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Biodiversity and Wildlife

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December 2005


The open-ended Working Group on the Rules of Procedure and the Financial Rules of the Governing Body, Compliance, and the Funding Strategy of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture has met to prepare drafts for consideration by the first meeting of the Governing Body, to be held in June 2006, in Madrid, Spain. The Working Group met from 14-17 December 2005, in Rome, Italy. Link to further information Report of the meeting

The eleventh meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) reviewed the programmes of work on biodiversity of dry and sub-humid lands, and the Global Taxonomy Initiative. Convened from 28 November to 2 December 2005, in Montreal, Canada, the meeting adopted 14 recommendations on a range of other issues, including: sustainable use; synergy among activities addressing biodiversity, climate change, land degradation and desertification; and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The meeting also refined the goal and targets regarding access and benefit-sharing adopted by COP-7. However, debates on marine and coastal biodiversity, incentive measures and invasive alien species proved to be difficult, mainly due to trade-related political sensitivities and, as a result, some of the recommendations remain bracketed. SBSTTA's recommendations will be forwarded to the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD, to take place from 20-31 March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil. Link to further information IISDRS coverage.

Disputes on issues related to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) spilled over into the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial in December, with a number of developing countries, led by India and Brazil, pushing for language on CBD-related issues. These issues included the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD, and the launch of negotiations on a requirement for disclosure of origin of biological materials and related traditional knowledge in patent applications. According to one report, India presented an updated version of a paragraph it wanted to incorporate into the Hong Kong ministerial declaration at a WTO meeting on CBD issues held on 21 November. According to the proposal, patent applicants would have to “disclose, as a condition for grant of the patent, the source and country of origin of the biological/genetic material and associated traditional knowledge used in the invention.” The proposal received the support of many developing countries, while Australia, Canada, Japan and the US were the main opponents. The opponents argued that CBD issues should not be part of the Hong Kong agenda, and agreement was not reached. However, during the Hong Kong Ministerial, India maintained the pressure for the launch of negotiations on the relationship between TRIPS and the CBD. Calling for such negotiations, as well as for incorporating provisions on disclosure of origin in the TRIPS Agreement, Indian minister of commerce and industry Kamal Nath said in plenary that there was growing popular discontent among developing countries over biopiracy and the misappropriation of their genetic resources and traditional knowledge. By the end of deliberations, the final text of the ministerial declaration states that Members “take note of the work undertaken by the Director-General in his consultative process on all outstanding implementation issues under paragraph 12(b) of the Doha Ministerial Declaration, including on issues related to the extension of the protection of geographical indications … and those related to the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity” and that they “request the Director-General, without prejudice to the positions of Members, to intensify his consultative process.” The Council shall review progress and take any appropriate action no later than 31 July 2006. Although there is no mention of disclosure requirements, the text does communicate a sense of urgency regarding the conclusion of the ongoing consultative process on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD. Links to further information Official WTO conference website Draft Ministerial Declaration, 18 December 2005 ICTSD Bridges Daily Coverage, 13-18 December 2005 ICTSD Bridges Daily Coverage, 13-18 December 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial ends with little overall progress; lim..., IP Watch, 18 December 2005 Latest WTO Ministerial draft urges discussions on IP issues ..., IP Watch, 18 December 2005 Peru attempts strong WTO position on disclosure despite weak..., IP Watch, 17 December 2005 CBD issues subject of tough negotiations at WTO, IP Watch, 16 December 2005 India, US have a tiff over TRIPS, Economic Times (India), 16 December 2005 Amiti Sen, Tackle biopiracy, says India, Financial Express, 15 December 2005 India, Brazil tie biodiversity negotiations to Doha developm..., IP Watch, 15 December 2005 WTO draft ministerial text urges progress on TRIPS issues, IP Watch, 28 November 2005

November 2005


The eighth Conference of the Parties (COP-8) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) convened from 20-25 November 2005, in Nairobi, Kenya, with the theme “On the Move to 2010.” CMS COP-8 was preceded by the 13th meeting of the CMS Scientific Council, held from 16-18 November, and the 29th meeting of the CMS Standing Committee, held on 20 November. COP-8 addressed: the review of CMS implementation; sustainable use; the target to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010; measures to improve the conservation status of Appendix I species, including projects on Sahelo-Saharan antelopes and the Siberian crane; measures to improve the conservation status of Appendix II species, including raptors, migratory sharks, and marine turtles; proposals for amendments to Appendices I and II; the CMS 2006-2011 Strategic Plan; the CMS Information Management Plan; and financial and administrative arrangements, including the new budget. The meeting added 11 species to Appendix I and 16 to Appendix II, with the basking shark, bukhara deer and short-beaked common dolphin listed on both appendices, and witnessed the signing of new Memoranda of Understanding on the West African elephant and the Saiga antelope. Link to further information IISDRS coverage

Countries need assistance and guidance to conduct a risk assessment of living modified organisms (LMOs) notified for import, according to biosafety experts. The Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on risk assessment under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which convened from 15-18 November 2005, in Rome, Italy, concluded that international guidelines and academic research is lacking regarding specific LMOs and types of risk. The Group also noted that the capacity to conduct a risk assessment is linked to the level of development of the country in question. The report of the meeting will be submitted to the third meeting of the Parties to the Protocol, to be held in March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil. The risk assessment process, set out in Annex III of the Protocol, is used by Parties to make informed decisions regarding the import of LMOs. Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes Meeting documents

