Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 09 No. 265
Wednesday, 3 December 2003
ABS WG-2 HIGHLIGHTS:
TUESDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2003
Delegates to the second meeting of the Ad Hoc
Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing of the
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met in sub-working groups
throughout the day. Sub-Working Group I (SWG-I) heard reports on
experience with the Bonn Guidelines on Access and Benefit-sharing
(ABS) and considered the use of terms and other approaches to the
implementation of ABS arrangements. Sub-Working Group II (SWG-II)
addressed measures to ensure compliance with prior informed consent
(PIC) and mutually agreed terms (MAT), including the role of
intellectual property rights (IPRs), and capacity building for ABS.
A brief Plenary met in late afternoon to review progress.
SUB-WORKING GROUP I
REPORTS: The Secretariat drew attention to
the compilation of submissions on ABS (UNEP/CBD/WG-ABS/2/INF/1).
SWG-I Chair Ines Verleye (Belgium) invited views on experience with
the Bonn Guidelines.
The EUROPEAN COMMUNITY (EC), GERMANY and CANADA
noted awareness-raising activities regarding users’ obligations. The
EC highlighted ongoing discussions on a stand-alone disclosure
requirement and certification schemes. FRANCE drew attention to
relevant international instruments to address compliance. IRELAND
noted its review of the state and use of genetic resources, and
supported strong user measures.
GERMANY and NORWAY stressed amendments to their
patent legislation to include disclosure of origin, with GERMANY
noting that the requirement would not affect the granting of
patents. IRAN said a group of specialists is identifying needs
regarding ABS, prioritized benefit-sharing over access, and called
for enhancing regional and international cooperation on ABS. NORWAY
and the GAMBIA said they are developing ABS legislation, and DENMARK
described the Greenlandic Home Rule Authority’s proposed ABS regime.
SOUTH AFRICA said its upcoming biodiversity legislation will provide
for export permits for genetic resources. CHILE noted its efforts to
regulate bioprospecting. TURKEY said its ABS legislation includes
provisions on PIC, MAT and a material transfer agreement.
USE OF TERMS: The Secretariat presented
documents on the use of terms (UNEP/CBD/WG-ABS/2/2 Section II, INF/1
JAMAICA and Uganda, on behalf of the AFRICAN
GROUP, said definitions would assist in drafting ABS legislation.
AUSTRALIA, the EC and others said discussions on the use of terms
should not prejudge negotiations on an international regime. ALGERIA
suggested revisiting the issue once the international regime is in
place. CHINA suggested incorporating work on terms within the
negotiating process for an international ABS regime.
Italy, on behalf of the EC Member States and
acceding countries (EU), suggested that the Secretariat compile a
glossary of terms by COP-8. BRAZIL and others called for an expert
group on the use of terms to be established after COP-7. BRAZIL and
the TULALIP TRIBES supported a definitions’ glossary as a basis for
developing a common understanding.
Following concerns expressed over representation
and financial issues associated with convening an expert group,
several delegates supported the UK and US proposals to conduct
electronic consultations and use the Clearing-House Mechanism.
CANADA and the ASSOCIATION IXA CA VAA FOR INDIGENOUS DEVELOPMENT AND
INFORMATION called for indigenous peoples’ involvement in the
consultations. UGANDA, ETHIOPIA and ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA noted
difficulties for some countries and indigenous communities to
contribute electronically to the debate. SAINT LUCIA suggested that
ABS focal points coordinate input from stakeholders. BRAZIL
suggested that COP-7 mandate the ABS Working Group to decide on the
way forward, and CANADA said the decision on convening an expert
group would depend on the output of COP-7 regarding an ABS regime.
SWITZERLAND recommended using existing CBD structures.
Chair Verleye said she would prepare a Chair’s
text on modalities for the compilation of definitions and an expert
group on the use of terms.
OTHER APPROACHES: The Secretariat introduced
its overview of other approaches to complement the Bonn Guidelines
and assist countries in ABS implementation (UNEP/CBD/WG-ABS/2/2
Section III). Several delegates noted positive experience with
bilateral and regional approaches, and ABS-related codes of conduct.
JAMAICA expressed interest in adopting a code of ethics.
BRAZIL, EL SALVADOR, JAMAICA and others supported
Mexico’s proposal for an international certificate of origin, and
JAPAN called for a study of its cost-effectiveness. Acknowledging
the merits of certificates, the US warned against increased costs
ARGENTINA underlined the difficulty of assessing
these approaches’ efficacy, and CANADA stressed the need for further
study to identify gaps warranting adaptation of current approaches.
CHINA requested the CBD Secretariat to provide a further compilation
of existing arrangements and approaches.
Chair Verleye said a Chair’s text will be
SUB-WORKING GROUP II
COMPLIANCE MEASURES FOR PIC AND MAT: The
Secretariat introduced documents on compliance measures
(UNEP/CBD/WG-ABS/2/2 Section IV), and IPRs (UNEP/CBD/ WG-ABS/2/3 and
INF/2). The WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ORGANIZATION (WIPO)
presented its technical study on disclosure requirements related to
genetic resources and traditional knowledge
(UNEP/CBD/WG-ABS/2/INF/4), stressing the need for collaboration
between the CBD and the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual
Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore
BARBADOS drew attention to CITES-type
import/export regulations. MEXICO, ARGENTINA, BRAZIL, COSTA RICA and
COLOMBIA supported an internationally recognized certificate of
legal origin. NIGER stressed the need to assess the costs of
implementing the Bonn Guidelines. CHINA cautioned against
generalizing country situations. The FAO noted discussions on
compliance in the framework of the International Treaty on Plant
Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The EU described
measures on: a network of ABS focal points; corporate social
responsibility; consideration of disclosure of origin in patent
legislation; and discussions on a stand-alone disclosure
requirement. NORWAY described the Nordic ABS approach, including
measures to ensure compliance with international agreements. JORDAN
highlighted the importance of cooperation agreements between users
and providers. CANADA called for more information on compliance
measures, and the UK on implementation of CBD Article 15 (Access to
CARE EARTH INDIA stressed the need for PIC of
local communities, and FRIENDS OF THE EARTH INTERNATIONAL stated
that communities must hold control of their resources. The
INTERNATIONAL INDIGENOUS FORUM ON BIODIVERSITY (IIFB) suggested
establishing an indigenous experts’ committee on ABS.
Intellectual Property Rights: CANADA
suggested deferring specific issues to WIPO’s IGC. DENMARK supported
addressing disclosure requirements in international patent law.
SWITZERLAND suggested amending WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty.
FRANCE called for considering IPRs’ positive
impacts on industry’s capacity to contribute to conservation, with
the NETHERLANDS suggesting to consider sustainable use aspects.
IRELAND welcomed further discussion on an international certificate
of origin and noted that each country should decide on introducing
mandatory disclosure requirements. AUSTRALIA supported voluntary
disclosure of origin, while the US cautioned against its
administrative and budgetary implications.
TANZANIA stressed the need for appropriate
monitoring mechanisms. JAPAN endorsed defensive protection of
genetic resources and traditional knowledge through IGC activities
on a database and toolkit for use by patent examiners.
ARGENTINA called for considering traditional knowledge as prior art,
with BRAZIL underscoring that community registers are not required
for such consideration. CHINA called for users’ obligations
according to relevant CBD principles.
CAPACITY BUILDING: The Secretariat introduced
the document on capacity building (UNEP/CBD/WG-ABS/2/2 Section V)
and the report of the Expert Workshop, including a draft action plan
The EU stressed the need for synergies and
coordination with initiatives of indigenous and local communities.
The GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY (GEF) emphasized that funding
will be made available. MALAYSIA and TANZANIA emphasized the need
for a country- and demand-driven approach. Noting that no
responsibilities or measures are identified in the draft, COLOMBIA,
BRAZIL and SENEGAL asked that it be referred to as "guidelines"
rather than "action plan."
While BRAZIL proposed extending discussions on
capacity building to include the international ABS regime, SENEGAL
and NIGER stressed that this would postpone action on capacity
building. CHINA suggested including experience-sharing, and
long-term planning, training and education. PAKISTAN emphasized
capacity building for local and regional institutions and, with
YEMEN, stressed links to the implementation of the Biosafety
Protocol. JORDAN and YEMEN stressed many countries’ need for
technological and financial assistance.
CANADA emphasized the need for assessment,
inventory and monitoring of genetic resources and traditional
knowledge and, supported by the IIFB, highlighted that this should
be upon invitation by indigenous people. ARGENTINA and MEXICO said
the action plan lacks focus on implementation in developing
countries. JAPAN outlined its bioindustry’s training programmes and
a regional biodiversity research cooperation project. NORWAY
reported on the Trondheim Conference on technology transfer and
The UN UNIVERSITY highlighted the importance of
coordinated international capacity-building programmes to develop
national access laws and facilitate contract negotiations. The UN
DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME reported on relevant activities and the need
to prioritize awareness and valuation programmes, stakeholder
participation, regulatory coordination and enforcement capacity.
SWG-II Chair Desh Deepak Verma (India) said he
would prepare a Chair’s text, following consultations with
SWG-I Chair Verleye and SWG-II Chair Verma
reported on progress achieved. Working Group Chair Hans Hoogeveen
(the Netherlands) presented a Chairï¿½s text on an international ABS
regime, which includes a recommendation that COP-7 request the
Working Group on ABS to elaborate and negotiate an international
regime as soon as possible, and terms of reference regarding the
nature, scope, elements and modalities of the regime.
IN THE CORRIDORS
While SWG-I continued sharing experience on the
Bonn Guidelines, several Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries were
chomping at the bit, lamenting that precious time was being wasted
when an international ABS regime was hot on the plate. In the end,
all items on the groupï¿½s agenda were dealt with in an expeditious
Meanwhile, delegates in SWG-II expressed
satisfaction with the groupï¿½s positive dynamics and were confident
that discussions will lead to concise recommendations to COP-7. Some
commented on the ECï¿½s statement on IPRs, which clearly indicates a
will to consider a mandatory disclosure requirement in patent
applications, noting that this may well represent a major policy
shift in a predominantly user region.
Both sub-working groups completed discussions on
their respective items in plenty of time for the afternoon Plenary.
With most agenda items well on their way, the coast is now clear to
tackle the issue which is likely to lead them into late-night
deliberations as the week draws to a close, namely the international
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
SUB-WORKING GROUP I: SWG-I will convene at 11:30
am in Room I to consider Chairï¿½s texts on: the international ABS
regime; use of terms; and other approaches.
SUB-WORKING GROUP II: SWG-II will meet at 11:30
am in Room II to consider Chairï¿½s texts on compliance measures and
PLENARY: Plenary will convene at 5:30 pm in Room
I to review progress.