Daily report for 1 December 1994




Chile, Slovakia, on behalf of the Eastern European Group, Zaire,the Philippines, Cuba, Brazil, Malawi and Sri Lanka recommendedexamination of a biosafety protocol in the medium-term programmeof work. The UK supported Germany’s recommendation for a two-track process and said that it was developing national guidelinesfor biosafety jointly with the Netherlands. Australia said anopen ad hoc working group should conduct a rigorous and objectiveanalysis of the need for a protocol. Slovakia, on behalf of theEastern European Group, called for biosafety to be considered byCOP-II, including a working group on genetically modifiedorganisms (GMOs), and a moratorium on GMOs until a protocol isnegotiated. She also recommended consideration of a forestprotocol by COP-II or III. Zaire said a protocol should mentionthe risk of release of GMOs and recommended the inclusion ofmonitoring using local experts, risk assessment and in situconservation. Cuba supported Brazil and Colombia’s call for aprotocol to be prepared as soon as possible. Brazil reiteratedthe need for a working group on a protocol. UNIDO suggested thatthe COP consider taking the guidelines and the voluntary code ofconduct developed by the Interagency Working Group composed ofUNIDO, FAO, the WHO and UNEP as a basis for further action.Australia, speaking on behalf of Japan, the US, Switzerland,Canada, New Zealand and Mexico, recommended a three-year planninghorizon with the following routine matters: a report from thefinancial mechanism; reviews of programme priorities, the SBSTTA,and the clearing-house mechanism; a report on relations withother conventions and institutions; a budget; national plans andrelated matters under Article 6. She said that COP-II shouldaddress guidelines for national reports and progress on geneticresources and in situ conservation. The Philippines said accessto genetic resources cannot be separated from the rights ofindigenous peoples and underscored the need for communityinvolvement. Malawi requested inclusion of genetic resources,country studies and capacity building and proposed considerationof protocols on farmers and community rights, technology transferand biosafety. The Council of Europe suggested that a meeting beincluded in the work programme to consider appropriatecoordination between conventions. The Ramsar Convention said thatit and others including CITES and Berne Convention have amassedfield experience that need not be duplicated. The Bonn Conventionnoted that it could provide information on migratory species.UNESCO offered assistance in promoting research and educationciting work in biodiversity, an upcoming meeting on internationalcooperation for biodiversity, and a biodiversity guide forteachers to be distributed globally, especially in developingcountries. FAO emphasized its work related to preservation ofplant genetic resources for food production and access to ex situgenetic collections, including those of the Consultative Group onInternational Agriculture Research (CGIAR) that it now manages.Sweden stressed the importance of biotechnology, and said thatthe expanding use of biotechnology required anindependent expert body. He said that the Convention setsrestrictions on access to genetic resources, and hence, themanagement of the biotechnology market should be a standing itemon the COP programme of work. He said that COP-III’sconsideration of intellectual property rights should be coupledwith farmers and indigenous peoples’ rights. Malaysia supportedSweden’s recommendation to consider access to genetic resourcesat COP-II and recommended coordination with FAO’s negotiations onplant genetic resources. The Chair summarized several points ofgeneral agreement on the work programme, including: the necessityof a flexible programme of work; the programme should bedeveloped on the basis of desired outcomes, resources required,the role for the SBSTTA, and a time frame for each item; theprogramme should include standing and rolling items; the workprogramme should follow the main objectives of the Convention; aclear distinction must be made between the COP’s agenda and workprogramme; the work programme should cover three years; there isan emerging consensus on the ways and means to implement Article19 on the need for and modalities of a biosafety protocol; anopen-ended working group of experts on biosafety should beorganized in the intersessional period but that differences ofopinion on guidelines and a protocol need to be clarified.Algeria also circulated a draft decision from the G-77 and Chinaon financial resources and a financial mechanism. The decision:adopts the programme priorities for access to and utilization offinancial resources and the list of developed country parties inAnnex I; designates the restructured GEF as the interiminstitutional structure for a financial mechanism; authorizes theInterim Secretariat to sign the MOU with the GEF; requests astudy by the Secretariat for COP-II on modalities for theestablishment of the financial mechanism and a second study onestablishment of a Biodiversity Fund and on mobilization of newand additional resources for the Fund; and requests that a reviewof financial resources and the interim arrangements for thefinancial mechanism be addressed by COP-II.


