Code of Conduct for Plant Germplasm Collecting and Transfer; gene bank standards and guidelines; the draft code of conduct on biotechnology; crop and thematic networks; the international network of ex situ collections; and the World Information and Early Warning System.
ITPGR: The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) entered into force on 29 June 2004. With 127 parties to date, the ITPGR is a legally-binding instrument that targets the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA and equitable benefit-sharing for sustainable agriculture and food security. The ITPGR establishes a Multilateral System (MLS) of ABS, which facilitates access to a specified list of PGRFA, balanced by benefit-sharing in the areas of information exchange, technology transfer, capacity building and commercial development. The list of crops contained in Annex I defines the scope of the MLS, and includes 35 crop genera and 29 forage species.
The Treaty negotiations were based on the revision of the non-binding IU. The IU was originally founded on the principle that PGRFA should be “preserved … and freely available for use” under the principle of “common heritage of mankind.” This principle was subsequently subjected to “the sovereignty of states over their plant GR,” according to FAO Resolution 3/91. In April 1993, the CGRFA decided that the IU should be revised to be in harmony with the CBD. Negotiations spanned more than seven years. The last remaining issues were resolved at the 121st FAO Council meeting and at an Open-ended Working Group held under its auspices in Rome in October-November 2001. On 3 November 2001, the 31st FAO Conference adopted the ITPGR.
ANIMAL GENETIC RESOURCES: Initiated in 1993, the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal GR provides a technical and operational framework for assisting countries. It comprises: an intergovernmental mechanism for policy development; a country-based global infrastructure to help states 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 and facilitate collaboration. A communication and information tool, called the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System, assists in the Strategy’s implementation.
CGRFA 9: The ninth session of the CGRFA, held in Rome, Italy, in October 2002, addressed issues related to animal and plant GR, including development of the first SoW report on animal GR, and implementation and monitoring of the GPA on PGRFA. Delegates also revised the interim Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) between the international agricultural research centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the FAO, and considered the status of the draft code of conduct on biotechnology.
CGRFA 10: At its tenth session, in Rome in November 2004, the Commission agreed to hold an international technical conference on animal GR in 2007 to mark the completion of the first report on the SoW report on animal GR. Regarding its future work, the Commission requested the Secretariat to prepare a MYPOW for submission to CGRFA 11, with a view to implementing the Commission’s full mandate in the medium and long term, which would include: a study on the status and needs of forestry, fishery and microbial GR; biodiversity for food and agriculture; the agro-ecosystem approach to genetic resource conservation; and cross-sectoral matters.
CGRFA 11: At its eleventh session, in Rome in June 2007, the Commission agreed on most of the major outputs and milestones of a MYPOW for the Commission, which spans its next five regular sessions. Delegates also agreed to forward to the International Technical Conference on Animal GR, the draft Interlaken Declaration on Animal GR and the elements of a GPA for animal GR, incorporating priority activity areas (PAAs).
FIRST INTERNATIONAL TECHNICAL CONFERENCE ON ANIMAL GR: The first International Technical Conference on Animal GR took place from 3-7 September 2007, in Interlaken, Switzerland. The meeting was divided into three parts: a forum on the scientific aspects of Animal GR; a presentation of the SoW on Animal GR; and negotiations on and adoption of the GPA for Animal GR and the Interlaken Declaration on Animal GR.
CGRFA 12: At its twelfth session, in Rome in October 2009, the Commission: adopted its new rules of procedure, the Strategic Plan for MYPOW implementation, and a resolution on policies and arrangements for ABS for GRFA; agreed to the funding strategy for the implementation of the GPA for Animal GR; approved the outline of the SoW on forest GR; and agreed to create an Intergovernmental Technical Working Group (ITWG) on Forest GR.
CBD COP 10: The tenth Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which convened in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010, adopted the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization. The Protocol recognizes the special nature of GFRA. It also recognizes the ITPGR as specialized regime for ABS with regard to selected PGRFA and provides flexibility for the future development of specialized regimes for specific types or utilizations of GR.
CGRFA 13 REPORT
The thirteenth regular session of the CGRFA opened on Monday, 18 July 2011, at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. Welcoming delegates, FAO Deputy Director-General for Knowledge Ann Tutwiler commended the CGRFA’s work and the role of the ITPGR in addressing climate change challenges, pests and diseases. She highlighted the importance of: ABS; the updated GPA on PGRFA; the SoW reports on forest and aquatic GR; and communication.
In a video message, M.S. Swaminathan, Chair of the FAO High-level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on Food Security and Nutrition, emphasized CGRFA 13’s role in relation to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially in reducing hunger and poverty by half by 2015. He also highlighted the four C’s: conservation, cultivation, consumption and commercialization.
On behalf of CBD Executive Secretary, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Valérie Normand, CBD, described the CBD’s cooperation with the FAO, especially the revised joint work programme with the CGRFA for 2011-2020, consistent with the CBD Strategic Plan 2011-2020. She stressed that the Nagoya Protocol gives priority to specialized regimes that are consistent with the CBD and recognizes the importance of GRFA for food security, poverty alleviation and climate change.
ITPGR Secretary Shakeel Bhatti addressed areas of collaboration with the CGRFA, including ABS for PGRFA, and supporting components of the ITPGR. He reported that the fourth session of the ITPGR Governing Body had requested a paper on the legal, administrative and financial implications of transferring activities from CGRFA to ITPGR for a functional division of tasks.
Linda Collette, CGRFA Secretary, highlighted challenges to be undertaken by CGRFA 13, including crosscutting issues such as ABS, biotechnology and climate change. She underscored the relevance of developing and reinforcing the Commission’s links beyond the international agriculture arena. She welcomed Lao PDR as the Commission’s 173rd member state.
CGRFA Chair Javad Mozafari Hashjin (Iran) said that GRFA are key to addressing many of the world’s problems, in particular climate change. Reporting on the special information seminar on climate change and GRFA, he called for, inter alia: enhancing conservation and knowledge of GR; further use of traditional knowledge on GRFA in adapting to climate change; and communicating the relevance of GRFA for coping with climate change to the international community.
Delegates adopted the agenda and timetable (CGRFA-13/11/1 and 2), with two amendments: moving forward agenda item 3.1 on updating the GPA for PGRFA to Monday afternoon and deferring discussion on aquatic GR to Wednesday, as requested by the Latin American and the Caribbean Group (GRULAC).
In their opening statements, all regions stressed the importance of adopting the GPA for PGRFA at this session. The Dominican Republic, for GRULAC, called for appropriate funding for GPA implementation and making the connection to adaptation to climate change. The Czech Republic, for the European Regional Group, except the Russian Federation (ERG), welcomed discussions on aquatic GR, the funding strategy and a roadmap for work on climate change. Senegal, for Africa, called for cooperation between developing and developed countries to address climate change and the food crisis. Yemen, for the Near East, stressed the importance of a mechanism for GPA implementation, and called for a working group on aquatic GR.
This report summarizes the discussions on the issues addressed by CGRFA in the order in which they were addressed. Unless otherwise noted, agenda items were concluded in a single reading in plenary.
MULTI-YEAR PROGRAMME OF WORK
CROSS-SECTORIAL MATTERS: Biotechnologies for CGRFA Conservation: On Monday, the Secretariat presented relevant documentation (CGRFA-13/11/3 and Inf.8; and Background Study Paper No. 52).
Many delegates welcomed the information presented. Ecuador opposed reference to the “comparative advantages” of biotechnology over traditional technologies. The ERG requested adding text regarding “harnessing and sharing benefits” of GR, and to delete text on, inter alia: sector-specific standards and technical protocols for molecular characterization.
On biotechnology activities, the Near East proposed, inter alia, capacity building and conducting a comprehensive survey, particularly on molecular techniques. Tonga, for the Southwest Pacific, highlighted the need to enhance capacities to evaluate germplasm at the molecular level. The US and Canada suggested that FAO focus on technical capacity building, rather than policy formulation on biotechnology use.