The first Diversitas Open Science Conference on integrating biodiversity science for human well-being urged governments and the UN to establish a properly-resourced international scientific panel to provide independent biodiversity-related scientific information. The conclusion of the meeting, which was held from 9-12 November 2005, in Oaxaca, Mexico, is in agreement with the recommendations of the Conference on Biodiversity Science and Governance held in Paris in January 2005. Underscoring the conclusions of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, participating scientists stressed the irreversible global destruction of biodiversity as a result of human activities, and the insufficient political and public attention to its extent and consequences. Presentations ranged from biology to economics and international law, with emphasis on the positive benefits of conservation. Links to further information The Conference website The Oaxaca Declaration on Biodiversity

October 2005


Disclosure of the source of biological materials and related traditional knowledge in patent applications continues to be a highly controversial issue for the Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). At its meeting in Geneva from 25-28 October 2005, India, supported by Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Cuba, Bolivia, Colombia, Thailand, Turkey and Indonesia, submitted a paper calling for a multilateral approach to disclosure. The paper responded to a recent U.S. submission, which argued for a contract-based approach based on national legislation. India believes such an approach would not prevent international misappropriation of genetic resources, as most resources are patented by multinational companies outside the country of origin. Australia, the EC, Canada and New Zealand agreed with the need for further discussion on how disclosure requirements could prevent biopiracy. During an informal consultation session on outstanding implementation issues relating to the relationship between TRIPS and the Convention on Biological Diversity, India submitted draft text for the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration in December 2005, calling for negotiations specifically on disclosure requirements. Links to further information BRIDGES Trade BioRes, 28 October 2005 Intellectual Property Watch, TRIPS Council issues still aliv..., 28 October 2005

Environment and fisheries communities must work together to save the world's oceans. This was the main conclusion of the first International Marine Protected Areas Congress, held from 23-28 October 2005, in Geelong, Australia. Bringing together more than 750 experts from approximately 70 countries, the Congress discussed various issues, including the target adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to establish a global network of marine protected areas by 2012. Participants emphasized that marine protected areas can play a significant role in preventing the collapse of the world's fisheries. Other strategies identified included responsible fishing practices, improved ocean governance and greater investment in scientific research. Links to further information Congress website IUCN statement, 28 October 2005
Desertification Conference Makes Limited Progress on Convention Implementation

28 October 2005: The seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-7) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD) has completed its deliberations without reaching a decision on all measures discussed. Nearly 1000 participants gathered at the UN Office at Nairobi, Kenya, from 17-28 October 2005, to review the implementation of the Convention, develop the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UNCCD and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), adopt the programme and budget for the 2006-2007 biennium, and review the recommendations in the report of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) of the United Nations, among other agenda items. Parties' discussions on the proposal to include an additional agenda item on the procedure for the selection of an Executive Secretary and regarding regional coordination units ended without the adoption of a decision. Parties reported that the COP's outcomes did not meet their expectations, and therefore the meeting was not deemed successful in moving forward the Convention's implementation. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage]

Avian 'flu was a major focus of the third meeting of the Parties to the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds Agreement (AEWA). Held from 23-27 October 2005, in Dakar, Senegal, the meeting concluded with an urgent call for improved national contingency planning, and for better information on risk assessment and necessary responses. The meeting also adopted resolutions on a range of other topics, including: amendments to the annexes; an international partnership for support of waterbird population assessments; a strategic plan and a communication strategy; single species action plans; institutional issues and the budget; climate change in relation to migratory waterbirds; and implementation of the Addis Ababa principles on sustainable use of the Convention on Biological Diversity. With 51 Contracting Parties as of October 2005, the Agreement, developed under the Convention on Migratory Species, covers 235 species of birds ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle. Link to further information Meeting coverage

The 33rd session of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's General Conference has ended with the adoption of three major texts and the re-election of Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. The texts adopted were: the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; the International Convention Against Doping in Sport; and the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The text on cultural expressions proved controversial, with the U.S. opposing it. The document was finally approved with 148 votes in favor, two against, and four abstentions. It will enter into force three months after its ratification by 30 states. The UNESCO conference also included ministerial round tables on education for all and on the basic sciences, as well as various other events. The 33rd General Conference was held in Paris from 3-21 October 2005. Links to further information UNESCO press releases, October 2005: 21 October 2005 - 6:30 pm 20 October 2005 21 October 2005 U.S. Disgruntled over UNESCO Cultural Diversity Treaty, Financial Times, 13 October 2005

An expert meeting under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has concluded that it may be premature to decide whether or not to develop an international liability regime focused on damage to biodiversity. In a meeting held from 12-14 October 2005, in Montreal, Canada, the group of technical and legal experts suggested that the CBD Conference of the Parties could develop guidance relating to damage to biodiversity, its valuation and restoration, and capacity-building at the national level, including the development and implementation of national liability and redress regimes. Link to further information The report of the meeting