The Secretariat introduced the document UNEP/CBD/COP/1/8 and theInformation Paper (UNEP/CBD/COP/1/Inf.9) on the aims, scope,function and governance of a clearing-house mechanism that wascirculated at the request of Sweden. Sweden noted that itcontracted the Swedish Environmental Institute (SEI) to conduct astudy on the aims, scope, functions andgovernance of a broad-based clearing-house mechanism and reportedthat a workshop sponsored by the Bahamas and Sweden had beenconducted. He said a clearing-house mechanism should promote andfacilitate technical and scientific cooperation, particularly fordeveloping countries, in accordance with Article 18 of theConvention. While he agreed with the Secretariat document that amechanism will have to be developed gradually, he noted that sucha mechanism should not just be a switchboard for data andservices but should take a more active role in providingbrokerage services and facilitating national capacity building.The following organizations were included in the governancesection of the information paper: UNDP, UNIDO, FAO, CGIAR, UNEP,WHO, TFAP,the GEF, the World Resources Institute and the SEI.Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, said that the key issueregarding scientific and technical cooperation was access to, andtransfer of environmentally sound technology taking into accountthe needs of developing countries. He said the mechanism shouldbe administered by the Secretariat under the authority of theCOP. Colombia, supported by Chile, was concerned that themechanism not be extractive in nature regarding traditionalknowledge. Germany, on behalf of the EU, supported by Japan andothers said that scientific and technical cooperation andinformation exchange should be improved, stressing cooperationthrough regional centres funded either multilaterally orbilaterally. He said that the information systems of UNEP, IUCN,World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UNIDO, and UNDP should notbe duplicated.  Malaysia suggested a special focus on access togenetic resources and sharing of its benefits, as well asbiotechnology and biodiversity prospecting. Japan said that sincethe mechanism is a part of the Convention, its funding shouldcome from the Convention budget. He felt that the mechanismshould not engage in brokerage services. Zambia said that thismechanism should be supported within the financial mechanism. NewZealand supported: regional centres; an electronic network with adecentralized structure; focus on the needs of end-users; andadministration of the mechanism by the Secretariat. Egypt notedthe limited access of developing countries for data managementand storage. Australia supported establishment on an incrementalbasis and functions that would include provision of informationon plans and strategies on all levels as well as information onmethodologies for assessing and valuating biological resources.Brazil called for a decentralized clearing-house mechanism tofacilitate access to information by country Parties. He said thatinformation should not be disseminated until rules regardingaccess are adopted. Canada said that the mechanism should linkParties with problems and centres for solutions. Switzerlandcalled for a mechanism that would be operational immediately withthe COP to provide a political oversight role and the SBSSTA toprovide technical support. The UK suggested that the clearing-house mechanism be limited to information retrieval and referraland not be authorized to provide brokerage services. The USrecommended that the clearing-house mechanism be a pointer to thedata with access open to non-parties and that it not play abrokerage role. India supported the pilot phase for the clearing-house and called for its financing to be covered by sources otherthan the financial mechanism of the Convention. CABI noted itsrole in providing world-wide delivery of specialized informationand offered to share its expertise. An NGO representativespeaking on behalf of NGOs questioned the appropriateness of theclearing-house to deal with such sensitive issues as the right togenetic information. The Chair summarized some of the key themesthat were raised during the clearing-house mechanism discussion:1) all delegates recognize the importance of the clearing-housemechanism; 2) the phased approach is desirable; 3) it should havea wide range of functions, including information-sharing relatedto the Convention’s objectives; 4) existing institutions must beused; 5) a small and efficient coordinating focal point isdesirable; 6) decentralization is important; 7) the networkshould function at regional and subregional levels; 8) the COPshould have political oversight; 9) there is general support formost of the proposals contained in the Secretariat document.


