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COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

After a full day of consultations, the twelfth and final Committee of the Whole meeting  was convened at 11:30 pm on Tuesday to adopt the draft decisions of the three contact groups.

Agenda Items 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3: The first item considered was the issue of financial resources and the mechanism, contained in document UNEP/CBD/COP/1/CW/L.10/Rev.1. The Chair, Mr. V. Koester (Denmark) requested the coordinator of the contact group, Dr. J. Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) to discuss the draft decision submitted by the contact group for consideration by the Committee. Dr. Ashe drew the attention of delegates to the document and its three annexes: Annex I on policy, strategy, programme priorities and eligibility criteria for access to and utilization of financial resources; Annex II on the list of developed country Parties and other Parties, which voluntarily assume the obligations of developed country Parties; and Annex III on interim guidelines for monitoring and evaluation of utilization of financial resources by the GEF. He noted that the draft decision before the Committee represented hours of  informal and formal consultations, as well as the views of all regional and other interest groups. He said that it was a carefully drafted document and that the contact group had unanimously adopted the decision and its annexes. The decision and its annexes were adopted without objection.  The Chair pointed out that Annex II of this draft decision has been adopted with the understanding that the list of developed country Parties and other Parties will be reviewed and adjusted at COP-II. He also noted that the draft decision UNEP/CBD/COP/1/CW/L.1 submitted by the G-77 and China had been withdrawn. The Chair congratulated the group and its coordinator for the positive results and acknowledged that these agenda items were among the most sensitive and difficult issues addressed and that their adoption is a major step forward for the Convention’s implementation.

Agenda Item 8: The contact group coordinator Dr. A. Lazar (Canada) introduced UNEP/CBD/COP/1/CS/L.9, which contains the group’s draft decision. Representing the first statement by the COP to an outside body, Lazar said that the COP’s statement to the CSD contains an important message, one which emphasizes the cross-cutting nature, the breadth and the goals of the Convention. He added that the statement to the CSD reflects the passion that lies behind the Convention as well as the main concerns and priorities of governments. It describes the Convention as an instrument that has initiated a new era concerning access to genetic resources and that is intimately related to other issues facing the CSD. The statement also underlines the COP’s interest in and enthusiasm for working with other bodies whose interests are complementary to its own. Based on the final decision regarding the medium-term work programme, the statement specifies four areas where the COP intends to take immediate action. Because the work programme has deferred protection of traditional and indigenous knowledge and practices to 1996, this topic was not included as an area for immediate action. Brazil noted that while it had joined the consensus on the statement, it sincerely regretted that the COP could not send a clear message to the CSD that it would start work on protecting the knowledge of indigenous and local communities. He urged that action on this issue should begin at COP-II. The draft decision was adopted without objection. The Chair noted that the statement would be communicated to the CSD by the Plenary Chair, Dr. Ivy Dumont.

Agenda Item 6.5: The Chair invited Mr. M. El-Ghaouth to introduce draft decision UNEP/CBD/COP/1/CW/L.5/Rev.1 on the selection of a competent international organization to carry out the functions of the secretariat of the Convention, as well as the draft decision UNEP/CBD/COP/1/CW/L.13 on the support to the secretariat by international organizations. The coordinator said that the members of the contact group had made considerable efforts in completing their work on the document. He suggested two factual oral amendments to L.13, which were accepted. After the decisions were adopted, the Chair congratulated UNEP on its designation to carry out the functions of the Secretariat and welcomed the offers of support from FAO, UNESCO and other international organizations.

Agenda Items 6.6 and 10: Mr. El-Ghaouth introduced the draft decision UNEP/CBD/COP/1/CW/L.12 on the budget, without the three annexes, which were considered in the following order: Annex II, then I and then III. Mauritania announced that the draft decision was adopted by consensus within the contact group and therefore recommended its adoption by consensus in the Committee of the Whole. He noted that the issue of scale of assessments (referred to in paragraph 5 of the draft decision, as well as paragraphs 4 and 15 in annex I) was the subject of protracted and difficult debate within his contact group. Brazil highlighted the difficulty of adopting such a decision without an established scale of contributions and proposed postponing adoption of this draft decision until such specification. The Chair explained that he had been entrusted with conducting informal consultations on this matter and that the draft decision would indeed be adjusted accordingly for adoption by the final plenary. He suggested bracketing paragraph 5 (regarding contributions) and adopting the rest of the draft decision. While Brazil accepted this solution, he noted that there were similar problems with paragraphs 4 and 15 in annex I. Despite Brazil’s expressed discomfort with approving paragraphs that remain the subject of substantive consultation, the Committee adopted the decision with a bracketed paragraph 5. Regarding Annex II (proposed budget for 1995 and indicative budget for 1996), Brazil, later supported by Colombia, Sweden, Chile, India and Peru, expressed concern that the 1995 figures did not reflect the decision to hold a one-week meeting of the SBSTTA (with a servicing cost of US$350,000). Germany, on behalf of the EU, cautioned against opening this item up for discussion since the EU had refrained from raising certain reservations. In the spirit of compromise, and given the sensitive nature of the issue, the Chair suggested that Brazil’s concern be noted in the report so that it might be considered as future adjustments regarding activities were made. Although Brazil expressed regret that the first important decision of the COP was threatened by bureaucratic considerations that could be construed as a lack of desire towards implementation, the annex was adopted.

Regarding Annex I (draft financial rules for the administration of the Trust Fund for the Convention), Mauritania requested the Chair to comment on the results of his consultations on bracketed texts in paragraphs 4 and 15. The Chair indicated that his informal consultations to date were insufficient to allow for a solution in time for the Committee of the Whole, but that a resolution was possible in time for the final Plenary. The US explained that since agreement on paragraph 3 (a) had been reached, conforming technical changes to paragraphs 4 and 15 should also appear once the brackets were removed. On this understanding, the Chair suggested that Annex I be adopted with the scale of contributions still under consideration. Again, Brazil expressed dismay at adopting text that remains the subject of substantive discussion. Regarding Annex III (scale of contributions), Mauritania requested that the Chair continue to undertake consultations on this matter and report the results to the final Plenary of the COP.

Agenda Item 9: Mr. El-Ghaouth introduced the draft decision UNEP/CBD/COP/1/CW/L.11 and its annex on the medium-term programme of work. El-Ghaouth said that the contact group had adopted the draft decision but that negotiations were continuing between Brazil and the US on the item related to intellectual property rights. He recommended that the Committee adopt the decision and that the Chair continue consultations. He added that it was the understanding of the contact group that the EU was duly entitled to designate a participant in the open-ended ad hoc group of experts on the modalities for a biosafety protocol. Colombia noted that there was no bracketed text covering the issue of intellectual property rights and requested that he participate in the intellectual property rights discussions. India also asked to participate. The decision was adopted on the understanding that the Committee would authorize the Chair to hold consultations with the US and Brazilian delegations on intellectual property rights and that the results of the consultations will be included in his report to the Plenary. The Chair also noted that UNEP/CBD/COP/1/CW/L.2 and L.6 are understood to be withdrawn.

Agenda Item 13 — Adoption of the Report of the COP: The Rapporteur presented UNEP/CBD/COP/1/L.2 and /add.1. Colombia questioned why the report only lists the delegations who participated without any reference to the actual views expressed by those delegations. The Chair explained that: the report was compiled under instructions from the Bureau; that the report would be action-oriented rather than merely containing statements by delegations; and that the Committee had earlier agreed to this format for the report. The document was adopted.

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