Protected areas, wilderness legislation, native lands and the proposed oil and gas drilling in Alaska were among the issues discussed at the eighth World Wilderness Congress. Held from 30 September to 6 October 2005, in Anchorage, Alaska and attended by 1200 delegates, the Congress approved a list of 45 resolutions addressing broad conservation concerns, as well as specific areas needing attention. It also included numerous training programmes, and generated several outcomes, including the designation of protected areas in Mexico and DR Congo, new funding for a proactive global wildlands initiative, and the formation of professional networks and conservation organizations. Link to further information Congress website

The World Intellectual Property Organization's General Assembly has extended the mandate of the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore for two years. Meeting from 26 September to 5 October 2005 in Geneva, Switzerland, WIPO's General Assembly agreed to continue accelerated work on intellectual property and traditional knowledge, genetic resources and folklore with a focus on the international dimension. The renewed mandate excludes no outcome, including the possible development of an international instrument or instruments in the field. The Assembly also agreed to establish a voluntary fund for indigenous and local communities to support participation of their representatives in the work of the Intergovernmental Committee. Among other highlights, member states also decided to continue efforts to enhance the development dimension in WIPO's work by establishing a provisional committee to accelerate and complete discussions on related proposals. They also agreed on a work plan for talks on the draft Substantive Patent Law Treaty, aiming to achieve greater convergence among national and regional patent laws and practices. Links to further information WIPO Assemblies Conclude, WIPO press release, 5 October 2005 WIPO's Future Work, Past Credibility on Table at General Ass..., IP Watch, 26 September 2005 WIPO Negotiators Seek Final Agreement on Key Issues at Gener..., IP Watch, 1 October 2005 New Committee for WIPO Development Agenda; Patents Reinvigor..., IP Watch, 3 October 2005 WIPO Members Create New Forum to Discuss Development Agenda, BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, 5 October 2005 WIPO to Continue Work on Genetic Resources, TK, BRIDGES Trad..., 14 October 2005 Global Intellectual Property Body Looks South, SciDev.Net, 12 October 2005

The secretariats of the biodiversity-related Conventions have agreed to establish a Global Partnership on Biodiversity at the eighth Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The fourth meeting of the Liaison Group of the Biodiversity-related Conventions was held on 4 October 2005 in Bonn, Germany. It was attended by the heads of the secretariats of the CBD and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), as well as representatives of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), CBD and CMS. The group agreed that the terms of reference for a Global Partnership on Biodiversity should refer to the CBD objectives and to the 2010 target to reduce significantly the current rate of biodiversity loss. Link to further information Report of the meeting

September 2005


A Codex Alimentarius Task Force has decided to draft guidelines for the conduct of food safety assessments of food derived from nutrition- and health-enhanced genetically modified animals and plants. The Codex Alimentarius Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology held its fifth session from 19-23 September 2005, in Chiba, Japan. Participants discussed potential new areas of work for the Task Force and agreed to undertake work on two items: a Guideline on the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Animals; and an Annex to the existing Codex Guideline on the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Plants on “Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Plants Modified for Nutritional and Health Benefits.” The Task Force discussed, but did not agree to undertake work on, the adventitious presence of unauthorized GM plant material and on GM plants producing pharmaceutical substances. First established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1999, the Task Force was re-created in July 2005 with the mandate to elaborate standards, guidelines, or other principles for GM foods. Links to further information ICTSD BRIDGES Trade BioRes, 30 September 2005 Codex should address ethical, ecological concerns on GM food..., The Financial Express, 26 September 2005 Online report of the US delegate, September 2005 The official report of the meeting (not yet available as at 26 October 2005)

An action plan has been agreed to save frogs, salamanders and other amphibians facing extinction. The Amphibian Conservation Summit, organized from 17-19 September 2005 in Washington DC, by IUCN, Conservation International and the Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force, concluded with proposals for a series of actions, including emergency responses to save species under the greatest threat because of pollution, habitat destruction, as well as a little-known fungus wiping out their populations. Responding to findings in last year's Global Amphibian Assessment, the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan declaration is divided into four key strategies: understanding the causes of declines and extinctions; documenting amphibian diversity and how it is changing; developing and implementing long-term conservation programmes; and delivering emergency responses to crises. Links to further information Experts develop Global Action Plan to save amphibians facing..., IUCN news release, 19 September 2005 Global plan to rescue amphibians, BBC News, 19 September 2005 Conservation groups want $404 million for frogs, Associated Press, 20 September 2005

The goal of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 was the focus of a Working Group of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which met held from 5-9 September 2005, in Montreal, Canada, was widely viewed as a crossroads for the CBD on its way towards achieving the target to reach a significant reduction of the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. The meeting represented an opportunity to assess where the Convention stands, how much ground it has covered in the past and where it needs to go in the future. By the conclusion of the meeting, there was broad agreement that there are two crucial, interrelated issues on the road linking policy to implementation: streamlining the Convention processes and providing assistance for national implementation. The Working Group's recommendations will be forwarded to the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, to be held from 20-31 March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil. IISDRS coverage.

Two back-to-back meetings have been held to discuss the survival of great apes and their habitat. The first Intergovernmental Meeting (IGM-1) on Great Apes and the first meeting of the Council of the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP Council Meeting) convened from 5-9 September 2005, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Viewed as a positive step forward, the meetings provided an opportunity for a diverse group of actors to meet and reach accord on a strategy for the survival of the great apes and their habitats. The outcomes, including a Global Strategy for the Survival of Great Apes and the Kinshasa Declaration on great apes, were approved during a High Level Segment, convened on 9 September. IISDRS coverage.

August 2005


Convened by a network of partner organizations, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, UNDP and others, the first International Conference on the Importance of Biodiversity to Human Health was held from 23-25 August 2005, in Galway, Ireland. It included an overview session on biodiversity and human health, and sessions on: food security, nutrition and sustainable livelihoods; disease ecology; natural products and drug discovery; systemic approaches to population health; and policy options at the local, regional and international level. In addition to the main conference, the CBD Secretariat convened a workshop on biodiversity indicators for food and medicine. In a statement released by his office to mark the start of the conference, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that “over the last 50 years, pollution, climate change, degradation of habitats and the overexploitation of natural resources led to more rapid losses of biological diversity than at any other time in human history.” He also noted that it was important for conference participants to put forward recommendations to guide the international community towards achieving truly sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals. Links to further information Conference website
Secretary-General stresses importance of biodiversity to hum..., UN Press Release, 23 August 2005 “Biodiversity loss ‘poses grave threat to human health',” SciDev.Net, 24 August 2005

July 2005


The 23rd session of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations has focused on the theme of “Indigenous peoples and the international and domestic protection of traditional knowledge.” The session, which took place from 18-22 July 2005, in Geneva, Switzerland, considered a legal paper offering guidelines on the implementation of the principle of free, prior and informed consent, and reviewed draft principles and guidelines on the heritage of indigenous peoples. Meeting documents.

A contact group convened under the framework of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture has met to discuss the standard material transfer agreement. The group, which met in Hammamet, Tunisia from 18-22 July 2005, was tasked with negotiating a draft standard material transfer agreement for consideration by the first meeting of the International Treaty's Governing Body. The standard material transfer agreement is the instrument for implementing the multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing, which is the core of the Treaty. Although many controversial issues remained outstanding, the meeting was considered to be a success, as the contact group resolved many non-controversial issues and set out the basic structure of the agreement. Remaining issues include: dispute settlement, including whether arbitration would be binding or not; the benefit-sharing method and payment; and an African proposal to add a legal person representing the Governing Body, as a third-party beneficiary, as part of the material transfer agreement to monitor its execution. Delegates agreed to hold a second meeting in late 2005 or early 2006, in time before the first session of the Governing Body to be held in June 2006. Report of the group.

June 2005


Ministers attending the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Ministerial Conference on Biotechnology have adopted a resolution asking member countries to prepare their national biosafety frameworks by 1 July 2006, so as to facilitate harmonization in the region by 2008. The conference, held from 21-28 June 2005 in Bamako, Mali, also produced a number of other resolutions, which addressed: adoption of measures by the ECOWAS Secretariat to facilitate implementation of a regional strategic plan on biosafety; increased budget allocations to agriculture; and prioritization of funding research for biotechnology tools for small farmers. Links to further information: Accra Daily Mail, Churcher urges ECOWAS Ministers, 28 June 2005 Biosafety Regulations Necessary, ECOWAS Hears, Bridges Trade..., 8 July 2005

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has rejected attempts by pro-whaling nations to remove the existing Southern Ocean Sanctuary and ease restrictions on certain types of whaling. While some of the votes were close, anti-whaling nations managed to defeat a number of changes proposed by pro-whaling states such as Japan. The latest meeting took place in Ulsan, Republic of Korea, from 20-24 June 2005. More information: IWC's reports on the meeting

Members of the WTO Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) remained divided over the need for disclosure of origin of genetic resources and traditional knowledge in patent applications at a recent meeting, according to reports. The TRIPS Council met from 14-15 June 2005 in Geneva. Prior to the Council meeting, informal consultations were held on the relationship between the TRIPS Council and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Consultations are expected to continue. Links to further information: BRIDGES Trade BioRes, 24 June 2005

An agreement on an international mechanism to protect traditional knowledge folklore has not been reached after disagreements during a recent meeting in Geneva. The eighth session of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), took place from 6-10 June 2005. However, no agreement was reported. Links to further information: ICTSD Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest report, 15 June 2005 WIPO webpage

The second meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety achieved a number of successful steps towards the Protocol's implementation, including decisions on capacity building, and public awareness and participation, and constructive discussions on risk assessment and risk management, including agreement to establish an intersessional technical expert group. Nevertheless, the meeting, held from 30 May to 3 June 2005, in Montreal, Canada, did not succeed in fulfilling its main task laid out in the text of the Protocol itself, namely adopting a decision on the detailed requirements of documentation of living modified organisms for food, feed or for processing. Adoption of the decision was deferred to the third meeting of the Parties, to be held in March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil. IISDRS coverage.

