Report of main proceedings for 20 June 1994

2nd Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Convention on Biological Diversity (ICCBD)


The Second Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on theConvention on Biological Diversity (ICCBD) was convened at UNEPHeadquarters in Nairobi yesterday morning. The Chair, Amb. VincenteS nchez, opened the meeting by welcoming the participants. He notedthat we are entering a new phase that requires all nations toundertake the commitments made in the Convention. The Conventionhas rapidly entered into force and the first COP is only fivemonths away, which will require this session to address, as apriority, the decisions that will have to be made by the COP inNovember. He praised the work of the Secretariat and the leadershipof Angela Cropper, ICCBD Executive Secretary, in preparing for thismeeting. The restructured GEF has now been approved by the UNEPGoverning Council and was previously approved by the World Bank andUNDP, and delegates at this session will have to decide if the GEFmeets their needs.

The Executive Director of UNEP, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, in herwelcoming address highlighted the contributions made by theChairman of ICCBD and noted the relevance of the theme of therecent celebration of World Environment Day- "One Earth, OneFamily" for the current session of the ICCBD. She pointed out thatUNEP was ready to continue assisting member states towards theevolution of the Convention and set up a collaborative network ofUN agencies, scientific institutions, regional centers and NGOs.She stated that the first COP would require political skill andwill and suggested the idea of convening high-level segments of theCOP to facilitate implementation. Dowdeswell noted that fourcountries had offered to host the first COP-the Bahamas, Kenya,Spain and Switzerland - and the selection of the venue had beencarefully considered. Countries were reminded that for a country tobe invited to the first COP it would have to deposit its instrumentof ratification, acceptance, approval or accession by 30 August,1994. She informed the delegates that the first COP will take placefrom 28 November to 9 December 1994 in Nassau, The Bahamas, andpointed out that the decisive factor in the choice was the factthat Bahamas had not expressed an interest in hosting the permanentSecretariat to the Convention. Thanks were expressed for thefinancial assistance provided by Canada, Denmark, EEC, Japan,Norway, Sweden, UK and USA for the representation from 58developing countries in the Intergovernmental Meeting of ScientificExperts held in Mexico two months ago. Appreciation was alsoexpressed to Australia, Denmark, EEC, Japan, Netherlands andSwitzerland for their financial support that allowed 120participants to attend this meeting in the hope that such supportwould be shown at the first COP as well. Finally, Switzerland wasthanked for its assistance in establishing the Interim Secretariat.The delegate from the Bahamas expressed his Government's pleasurefor being chosen to host the first COP and assured delegates thathis Government would not be seeking to host the permanentSecretariat.


The organizational matters (Agenda item 2) were then addressed.Introducing the provisional agenda (UNEP/CBD/IC/2/1), S nchez notedthat the substantive matters were organized in three sections:Preparation for the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties(Agenda item 4.1); Matters arising from the work of theIntergovernmental Committee at its first session (Agenda item 4.2);and Other Matters for action by the Conference of the Parties atits first meeting, to which the Intergovernmental Committee cancontribute (Agenda item 4.3). Given the large number of agendaitems, it was agreed that priority be given to agenda items 2(Organizational matters), 3 (Adoption of the report of the firstICCBD), 4.1 (Matters requiring action at the first COP), 4.3.2(Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice:functions, terms of reference, organization and operation), and 6(Adoption of the report).

At the request of Sri Lanka, Sweden, Brazil and Germany the issueof addressing participation in the 1995 session of the Commissionon Sustainable Development (CSD) was placed on the agenda, as item4.3.2.

The agenda was adopted on the understanding that issues had beenprioritized, and time constraints may limit all items beingaddressed. It was also agreed that the Plenary will revisit thisschedule on Monday. The proposed organization of work, as containedin UNEP/CBD/IC/2/1/Add.2/Rev 1, which reflected the agreedprioritization, was then adopted.

S nchez announced that Rapporteur, Mr. S. Ahmad (Pakistan) andVice-Chair, Mr. G. Zavarzin (Russian Federation) were unable toattend. He requested that the Asian and Eastern European regionalgroups each submit the name of another candidate on Tuesday.


The report as contained in document UNEP/CBD/IC/2/2 was adoptedwith very little discussion.


The Chair noted that all the proposed changes received in writinghad been included in the document. Taking into account the legallybinding nature of the document, he felt that the two working groupsand the plenary sessions do not lend themselves to the draftingexercise required. S nchez, supported by Italy, proposed that asmall group of lawyers/experts be convened, one from each region,as "friends of the Chairman" to revise the draft rules of procedurebefore discussion in Plenary. He asked each regional groupspokesperson to nominate one person. The representative from Mexicosupported by Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas and Mauritius disagreed,choosing instead to discuss this in Plenary as a first step. In aspirit of compromise, the Chair withdrew his proposal and suggestedthat the Plenary be convened on Wednesday specifically to discussthis matter.


The first item for consideration before the group was theClearing-house mechanism for technical and scientific cooperation.(UNEP/CBD/IC/2/7) The Chair, Prof. S. Ongeri (Kenya) began byreferring to Article 18 Paragraph 3 of the Convention, which statesthat the first COP will determine how to establish a clearing-housemechanism to promote and facilitate technical and scientificcooperation. He noted that very little information had beenreceived in response to the questionnaire surveying clearing-housesprepared by the Interim Secretariat (Annex 1). He stated that thereal issues that need to be deliberated are: discussion on therange of subject areas from technology development, cooperation andtransfer, and sources of financial support; recommendations to theCOP on how to establish and use the clearing house mechanism; andguidance to the Interim Secretariat for preparation for the COP.

