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UP FROM THE BEACH

For those who participated in the final Plenary of INCD-5, which started at 4 am and ended long after the sun rose in Paris, this final Committee of the Whole session had an eerie sense of “dej´┐Ż- vu all over again.” Difficult finance discussions, which extended late into Tuesday evening, delayed the final Committee of the Whole session by several hours. The meeting, which was due to start at 8:00 pm , was only convened at 11:30 pm. Many anticipated an all-night session. However, the requirement for room preparations for this morning’s high-level ministerial segment necessitated vacating the conference room as soon as possible, thus forestalling any possibility of debate extending into the early hours of Wednesday morning. Despite the good news that delegates could look forward to the first real night of sleep in several days, the general mood at the start of this final Committee session was relatively sober. Notwithstanding the significant progress that had been made on financial resources and mechanism, the SBSTTA and the clearing-house mechanism, discussions in the contact group concerned with the Secretariat budget and its location and the medium-term work programme have proved to be extremely difficult. With several matters left outstanding from that group, many delegates feared a heated exchange in the Committee of the Whole, especially in light of the anticipation that Spain would press for a vote on the location issue. Several delegates commented that notwithstanding the absence of agreed rules of procedure on the voting issue, such a move would be unprecedented and could potentially sour the positive note on which this first COP was expected to end. Meanwhile, NGO representatives were disappointed that forests have been expunged from the medium-term work programme. Concern was raised that the issue of the biosafety protocol has been diverted into a lengthy process of “considering the need for, and modalities of a biosafety protocol,” with no end process envisaged. Another concern was that the work of the SBSTTA has dropped any consideration of the expertise of traditional knowledge holders in indigenous and local communities as envisaged by Article 25 (1) and 8 (j) of the Convention.

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