May 2005


The Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts on Liability and Redress in the context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has convened from 25-27 May 2005, in Montreal, Canada. The Working Group met immediately prior to the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP/MOP-2). The Group reviewed information relating to liability and redress for damage resulting from transboundary movements of living modified organisms (LMOs). It also elaborated on elements of rules and procedures on liability and redress, identified by the meeting of Technical Expert Group on Liability and Redress, held from 18-20 October 2004, in Montreal, Canada. Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage.

The Millennium Development Goals were the focus of the fourth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Held at UN Headquarters in New York from 16-27 May 2005, the session focused in particular on Goal 1 (eradicating poverty) and Goal 2 (primary education for all). The Forum meeting recommended a human rights approach to development and the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in MDG-related programmes. The Forum also expressed concern that, unless the situation and voices of indigenous peoples are taken into account, the MDG process may lead to accelerated loss of land and natural resources, and further marginalization, discrimination and impoverishment of indigenous peoples. Link to further information: Meeting website and Report of the Meeting, May/June 2005

Parties to the UNECE Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters have adopted an amendment to the Convention extending the rights of the public to participate in decision-making on GMOs. At the second meeting of Parties to the Aarhus Convention, held in Almaty, Kazakhstan from 25-27 May 2005, delegates also adopted a decision on applying the Aarhus principles in other international environmental forums. In addition, Parties considered and upheld the findings of the Compliance Committee that three countries – Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine – had failed to comply with certain provisions of the Convention. During a high-level segment, the meeting reiterated its invitation to non-ECE member States to accede to the Convention. Links to further information: Meeting website Secretariat press releases from the meeting, May 2005

The International Committee of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has adopted resolutions on genetic engineering applications for livestock and biotechnology products, and the implementation of Committee standards in the framework of the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement. At the Committee's 73rd General Session held in Paris from 22-27 May 2005, members requested the establishment of an Ad Hoc Group on Biotechnology. They also requested the development of standards and guidelines relating to animal vaccines produced through biotechnology, animal health risks linked to cloning, the exclusion of unapproved animals and products from the livestock population, and genetically engineered animals. Links to further information: Committee press release, 30 May 2005 Bridges Trade BioRes, Animal Health Organization looks at tr..., biotech standards, 10 June 2005

The Plants and Animals Committees of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have finished their latest meetings after adopting decisions on numerous issues. The 15th meeting of the Plants Committee of the convened from 17-21 May 2005, in Geneva, Switzerland. It was followed by the 21st meeting of the Animals Committee, which met from 20-25 May. The Committees held a joint session on 20-21 May to address issues of common interest, including: the Strategic Vision and Plan until 2013; the review of Scientific Committees and regional communication; and the study of production systems for specimens of CITES-listed species. Both the Plants and the Animals Committee addressed agenda items on a range of topics, including the implementation of the Strategic Vision until 2007 and the review of significant trade in Appendix II species. Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage.

The Codex Alimentarius Committee on Food Labeling has met to discuss the labeling of genetically modified foods. Held from 9-13 May 2005, in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, the Committee debated the need to label genetically modified foods on the basis of the “Proposed Draft Guidelines for the Labeling of Foods and Food Ingredients Obtained through Certain Techniques of Genetic Modification / Genetic Engineering.” The US, Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines opposed the guidelines as they currently stand. These would allow for labeling of all GM foods, including: those that are substantially different in terms of composition, nutritional value or allergenic content; those composed of, or containing, GMOs; and those produced from but no longer containing GMOs. However, approximately 30 countries supported wide, process-based labeling of GM foods. Seeking a compromise, Canada proposed splitting the guidelines between mandatory and optional labeling provisions. The meeting agreed to create a working group to “reconstitute” the guidelines and report back to the Committee in 2006. Links to further information Report of the Meeting, May 2005 Codex Sees Clash on Biotech Labelling, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development Bridges Trade BioRes, 13 May 2005 US Seeks to Remove Biotech Food Labeling from Codex Agenda, Environment News Service, 13 March 2005

April 2005


Key priorities for protected areas have been established during a recent meeting of the Steering Committee for IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas. Conserving biodiversity, developing capacity, improving protected area management, and addressing issues of governance, equity and livelihoods, were the four strategic priorities identified for the next four years. The Steering Committee, which met in Gland, Switzerland from 26-29 April 2005, developed a strategic plan focused on implementing the CBD's programme of work on protected areas, the Durban Action Plan and the Millennium Development Goals. The strategic plan will now be discussed with Commission members for finalization before the upcoming meeting of the CBD Working Group on Protected Areas, to be held in June 2005, in Montecatini, Italy. More information.

