Report of main proceedings for 22 June 1994
2nd Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Convention on Biological Diversity (ICCBD)
In response to a request by delegates on Monday, the Plenary metWednesday evening for preliminary discussions on agenda item 4.1.1,Rules of Procedure for the Conference of the Parties, as containedin document UNEP/CBD/IC/2/3.
The Plenary read through the text in clusters, highlighting thepoints of divergence and covered the first 25 rules. The rest willbe discussed in the next Plenary. At the end of the session, theChair established a drafting group, chaired by the UK to begincleaning up the text.
Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, recommended that in conformity withthe current UN trend, Rules 29 to 51 relating to the workingprocedures, should be simplified and harmonized. Australiaexpressed some difficulty with rule 40 on Voting.
RULES 1, 2 AND 3: These rules cover purpose, definitions andplace of meetings, respectively. No comments were made.
RULES 4 AND 5 (DATES OF MEETINGS), 6 AND 7 (OBSERVERS): Onrule 4, the US said that the wording in paragraph 1 prejudges theperiodicity of the meeting of the COP. Malaysia stated that in Rule6(1), the reference to "any institution" does not conform to thelanguage in the CBD. Slovakia suggested that Rule 7(2) should alsouse the language of Rule 6(2) to allow for NGOs to participate inCOP meetings as observers.
RULES 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 AND 15 (AGENDA): Australiastated that the added text in Rule 9(2) is unnecessary whileparagraph 5 places a time limit on the discussion on financialmatters. There was extensive debate on Rule 11, the possibility ofadding items to the agenda, but Austria pointed out that rules 11and 12 have to be dealt with together.
RULES 16, 17, 18, 19 AND 20 (REPRESENTATION ANDCREDENTIALS): Discussion focused on the procedure of presentingcredentials: whether through the established diplomatic channelsor, as suggested by the UK, it should be the prerogative of theParties. The reference to an Executive Secretary of the COP, aposition that does not exist in the CBD, was questioned by India.The UK noted that it exists in some other Rules of Procedure. Thestatus of the Regional Economic Integration Organizations vis vis Rule 19 and 39 (voting) was raised by Cte d'Ivoire butseveral delegations said these bodies are equal to member Statesonce they fulfill all the requirements. The Chair said the phrase"either head of state or government" in Rule 18, is bracketed.
RULES 21, 22, 23, 24 AND 24 (OFFICERS): Antigua and Barbudaproposed that the Bureau have 11 members: 10 Vice-Presidents withtwo representatives from each of the five regions and one from theSmall Island States. The Bahamas, Barbados and Micronesia agreed.However, the UK was concerned that this would allow any other newregional grouping to demand representation. Australia said that thePresident's authority provided for in Rule 21 seemed incomplete.
WORKING GROUP I
Informal discussions continued on the draft report of theclearing-house mechanism (UNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.1/CRP.1) Developingcountries stressed the need to strengthen national capacities andestablish focal points. Provisions for obtaining financial andtechnical support as consortium or joint ventures was debated on.Some countries expressed their concern about the implications ofbrokerage roles. It was agreed that a final report with amendmentsbe prepared for further discussion.
SUBSIDIARY BODY ON SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL AND TECHNOLOGICALADVICE (UNEP/CBD/IC/2/19).
The Chair referred to Article 25 of the Convention regarding theestablishing of a subsidiary body to provide the COP with timelyadvice relating to the implementation of CBD. The following issueswere discussed:
FUNCTIONS OF THE BODY: Many countries expressed satisfactionwith the document prepared by the Interim Secretariat. UK statedthat as per Article 25, the functions of the body are to bedetermined upon the request of the COP. Norway, supported byothers, wanted a prioritization of the tasks of the subsidiarybody. New Zealand, Japan, Brazil, Spain and India preferred thatthe body should provide scientific and technical advice and notdeal with finance or policy matters. Brazil wanted the body tofacilitate the transfer of technology. Canada suggested thatmembers of the body, on behalf of the COP, should advise the GEF onthe application of policy related to the CBD, and that GEF memberscould also serve in an ex-offico capacity to the body. This wascautioned against by India and Brazil who stated that as therestructured GEF is still an interim financial mechanism pending aCOP decision, such an interchange would be premature.
