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Photos and RealAudio of 25 May

On the ninth day of COP-5, delegates met in Working Groups to address outstanding matters and to adopt the reports of their work. Working Group I (WG-I) completed discussion of draft decisions on agricultural biodiversity, the ecosystem approach, forest biodiversity and the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI). Working Group II (WG-II) finalized draft decisions on: scientific and technical cooperation and the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM); national reporting; access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing (ABS); operations of the Convention; education and public awareness; identification, monitoring and assessment, and indicators; impact assessment, liability and redress; the financial mechanism; and Article 8(j) and related provisions.

In requesting the Executive Secretary to advance priority activities, NORWAY emphasized the crucial necessity of linking communication strategy to the CBD education program and specific priority activities in the COP's work programme and the Strategic Plan for the Convention.

SWITZERLAND wanted language referring specifically to Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) in addition to Impact Assessment
NEW ZEALAND (left) queried as to SEA's meaning.
AUSTRALIA preferred looking at the
topic of liability at COP-7 due to budgetary reasons.

ETHIOPIA expressed dissatisfaction over the text regarding the process for reviewing CBD Article 14.2 (Impact Assessment and Minimizing Adverse Impacts), and proposed that, despite budgetary constraints, COP-5 establish an ad hoc technical expert group on environmental liability and redress to begin work after COP-6, a topic that is inevitable, relates to the Biosafety Protocol and requires in-depth technical scrutiny.

FRANCE offered to organize a workshop during the intersessional period on liability and redress.

CANADA, joined by Portugal, on behalf of EU, opposed establishment of such a working group, adding that it was "premature."

RealAudio of the PORTUGAL / EU statement: PART ONE  PART TWO

COLOMBIA supported language proposed by PORTUGAL to include the workshop proposal of France but not her delegation's concern that the liability is neither premature nor does it merit to be shifted from one meeting of the Parties to another.
After informal consultations, delegates adopted the draft decision with new text welcoming the French government's offer to organize the workshop and deciding to consider the process for reviewing Article 14.2 at COP-6, including establishment of an ad hoc technical expert group, taking into account the issues under the Cartagena Protocol and the outcome of the workshop.


Dr. José T. Esquinas-Alcazar, Executive Secretary of the FAO Commission on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, gave an update on the status of negotiations harmonizing and revising the International Undertaking (IU) for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA, in line with CBD objectives by the end of this year or 2001. He emphasized the uniqueness of agrobiodiversity, given the values of raw PGRFA materials and biotechnology. The IU is specifically concerned with future generations facing unpredictable demands and environmental changes given the goals of food security, collective benefit-sharing and the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA as already specified in the CBD and FAO Leipzig Plan of Action.

Dr. Esquinas-Alcazar further detailed the incentives behind the IU's multilateral system of facilitated access to PGRFA, in the case of crops important to food security and agricultural interdependency. He fleshed out the now adopted concept of protecting farmer's rights, relating it to the CBD's somewhat different provisions for benefit-sharing through intellectual property-rights and bilateral arrangements based on mutually agreed terms and prior informed consent. He expressed his hope that commercialization, intellectual property and plant breeding rights will not extinguish the ideal of multilateralism behind the IU. For him, the IU is a crucial international venture to conserve PGRFA while enabling equitable and collective benefit-sharing through the transfer of technology, capacity building information-exchange and monetary benefits arising from commercialization of PGRFA.

For related information on the agrobiodiversity holdings, literature and evolving access procedures of the 16 ex situ collections within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system, contact Jane Toll, Coordinator of the CGIAR System-wide Genetic Resources Programme [] or browse the recently updated CGIAR System-wide Information Network for Genetic Resources (SINGER)


As WG-I adjourned early, delegates wandered into the sunny afternoon, remarking on the relative smoothness of COP-5 compared to the procedural and organizational hurdles of COP-4. Some noted that ISOC, two SBSTTA meetings, multiple liaison and expert group meetings, and pre-concocted decision drafts were instrumental in facilitating the flow.

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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