Several areas of controversy need to be resolved and concrete steps implemented if mutual supportiveness between the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) is to be achieved, according to experts at a recent workshop. Participants at the workshop focused on disclosure requirements, with particular emphasis placed on discussions dealing with access and benefit-sharing, traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights. The meeting, which took place in Geneva on 21 April 2005, was organized by the Center of International Environmental Law, International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development, L' Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales, IUCN and the Quaker United Nations Office. Links to further information: Ensuring the Incorporation of Biodiversity in the World Trad..., IUCN Press Release, 21 April 2005 Disclosure Requirements: Incorporating the CBD Principles in..., April 2005

March 2005


Countries from South and Southeast Asia have agreed to launch a public awareness campaign and to several other initiatives to conserve marine turtles and their habitats. The 21 Signatory States of the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia (IOSEA) Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding gathered for their third meeting on Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand from 29–31 March 2005. The meeting concluded with agreement on a regional “Year of the Turtle” public awareness campaign for 2006. Other highlights of the meeting included: the signing of the memorandum by Indonesia; adoption of two resolutions on fisheries by-catch and post-tsunami development activities; endorsement of a Secretariat proposal to intensify linkages with regional fisheries management bodies; and a review of the most comprehensive analysis yet undertaken of the measures put in place by Signatory States to conserve marine turtles and their habitats. Concluded under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species, the IOSEA Marine Turtle Memorandum of Understanding aims to protect, conserve, replenish and recover marine turtles and their habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asian region. Links to further information: UN Marine Turtle Conference Ends on a High Note, IOSEA Secretariat press release, 31 March 2005 Indonesia joins the IOSEA family, IOSEA Secretariat press release, 3 April 2005 IOSEA Adopts Resolutions on Fisheries By-Catch and Post-Tsun..., IOSEA Secretariat, 11 April 2005

Experts meeting to address identification requirements of living modified organisms intended for food or feed or processing have been unable to finalize agreement on the issue. The Convention on Biological Diversity's Open-ended technical expert group on identification requirements of living modified organisms intended for food or feed or for processing (LMO-FFPs) met from 16-18 March 2005, in Montreal, Canada. The meeting aimed to facilitate a decision by the Parties to the Biosafety Protocol regarding the detailed requirements of identification measures, which according to the Protocol's text must be adopted no later than two years after its entry into force. The issue of documentation accompanying transboundary movements of LMO-FFPs was the final stumbling block of the Biosafety Protocol negotiation. After electing François Pythoud (Switzerland) as Chair of the meeting, participants discussed issues related to: information to be provided in the accompanying documentation, including information on the LMOs, a statement to be incorporated in the documentation, and contact information; the extent and modality of using unique identifiers; thresholds for adventitious or unintentional presence, including thresholds for approved and for unapproved LMOs; and available LMO sampling and detection techniques, with a view to harmonization. Following the group's mandate, participants sought to draft a decision for the consideration of the second meeting of the Parties, to be held from 30 May – 3 June 2005, in Montreal. A Chair's text was drafted, and then revised, to facilitate discussion. However, due to a lack of consensus, participants decided to forward the revised Chair's text as it stood, recognizing that there are different views which remain difficult to resolve, and that the text does not represent consensus. The report of the meeting.

The 15-member Compliance Committee established under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety held its first meeting, from 14-16 March 2005, in Montreal, Canada. The Committee approved its rules of procedure and a work plan, and agreed that its second meeting would take place in early 2006. One of the topics set down for consideration is that of general issues of compliance that may arise from the interim national reports due by 11 September 2005, as well as information provided through the Biosafety Clearing-House. The Committee also noted the importance of assisting Parties in the preparation and timely submission of their interim national reports. The report of the meeting.

Two interdisciplinary dialogues on biotechnology have taken place in Chennai, India. The first, held from 7-10 March 2005, focused on biotechnology and organic farming. Organized by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement, and the National Commission for Farmers, the meeting addressed various aspects of modern biotechnology of concern to organic farmers. These included issues of equity and ethics, ownership, intellectual property rights and access to technology, and environmental and food safety implications. Participants also explored steps to ensure that new biotechnologies are pro-poor, pro-nature and pro-women. The second meeting examined nanobiotechnology and its implications on food, health and nutrition security. Held from 11-13 March 2005, it was organized by M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in collaboration with India's National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the International Food Policy Research Institute, Italian Academy of Sciences, India's Department of Biotechnology and the US-based Pugwash Movement. The dialogue on nanobiotechnology considered the emerging challenges for food, nutrition and health security, as well as water resource management, genomics, crop improvement and nutrition security, the implications of nanobiotechnology, and emerging issues relating to agricultural biotechnology. Public-private partnerships and biotechnology regulations were also discussed. The meeting approved a series of recommendations, including a proposal to identify the potential of nanobiotechnology in meeting the Millennium Development Goals in the areas of health and sustainable food security. Other recommendations related to the value of a national challenge programme on nanobiotechnology and food and health security, regulatory mechanisms based on ethical and biosafety concerns, capacity building, and greater interaction between scientists and the media on the risks and benefits of biotechnology and nanobiotechnology. Links to further information Dialogue on biotechnology and organic farming, Event Website, March 2005 Dialogue on nanobiotechnology, Event Website, March 2005