The Secretariat introduced document UNEP/CBD/COP/1/9. The Chairannounced that the location of the Secretariat is now item 11 ofthe revised agenda. The Bureau has recommended that the locationissue should be dealt with by the Plenary at its next session onMonday afternoon. The Chair asked delegates to consider threeissues: selection of the organization to carry out the permanentsecretariat function; extension of the Interim Secretariatpending the establishment of the permanentsecretariat; what form the interim process should take until thepermanent secretariat is established. Most countries favoredcontinuation of the Interim Secretariat until the permanentsecretariat is established. There was virtual agreement that UNEPis best suited to take on the permanent secretariat role. The USnoted that UNEP was the only body to meet the criteriaestablished by ICCBD-2. Australia said that the selection of UNEPmust not influence the decision of the COP on the location issue,nor should it preclude the possibility of drawing from othersources. Many countries, including the EU, and several G-77countries preferred one body, rather than a consortium to carryout secretariat functions. Although many countries supported theneed for close cooperation with other organizations. Swedencalled for a draft agreement to outline the terms of thearrangement of UNEP’s role, as well as the basis for cooperativeventures with other organizations. Organizations such as theIUCN, UNDP, FAO, and UNESCO highlighted their areas of expertiseand willingness to participate with the secretariat. Australiarecommended the need to establish a process for reaching adecision on this issue. Germany, on behalf of the EU, reiteratedthe need for this COP to take a final decision regarding thesecretariat. Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China said thatadditional comments on this matter would be discussed pendingconsultations.


Delegates have now had the opportunity to reiterate their viewson how to proceed with the biosafety issue. It appears that theG-77 is united in their call for action to proceed on biosafety.In a draft decision prepared by the G-77 and China on the medium-term programme of work, reference is made to the establishment ofan “open-ended ad hoc expert group to examine the implementationof Article 19, paragraph 3, of the Convention related to the needfor, and modalities of, a protocol on biosafety.” The draftdecision also refers to the open-ended group holding two meetingsduring 1995 with a view to transmitting its report to COP-II.While OECD countries appear to have a wider range of views on howto proceed, the North/South divide is not as wide on this issueas it is within the GEF debate. Some Northern countries, such asthe Netherlands, support the development of guidelines now, witha legally-binding instrument to be negotiated at a later stage.They believe that the guidelines should be implemented as aninterim measure during the period in which the instrument isbeing negotiated to ensure at least some degree of “regulation”.Other countries such as Japan do not support the idea of alegally-binding protocol, arguing that voluntary guidelines wouldaddress the matter sufficiently. By contrast, countries such asSweden, Norway, and the Eastern European countries, openlysupport the need for a legally-binding protocol. In fact,Slovakia is calling for a review of the possibility of amoratorium on the release of GMOs pending the implementation of aprotocol. Other countries such as Australia, support thecompromise approach as set out in Article 19.3 for a workinggroup to study the need, and if the need is determined, for theappropriate process to be set in place. Despite statements thatthey are willing to support a process on biosafety, the US hasnot expressly endorsed any work on the protocol so far.


COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE: The Committee will consider Agenda Item6.6 (Financial rules governing the funding of the Secretariat),Agenda Item 7 (SBSTTA), Agenda Item 8 (Preparation of theparticipation of the Convention in the third session of the CSD)and Agenda Item 10 (Budget for the Secretariat). WORLD BANK: TheWorld Bank will host a meeting with the Director of theEnvironment Department on “The World Bank and Biodiversity” inthe Gulfstream Room of the Hotel Nassau Beach from 1:00 - 2:45pm. Lunch will be provided.

Further information


National governments
Negotiating blocs
European Union
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions