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Photos and RealAudio of 19 May

On the fifth day of CBD COP-5, delegates met in Working Groups throughout the day. Working Group I (WG-I) discussed the forest and agricultural biodiversity work programmes, the ecosystem approach and in an evening session, discussed a Conference Room Paper (CRP) on sustainable use, tourism and incentives. Working Group II (WG-II) discussed the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) and Article 8(j) and Related Provisions. A contact group on forest biodiversity met in the afternoon, and contact groups on access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing (ABS) and the operations of the Convention met in the evening.

SWITZERLAND noted the need for involving targeted user groups in the process,
particularly NGOs, and for exploring additional funding other than the GEF.

VENEZUELA considered poverty alleviation as the main objective of Article 8(j) and stressed the importance of benefit-sharing
INDIA highlighted collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization and drew attention to national efforts to protect traditional knowledge, such as traditional knowledge digital libraries
SWEDEN, on behalf of the Nordic Countries, supported extending the mandate of the Working Group and developing guidelines for the legal protection of traditional knowledge, innovation and practices.

The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity coordinated inputs, emphasizing their membership's support for this network's continued mandate to work directly and closely with CBD participations on Article 8j and the convention as a whole.

Chair Elaine Fisher [left] and participants listened to specific recommendations on follow-up actions regarding the Article 8(j) work programme made indigenous peoples organizations, including El Conséjo de Todas Las Tierras de Mapuche, Chile; Coordination Mapuche de Newquen, Argentina; The Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON); Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indigenas de la Cuenca Amazonica (COICA); Kawatea Chambers of New Zealand; Colombian Indigenous Movement; Indigenous Development and Information Network; the Canadian Indigenous Caucus; and the Indigenous Women's Biodiversity Network.

Fred Fortier, Canadian Indigenous Caucus [photo on the right, left-hand side], said that Article 15 on access and benefit sharing was entirely related to Article 8(j) and said the mandate of the ad hoc working group on traditional knowledge was never limited to the latter article. He added that the CBD's text's notion of "approval" is not as good as the notion of prior informed consent.

A representative of Indigenous Development and Information Network (on the right) emphasized the need for full and direct participation of indigenous women and communities in all levels of CBD policy formulation and implementation, further stressing their rights to slow biodiversity prospecting.

Jorge Nawel of the Mapuche de Newquen, Argentina [photo on the left, left-hand side], suggested incorporation of the muwalpo concept into the CBD. This concept emphasizes the integration of cultural and biodiversity paradigms, incorporating land and territorial rights, philosophies and ways of life, political and economic decisions, cultural and social relations between people and biodiversity. José Nain of Conséjo de Todas Las Tierras de Mapuche, Chile [photo on the left, right-hand side], highlighted the uniquely collective dimensions of indigenous knowledge.

Michael Todishev, Vice-President of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North [, on the right] said that the 13 indigenous groups of Russia need assistance in protecting and reversing the loss of their language, cultures and traditions which are crucial for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.

RealAudio of Mr. Nawel, Nain
and Todishev's presentations

Maui Solomon, Kawatea Chambers of New Zealand [, left], urged for support of sui generis systems to protect indigenous knowledge with respect to biodiversity, stressing that his people's notion of biodiversity property center on the obligations of respect of inherent life forces as a prerequisite for the sustainable use of biodiversity as opposed to the economic exploitation of genetic resources inherent in most Western notions of intellectual property. In recognition of the fact that most of the earth's biodiversity has been maintained by indigenous peoples and their cultures despite the ravages of colonization, he urged COP-5 delegates to assure the direct input of indigenous peoples without filtered mechanisms.

Antonio Jacanamijoy, Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indigènas de la Cuenca Amazónica [ or], linkages between indigenous knowledge and indigenous territories and lands. He emphasized the importance of recognizing indigenous control, mutually agreed terms of prior informed consent and the need to directly involve indigenous technical experts.

A Colombian Indigenous Movement representative [right] insisted on the full protection of the traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples, including the cultural identities and integrity which make such knowledge sustainable.

RealAudio excerpts of Mr. Slomon, Jacanamijoy
and Colombian Indigenous Movement representative's presentations

Rodah C. Retino, African Indigenous Women's Organization, spoke on behalf of the Indigenous Women's Biodiversity Network. She noted that the marginalization of indigenous and local women in CBD and other related processes does not negate the fact that these women are a major source of traditional knowledge crucial to biodiversity's sustainable use and conservation. She also called for the creation of a separate work programme element under Article 8(j) to address the concerns of women of indigenous and local communities.