The World Trade Organization's Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) has resumed its discussions on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). At the latest meeting, held from 8-9 March 2005, in Geneva, Switzerland, a number of developing countries submitted a proposal on the need to provide evidence of benefit-sharing in patent applications. The proposal on benefit-sharing, submitted by Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Peru and Thailand, touched on the final element of a checklist of issues that were submitted a year ago by Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, India, Peru, Thailand and Venezuela. The aim of this submission was to facilitate and structure the discussion on the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD. The checklist also included the elements of disclosure of origin and source, and prior informed consent, which were addressed in earlier proposals. The proposal on benefit-sharing examines: the meaning of evidence of benefit-sharing under the relevant national regime; the timing of evidence to be introduced by the patent applicant; obligations in the case of absence of a relevant national regime; and the legal effect of not providing evidence of benefit-sharing, including the non-processing of the application and the revocation of the patent. According to reports, positions taken during the meeting remained largely unchanged. Developing countries called for an international system to prevent misappropriation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge. Developed countries restated that the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD can be mutually supportive, and opposed amendment of the TRIPS Agreement in this regard. Brazil and India further submitted a communication (IP/C/W/442) responding to issues raised in an earlier US submission (IP/C/W/434). The US position is that it sees no conflict between the TRIPS Agreement and the CBD and “views with the utmost caution any proposals that would add uncertainties in patent rights that may undermine the role of the delicately balanced patent system in its primary purpose of encouraging innovation, technological progress and economic development.” Links to further information ICTSD Bridges Trade BioRes, Vol. 5 No. 5, 18 March 2005 Officials make incremental progress in TRIPS talks, IP Watch, 15 March 2005 Proposal on benefit-sharing (IP/C/W/442) and other submissi..., WTO website, 2005

February 2005


A working group of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has initiated talks on an international regime on access and benefit-sharing. The third meeting of the CBD's Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) met from 14-18 February 2005, in Bangkok, Thailand. The Working Group's talks on the topic were mandated by CBD COP-7, and reflected text on the subject contained in the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development's Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. The Working Group also considered: additional approaches to complement the Bonn Guidelines on ABS, such as an international certificate of origin/source/legal provenance; measures to ensure compliance with prior informed consent of Parties providing genetic resources and of indigenous and local communities providing associated traditional knowledge; and options for indicators for ABS to be used for evaluating progress in the implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan. As expected, discussions on the international ABS regime proved difficult. However, some progress was reported. A number of options were identified in terms of the scope and potential objectives of the regime, while its potential elements were grouped according to their subject matter to set the groundwork for more structured deliberations in the future. A matrix was also developed to identify and analyze the gaps in international instruments and indicate ways to address them. Finally, the meeting resulted in specific calls for government submissions on the matrix and broader ABS regime. Many experts regard such submissions as necessary in order to further clarify positions and set the baseline for the upcoming fourth meeting of the Working Group, expected to be held in March 2006, in Spain. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report.
Earth Observation Summit Endorses 10-Year Implementation Plan Establishing Global System of Systems

February 205: Governments have endorsed a 10-year implementation plan for the development of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The Third Earth Observation Summit, which took place on 16 February in Brussels, brought together ministers and representatives of almost 60 governments to discuss and promote the development of a comprehensive system of systems for gathering and distributing data and information on the Earth's systems, including its weather, climate, oceans, atmosphere, water, land, geodynamics, natural resources, ecosystems, and natural and human-induced hazards. The Summit, which was preceded by the Sixth Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Meeting held from 14-15 February, is the third in a series that began in Washington, DC in July 2003. The second Summit held in Tokyo in April 2004 adopted the framework for the implementation plan. The Brussels Earth Observation Summit adopted three key outcomes: a GEOSS 10-year implementation plan, a resolution, and a communiqué that expresses support for tsunami and multi-hazard warning systems within the context of the GEOSS. The implementation plan outlines the purpose, scope, approaches, operational modalities and governance of GEOSS and the GEO. The resolution endorses the 10-year implementation plan as the basis for its further development and for establishing a GEOSS, and establishes the intergovernmental GEO to ensure implementation of the plan. Participants also agreed to meet before the end of 2007 to assess progress and provide further guidance on implementation, and resolved to conduct a mid-term GEO assessment by 2010. [Earth and Space Week website] [Group on Earth Observations website with links to the outcome documents]

Delegates attending the latest meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity's subsidiary body for technical and scientific issues have developed a work programme on island biodiversity. They also confirmed the suitability of various indicators to assess progress towards the 2010 target of reducing the current rate of biodiversity loss significantly. The tenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met from 7-11 February 2005, in Bangkok, Thailand. As well as developing the work programme, delegates also provided advice on the integration of global, outcome-oriented targets into the Convention's work programmes, and adopted terms of reference for a technical expert group on biodiversity and climate change. SBSTTA-10 also recommended steps for the review of implementation of the Global Taxonomy Initiative programme of work; proposed options for a cross-cutting initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition; and refined proposals for the application of ways and means to remove or mitigate perverse incentives. The SBSTTA also transmitted its comments on the report of the expert group on genetic use restriction technologies to the Working Group on Article 8(j), and recommended that the COP determine the scope of the mandate of the CBD bodies in relation to the issue. The recommendations adopted at SBSTTA-10 will be forwarded to the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, which is scheduled to convene from 8-19 May 2006, in Brazil. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report.

The importance of balancing water for food and ecosystem needs was underscored at a recent conference, held from 31 January to 4 February in the Hague. Organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, the Water for Food and Ecosystems Conference was convened to identify successful processes that lead to best practices for achieving land and water development through integrated water resources management (IWRM) with an ecosystem approach. It also sought to make recommendations to governments and organizations in implementing actions on water for food and ecosystems. The Conference adopted its report, which contains recommendations for implementing IWRM. IISD Reporting Services' coverage of this meeting.