Australia wanted the use of a clearing-house mechanism to beconsidered as part of the larger mission to build national modelsof technology transfer. The US delegate mentioned the creation ofa national biodiversity information center where all parties couldgenerate and use data on biodiversity. Burundi, C“te D'Ivoire,Zaire, Malawi, India and others emphasized the need for capacitybuilding and institution creation. Brazil supported the creation ofregional data centers rather than new institutions and noted thatthe clearing house mechanism was a cooperation mechanism and not amechanism of technology transfer. Venezuela wanted a joint-venturebetween an agency in the North and one in the South.

Sweden was in favor of a more ambitious clearing-house mechanismthat would straddle technical cooperation and technology transferso as to deal with the fair and equitable use and sharing ofgenetic resources. Sri Lanka highlighted the importance ofincluding traditional knowledge. Australia supported the US idea ofa directory service but was interested in the Swedish idea oftechnology transfer facilitation. Germany, Canada and the US wantedto use existing institutions and Canada and UK agreed that the keyelement is a needs driven system. The Netherlands stated that thefocal point should not be new institutions but regional focalpoints. The Philippines discussed the establishment of a regionalcenter in the ASEAN region. Sweden stated that some system bedeveloped to protect biological diversity by introducing the ideaof a global register because data and information are no longer afree goods. Sri Lanka stated that input data be subject to someform of control.

The Chair maintained a focused discussion and consequently theWorking Group completed its discussion of this item ahead ofschedule. Most of the countries expressed a preference for adecentralized clearing-house mechanism as expressed in the Reportof the Open-ended Intergovernmental Meeting of Scientific Expertson Biological Diversity held in Mexico.(UNEP/CBD/IC/2/11) Thesession was concluded with the recognition that it is oneclearing-house mechanism and there is a consensus on accepting theabove report.


The Chair, Mr. V. Koester (Denmark) introduced the Draft FinancialRules For the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity(UNEP/CBD/IC/2/5). Discussion regarding the basis of the budgetfocused on three options. The report described two options;voluntary or mandatory contributions. Australia suggested the thirdalternative: for funding to come from the main UN budget. Howeverthe only support for this came from China and Sri Lanka. Koestersuggested that the issue of mandatory or voluntary is a question ofsemantics as any country could block a contribution if they chose.He suggested, rather, that it was whether parties should decidewhat to pay at will, or whether a scale of contributions should beagreed.

The Secretariat's report outlined: practices adopted in otherconventions; the UN scale of assessment; and, three modified UNformulas for determining other scales. The US and Japan expressedsupport for voluntary contributions. However, the majority ofStates supported scaled assessments, and focused theirinterventions on the choice of formula. States supporting a scaledassessment include Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Kenya,Netherlands, UK, Uruguay, Brazil, Senegal, Canada, Denmark, andGermany on behalf of the EU. Most countries supported the secondformula that included a 25% ceiling for any one party.

As some governments have policies that all contributions should bevoluntary (such as the US), the Netherlands suggested that as it ismost likely that the scale finally adopted will be done so byconsensus, it is of little practical concern if it is binding ornot, as most countries who commit to pay, do so most of the time.By the end of discussion, several interventions had noted thatvoluntary contributions did not exclude a scaled assessment. The EUoffered to contribute 2.5% of the administrative costs of theConvention (this would be in addition to individual member countrycontributions).

Brazil suggested that the scale agreed should ensure that nodeveloping country paid more than any developed country. The Chairasked Brazil to consider this further and Austria noted that undersuch a system a country like Luxembourg would have to pay more thanBrazil. Many interventions focused on the specific wording of thedraft rules, contained in annex 1 of the report.

Discussion of the basis of contributions was followed by discussionof the size of the budget. Sweden noted the difficulty of such adiscussion given the lack of proposals, outline or proposed budgetand requested such a paper from the Secretariat. However theSecretariat and several other States noted that the activities ofthe Secretariat have not yet been defined, its location unknown,nor whether or not the budget must include the cost of COP meetingsetc. Canada noted the interrelationship between these issues andthe difficulties in knowing where to begin. Germany recommendedthat upon the conclusion of the session, a paper must be preparedoutlining scale and amounts to ensure States approved contributionscan be announced at the first COP.

Zimbabwe suggested the convening of a small open-ended workinggroup to address divergences of opinion based on the afternoon'sdiscussion. The group, to be chaired by Germany, includesAustralia, Brazil, Sweden, Bahamas, India, and Zimbabwe. TheSecretariat will provide the group with a revised draft of thefinancial rules based on the discussion in addition to a verypreliminary budget. The Chair asked the group to provide apreliminary report at the start of the session on Wednesdayafternoon.


WORKING GROUP I: Working Group I, having completeddiscussion on Tuesday morning's scheduled agenda item, will beginby considering Agenda Item 4.1.4, "Selection of a CompetentInternational Organization to Carry out the Functions of theSecretariat of the Convention" (UNDP/CBD/IC/2/6).

WORKING GROUP II: This group will address agenda item 4.1.6,"Policy, strategy, programme priorities and eligibility criteriaregarding access to and utilization of financial resources"(UNDP/CBD/IC/2/1) for both morning and afternoon sessions.

RAFI DOCUMENT ON CGIAR: Look for copies of a backgrounddocument prepared by the Rural Advancement Foundation International(RAFI), together with the Third World Network and GRAIN, regardingthe role of the World Bank in the pending deal with the CGIARbodies that would bring the gene banks under intergovernmentalauthority. Look for a statement from Ismail Serageldin, CGIAR Chairand World Bank Vice-President on this issue sometime during thesession.