Real Audio of Mrs. Retino's presentation

SWITZERLAND proposed developing coherent guidelines and priority setting for implementing Article 8(j) in relation to all CBD objectives and vis-a-vis regulatory regimes other than the CBD.
NAMIBIA echoed a G-77/CHINA reference to CBD Article 16.5, stressing the promotion of appropriate forms of intellectual property protection and stated that sui generis laws are applicable.
NORWAY requested a reference to indigenous people as social, cultural and political entities in line with ILO Convention #169 and suggested strengthening relations with the future UNFF
CANADA called for clarification of how the guidelines should be developed, and prioritization of the work programme's tasks.

Side event: The Global Invasive Species Programme: A Global and African Perspective

The Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) held a workshop on GISP Phase II and options for international arrangements under the CBD for tackling the global problem of invasives. The GISP contributed in the drafting of the CBD's Interim Guiding Principles on Invasive Species. Feedback on GISP II is welcome and will be synthesized during a meeting Interim GISP Sterring Committee to be held in Capetown, South Africa in September 2000. Contact []

Workshop facilitator, Jeff Waage, Chief Executive of the Center for Applied Biosciences International (CABI) [, shown here on the left], said GISP-II aims to disseminate quality information and best practices to promote awareness-raising and capacity-building, information-sharing, strategy preparation and action plans to research, monitor and control invasives. Potential GISP research topics aimed at stimulating new ideas include: methods to define the origin and pathways of invasive populations; environmentally-friendly methods for the control and economic analysis of alien invasive species; and restoration ecology. He suggested that a Global Biosecurity Platform inevitably needs to be fleshed out to deal with he inevitable links between invasive species, GMOs, food and biosafety, trade and biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.

P. Balakrishna, Head of IUCN's Regional Biodiversity Programme in Asia [, right], recommended that COP-5 endorse GISP and adopt SBSTTA-4/5 Recommendations IV/4 and V/4 on developing guiding principles for the prevention of impacts of alien species and identifying priority areas of work in isolated ecosystems.

Rich Blaustein, Environmental Lawyer with Defenders of Wildlife [], called for COP-5 adoption of the interim guidelines on invasives. He also recommended that COP-5 create an ad hoc working group to develop an Alien Species Protocol to the CBD, to bolster Article 8(h) on preventing the introduction, control and eradication of those species which threaten species, habitats and ecosystems.

Greg Sherley Programme Officer with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) [, left], described lessons learned in the SPREP regional invasive species strategy. A technical review has synthesized information on: Southern Pacific invasives; their taxonomy and biogeography; their ecology; their cross-border and mostly intra-national, inter-island pathways of travel; the probability of their spreading and threatening wild biodiversity; and measures for their control and eradication. He highlighted the confounding relationship between biosafety concerns and invasive species and the importance of the Global Taxonomy Initiative.

Nattley Williams, Legal Officer at the IUCN Environmental Law Centre in Bonn [, right] spoke on legal measures regarding invasive species. She said that over 50 international instruments address issues related to invasive species and called for national implementation based on the precautionary rather than preventative principle. Among them are the Law of the Sea, Wetlands Convention, the Convention on Migratory Species, International Plant Protection Convention, and the Global Environmental Facility. She emphasized the need to consider all options for controlling invasives internationally, including: risk assessment rules; specific CBD recommendations to and collaboration with the World Trade Organization; permits and licensing; application of the polluter pays principles; and codes of conduct on invasives.

Gasper Mallya, Operations Officer, Lake Victoria Environmental Management Programme, gave an overview of initiatives for monitoring and controlling water hyacinth invasions within Lake Victoria. Manual removal, mechanical harvesting and biological control using beetles have thus far reduced the 14,000 ha areal coverage of water hyacinth by nearly 60%.

Scott E. Miller, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) [], pointed to the substantive technical and political outcomes of a Workshop on Invasive Species in Eastern Africa held 5-6 July 1999 on Invasives, whose proceedings are at [].

Ensuing discussion touched on: whether or not a protocol on invasives under the CBD was necessary; possibilities for developing GISP and/or an Invasives Protocol through and with other international entities; how the International Plant Protection Convention touches on pests to flora; the relationship between WTO trade, risk and quarantine rules and the CBD's precautionary principle and interim guidelines for controlling invasives; the potential industrial or development value of harvesting and using invasive species; and the lack of standard legal and ecological definitions regarding exotic, weed, alien, pest and invasive species.

Side event: The CBD, FAO and WTO: Never the Three Shall Meet?

The Third World Network held a panel discussion on the intersection of the CBD, the FAO's International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (IU) and the WTO's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs). Panelists were asked to propose appropriate models for equitable benefit-sharing, and debate whether patents can co-exist with collective property rights.

Doreen Stabinsky (Council for Responsible Genetics, center), the panel's moderator, noted that rights under TRIPs are accorded to individuals who are generally the users of biodiversity or such resources. Under the IU, the concept of farmers' rights includes community rights and safeguards the holders or providers of biodiversity resources.

Tewolde Egziabher (Environmental Protection Agency, Ethiopia, shown here on the left) noted that the private rights accorded by TRIPs do not adequately cover or apply to communal knowledge and innovations. He stated that the relation between the CBD and TRIPs was a territorial conflict, while noting that the concept of individual rights historically has come after communal rights (as reflected in the process of enclosure in Europe). As such Article 8(j) for indigenous and local communities and the IU for farmers seeks to redress the imbalance to protect collective rights and innovation. He noted that TRIPs interferes in this endeavor in a number of ways. First, its focus on individual rights leads to privatization and fragmentation as opposed to strengthening community. The focus on the individual also inhibits the process of innovation, which is also disrupted by concepts of benefit-sharing which tend to put a price tag on knowledge and its use.

Jose Esquinas, FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, AGD [bottom photo, middle], started by outlining the importance of agrobiodiversity and the IU for plant genetic resources, farmers' rights and food security. He noted that there are two interlinked components to the value of agrobiodiversity: 1) the agricultural biodiversity or raw material itself; and 2) the instruments or technology used to manipulate it. Combining the two generally results in a commercial product which translates into financial profit. He presented a model outlining the combination, noting that the technology side is generally the domain of developed country and corporate interests and the agrobiodiversity side the domain of farmers and communities. Unfortunately, to date the technology side has generated and kept most of the profit, without significant compensation to the holders of the raw material. The present intellectual property system, including TRIPs, UPOV and WIPO, general protects and provides incentives for the users of technology, while the CBD and IU are an attempt to address the imbalance by providing rights and incentives to the holders of plant genetic resources. He noted the need for complementarity between the institutions on both sides, allowing the harmonization of individual and collective rights.

Cecilia Oh (Third World Network, top photo, second from the left) discussed the IPR system contained in TRIPs. She noted that it was generally created as an incentive system benefiting biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, which can profit from an individualistic and monopolistic patent system. She noted the three general components of TRIPs Article 27.3(b) which is the core element of the WTO addressing plant genetic resources. The provision
- allows countries to exclude plants and animals from patenting;
- requires patents for micro-organisms and micro-biological and non-biological processes; and
- calls for protection for plant varieties.
She noted that there is no real concrete basis for discriminating between plants, plant varieties and micro-biological processes, except for a basic interest in profit. She noted that Article 27.3(b) is up for review, although there has been disagreement over whether it should address implementation or its substance. The Seattle WTO Ministerial in November/December 1999 did not resolve this issue, but saw a strong push by developing countries on the issue. She concluded by noting work at the national and regional level including legislation developed by the Organization for African Unity and within the ASEAN group.

Side event: Global Biodiversity Information Facility

A press briefing was held on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) formally proposed by the OECD SubGroup on Biological Informatics, [] and endorsed by OECD science ministers in June 1999 per the request of CBD COP-4. The GBIF will become operational in 2001 and aims to allow people in all countries to share biological diversity information, provide access to critical authority files and make the world's scientific biodiversity data essentially freely available. For more information: [] or [].

Ebbe Nielsen, CSIRO Australia [, left], gave an overview of the GBIF, a distributed network of affiliated scientific biodiversity databases and a free-standing organization closely tied to the CBD Clearing House Mechanism and Diversitas. He noted the GBIF's initial focus is on species- and specimen-level data with links to molecular, genetic and ecosystems levels. The Facility will provide real-time information from multiple sources, repatriate scientific data, correlate and synthesize data, and make available automated data cleansing and verification. Any country interested in developing the GBIF is invited to attend the 3rd Meeting of the Interim Steering Committee to be held 23-25 September in Washington DC. For further information [].

Side event: The Convention on Migratory Species and the CBD

Arnulf Muller-Helmbrecht, Executive Secretary of The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) [, shown here on the left, with Nabiha Megateli of the ENB], shared his thoughts regarding areas of comparative advantage within the CMS framework that could strengthen the CBD's conservation and sustainable use work on migratory species, their habitats and ecosystems. In 1996, the CMS and CBD Secretariats negotiated and signed a Memorandum of Cooperation aimed at promoting an integrated, synergistic approach to the implementation of these conventions cooperatively. Although not yet further developed, a future joint work programme between the CBD and CMS could be considered under operations of the convention and will likely be up for more specific debate at COP-7 since Hamdallah Zedan, CBD Executive Secretary has agreed to consult with the CMS on a more sophisticated work programme.

Such a joint programme of work could rethink GEF criteria and take advantage of the multiple-country research, monitoring, information-sharing and conservation-oriented activities of CMS Secretariat, CMS Scientific Council and its Parties and partners. Unlike the CBD, the CMS targets specific migratory species and their transboundary habitats within protected areas and on productive landscapes, often covering more than one region or one transboundary wetland as in the case of Ramsar. For example, current CMS initiatives target the white stork whose total fly-way and range includes 78 countries, a African and Eurasian programme on 170 migratory water birds, efforts to conserve whales in the Mediterranean and Black Sea and Cetaceans (small whales) in the Baltic North Seas.

For general information on the CMS and opinions on priorities for CMS and CBD collaboration, contact: [] or []

Parallel Event to the CBD: Medicinal Plants, Traditional Medicines and Local Communities in Africa

This Friday was the last day of the 4-day International Conference on "Medicinal Plants, Traditional Medicine and Local Communities in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities of the New Millenium" held ICRAF. The conference was convened by the Environmental Liaison Centre International (ELCI), the Global Initiative for Traditional Systems (GIFTS) of Health at the University of Oxford, UK and the Commonwealth Working Group on Traditional and Complementary Health Systems. Conference objectives were to: contribute to COP-5 outcomes relating to indigenous health knowledge and the protection of traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights; assess the status and disseminate information on fragmented research initiatives in traditional medicine in Africa; stimulate action and co-ordination in the supply, growth and sustainable development of medicinal plant production in Africa. Over 25 papers during 8 sessions were presented on three topical areas: the place and traditional role of traditional health care systems and traditional medicines in public health; intellectual property rights, development of medicinal plant genetic resources and drug discovery; and the sustainable use, trade and conservation of medicinal plants in Africa. More than 75 participants from Africa, Madagascar, Canada and Europe attended, including a number of Central and East African traditional healers, traditional medicine manufacturers and indigenous peoples' organizations. A report of the meeting is being prepared by UNEP for presentation and distribution to COP-5.

Indigenous Congolese, Colette Mikila Embenako [right] and Stephan Ilundu BuLambo [middle] of Project PIDP-KIVU, Democratic Republic of Congo talked with Dr. J.K. Githae [left], Herbal Practitioner and Chairman of the School of Alternative Medicine and Technology, Karati Rural Services Centre in Kenya, about ways to formalize types of educational practices within traditional African medicine and healing cultures.

Katsuva Kihala Dominique [photo on the right], displayed his traditional herbal medicines that Laboratoire Metrabu makes and sells in the Democratic Republic of Ghana. He stands here with traditional healers Sekagyayahaya of the Uganda Seya Clinic and Nursing Home [] and Togbega Dabra VI a.k.a. Phanuel C. K. K. Aloka [].

Togbega Dabra VI, also a hereditary paramount Logba chief from Ghana, suggested to them that traditional health systems in Africa be formalized by law, through Traditional Practice Medicine Acts to recognize and license traditional health practitioners and premises.

Cross-cutting themes of the conference included spiritual and cultural aspects of traditional medicine, gender, benefit-sharing and the sustainable use of medicinal plants. Participants agreed to further contribute to setting priorities for the Decade of Traditional Medicine. The important role of traditional midwifery practices in Africa was highlighted, and priority diseases identified as malaria and HIV/AIDS. Participants also noted the lack of official recognition of traditional health practitioners in many countries and the inadequacy of conservation policies and action on the ground. Some participants suggested that traditional healers be formally represented by Ministries of Health rather than Ministries of Culture or Environment.

To read or contribute to e-group discussions on the above topics, join the Phytomedica list []. For proceedings of the conference, contact: Barbara Gimmell, [] or [] or Gemma Burford, HIV/AIDS Research Initiative on Traditional Healthcare in Africa (HARITHAF) []

As COP-5 moves into its second week and delegates combat colds and bellyaches, discussions in the breezeways naturally turned to invasive species and a proposal for a Protocol. Participants supporting a binding agreement noted the need to achieve parity in any trade conflicts that could arise with the WTO. Delegates preferring the guidelines stressed the need for measured progress at the policy level and the most expeditious means to secure national implementation.
Right: at the UN compound at Gigiri, buildings are not separated
by closed corridors, instead they are linked by open breezeways.

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