January 2005

International Conference on Biodiversity

Biodiversity is essential for achieving sustainable development and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to experts attending a major conference. Organized by the French Government and sponsored by UNESCO, the International Conference on “Biodiversity: Science and Governance” attracted more than 1000 participants. The Conference, which was held independently from intergovernmental negotiations, took place from 24-28 January 2005 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. It was convened to contribute to the ongoing global effort to reverse the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 and ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from genetic resources. The Conference aimed to assess the current knowledge in, and need for, research and scientific expertise in biodiversity, as well as to examine public and private approaches to biodiversity conservation and management, and the interactions between science and governance. Meeting participants adopted two documents, the Paris Declaration on Biodiversity and the Conference Statement. The Paris Declaration on Biodiversity is an appeal by scientists, focusing on the values of biodiversity and the goods it provides to humanity, and the irreversible destruction caused by human activities. The Paris Declaration suggests that a major effort is needed to discover, understand, conserve and use biodiversity sustainably. The Conference Statement recognizes that biodiversity is a vital and poorly appreciated resource that is essential to achieving the MDGs. It stresses that biodiversity is being irreversibly destroyed by humans at an unprecedented rate and that, unless the rate of biodiversity loss is significantly reduced, any effort to reduce poverty will be undermined. In response to a proposal made by French President Jacques Chirac, the Statement recommends launching an international multi-stakeholder consultative process to assess the need for an international mechanism that would provide a scientific assessment of information and policy options required for decision making, building on existing bodies and activities. Links to further information IISD Reporting Services meeting reports, 24-28 January 2005 Conference Statement, 28 January 2005 Paris Declaration on Biodiversity, 28 January 2005 Species Loss: Biodiversity Conference Calls for Top Global ..., Terra Daily, 28 January 2005 Do We Need Another Global Panel on Biodiversity?, SciDev.Net, 31 January 2005 France Stirs Controversy with Plan for Biodiversity Panel, SciDev.Net, 25 January 2005

A meeting on the role of business in meeting the 2010 biodiversity target has focused attention on companies that have a direct impact of biodiversity. The meeting on Business and the 2010 Biodiversity Challenge, which was held in London, UK, from 20-21 January 2005, was organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), British and Brazilian governments, and various other organizations. The meeting aimed to develop ideas for engaging business in biodiversity issues in order to support the 2010 target to reduce significantly the current rate of biodiversity loss. Participants engaged in a brainstorming session that focused primarily on companies with a direct impact on biodiversity and those that impact biodiversity through their supply chains. Discussions were structured under the following topics: business and its relationship to biodiversity; promotion of biodiversity within the business community; leveraging or developing of biodiversity standards, guidance and other tools; promotion and scaling-up of biodiversity tools and initiatives; the business commitment to biodiversity; private sector engagement in the CBD at the national and intergovernmental levels; and future meetings and discussions. The report of the meeting.
FAO Expert Consultation on Genetically Modified organisms in crop production and their effects on the environment: Methodologies for monitoring and the way ahead”

A meeting of experts on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has resulted in recommendations on methodologies to monitor GM crops. The recommendations were produced at an expert consultation held from 18-20 January 2005, at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. Convened in light of the controversy and public concern over GMOs, the consultation aimed to provide clear preliminary guidelines on the most accurate and scientifically-sound approach to monitoring the environmental effects of existing GM crops. The experts recommended that any responsible deployment of GM crops needs to address the whole technology development process, from the pre-release risk assessment to biosafety considerations and post-release monitoring. The meeting was organized by FAO's Plant Production and Protection Division with support from the FAO Working Groups on Biodiversity and Biotechnology. While the experts acknowledged that a great deal of data is already available, they agreed that it is important to bring together and coordinate the volume of scattered information, and to identify which information is the most accurate. These data could be used in indicators to measure the effects GM crops have on the environment. A full stakeholder engagement, including farmers, scientists, consumers, civil society and the public and private sector, would be necessary in this regard. Participants recognized that one of the difficulties in monitoring agriculture is the heterogeneity of farming systems in different regions, and recommended that the objective of environmental monitoring of GM crops should be integrated within processes that address broader goals. The FAO statement on the meeting.
Meeting Concludes 10-year Review of the Barbados Programme of Action, Adopts Mauritius Strategy for Further Implementation

January 2005: Following a year of negotiations, which began in the Bahamas in January 2004, the BPOA review process concluded in January 2005 in Mauritius, with the adoption of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Climate change, trade and transport of hazardous wastes proved to be among the most contentious issues during the process, which culminated at the International Meeting (IM) to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS. The IM convened from 10-14 January 2005, at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Center in Port Louis, Mauritius, where almost 2000 participants were in attendance, including 18 presidents, vice-presidents and prime ministers, some 60 ministers, and representatives of UN agencies, and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. From the perspective of moving forward on implementation, the IM raised the profile of SIDS issues, brought the BPOA more in line with current development funding priorities, and forged links with the review of the Millennium Declaration and with the Doha round of trade negotiations. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage]