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Volume 09 Number 597 - Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Tuesday, 16 April 2013

CGRFA 14 continued addressing cross-sectorial matters under its MYPOW in morning, afternoon and evening sessions, including: targets and indicators for forest genetic resources (FGR); climate change and GRFA; ABS modalities for GRFA; and biodiversity and nutrition. In the evening, delegates initiated discussions on FGR. A Friends of the Chair group on indicators for PGRFA met during lunchtime.


TARGETS AND INDICATORS: FGR: The Secretariat introduced the document (CGRFA-14/13/4.3). Lolona Ramamonjisoa (Madagascar), Chair of the ITWG on FGR, presented the provisional list of indicators addressing the State-Pressure-Benefit-Response (SPBR) loop.

Ethiopia for AFRICA called for an inclusive definition of FGR. He suggested that indicators need to include more verifiable measures, and focus on continuous ecosystem services and ex situ conservation measures. On the definition, the Secretariat responded that countries will select the forest species to focus on.

The ERG suggested linkages to the strategic priorities for action on FGR, and taking into account indicators developed in other processes. The US stressed that countries should choose the relevant indicators with the support of, but not as prescribed by, FAO. With CANADA, she underlined taking feasibility into account and focusing on implementation of the strategic priorities.

BIOVERSITY INTERNATIONAL stressed that while the tentative list of indicators is grouped by scale and type, subsets should be applied in different situations, further highlighting limited implementation of any indicators.

PGRFA: Amar Tahiri (Morocco), facilitator of the Friends of the Chair group, reported that the group: agreed to retain the list of indicators, noting the possibility to revise them on the basis of their usefulness; and suggested enabling governments to provide comments to the Secretariat on the reporting format before its finalization.

CLIMATE CHANGE: The Secretariat introduced relevant documents, including a proposed roadmap or work programme for 2013-2017 (CGRFA-14/13/5 and Inf.10). CANADA recommended referring to the proposed outcome as a work programme, and delegates agreed. The ERG recommended harnessing GRFA to ensure food security in light of climate change and mainstreaming it into other work, as part of the work programme. The Cook Islands for SOUTHWEST PACIFIC expressed concern regarding the impact of climate change on future food production and called for adaptation measures.

Cuba for GRULAC supported focus on adaptation, while THAILAND stressed the equal importance of mitigation. Madagascar for AFRICA stressed the role of GRFA in both mitigation and adaptation, and with CANADA and the US called for equally reflecting the role of GRFA in both mitigation and adaptation. BRAZIL, with ARGENTINA, stressed the essential role of GRFA for adaptation, and recalled the importance of respecting the mandate and principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) in relation to mitigation activities. The US opposed referring to the CBDR principle, noting the document focuses on provision of information, and BRAZIL clarified that no reference to the principle is required in relation to information-related activities. CANADA noted that the Commission cannot make recommendations regarding work of other bodies, and delegates agreed that the CGRFA contribute to already existing programmes under the UNFCCC.

AFRICA called for: more concrete cooperation with the UNFCCC, including a joint programme; capacity building; and funding for implementation. IRAN called for adding concrete activities to the work programme, such as reducing emissions in production systems, focusing on low-input production systems, and using crop wild relatives and underutilized species. ECUADOR called for information on hotspots under threat from climate change to be compiled in 2013. INDIA suggested focus on crop wild relatives and in situ conservation with regard to awareness raising, as well as a different budget line for technology transfer.  BHUTAN and the PHILIPPINES requested that expert meetings include, and awareness-raising activities focus on, farmers.

SEARICE urged for improved recognition of the role of farmers and pastoralists in building resilience to climate change, and for a more holistic approach rather than a narrow focus on increased productivity.

Chair Fraleigh suggested the report include reference to mitigation and adaptation, wherever appropriate, without qualifications. Upon a request by Brazil, a revised version of the work programme was circulated in the evening, for further discussion.

ABS: Raj Patil (Australia) introduced the report of the first session of the Ad Hoc Technical Working Group on ABS for GRFA (CGRFA-14/13/6) and the Secretariat introduced the document on the need for and modalities of ABS arrangements for GRFA (CGRFA-14/13/7).

The ERG, CANADA, and Namibia for AFRICA considered it premature to start negotiations on specialized international instruments. AFRICA stressed that any CGRFA guidance on ABS should not run counter to the objectives of the CBD and Nagoya Protocol; and called for national and regional dialogue and capacity building. The ERG welcomed the list of distinctive features of GRFA, noting that GRFA sub-sectors have different features, and, with AFRICA, that actual use can confirm whether a genetic resource is a GRFA. The ERG also supported ensuring collaboration with the Nagoya Protocol on model contractual clauses and codes of conduct, and developing a matrix on international practices and instruments of relevance to sub-sectors, to be shared with the CBD.

CANADA supported: greater priority for AnGR; focus on sub-sectors that are not addressed by the ITPGR; development of principles corresponding to existing best practices, including guidance provided in the Global Plan of Action on AnGR; and compilation of information on model contractual clauses and codes of conduct from all sources. JAPAN proposed that the Commission send a message that formulation of national ABS legislation should take into account the distinctive features of GRFA.

ITPGR Secretary Shakeel Bhatti reported on ABS-related developments under the Treaty and enhanced cooperation with the CBD, and invited the Commission to consider the Treaty’s scope to avoid duplication and promote efficient governance. The CBD drew attention to Nagoya Protocol provisions on GRFA and specialized ABS instruments, and highlighted ongoing information gathering on model contractual clauses, guidelines and best practices. WIPO reported on ongoing negotiations on intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. The INTERNATIONAL SEED FEDERATION recommended complete consistency with the ITPGR. The INTERNATIONAL PLANNING COMMITTEE FOR FOOD SOVEREIGNTY underlined restitution of farmers’ rights over genetic resources and access of farmers to all genebanks.

SEARICE said that ABS should benefit small farmers, and called for a review of the impact of IPRs on farmers’ rights and GRFA conservation and use. NAMIBIA supported a study on the impact of IPRs on ABS for GRFA. A lengthy discussion ensued, and it was clarified that in CBD Decision X/34 (agricultural biodiversity), the CBD, FAO and CGRFA are already mandated to conduct a study on the impact of IPRs on several sectors of genetic resources, indigenous and local communities and farmers. Discussion on the issue will continue.

Delegates then discussed whether the table of distinctive features of GRFA identified by the Technical Working Group on ABS should be appended to the meeting report. AFRICA opposed, noting its limited utility, and ETHIOPIA said it cannot accept it as it stands. The ERG, AUSTRALIA and SWITZERLAND called for retaining it. Delegates eventually agreed to append the table, noting the contention regarding its usefulness and the need for further work with focus on utilization as GRFA.

Regarding future work on elements of voluntary guidelines for domestic ABS measures for different GRFA sub-sectors, AFRICA called for “exploratory” voluntary guidelines without prejudice to national measures. The ERG suggested developing such elements to anticipate future national measures to implement the Nagoya Protocol. The US considered the development of guidelines premature. On process, the US, supported by CANADA, proposed continuing work on ABS in the forest, animal and plant ITWGs, to identify relevant stakeholders and existing international practices, initiatives and instruments. The SOUTHWEST PACIFIC also preferred continuing work in the ITWGs. AFRICA, GRULAC and ASIA favored continuation of the Technical Working Group on ABS. The ERG preferred the establishment of a group of technical and legal experts. Chair Fraleigh drew attention to diverging views, and a Friends of the Chair group was established to address the issue.

BIODIVERSITY AND NUTRITION: The Secretariat presented relevant documents (CGRFA-14/13/8, Inf.11, Inf.12 and Inf.13). ASIA noted the importance of nutrition security, emphasizing the use of underutilized crops and encouraging research in suggested priority areas. GRULAC proposed deleting reference to characterization of ecosystems for sustainable diets as a key area for research. The ERG underlined the need to avoid overlap with other fora by focusing on the link between nutrition and genetic resources. AUSTRALIA and IRAN stressed the importance of supportive market policies, with CANADA enquiring about the contribution of food exports and imports to nutritional diversity. ARGENTINA requested reference to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE MOVEMENTS called for promoting the ecosystem approach and traditional agricultural methods. PRACTICAL ACTION prioritized long-term solutions.


STATE OF THE WORLD’S FGR: The Secretariat provided a detailed overview of the draft report on the State of the World’s FGR and introduced relevant documents (CGRFA-14/13/9 and 11). Many delegates welcomed the draft report and thanked FAO for the significant work involved in compiling the information. The SOUTHWEST PACIFIC said the finalized report will support actions towards sustainable use. ETHIOPIA lamented that the report is based on secondary data, and called for FAO-led data collection and analysis. IRAN noted missing information, such as synthesis of regional gaps, needs and threats.

The US welcomed the scope and depth of the report and supported its finalization according to the proposed schedule. ECUADOR called for requesting countries that have not done so to submit their reports and, with the ERG, suggested extending the timelines for finalization of the report. The Secretariat said information received covers 90% of the world’s forested area, but noted that key country reports from some regions are missing. BRAZIL said that the publication of the report had already been significantly delayed.

NORWAY stressed the importance of an accompanying synthesis report. The ERG called for involving CGRFA members in the finalization of the report. ECUADOR and IRAN enquired about the role of the Commission in finalizing the report. The Secretariat explained that the CGRFA provides guidance on  preparation, as well as comments on drafts, but does not adopt the report, as FAO remains fully and solely responsible for its content. Delegates eventually agreed that the report will be published in 2013, after CGRFA members have been given an opportunity to comment on the final draft.


CGRFA delegates had a busy day on Tuesday, with three plenary sessions addressing a range of issues into the late evening. While a small group delved into the technicalities of indicators for plant genetic resources, plenary shifted to more general policy issues: climate change, and access and benefit-sharing. As one participant observed, “balancing technical and policy work is a major challenge,” since the Commission needs to maintain its authority on the science of genetic resources for food and agriculture while ensuring its place in a complex international policy arena.
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This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <> is written and edited by Elisa Morgera, Ph.D., Nicole Schabus, Elsa Tsioumani and Asterios Tsioumanis, Ph.D. The Digital Editor is Mike Muzurakis. The Editors are Robynne Boyd and Pamela S. Chasek, Ph.D. <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV), the Government of Canada (through CIDA), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), and the Government of Australia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2013 is provided by the Ministry of Environment of Sweden, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Specific funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Belgium Walloon Region, Québec, and the International Organization of the Francophone (OIF and IEPF). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022 USA. The ENB Team at CGRFA 14 can be contacted by e-mail at <>.
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