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) expressed concern regarding the emphasis on ex situ conservation and the focus on molecular biotechnology. During the closing plenary, the ERG suggested deletion of a paragraph requesting FAO to develop draft sector-specific guidelines for the molecular characterization of GRFA to generate comparable data for consideration by the ITWGs to prepare sector-specific analysis on the investments, returns and impacts of biotechnologies for GRFA. The Southwest Pacific, supported by GRULAC, proposed as a compromise solution to retain reference to the guidelines and delete the request concerning to prepare an analysis on the investments, returns and impacts of biotechnologies for GRFA. Africa and Near East initially opposed, but eventually delegates agreed to adopt the text as amended.
On a draft code of conduct on biotechnology, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina opposed developing a draft code of conduct on biotechnology for characterization, conservation and utilization. Brazil, Argentina and the US preferred developing voluntary guidelines instead. The ERG agreed to defer drafting a code of conduct, considering that standards and protocols will be overrun by the rapid pace of scientific and technological development.
On how to address biotechnology under the MYPOW, Yemen, for the Near East, suggested considering biotechnology as a major component in the MYPOW. Canada said that biotechnology is already a milestone in the MYPOW and that there is no need to raise the profile of the issue. During Wednesday and Thursday a small group on biotechnology met to address this issue. Some parties supported, in line with recommendations put forward by the ITWGs, addressing biotechnology under each sector-specific issue in the MYPOW. However, other parties preferred to consider it as a cross-sectorial matter and have specific milestones on biotechnology. During the closing plenary, the Chair of the small group, Shri Trivedi (India), reported that the small group had reached consensus. Delegates agreed to include biotechnology as a cross-sectorial matter in a milestone to review the work on biotechnology for GRFA by the ITWGs.
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission requests FAO to:
- increase its efforts to strengthen developing countries’ capacities in the development and appropriate use of biotechnologies for GRFA;
- strengthen the dissemination of updated factual information;
- explore mechanisms for future cooperation, for harnessing and sharing the benefits of biotechnologies for the characterization, conservation and utilization of GRFA; and
- develop draft sector-specific guidelines for selected sectors for the molecular characterization of GRFA to generate comparable data for consideration by the ITWGs.
Concerning its future work on the application of biotechnologies, the Commission further agrees that biotechnology-related issues be retained in the MYPOW as a cross-sectorial matter.
Climate Change and CGRFA: On Monday, the Secretariat introduced relevant documentation (CGRFA 13/11/4 and Inf.10, and Background Study Papers Nos. 53 to 57).
Many parties highlighted the relevant role of GRFA in addressing climate change impacts. Cuba, for GRULAC, stressed the need to enhance GRFA’s role and visibility in the climate change process, while respecting the mandates of each international process. Argentina cautioned against duplication of work and, with Canada, opposed text suggesting that the Commission members encourage national representatives to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to include agricultural considerations and the management of GRFA.
On a climate change roadmap, the ERG requested the Secretariat to provide information on the financial implications of a road map, while Canada preferred developing a work programme rather than a roadmap.
On guidance and other climate change and GRFA issues, the Southwest Pacific highlighted the need for local solutions and capacity building to make adequate use of GRFA. ITPGR Secretary Bhatti commented that the ITPGR’s Multilateral System for ABS creates a global system of the world’s most important food crops and that its Benefit-sharing Fund invests in high impact projects to ensure global crop diversity and on-farm adaptation to climate change. Africa suggested further cooperation efforts with relevant institutions and the adoption of mechanisms to support the conservation of wild species by farmers. Brazil said that guidelines for the implementation of the ecosystem approach in agricultural systems should be adapted to countries’ circumstances. The Global Crop Diversity Trust reported on its work on screening collections for crops adapted to climate change. IFOAM stressed the importance of having many small and medium-sized breeders and the implementation of the ecosystem approach through low-input high-output farming.
During the closing plenary, GRULAC highlighted discussions held during CGRFA 13 on the key role of GRFA in adapting to climate change, and suggested including text stating that: “the Commission recognizes the relevant role that GRFA may play for adaptation to the consequences of climate change in supporting the efforts to achieve food security in the future.” The ERG agreed but suggested adding text referring to the potential GRFA have to mitigate climate change. Eventually delegates reached agreement and referred to: “the Commission recognizes the relevant role that GRFA play for adaptation to the consequences of climate change in supporting the efforts to achieve food security now and in the future. The GRFA have also a potential to contribute to mitigation of climate change.”
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission requests its Secretary to transmit the background study papers to the HLPE for Food Security and Nutrition and to participate and raise awareness of GRFA and climate change in the international arena, such as in the CBD, UNFCCC and Rio+ 20 processes.
The Commission further:
- agrees on the need for a roadmap or work programme on climate change and GRFA, requesting the Secretary to develop it for consideration at CGRFA 14 based on the elements outlined in Appendix 2.2 that include: strategies and policies; tools and technologies; forging partnerships; and monitoring progress;
- agrees it would be implemented through an integrated approach and consider sectoral and regional needs;
- encourages its members to consider information about the importance of including the management of GRFA in planning and implementing their national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) and nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs);
- acknowledges the role of indigenous and local communities and smallholder farmers in the conservation of GRFA with regards to wild relatives; and
- requests FAO to compile information on hotspots of biodiversity for food and agriculture that are under particular threat, and reinforce existing partnerships and forge new ones.
Access and Benefit-Sharing: This issue was discussed in plenary on Tuesday and Wednesday. An informal group met Tuesday evening to prepare revised text. The Secretariat introduced CGRFA-13/11/5 and Background Study Paper No. 59, underscoring the provisions relevant for GRFA of the Nagoya Protocol, including its recognition of the special character of GRFA and the ITPGR, as well as the ample scope to develop specialized international agreements in different sectors.
The discussion focused on whether the CGRFA should establish a subsidiary body or other working group to discuss policies and measures for ABS implementation in GRFA sectors, based on two options: one requesting the Secretariat to monitor the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, develop mechanisms for inclusion of GRFA policies on ABS and analyze the need for further instruments on ABS for GRFA; and a second option providing for the establishment of an open-ended Ad Hoc subsidiary body on ABS for GRFA, and its terms of reference. The discussion revealed that delegates agreed in principle that the Commission should take action at this meeting towards the identification of specific measures and mechanisms for ABS implementation for CGRFA and to establish a working group, but views initially diverged over the group’s title and nature, as well as its terms of reference.
Canada proposed identification of approaches for differential treatment of GRFA, and encouraged the Commission to focus on ABS for animal GR. The European Union (EU) called for distinct solutions, agreeing to analyze the need for specialized international tools on GRFA. GRULAC suggested including reference to harmony with the CBD and its relevant instruments. Yemen called for funding and technical support for national implementation of ABS and suggested the Commission focus on ABS for aquatic GR. Bhutan called for capacity building and guidance for ABS implementation in GRFA sectors.
Bioversity International noted that the centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) would continue to contribute expertise for ABS implementation. The International Seed Federation called for stakeholder involvement in ABS implementation.
On Wednesday, delegates approved the revised text after agreeing to an amendment proposed by the US that the Commission “notes” rather than “welcomes” the Nagoya Protocol.
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission notes the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol, and notes with appreciation that it, inter alia, recognizes the special nature of agriculture biodiversity, and its distinctive features and problems, needing distinctive solutions. It invites members to explore and assess, in the development of legislative, administrative and policy measures on ABS, sectoral approaches that allow for differential treatment of different sectors or sub-sectors of GR.
The Commission decides to establish an Ad Hoc Technical Working Group on ABS for GRFA and agrees to consider the need for modalities of ABS arrangements for GRFA at CGRFA 14 taking into account the outcomes of the Working Group.
The appended terms of reference for the Working Group sets out the scope of work, and composition of the group, officers, and reporting arrangements. On the scope of work, the terms of reference state that the group shall: identify relevant distinctive features of the different GRFA sectors and sub-sectors that require distinctive solutions; taking into account these identified features, develop options to guide and assist countries in developing legislative, administrative and policy measures that accommodate these features; and analyze possible modalities for addressing ABS for GRFA, taking into account the full range of options, including those presented in the Nagoya Protocol.
PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE: Updated Global Plan of Action: Delegates discussed the updated GPA in plenary on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and in a contact group from Monday to Thursday based on working document CGRFA-13/11/6. CGRFA Secretary Collette urged the Commission to finalize the GPA to enable the FAO Council to approve it in November 2011. Brad Fraleigh (Canada), Chair of the ITWG on PGRFA, outlined the working group’s recommendations (CGRFA-13/11/8), and outstanding work. The contact group comprised of up to five speakers per region and was co-chaired by Brad Fraleigh (Canada) and Embaye Kassahun (Ethiopia).
In the contact group, delegates first heard general statements. GRULAC expressed concern that a number of the region’s priorities regarding the funding strategy had not been reflected in the text. The ERG called for reference to provisions of the ITPGR and to climate change and noted that implementation should be subject to financial resources, as appropriate. Delegates then considered the provisions of the draft updated GPA that had not been addressed by the ITWG, paragraph by paragraph, starting in the section on sustainable use.
On Tuesday, delegates completed a first reading of the priority activity areas (PAAs) related to sustainable use, namely: expanding characterization, evaluation and further development of specific collection subsets to facilitate use; supporting plant breeding, genetic enhancement and base-broadening efforts; promoting diversification of crop production and broadening crop diversity for sustainable agriculture; and promoting development and commercialization of plant varieties, farmer varieties and underutilized species. Following repeated debates about references to breeders, farmer breeders and farmers, delegates agreed to simply refer to breeders and farmers throughout the text; and in other provisions they agreed to refer to breeding programmes rather than breeders. Delegates further agreed to refer only to “support for diversification programmes,” and not to “non-trade-distorting incentives,” as well as to “underutilized seeds” and not to “neglected seeds.” Delegates debated references to formal and farmers’ seed systems, and to regulated and unregulated systems. Others proposed to refer to “formal” and “informal” systems. Delegates eventually agreed to refer to “different” seed systems. Rather than making specific mention of “farmer produced and/or saved seeds,” delegates agreed to mention “all seeds” and specifically refer to seed conservation. Delegates also agreed to delete references to intellectual property rights, but to refer to plant breeders’ rights and farmers’ rights as per ITPGR Article 9. Delegates considered the outstanding PAAs paragraph by paragraph throughout the following days.
On Thursday afternoon, the GPA contact group discussed the role and importance of the Treaty’s Benefit-sharing Fund to the GPA, debating whether or not the GPA should have a separate funding strategy. Noting that the Benefit-sharing Fund has received contributions of US$10 million, some questioned the establishment of yet another funding strategy, while others asserted that the GPA needs its own dedicated funds. Some expressed confusion over whether or not the Benefit-sharing Fund could only support Annex 1 crops; it was later clarified that the fund was for all crops, including under-utilized ones. After going through the text that had not been addressed by the ITWG on PGRFA, delegates revisited outstanding text in the entire document. Delegates preferred referring to “stakeholders” instead of “rural people” or “farmer breeders.” On a paragraph dealing with the establishment of information systems to identify and obtain appropriate germplasm for reintroduction, delegates addressed an outstanding proposal referring to the provision of arrangements for repatriation of PGRFA. Some regional groups supported reference to “repatriation,” while another group suggested, and delegates eventually agreed, to refer to “restoration and reintroduction.”
In the closing plenary, contact group Co-Chair Fraleigh reported that following many sessions, the contact group had reached full agreement on all parts of the draft updated GPA on PGRFA. Recalling that FAO had delegated the power to adopt the updated GPA to the FAO Council, he further proposed a draft resolution for adoption at its session in November 2011. Following Chair Mozafari’s invitation, the CGRFA then agreed to the updated GPA on PGRFA en bloc. GRULAC thanked the contact group for their hard work and called for a genuine commitment and the provision of sufficient financial resources for the implementation of the updated GPA. Delegates applauded the contact group and Stefano Diulgheroff, CGRFA Secretariat, for their hard work in bringing this process to a successful conclusion.
Delegates further agreed to make additions to the text of the draft resolution: recommending approval of the updated GPA to the FAO Council; reporting to CGRFA 15 on the results of the assessments on implementation of the updated GPA; and undertaking assessment of the achievements, gaps, financial and other needs at CGRFA-15. Delegates also agreed to rename the updated GPA as the “Second GPA.”
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission adopts the appended resolution on the Second GPA, which in turn is appended to the resolution. In the resolution, the Commission agrees with the Second GPA and invites the Director-General of FAO to bring this resolution to the attention of the FAO Council at its forthcoming meeting in November 2011. The Commission further invites the ITPGR Governing Body to: provide in its report on the funding strategy, an assessment of its achievements, gaps, and financial and other needs for the implementation of an updated GPA, to strengthen the Funding Strategy and especially its Benefit-sharing Fund; and inform CGRFA 14 of the progress achieved and CGRFA 15 of the results of the above assessments. Finally, the Commission agrees to undertake an assessment of the achievements, gaps and financial and other needs for the implementation of the Second GPA at CGRFA 15.
The Second GPA contains sections on the: implementation of the GPA; rationale for the Second GPA; aims and strategies of the GPA; and structure and organization of the GPA. The main part of the Second GPA is comprised of 18 PAAs under four separate categories. The category on in situ conservation and management groups together PPAs on: surveying and inventorying PGRFA; supporting on-farm management and improvement of PGRFA; assisting farmers in disaster situations to restore crop systems; and promoting in situ management of crop wild relatives and wild food plants. The category on ex situ conservation comprises PAAs on: supporting targeted collecting of PGRFA; sustaining and expanding ex situ conservation of germplasm; and regenerating and multiplying ex situ accessions.
The category on sustainable use consists of PAAs on: expanding the characterization, evaluation and further development of specific collection subsets to facilitate use; supporting plant breeding, genetic enhancement and base-broadening efforts; promoting diversification of crop production and broadening crop diversity for sustainable agriculture; promoting development and commercialization of farmers’ varieties/landraces and underutilized species; and supporting seed production and distribution. The last category on building sustainable institutional and human capacities comprises PAAs on: building and strengthening national programmes; promoting and strengthening networks for PGRFA; constructing and strengthening comprehensive information systems for PGRFA; developing and strengthening systems for monitoring and safeguarding genetic diversity and minimizing genetic erosion of PGRFA; building and strengthening human resource capacity; and promoting and strengthening public awareness on the importance of PGRFA. The last section of the updated GPA deals with its implementation and financing.
Cooperation with the ITPGR: On Tuesday, CGRFA Secretary Linda Collette introduced the document on policy coherence and complementarity of the work of the CGRFA and the Governing Body of the ITPGR (CGRFA-13/11/7), noting that it sets out key activities of both bodies and the current institutional framework. ITPGR Secretary Shakeel Bhatti reiterated that the Governing Body had reviewed a similar paper and had requested further information on the legal, administrative and financial implications of transfer of activities from the CGRFA to the ITPGR.
Delegates discussed three different options regarding whether or how PGRFA related activities should be transferred from the Commission to the ITPGR Governing Body. The EU, Canada, Ecuador, Australia, Kenya and others called for further consideration of the legal, administrative and financial implications of the options presented. The first option to enhance the ongoing cooperation framework was supported by Argentina, Africa, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Yemen, Mexico, the US, the Republic of Korea and Brazil, with many noting that the bodies have distinct roles and different membership. Practical Action called for the Commission to continue its leadership across all GRFA.
The option of a case-by-case gradual transfer of specific tasks and activities to the Governing Body was supported by the EU, Australia, Cuba and Malaysia, with the latter suggesting that the ITPGR Governing Body is better placed to focus on certain specific issues.
The final option of transfer of all PGRFA activities from the Commission to the Governing Body was supported by Canada, noting that the Commission should keep cross-sectorial matters such as ABS within its purview.
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission takes note of ITPGR Governing Body Resolution 8/2011 and requests the CGRFA Secretariat to provide, in collaboration with the ITPGR Secretariat, a paper on the legal, administrative and financial implications of transferring activities or tasks related to PGRFA from the CGRFA to the ITPGR. The Commission further requests its Bureau to continue, in collaboration with the ITPGR Bureau, to explore options for close cooperation between the Commission and the ITPGR Governing Body.
Progress in Implementation: On Tuesday, delegates considered several issues relating to progress in implementation. On the draft revised genebank standards for orthodox seeds (CGRFA-13/11/9), the North American Region, supported by the EU, requested development of further standards for non-orthodox seeds and germplasm and, supported by Yemen and Iraq, that the additional standards and the current draft of the genebank standards be reviewed by the ITWG on PGRFA. The EU urged adoption of the current draft genebank standards at this meeting.
Delegates also discussed follow-up activities related to PGRFA on the basis of CGRFA 12 recommendations (CGRFA-13/11/10), including: national information-sharing mechanisms; strengthening of plant breeding capacities (CGRFA-13/11/Inf.12); strengthening of seed systems (CGRFA-13/11/Inf.13); and options to promote food security through on-farm management and in situ conservation of PGRFA (Background Study Paper No. 51).
The EU noted that the nature of any information-sharing mechanism depends on the future division of tasks between the Commission and the Treaty and, with Canada, requested that the Commission continue collaborating with the Treaty Secretariat to avoid duplication. Ecuador requested that funding for the information sharing mechanism be included in the FAO’s regular budget to avoid repeated requests for extra-budgetary funding. Kenya suggested strengthening synergies among existing information systems and networks at the regional level.
On strengthening plant breeding capacities and seed systems, the EU encouraged governments, NGOs and the seed sector to recognize the importance of long-term support and funding for plant breeding research. Angola supported the use of locally adapted material. The Southwest Pacific highlighted the need for capacity building, support for regional networks and technical assistance at the local level. The Near East underscored the need to strengthen capacity and support for breeding activities and funding for GPA implementation in developing countries.
Regarding in situ and on-farm conservation, the EU requested the identification of indicators of diversity to establish and monitor changes in diversity at a national, regional and global level, while Ecuador prioritized on-farm conservation, and expressed reservations regarding the establishment of a global network due to lack of clarity on its sustainability and added value.
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission: commends the technical quality of the draft genebank standards; requests FAO to provide draft standards on “evaluation” to achieve more comprehensiveness; and recommends inputs to the document be provided through an electronic consultation prior to CGRFA 14. The Commission further requests FAO to: prepare draft genebank standards for germplasm not covered by the revised genebank standards for the conservation of orthodox seeds; and the ITWG to finalize both for consideration of endorsement by CGRFA 14.
On follow-up to other recommendations regarding PGRFA, the Commission stresses the need to continue to advance the Facilitating Mechanism in collaboration with the ITPGR, calling for extra-budgetary resources to further advance its operation after considering its further development.
The Commission: stresses the importance of National Information Sharing Mechanisms (NISMs) for supporting informed decision-making and the need to further advance them; urges governments and donors to provide extra-budgetary resources; and requests the CGRFA Secretary to collaborate with the ITPGR Secretary to further elaborate the vision paper on the Global Information System.
On strengthening plant breeding and seed systems, the Commission agrees to the organization of a global consultation on plant breeding, calling for extra-budgetary resources, and requests FAO to continue to provide technical and policy assistance to strengthen seed sector development.
Regarding on-farm management and in situ conservation, the Commission recognizes the importance of establishing a global network on the issue and requests FAO to elaborate on the means and opportunities for such a global network for CGRFA consideration.
AQUATIC GENETIC RESOURCES: On Wednesday, Matthias Halwart, FAO, briefed delegates on the preparation for publication of the SoW report on Aquatic GR (CGRFA-13/11/11), noting that the knowledge base for aquatic genetics resources is less developed than that for animal GR. The ERG recommended the SoW report: enable stronger policy and planning, including elements relating to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries; report on gaps in the management of aquatic GR; limit the number of thematic studies; and focus on food security.
Argentina, for the G-77/China, asked to delete text suggesting coverage of aquatic GR in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction, emphasizing the “primary competence” of the UN General Assembly in this area and noting that the UN General Assembly would address the issues, including benefit-sharing, under a separate process. He further insisted that the inputs for the SoW report should be provided by states only, and not by international organizations, NGOs and “others.”
The Near East suggested establishing an ad hoc technical working group to work on the SoW report. The US recommended that the SoW report: include cultured aquatic species and their wild relatives that have significant importance for trade and food security; exclude algae and micro-organisms; limit thematic studies; and provide recommendations on how countries can “capture and preserve” GR. He proposed the SoW report be finalized before elements related to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries aimed at maintaining a broad genetic basis and ensuring sustainable use and conservation of aquatic GR. Russia supported providing guidelines and standards for the preparation of country reports for its analysis. Australia suggested focusing on priority areas that relate to food security.
On Thursday, the Secretariat distributed revised text on aquatic GR and delegates agreed to consult further and discuss it in the closing plenary.
On Friday, an informal contact group met throughout the day to address outstanding issues. Difficulties persisted regarding two issues: whether marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction could be included in the SoW, and whether country reports should be the “primary source of data” for the SoW, with some countries stressing they lack capacity to undertake stakeholder consultations as invited in the proposed text, and others suggesting that countries themselves, rather than the FAO, should be the ones to invite and manage expert contributions. Uncertainty was also expressed regarding the inclusion of wild relatives of cultured species in the SoW report. During the closing plenary, delegates heard a report of the Chair of the informal consultations. Due to lack of agreement on substantive issues, delegates agreed to simply request FAO to continue its work on aquatic GR, focusing initially on cultured aquatic species and to come back to the issue at CGRFA 14.
Final Outcome:In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission requests FAO to continue its work towards the preparation of the SoW report, by focusing initially on cultured aquatic species, adding that CGRFA 14 will provide guidance on further work, and requests the Secretariat to adjust the MYPOW in accordance with the decision.
PROGRESS IN OTHER AREAS OF MYPOW: Forest Genetic Resources: On Tuesday, the Chair of the ITWG on forest GR, Tore Skroppa (Norway), reported on the ITWG’s first meeting (CGRFA/13/11/12) that provided input on the format and timing of country reports to inform the SoW report on forest GR to be considered by CGRFA 14, noting that once it was completed, a next step could be consideration of a GPA on forest GR. The CGRFA Secretariat then presented the guidelines for preparation of country reports and workshops to build capacity of national focal points for report preparation (CGRFA/13/11/Inf.15).
Canada declined to support an international technical conference to launch the SoW report on forest GR. Chile, Ecuador and India requested that funds be made available to allow countries to complete high-quality reports as scheduled. Africa called for increasing awareness for both in situ and ex situ conservation and support for countries to produce their national reports on time. Norway called on countries to provide additional resources for country reports on forest GR. Japan noted earlier agreement to use existing financial resources for this purpose. The ERG prioritized: country reports on forest GR by 1 January 2012; study of biotic and abiotic impacts of climate change; and close coordination of information systems.
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission:
- urges countries to nominate national focal points to ensure the delivery of country reports for the SoW report on forest GR;
- agrees to move the deadline for submission of country reports to 1 January 2012;
- requests FAO to: provide regular programme funds to support the preparation of the SoW report on forest GR, including the preparation of country reports; and prepare a synthesis paper on priority areas for action based on country reports for regional consultations; and
- requests its ITWG on forest GR to meet prior to CGRFA 14 to review the first SoW draft report and priority areas for action.
Animal Genetic Resources: On Wednesday, François Pythoud (Switzerland), ITWG Chair on animal GR, and Irene Hoffmann, FAO, reported progress on implementing the GPA (CGRFA-13/1/15). They highlighted: FAO’s five sets of technical guidelines on conserving animal GR; the launch of the first call for project proposals; the need for multi-country conservation activities including gene banking; and indicators of diversity in domestic animals.
GRULAC, supported by the North American region, opposed the terminology of “native” and “non-native” breeds in the ITWG report, preferring definitions adopted at the International Technical Conference on Animal GR (Interlaken, 2007), namely “local,” “regional transboundary,” and “international transboundary” breeds. The US called for dialogue on the international exchange of animal GR.
Africa and Asia called for the re-establishment of regional focal points, while the ERG called for national strategies and progress reports. Canada supported work on indicators and resources for the four priority activity areas in the GPA and increasing compatibility between the FAO and regional databases. Nigeria requested special attention to small-scale livestock keepers and nomads, while the League for Pastoral Peoples requested prioritization of projects for bio-cultural community protocols, pointing to the importance of highly-adapted livestock breeds, such as camels.
Many delegates supported a set of draft technical guidelines for GPA implementation (CGRFA-13/11/16), with Yemen and Mauritania emphasising the need for regional and national implementation, and greater focus on capacity building, respectively. Germany announced additional funding of around US$700,000 to the Trust Account for animal GR, boosting existing funds of US$450,000 from Switzerland and Norway. Following discussion of the current project limit of US$50,000, delegates agreed to consider a budget ceiling of US$100,000 for multi-country projects, while Africa and GRULAC emphasized the need for specific funding for GPA implementation.
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission appeals to all FAO members and funders to provide predictable resources, and endorses the five FAO technical guidelines on animal GR, requesting: wide distribution of the technical guidelines; further development of the FAO’s information system on breed data; technical protocols for the exchange of animal GR, including gene banking; and capacity building activities that emphasize the impacts of climate change, the important roles of small-scale livestock keepers and pastoralists, and well-adapted species such as camels. It requests the ITWG to discuss measures to facilitate exchange of genetic material among countries.
Regarding the funding strategy for implementation of the GPA, the Commission: requests FAO to announce the first call for proposals; agrees to limit proposals to one per country; agrees to limit additional maximum allocation per project to US$50,000 for single-country projects and US$100,000 for bilateral, regional or multilateral projects; and encourages regional focal points and submissions of multi-country projects.
Micro-organism Genetic Resources: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the issue (CGRFA-13/11/17), describing the review process for key issues scheduled for CGRFA 14.
The ERG, recommended, inter alia, the development of comprehensive information material and the strengthening of linkages with existing initiatives and institutions working on the issue. Indonesia suggested that the use of indigenous micro-organisms as bio-fertilizers in wetland agriculture, such as rice production, could be an adaptation response to climate change and should be promoted through capacity building. She supported the preparation of a SoW report on micro-organisms. Iraq, supported by Brazil, proposed an ITWG on micro-organisms, and called for a work programme and financial and technical support to improve national capacities.
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission: reiterates the need to continue, together with relevant international organizations and scientific institutions, to advance work on the issue; stresses the importance of FAO’s efforts in the areas of pollinators and soil biodiversity; and agrees to consider, in the future, preparation of global assessments of micro-organisms and invertebrates and the possible establishment of an ITWG on micro-organisms and invertebrate GR.
Targets and Indicators: On Wednesday, the Secretariat briefed delegates on targets and indicators for biodiversity for food and agriculture (CGRFA-13/11/18), highlighting potential contributions of the Commission to the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Canada, supported by the EU, requested development of policy-relevant, higher-order indicators that are sensitive to changes.
The EU called for: further work on food diversity, including nutrition indicators; and strengthening cooperation on GRFA indicators with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). Argentina expressed concern about the general application of indicators, given countries’ differing circumstances.
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission welcomes FAO’s development and use of biodiversity indicators in association with the Biodiversity Indicator Partnership, which will contribute to the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and agrees on the need for further development of indicators for biodiversity linked to food quality and nutrition. It requests FAO to develop or further refine: progress indicators related to GPA implementation; indicators to facilitate status and trend reporting on animal, plant, forest and aquatic genetic diversity for food and agriculture; higher-order indicators; and, through regionally balanced consultations, the “CBD headline indicator” for trends in genetic diversity of domestic animal species of major socioeconomic importance. It also requests FAO to further strengthen cooperation with relevant bodies, especially the OECD, in the development of indicators for GRFA, and to advise how countries may assess their progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
MYPOW IMPLEMENTATION: Human and Financial Resources: On Wednesday, delegates considered human and financial resources for MYPOW implementation (CGRFA-13/11/19). The ERG requested the Secretariat to incorporate in the future more detailed information on resources, and highlighted that the Commission’s activities should be funded by the FAO core budget.
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission reiterates that core activities under the MYPOW should be financed from FAO’s regular programme budget, and requests the Secretary to provide at CGRFA 14 a report on the human and financial resources in FAO to support the implementation of the MYPOW and information on FAO’s Programme of Work and Budget 2012-2013 and the implications for the MYPOW.
MYPOW Review: On Monday, delegates agreed to address implications for the MYPOW review in the context of each specific agenda item. On Thursday, the Secretariat presented a consolidated version of the MYPOW based on discussions held in the current session (CGRFA-13/11/20 Appendix 2 Rev.1). She also explained that since 2007 all milestones and outputs have been achieved and that most future milestones are achievable.
Many parties presented suggestions on new milestones to incorporate in the MYPOW. The US recognized that a shortage of resources would affect the preparation of the SoW reports on PGRFA and aquatic GR and supported, inter alia, inclusion of a milestone on the consideration of needs and modalities on ABS with regard to GRFA. The EU suggested: including a new milestone on the review of the implementation of the updated GPA on PGRFA; postponing the SoW report on aquatic GR; including a study and policy analysis on gaps and opportunities for aquatic GR-related issues; and further work on micro-organisms. During the closing plenary, the ERG suggested, and delegates agreed, to include a milestone mentioned in discussion on the follow-up of the review of the SoW report on Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture at CGRFA 17.
Final Outcome: In the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR) the Commission adopts the appended Review of the MYPOW; agrees that CGRFA 14 will review the third SoW report on PGRFA preparatory process; requests the CGRFA Secretary to prepare a revised Strategic Plan 2013-2021 for CGRFA 14; and recommends that the MYPOW will be adjusted, as necessary, to take account of future decisions between the Commission and the ITPGR. The Commission Members further agree and invite other countries and international organizations to provide comments on the preparation of the SoW report on Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture by 15 November 2011.
COOPERATION WITH THE CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the issue of cooperation with the CBD (CGRFA-13/11/21). The EU supported the Commission to: concentrate on ongoing collaborative initiatives rather than begin new ones; continue providing capacity building in updating and revising National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs); and further coordinate with the CBD Secretariat to ensure relevant decisions can be reflected in and aligned with the MYPOW.
Final Outcome: In the meeting’s report (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission: requests its Secretary to continue to participate in relevant meetings of the Convention; stresses that members of the Commission should take appropriate action to adequately consider GRFA in updating their NBSAPs; and reaffirms its agreement to lead the development and use of biodiversity targets and indicators related to the work of the Commission.
OTHER INSTRUMENTS AND ORGANIZATIONS: Delegates considered the issue of cooperation with other instruments and organizations (CGRFA-13/11/22), on Thursday. Several regions commended ongoing collaborative efforts with various international instruments and organizations.
The Global Crop Diversity Trust (the Trust) said the updated GPA should be given prominence in the Commission and other relevant bodies. Practical Action called for enhancing interaction and participation of civil society in the Commission’s work. The ETC Group suggested reviewing and enhancing the relationship between the Commission, the ITPGR, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and the Trust; and called for a legal assessment of efforts by “gene-giants” to secure intellectual property rights over climate ready crops and their impacts on food security, national sovereignty and possible infringement of ITPGR provisions.
Bioversity International highlighted the CGIAR research programme on climate change, agriculture and food security as a source for the development of a road map for addressing climate change and GRFA under the Commission.
Final Outcome: In the meeting’s report (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission: requests its Secretary to seek inputs on prioritized themes of the regular sessions from international organizations and make them available to the Commission; and acknowledges the contribution of international organizations to MYPOW implementation, emphasizing the need to continue cooperation and synergy with the ITPGR Governing Body, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the CGIAR.
STATUS AND PROFILE OF THE COMMISSION: The Secretariat introduced the issue of the Commission’s status (CGRFA-13/11/23) on Thursday, outlining three options for raising the Commission’s status: transform the Commission into an FAO Technical Committee reporting directly to the FAO Council and Conference; maintain its status and continue reporting directly to the FAO Council and Conference, as appropriate; or maintain its status and report to the FAO Council and Conference through the Technical Committees. He noted that transforming the Commission into a Technical Committee could be an arduous process and that the Commission currently has a de facto direct reporting line to the Council and the Conference based on an invitation by the Conference.
All speakers favored the second option, with several noting that the Commission’s profile does not depend on its status, but on the quality of its expertise. GRULAC suggested reforming the Commission’s statutes to streamline decision-making.
Final Outcome: In the meeting’s report (CGRFA-13/11/DR), the Commission, inter alia: expresses the view that it maintains its current status, including the established reporting lines; highlights ways to raise its profile, including by strengthening and communicating its activities, such as through special information seminars; decides to keep its status and profile under review; and requests the Secretariat to provide more detailed information regarding the advantages, disadvantages and budgetary implications of a possible change of its status for CGRFA 14.
On Thursday morning and Friday evening, delegates considered other matters.
NEXT MEETING: The Secretariat announced that CGRFA 14 is tentatively scheduled for the last week of April 2013 in Rome.
REPRESENTATION OF NEAR EAST REGION: The Near East requested to increase the number of their representatives from three to five due to lack of proportion in representation considering the number of countries compared to other regions. Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Germany and Cuba expressed concern about this proposal and preferred postponing consideration of the issue. The Chair noted that the current quota of three representatives for the Near East is not proportionate to its number of members. Delegates eventually agreed to consider the issue at CGRFA 14.
NEW BUREAU: Delegates elected: Brad Fraleigh (Canada), for Chair of CGRFA 14; Elzbieta Martyniuk (Poland), Modesto Fernández Díaz-Silveira (Cuba), Raj Patil (Australia), Javad Mozafari Hashjin (Iran), Amar Tahiri (Morocco) and Tashi Yangzome Dorji (Bhutan) as Bureau members; and nominated Tashi Yangzome Dorji as rapporteur.
Delegates also nominated representatives to the four ITWGs on ABS, and animal, plant and forest GR of animals. Representatives to the ITWGs are:
- For ABS: Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana and Paraguay (GRULAC); Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Lao PDR and Bhutan (Asia); Cameroon, Eritrea, Zambia, Tunisia, and Togo (Africa); Australia and the Cook Islands (Southwest Pacific); Canada and the US (North America); the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (ERG) and Iran, Lebanon and Yemen (Near East).
- For animal GR: Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba and Suriname (GRULAC); China, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Thailand and Malaysia (Asia); Kenya, Mauritania, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Africa); Fiji and the Cook Islands (Southwest Pacific); Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland (ERG); Canada and the US (North America); and Iran, Afghanistan and Egypt (Near East).
- For PGRFA: Argentina, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica and Venezuela (GRULAC); India, Japan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam (Asia); Angola, Tanzania, Morocco, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Africa); Tonga and the Cook Islands (Southwest Pacific); Canada and the US (North America); Hungary, Norway, Poland, Spain, and Turkey (ERG); and Qatar, Yemen and Egypt (Near East).
- For forest GR: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and El Salvador (GRULAC); Lao PDR, Bhutan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and China (Asia); Ethiopia, Algeria, Madagascar, Gabon, and Nigeria (Africa); Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu (Southwest Pacific); Finland, France, Italy, Poland and the Russian Federation (ERG); Canada and the US (North America); and Yemen, Iran and Iraq (Near East).
Final Outcomes: In the final meeting report (CGRFA 13/11/DR), the Commission confirmed the election of the new Bureau members and ITWG representatives. The Commission agreed to consider, at its next session, the composition of its ITWGs and requested the Secretariat to provide relevant background information for consideration.
The closing plenary convened at 6:30 pm on Friday to adopt the report of the meeting (CGRFA-13/11/DR-FINAL). Delegates adopted the text paragraph by paragraph, making minor amendments. Plenary was suspended to allow for further informal consultations on the inclusion of aquatic GR in areas beyond national jurisdiction in the SoW report on aquatic GR. Due to lack of agreement on how to formulate text on this issue, delegates finally agreed to focus initially on cultured aquatic species and to come back to the issue at CGRFA 14. The report was adopted in its entirety when plenary resumed.
Regional groups and a representative of civil society organizations made closing statements, expressing their appreciation to the Chair and the Secretariat, and commended the collaborative atmosphere of the Commissionís work. CGRFA Secretary Linda Collette affirmed the meeting’s outcomes as steps towards raising the profile of GRFA issues on international agendas, and Chair Mozafari gaveled the meeting to a close at 10:25 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF CGRFA 13
Delegates to the thirteenth regular session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA 13) left Rome at the end of the week hailing the meeting’s productive outcomes and their importance for the future development of the CGRFA as the sole international process focusing on genetic resources for food and agriculture (GRFA). In particular, the adoption of the Second Plan of Action on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, one of the major milestones of the Commission’s Multi-year Programme of Work, and the decisions establishing a Technical Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) and elements for a roadmap on climate change, were welcomed as key decisions that will advance development of the Commission’s global system for GRFA management and shape its role and influence in the years to come. The only blemish was the failure to reach agreement on the exact scope of a proposed Report on the State of the World’s (SoW) Aquatic GR, effectively postponing it and limiting intersessional work to cultured aquatic species.
This brief analysis will provide an update on the state of the CGRFA’s global system for the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity after CGRFA 13, and consider the upcoming challenges and opportunities arising in the context of ABS and climate change.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE GLOBAL SYSTEM OF GRFA CONSERVATION
The CGRFA has established itself as an international body bringing together technical and scientific experts working on maintaining genetic diversity for food and agriculture. Over time it has built a reputation as the central knowledge hub for GRFA matters, linking the expertise of plant breeders and other managers of genetic resources, in particular those of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), with the world of international decision making. While most of its decisions are not legally binding, it has also been the source of legally binding instruments, most prominently the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA). The Commission has developed a unique, sector-specific approach that combines scientific assessments in the form of State of the World Reports with a range of instruments such as guidelines and codes of conduct and, in the case of PGRFA, an international treaty, which are grouped together and coordinated under a global plan of action.
The system is most evolved in the PGRFA sector, with implementation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) well under way, with the objective of achieving the conservation and sustainable use of PGR, and the adoption of the second Global Plan of Action. The animal genetic resource sector is following suit with a State of the World report having been published in 2007, and the first Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources due to be launched in 2012. Building on its success in the plant and animal sectors, the Commission is now expanding its operations into the remaining sectors of forest and aquatic genetic resources, as well as exploring microorganisms and invertebrates, which include the significant but as yet under-researched areas of pollinators and soil organisms.
While the expansion was initially seen as proof of the CGRFA’s reputation and credibility as a source of scientific expertise, the Commission is suffering some growing pains as a result of that expansion. This was most visible in the meeting’s heavy agenda, in particular the time-consuming finalization of the second Global Plan of Action, and also the proliferation of agenda items resulting from the initiation of work in additional sectors. A different type of pain arises from the need to define the Commission’s place in these new sectors. As one delegate explained, forest and aquatic genetic resources risk raising political tensions that limit the Commission’s ability to move forward.
The decision to postpone the preparation of the State of the World Report on Aquatic Genetic Resources to CGRFA 16 is a prime example. This issue is enmeshed with complex matters in the area of the law of the sea and other processes, mostly the UN Ad hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. While most delegates agreed that a scientific assessment is a necessary step in approaching both scientific and political questions tied to the issue, they were unable to agree to include aquatic genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction in the scope of the State of the World report. In an effort to not disturb the water of other processes—notably the delineation of areas under national jurisdiction under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and unsustainable fishing practices, currently not regulated in any other process—only a first phase of consideration of aquatic genetic resources was agreed to, with a much reduced scope, namely cultured aquatic genetic resources. For the CGRFA, the lesson learned from this decision is that its hands are tied as soon as issues become politically charged in other processes, and political tensions spill over into CGRFA discussions.
NEW CHALLENGES FOR GENETIC RESOURCES
In the field of access and benefit-sharing that used to be affected by similar political tensions in other processes, CGRFA 13 proved its readiness to act once such difficulties have been resolved. In this session the Commission was challenged to position itself vis-à-vis the recently adopted Nagoya Protocol, which in effect constitutes a general ABS regime. The Commission’s work on the different sectors and its repeated requests to recognize the special nature of GRFA for food security featured prominently in the negotiation of the Nagoya Protocol. This was especially true regarding the recognition of the ITPGR as a specialized ABS regime for PGRFA that should take precedence over the Nagoya Protocol’s ABS provisions. In the end, the Nagoya Protocol not only acknowledged the special nature of GRFA and the Treaty in its preamble, but its operative articles also provide ample scope for the development of further specialized regimes for GRFA as well as in other sectors. These could take the form of new legally-binding instruments, for example modeled on the ITPGR, which would trump, yet support the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, or non-binding instruments and tools.
Many delegates therefore saw the opportunity for the CGRFA to take the lead in developing specialized regimes and tools while the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol is under way, and prepare the ground for its implementation in the GRFA sectors. The decision to establish an Ad hoc Technical Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing for GRFA, including the option to invite experts and representatives of other international organizations, was therefore warmly welcomed by most delegates as an important step towards taking action. For many, this decision also continues the CGRFA’s use of “soft power” to influence other processes and their implementation. The flexibility built into the Nagoya Protocol and recognition of the special nature of GRFA largely stems from the tireless efforts of the CGRFA and the centers of the CGIAR in raising awareness about the concerns of agriculture in the ABS negotiation process.
Building on this experience, many are now speculating whether a similar approach could be used for raising the profile of GRFA on the international climate change agenda. So far GRFA have received scant attention in international climate change discussions, despite their importance for maintaining food security and helping with adaptation and mitigation in agriculture. CGRFA 13 was preceded by an information seminar on climate change, which highlighted that an important factor for raising the profile of GRFA in the context of climate change will be improved coordination at the national level among agricultural ministries and ministries of foreign affairs, economics or the environment. Only the CGRFA’s development of coherent and integrated positions will ensure progress in this area. Some of the delegates involved in the ABS negotiations said they had led to an unprecedented collaboration between the agricultural and environmental communities; also cautioning, however, that “climate change is an entirely different game—much more complex and much more political.”
The special seminar also pointed to some necessary homework for agricultural communities in mobilizing GRFA for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Existing ex situ collections of PGRFA, for example, have not been sufficiently characterized so as to evaluate their potential usefulness in addressing climate change. Other sectors face even greater challenges as systematic international collection efforts, such as those preceding the Green Revolution in plant production, have so far not been carried out in the other GRFA sectors. The elements agreed upon by CGRFA 13 for the development of a roadmap on climate change reflect these challenges by focusing on climate-change specific research, capacity building, communication and dissemination activities, and partnerships. Nonetheless, some delegates feared that even if fully developed and implemented, these activities would be insufficient and could be easily sidelined in face of current political dynamics and the feeling of urgency in the climate change arena.
In this regard, some regretted that CGRFA 13 did not fully exploit the opportunity provided by the revision of the Global Plan of Action for PGRFA. While climate change was added to various sections of the Plan, many would have liked to see a separate priority activity area on climate change focusing on action relevant to food security in the face of climate change and adaptation and mitigation. The main explanation put forward by delegates as to why this option was not explored was that doing so would have outstripped the meeting’s capacity and risked leaving the GPA unfinished.
GROWING RESPONSIBILITIES AND HURDLES
ABS and climate change will have a significant impact on the Commission’s future development. Both provide an opportunity to expand the Commission’s role as a hub for scientific and expert knowledge for GRFA in all sectors. However, the growing pains observed at CGRFA 13 had many delegates wondering whether the Commission is well equipped to live up to this “mission creep,” which could over-burden the Commission’s current institutional framework. The Commission’s ongoing expansion and the new challenges observed at this meeting translate into three institutional hurdles.
First, the Commission must enable the consideration of a much broader range of expertise and activities as its work advances and matures in these new sectors. Its success in the plant and animal sectors may tempt members to try to “franchise” the ITPGR in other sectors. Second, the Commission needs to shield itself from political undercurrents affecting some of the new issues, as was seen in the case of aquatic genetic resources, and can be expected for climate change. Finally it needs to address emerging cross-sectorial issues in a coherent and efficient manner. Addressing complex issues such as ABS, climate change or biotechnology separately in each sector may easily render the workload of future meetings infeasible and lead to competing priorities or duplications. While the agenda had included consideration of how to enhance the Commission’s relationship with FAO, and, by implication, its exposure to the wider public, delegates at this meeting chose to adopt a wait-and-see approach, advising the secretariat to study the issue and provide information at the next session. In this regard, one of the smallest agenda items at CGRFA 13—the status and profile of the Commission—could emerge as a major item at CGRFA 14.
2011 International Biodiversity Conference: This Conference will focus on scientific issues related to biodiversity conservation and tropical ecology. dates: 29 July - 4 August 2011 location: Baños, Ecuador contact: Wild Spots Foundation phone: +1-888-635-7291 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.wsfbioconference.org/
Second World Biodiversity Congress: The congress, organized by Century Foundation, India, focuses on the themes of biodiversity in relation to global and climate change, the economics and value of biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and rural development, biodiversity information management, conservation of bio-resources for sustainable livelihoods, and education and public awareness on biodiversity conservation. dates: 8-12 September 2011 location: Kuching, Malaysia contact: WBC Secretariat phone: +91 80 2296 1315 fax: +91 80 2318 1443 email: email@example.com www: http://www.worldbiodiversity2011.com/
XIII Annual BIOECON Conference: This conference will focus on resource economics, biodiversity conservation and development. dates: 11-13 September 2011 location: Villa Barton, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland contact: Silvia Bertolin phone: +39 41 271 1411 fax: +39 41 271 1461 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.bioecon-network.org/pages/13th_2011.html
A Long-term Strategy for Global Forest Resources Assessment: The FAO global assessments focus on several broad themes, including forest biological diversity, and the contribution of forests to the global carbon cycle. dates 13-15 September 2011 location: Nastola, Finland contact: J.A. Prado, FAO Secretariat phone: +39 6 570 53200 fax: +39 6 570 53152 email:email@example.com www: http://www.fao.org/forestry/en/
49th Series of Meetings of the WIPO Assemblies: Among other issues, the WIPO Assembly will address matters concerning the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. dates: 26 September - 5 October 2011 location: Geneva, Switzerland contact: WIPO Secretariat phone: +41 22 338 9111 fax: +41 22 733 5428 www: http://www.wipo.int/meetings/en/details.jsp?meeting_id=22166
First Plenary Meeting of IPBES: The First Plenary Meeting of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is expected to adopt the platform’s rules of procedure, and modalities for participation and membership. The meeting will also discuss offers from governments to host the platform’s secretariat and is expected to decide on a detailed work programme and budget. dates: 3-7 October 2011 location: Nairobi, Kenya contact: UNEP IPBES Secretariat phone: +254 20 762 5135 fax: +254 20 762 3926 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://ipbes.net/plenary-sessions.html
Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) Regional Consultative Workshop on Strengthening Assessments of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Asia-Pacific: APFIC works to improve understanding, awareness and cooperation in fisheries issues in the Asia-Pacific region, including on issues of climate change impacts on fisheries and aquaculture, an ecosystem approach, and certification. dates: 4-6 October 2011 location: Yangon, Myanmar contact: Simon Funge-Smith phone: +66 2697 4000 fax: +66 2697 4445 email: FAO-RAP@fao.org www: http://www.apfic.org/
37th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS): The CFS is the United Nations’ forum for reviewing and following up on policies concerning world food security. It also examines issues that affect the world food situation. dates: 17-22 October 2011 location: Rome, Italy contact: Kostas Stamoulis, FAO Secretariat phone: +39 6 570 53200 fax: +39 6 570 53152 email:email@example.com www: http://www.fao.org/cfs/cfs-home/en/
Capacity-building workshop on Access and Benefit Sharing: The workshop is organized by the CBD secretariat. dates: 29-30 October 2011 location: Montreal, Canada contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1 514 288 2220 fax: +1 514 288 6588 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/
Seventh meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions: The meeting will consider mechanisms to promote the effective participation of indigenous and local communities in the work of the CBD, including in-depth dialogue on ecosystem management, ecosystem services and protected areas. dates: 31 October-4 November 2011 location: Montreal, Canada contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1 514 288 2220 fax: +1 514 288 6588 email: email@example.com www: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/
CBD SBSTTA 15: The fifteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity will address, inter alia: the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020, including indicators; Capacity-building strategy for the Global Taxonomy Initiative; invasive alien species; sustainable use; and inland waters biodiversity. dates: 7-11 November 2011 location: Montreal, Canada contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1 514 288 2220 fax: +1 514 288 6588 email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=SBSTTA-15
8th International Symposium on Genetic Resources for Latin America and the Caribbean: This Spanish-language symposium brings together over 600 researchers, students and farmers from all countries in the Americans region, representatives of networks of genetic resources in Latin America and the Caribbean, and international organizations including FAO, Bioversity International and others. dates: 21-23 November 2011 location: Quito, Ecuador contact: Cesar Tapia phone: +593 2 300 6089 fax: +593 9 252 1219 email:email@example.com www: http://www.sirgealcecuador.com/
Expert Group on Biodiversity for Poverty Eradication and Development: The Expert Group will elucidate linkages between the objectives of the CBD and poverty eradication and development processes, building on existing initiatives and cooperation with relevant organizations. The report of the Group will provide technical input to the AHTEG on Review of Implementation of the CBD. dates: 22-25 November 2011 location: Dehradun, India contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1 514 288 2220 fax: +1 514 288 6588 email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.cbd.int/doc/notifications/2011/ntf-2011-073-development-en.pdf
1st Meeting of the Global Platform for Business and Biodiversity: The Global Platform on Business and Biodiversity aims to promote markets that support nature conservation and sustainable use. The meeting will facilitate dialogue among businesses, governments and other stakeholders who are developing tools and are involved in making the business sector more sustainable. dates: 15-16 December 2011 (tentative) location: Tokyo, Japan contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1 514 288 2220 fax: +1 514 288 6588 email:email@example.com www: http://www.cbd.int/business/
International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture: The conference is organized by the CGRFA. dates: 7-9 March 2012 location: Rome, Italy contact: Linda Collette, CGRFA, FAO Secretariat phone: +39 6 570 54981 fax: +39 6 570 53152 email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.fao.org/nr/cgrfa/en/
6th Session of the COFI Sub-committee on Aquaculture: The sub-committee provides a forum for consultation and discussion on aquaculture, and advises COFI on technical and policy matters. dates: 26-30 March 2012 location: Cape Town, South Africa contact: R. Subasinghe, FAO Secretariat phone: +39 6 570 53200 fax: +39 6 570 53152 email: FAO-COFI@fao.org www: http://www.fao.org/fishery/about/cofi/aquaculture/en
Capacity-building Workshop on Access and Benefit Sharing: The workshop is organized by the CBD Secretariat. dates: 7-8 April 2012 location: Delhi, India contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1 514 288 2220 fax: +1 514 288 6588 www: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/
2nd Meeting of the Open-Ended Ad Hoc Inter-governmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol on ABS (ICNP-2): dates: 9-13 April 2012 location: Delhi, India contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1 514 288 2220 fax: +1 514 288 6588 email: email@example.com www: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/
4th meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Review of Implementation of the CBD (WGRI): The meeting will review implementation of the new Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020), including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Its recommendations will be submitted to COP 11 in Hyderabad, India in 2012, for its consideration and adoption. dates: 7-11 May 2012 location: Montreal, Canada contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1 514 288 2220 fax: +1 514 288 6588 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/
30th Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI): The next meeting of COFI will be in July 2012. dates: 9-13 July 2012 location: Rome, Italy contact: H. Watanabe, FAO Secretariat phone: +39 06 570 53200 fax: +39 06 570 53152 email:FAO-COFI@fao.org www: http://www.fao.org/fishery/about/cofi/en
Biosafety Protocol COP/MOP 6: The sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD serving as Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is scheduled for October 2012. dates: 1-5 October 2012 location: Hyderabad, India contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1 514 288 2220 fax: +1 514 288 6588 email:email@example.com www: http://www.cbd.int/meetings
Eleventh meeting of the Conference of Parties to the CBD (COP 11): The next meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity will convene in October 2012. dates: 8-19 October 2012 location: Hyderabad, India contact: CBD Secretariat phone: +1 514 288 2220 fax: +1 514 288 6588 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.cbd.int/meetings/
38th Session of the Committee on World Food Security: The 2012 session of the Committee on World Food Security will take place in October. dates: 15-20 October 2012 location: Rome, Italy contact: Kostas Stamoulis, FAO Secretariat phone: +39 6 570 53200 fax: +39 6 570 53152 email:email@example.com www: http://www.fao.org/cfs/cfs-home/en/
Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture of the CGRFA: This meeting is organized by the CGRFA. dates: 24-26 October 2012 location: Rome, Italy contact: Irene Hoffman, FAO Secretariat phone: +39 6 570 54981 fax: +39 6 570 53152 email:firstname.lastname@example.org org www: http://www.fao.org/nr/cgrfa/en/
6th session of the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on PGRFA: The meeting is organized by the CGRFA. dates: 5-9 November 2012 location: Hyderabad, India phone: +39 6 570 54981 fax: +39 6 570 53152 email: email@example.com www: http://www.fao.org/nr/cgrfa/en/
5th session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources: The 5th session of the Governing Body of the ITPGR is expected to be held in 2013. dates: to be determined location: to be determined contact: ITPGR Secretariat phone: +39 6 570 54981 fax: +39 6 570 56347 email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.itpgrfa.net/
14th session of the CGRFA: The 14th session of the CGRFA is expected to be held in 2013. dates: last week of April 2012 (tentative) location: Rome, Italy contact: Linda Collette, CGRFA Secretariat phone: +39 6 570 54981 fax: +39 6 570 53152 email:email@example.com www: http://www.fao.org/nr/cgrfa/en/