Daily report for 7 December 1994



The President of the Plenary, Dr. Ivy Dumont, said that theministers’ participation is a testimony of their commitment toimplement the provisions of the Convention and sends a strongpolitical message.

UNEP: Elizabeth Dowdeswell, UN Under-Secretary-General andExecutive Director of UNEP, said that the ministerial segment ofthe COP is of great political importance given the significanceof the Convention for sustaining human development, preservinglife and advancing the principle of equity among nations. Shesaid that firm and unwavering commitment, clear policy and fastaction are required, given the threat to species and ecosystemsand the necessity for human progress. She noted that there areindications that the Earth is on the verge of an unprecedentedwave of species extinction, one that would be unequaled in itsscope, human cause and impact. She called for a dual contract:first, between humankind and the Earth; and secondly, betweenhumankind and itself, based on solidarity, mutual reliance andequity.

CSD: Dr. K. Tpfer (Germany), Chair of the CSD, said that the COPis an important event, especially for the CSD’s focus on cross-sectoral issues and land-use. He underlined the need for improvedland-use policies that permit utilization of resources withoutdestroying them for future generations. He said that the CSD willdevelop indicators of sustainability for various sectors,including agriculture and biodiversity. He emphasized theinterrelationship and importance of work of both the COP and theCSD in all areas, especially with regard to forests. The CSD willalso address the question of a binding instrument on biosafety.

BAHAMAS: Janet G. Bostwick, Minister for Foreign Affairs, saidthat the Bahamas welcomed the priority the COP has assigned tomarine biological diversity and proposed to explore increasingreef biomass through culture and ranching techniques. Noting thatthe SIDS Programme of Action contains essential elements ofconsensus, she called on the SBSTTA to play a vital role in itsimplementation. She stated that access to and transfer oftechnology and capacity-building are essential. She recommendedthat funding procedures under the financial mechanism besimplified. She added that countries that have had limited accessto GEF should be given special consideration.

ALGERIA: Meziane Cherif Abderahmane, Minister of Interior andEnvironment, on behalf of the G-77 and China, called for: new andadditional financial resources so that developing countries couldmeet incremental costs of conservation; technology transfer inconjunction with capacity-building; and equitable sharing ofbenefits. He noted that ecological degradation stems largely fromunfair commercial practices and irrational consumption inindustrialized countries. He further cited poverty eradication asa priority issue and appealed to developed countries to recyclepart of the public debt - an act he described as an outstandingtestimony to universal solidarity. INDIA: Kamal Nath, Ministerfor Environment, called for immediate resolution on the issue ofbiosafety and recommended construction of adequate safeguardsagainst hasty experimentation and use of GMOs. He referred to thefear that the developing world would become a playground for GMOsand to the need for a legally binding protocol. He presentedtechnology transfer as two-way process - not just the South’sresources and the North’s technology, but an equal and fairexchange of the natural resources and knowledge of the South andthe technical expertise and financial resources of the North. Heemphasized the importance of knowledge and practices ofindigenous and traditional communities. He noted the harsh factthat a small proportion of financial benefits reaches indigenouscommunities from intellectual property rights in areas such asmedicine, health care, agriculture and nutrition.

CANADA: Clifford Lincoln, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministerof  Environment, noted that Canada was among the first to ratifythe Convention and highlighted implementation efforts at thenational level, a forest strategy, its contribution to the GEFand the reorientation of development assistance towardssustainable development. He stated that the Convention has thepotential to become an important dynamic force because it goesbeyond classical notions of conservation and emphasizesinnovative concepts such as capacity-building and benefit-sharing. He issued a special plea for the COP to consider therole of indigenous peoples in its future work plans. He concludedthat the Convention is ultimately a question of values and ofequity.

SWITZERLAND: Dr. Philippe Roch, Director of the Federal Office ofEnvironment and Forests, expressed dismay at the COP’s lack ofreference to the potential role of the private sector, andunderscored Switzerland’s plans to organize, in conjunction withthe International Academy of Environment in Geneva, a globalforum on the contribution of business to biodiversityconservation. He applauded the COP’s decision to adopt the GEF asthe financial mechanism, even if only on an interim basis.Finally, he underscored his country’s bid to host theSecretariat. He explained that the COP would benefit from fullintegration into Geneva’s established network of internationalorganizations and permanent missions, including a proposed“universal facility” which would house missions of developing andsmaller countries.

CHINA: Mr. Wang Yuging, Deputy Administrator of the NationalEnvironmental Protection Agency, highlighted his country’simplementation initiatives. He called for: the integration ofconservation activities with developing countries’ policies oneconomic development and poverty alleviation; technologytransfers based on concessional and preferential terms; anaccelerated GEF approval process (guided by all Parties to theCOP); balanced participation of developed and developingcountries in the SBSTTA; and a medium-term work programme, whichreflects financial, technological, benefit-sharing and clearing-house concerns. US: Timothy H. Wirth, Assistant Secretary ofState for Global Affairs, underscored American willingness topursue opportunities for practical cooperation, including sharingtechnology, techniques and scientific information, to meet thegoals of the Convention. He highlighted USAID’s US$74 millionportfolio of projects with more than 40 developing countries aswell as its International Coral Reef Initiative. He applauded theCOP’s support for the restructured GEF and explained that thisdecision sends the “necessary signal” to move forward onbiodiversity initiatives. Finally, he indicated hisadministration’s intent to continue to seek ratification based onPresident Clinton’s decision to bring the US into the mainstreamof international environmental cooperation.

MALAYSIA: Law Heng Dieng, Minister of Science, Technology andEnvironment, called for a new partnership between technology richcountries and genetically rich countries. He urged for adequaterepresentation from developing countries in the SBSTTA and thatthe clearing-house mechanism serve as a vehicle for technologytransfer. He referred to the urgent need to examine plant geneticresources originating in developing countries now in thepossession of multinational corporations. He also called for alegally binding biosafety protocol.

FINLAND: Sirpa Pietikinen, Minister of Environment, noted theneed to commence work for a biosafety protocol without delay. Shesaid that decisions regarding the GEF should be finalized as soonas possible so as not to jeopardize the next replenishment. Shedescribed forests as the most significant terrestrial ecosystemsfor biodiversity and said that their conservation is a criticalmatter for consideration by future COPs. INDONESIA: SarwonoKusumaatmadja, Minister for Environment,  questioned the type ofpartnership on which the Convention should be based. He calledfor: new and additional financial arrangements to promotenational conservation efforts; regional cooperation amongdeveloping countries; and a protocol on biosafety. He alsoaddressed the issue of national authority in determining accessto genetic resources and intellectual property rights. Heendorsed the COP’s designation of the restructured GEF as theinterim financial mechanism, but cautioned that this decisionshould not preclude consideration of other financial sources.

SRI LANKA: Dr. D. Nesiah, on behalf of Srimani Athulathmudali,Minister of Transport, Environment and Women’s Affairs, stressedthe need to understand the causes that contribute to thedestruction of biodiversity namely: indiscriminate felling ofprimeval forests; mining of coral reefs; overfishing; over-exploitation of economically valuable species; and chemicalpollution. He concluded by offering Sri Lanka as a location for afuture meeting of the COP.

GHANA: Dr. Christina Amoako-Nuama, Minister of Environment,Science and Technology, said that the spirit of partnership isthe only way forward to rectify past injustices and the role theyhave played in ecological destruction. She acknowledged thatnational projects must conform to national priorities andnational development strategies. BURKINA FASO: Anatole G.Tiendrebeogo, Minister of Environment and Tourism, spoke onbehalf of the African Group of Environment Ministers. He welcomedthe selection of UNEP for the Secretariat and noted that Africadeserves special attention from the international community tosave its biodiversity resources. He noted that the subsidiarybodies need the necessary level of financial resources to begintheir work as soon as possible.

MAURITIUS: Bashir Ahmed Khodabux, Minister of Environment andQuality of Life, noted that population growth and poverty werethe most significant threats to biodiversity and could not becontained effectively without adequate investments and transferof technology. He highlighted the special needs of Africa, andthe high vulnerability of SIDS. He called for action on: aprotocol on access to genetic resources, technology transfer,farmers’ and community rights. He supported a separate fund forthe Convention distinct from that of the GEF to be placed underthe control of the COP.

NORWAY: Bernt Bull, Deputy Minister of Environment, called for abalance between conservation, sustainable use and innovativeapproaches to deal with biodiversity resources that exist outsideprotected areas. He underscored the need to reward sustainabilityin sectors such as agriculture. He added that the equitablesharing of benefits among and within countries is of utmostimportance. He said that the best scientific knowledge, as wellas indigenous knowledge, must underlie decisions and actions.COLOMBIA: Cecilia Lopez Montao, Minister of Environment, saidthat the Convention must take into account poverty, and notedthat some of the most biologically diverse areas are the mostunder-developed. She said that development of biotechnology canrepresent a high cost for developing countries if no mechanism isestablished to protect the rights and intellectual property offarmers and indigenous peoples. She added that benefit sharingunder the Convention cannot be isolated from global processesrelated to intellectual property. She expressed concern that theCOP had not financed activities related to a biosafety protocoland hoped that the process would not be curtailed for lack offunds.

UGANDA: Muganwa Kajura, Minister of Natural Resources, noted thatseveral projects aimed at the conservation of biologicaldiversity have been developed including, the Mt. Elgon and theKibale-Semliki Conservation projects and the national wetlandsprogramme. Regional cooperation with Kenya and Tanzania in theGEF project on institutional support for the protection of EastAfrican biodiversity was also mentioned. He supported the GEF asan interim financial mechanism. GRENADA: The Ministerialrepresentative from Grenada reiterated his commitment as a SIDSto uphold the principles of the Barbados Declaration. He saidthat the problems affecting marine and terrestrial biodiversityresult largely from inappropriate land use practice and fishingmethods. He noted the importance of a technology transfermechanism.

PHILIPPINES: Angel Alcala, Secretary of Environment and NaturalResources, said that new and additional resources must beprovided to developing countries through a transparent anddemocratic mechanism. He called for exploration of new modalitiesof development assistance, including national environmentalfunds. He urged for the negotiation of a biosafety protocol forCOP-II and steps to be taken to prevent genetic piracy. He alsocalled for community and NGO involvement. MONGOLIA: Dr. T.Shiirevdamba, Vice-Minister for Nature and Environment, referredto the GEF-funded Mongolian Biodiversity Project and cooperativeagreements with the Russian Federation and China. He referred toMongolia’s ecological crisis and its movement towards a free-market economy.


PLENARY The Ministerial Segment continues this morning at 10:00am.

BIODIVERSITY AND DEVELOPMENT: UNDP will host a discussion onlinks between biodiversity and development, from 1:00 - 2:30 pmin the Eleuthera Room, Crystal Palace Hotel. A light lunch willbe provided.

Further information