You are viewing our old site. See the new one here

go to IISDnet

2nd Meeting of the Panel of Experts on Access and Benefit Sharing of the Convention on Biological Diversity

Montreal, Canada 19-22 March 2001


Previous days' multimedia coverage of  SBSSTA-6 
(photos and RealAudio)


Highlights from Monday, 19 March 2001

Opening Plenary:

On the opening day of the second meeting of the Experts' Panel on Access and Benefit-Sharing under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), delegates met in Plenary to hear opening remarks and address organizational matters. Presentations were then delivered on: assessment of user and provider experience in access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing (ABS); identification of approaches to involvement of stakeholders in ABS; and complementary options to address ABS in the CBD. Later in the afternoon, delegates met in two working groups to consider user and provider experiences, and approaches to stakeholder involvement.

Editor's Note: As a matter of policy, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin does not directly attribute statements in informal discussions when requested to do so.

Above photo: The dias during opening plenary.

CBD Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan
opened the meeting and proposed, with the Panel's agreement, retaining the officers from the first Experts' Panel held in Costa Rica, including Co-Chairs Jorge Cabrera Medaglia (Costa Rica) and Martin Girsberger (Switzerland) and Rapporteur Maureen Wolfson (South Africa).

Listen to Hamdallah Zedan's opening statement

Hamdallah Zedan thanked the government of Switzerland for financial support. He outlined the Panel's establishment and activities, and noted that this meeting's report would be submitted to the ad hoc open-ended working group on ABS, meeting in October 2001 in Bonn to develop guidelines and approaches for assisting Parties and stake­holders on ABS matters.

Co-Chair Jorge Cabrera Medaglia (Costa Rica) welcomed participants and stressed their collective responsibility to produce a successful report.

 Listen to Jorge Cabrera Medaglia's opening statement


Sally Petherbridge (Australia)
described Australia's relevant national legislation and a Commonwealth Public Inquiry on access to biological resources, noting efforts to develop a nationally consistent approach at the federal and state levels. She outlined inadequacies in federal natural resource legislation regarding access issues, particularly benefit-sharing considerations. She highlighted a scheme for access permits and benefit-sharing contracts and reviewed findings from the Commonwealth inquiry, underlining needs for simplicity, accessibility, efficiency, model contracts, clear authority, public input, accountability and recognition of monetary and non-monetary benefits. She then noted case examples of ABS in federal territories and future steps for legislative developments at the federal level.

Listen to Sally Petherbridge's presentation 

Beatriz Zapata Ferrufino (Bolivia) discussed implementation of Decision 391 of the Andean Pact and inclusion of ABS in the Bolivian National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). Decision 391 was adopted in 1997 and provides the foundation for a framework regulating access to genetic resources in Bolivia. She outlined the context, scope, relevant actors and institutional framework of the decision, noting four requests for access and one contract granted. She also presented the components of the national action plan, with the objectives of conservation and sustainable development, and noted development of the Andean region's economic potential through ensuring benefit-sharing and empowerment of actors. She stressed the need to better define property rights and rights on traditional knowledge. 

Listen to Beatriz Zapata Ferrufino's presentation

Shri R. H. Khwaja (India) overviewed ABS in India, in the context of its NBSAP. He outlined features of the Biological Diversity Bill 2000, addressing access to genetic resources by foreign individuals or companies. He then referenced other national experiences, including: traditional knowledge networks and their use by the formal sector with prior informed consent (PIC); the National Innovation Foundation recognizing creativity at the grassroots level; and the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, aiming to prevent patenting of the tradi­tional uses of medicinal plants, by placing them in the public domain.

Listen to Shri R. H. Khwaja's presentation 


WG-I shared user and provider experiences and identified elements for guidelines to assist ABS regimes. Many experts highlighted national experiences related to: different levels of jurisdiction and sectoral legislation in federal states; lack of information regarding IPR issues; the need to develop government awareness and societal consensus; traditional knowledge databases; identification of stake­holders and beneficiaries; community permission for access; resolu­tion of conflicts over mutually agreed terms; and establishment of trust funds.

Left photo: The dias of WG1 Chaired by L.V. Kalakoutskii (2nd from Left)
WG-II addressed identification of approaches for involvement of stakeholders in ABS processes, referencing document UNEP/CBD/ EP-ABS/2/2. Participants distinguished among users, providers and protectors of genetic resources, as well as among those with specific rights or direct involvement (e.g. national competent authorities, industry, local stakeholders) and those with a more general interest (e.g. NGOs). Experts suggested use of such categories to differentiate the roles and weights that stakeholders have within ABS discussions, although one argued that all stakeholders should have equal input.

Above photo: The dias of WG-II Chaired by Anoja Wickramasinghe (middle) with Sam Johnston and Henrietta Marrie of the Secretariat

ENB coverage of ABS-1
ENB coverage of SBSTTA-6
CBD Secretariat web site with official documents and information for participants
ENB's Introduction to the CBD

© 2000, IISD. All rights reserved.