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Fourth Meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-4)
21-25 June 1999
First Intersessional Meeting on the Operations of the Convention
28-30 June 1999 - Montréal, Canada

Delegates to SBSTTA-4 met in Plenary to adopt its decisions and report. Six decisions drafted by two working groups and three decisions based on discussions in Plenary were adopted. One agenda item, ad hoc technical expert panels, was deferred to SBSTTA-5 for further consideration. Delegates also established the date and venue for SBSTTA-5.

Closing SBSSTA- 4 Plenary
The Chair of Working Group I, Martin Uppenbrink (Germany), introduced the draft decisions his group had negotiated.
Zipangani Vokhiwa (Malawi), Chair of Working Group I, introduced the draft decisions of his group.
Edward Hammond, Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), expressed strong concern that SBSTTA's failure to call for a moratorium sets a framework for enabling field-testing, commercialization and patenting of GURTs. "He who has the gold makes the rules..."
On sustainable use, including tourism (UNEP/ CBD/SBSTTA/4/L.4), ZIMBABWE stressed that a full discussion on sustainable use should be taken up at the next SBSTTA.
NEW ZEALAND stated it could not accept the preambular paragraph on recognizing that any Party or government may establish a moratorium on GURTs without including reference to "uncontained" field testing, and agreed to the Chair's suggestion that she record her reservation in the final report.
NORWAY said the recommendation to develop cooperation with scientific advisory bodies of biodiversity-related conventions (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/4/ CRP.2) was too limiting.
The US noted for the report that it could not associate itself with any implicit call for a moratorium on testing or commercialization of GURTs
On a recommendation to not approve field-testing of GURTs until scientific assessments are validated, MEXICO opposed relocating a reference to food security
On progress in the work programmes on thematic areas (UNEP/ CBD/SBSTTA/4/CRP.3), CANADA proposed deleting a paragraph inviting Parties to provide human and other resources to assist the Executive Secretary in its work programme on forest biodiversity. CANADA also suggested adding a phrase urging the Executive Secretary to report to SBSTTA-5 on the forest biodiversity issue.
Hamdallah Zedan, Acting Executive Secretary, noted that SBSTTA-4 recommendations put forward a challenging agenda, and set forth implications for the Secretariat's human and financial resources. He called for Parties to make the necessary funding available to make the job possible.
SBSTTA-4 Chair Zakri Hamid noted that the meeting received input from a wide range of actors, including international organizations, the public sector and indigenous groups. He said these inputs provided a variety of views and make the meeting report a living process. As Chair of SBSTTA-3 and SBSTTA-4, he said he had seen the evolution of the body from tentative beginnings to a global center of referral on biodiversity information. He closed SBSTTA-4 at 5:30 pm.

© Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 1999. All rights reserved.