MULTIDISCIPLINARY CHARACTER: Many countries wanted to ensurethe multidisciplinary nature of the body as referred to in Article25 of the CBD. The Chair asked a small group to recommend to theGroup a profile of these disciplines.
PERIODICITY OF MEETINGS: India, supported by Malawi, andothers wanted the body to meet on an annual basis. Canada andAustralia wanted to give the body enough time to prepare reportsfor the COP and stated that more meetings might be required in theinitial phase.
FINANCING/BUDGET: Australia and Sweden, supported by others,stated that funding for the body will need to be reflected in thebudget for the Convention.
STRUCTURE OF THE BODY: India, supported by Norway, Braziland others wanted the body to be open to all contracting parties ofthe CBD as cited in Article 25 (1). Malawi supported by others,proposed a two tier system, the first tier being an open-endedsubsidiary body and the second tier being regional level groups.Canada and Australia called for a small, regionally balancedsteering body that would meet more frequently than the largeropen-ended group composing the subsidiary body. In addition,Australia stated that a sub-structure with regional representationand expert panels would be useful and also requested that thereport of the Intergovernmental Meeting of Scientific Experts inMexico (UNEP/CBD/IC/2/11) be referred to the subsidiary body as abasis for part of its work. India and Colombia raised the issue ofbiotechnology and biosafety as related to the work of the body. TheUS, supported by Japan, suggested a structure that would look at amatrix of ecosystems -- boreal, temperate, tropical and marine.Kenya supported by others, stated that the rules of procedureadopted by the COP should be adopted by subsidiary bodies unlessthe COP decides otherwise.
The Chair concluded the session by stating that the variousrecommendations would be noted in a draft report to be prepared bythe Interim Secretariat. He concluded by stating that the groupworking on a profile of the multidiscplines to be included in thesubsidiary body, would report on its findings tomorrow.
WORKING GROUP II
The group decided to take up the remaining matter left fromTuesday's debate, "Monitoring and evaluation" when it discusses"Arrangements between the COP and the Institutional Structure."
INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE TO OPERATE THE FINANCIAL MECHANISM UNDERTHE CONVENTION
ICCBD Chair, Amb. Vincente S nchez, said that success of thesession depends on the success of discussion on this agenda item.He had attended the three GEF restructuring meetings as requestedby the ICCBD, where he raised the matter of inconsistencies in theGEF instrument and the CBD with delegates, some of which wereremedied. The GEF instrument notes "cooperative arrangements andagreements" with the COP, but these can be interpreted as somethingbetween two equal partners and this is not the case. He noted thatthe term "under authority" is missing. He hoped the ICCBD wouldmake concrete recommendations for the first COP.
SELECTION OF THE INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE ENTRUSTED WITH THEOPERATION OF THE FINANCIAL MECHANISM: The Working Group Chair,V. Koester, noted that the institutional structure in place is theGEF. Malaysia, supported by Kenya, Mauritius, Cuba, and Mexicourged that the COP should not rush into any decision and that theGEF could serve as the interim mechanism past the first COP so thatit could be tested for suitability. Kenya, Syria, and Mauritiuscalled for an independent mechanism. Delegates discussed the meritsof one versus many institutional structures and mechanisms, andwhether the CBD referred to it/them in the singular or plural. SriLanka questioned whether the GEF would act under governmentauthority, given it is now funding NGOs independently of governmentapproval. Uganda, supported by Guinea, noted that the COP shouldexamine the GEF for suitability for the allocation of funds andwhether it will allow the COP to utilize the fund for its ownsubsidiary bodies. Pakistan said that the restructured GEF does notqualify under the CBD, since it is not democratic or under theauthority and guidance of the COP. The Bahamas, supported by WWF,accepted the GEF with its "good and bad bits", although not as theonly mechanism, since that would discourage some funding. TheBahamas added that this ongoing debate was the "GEF interactiverole playing game". In so many words, Australia, Canada, France,Germany, Japan, US, Norway, and the Russian Federation felt thatthe successfully restructured GEF should be the financial mechanismfor the CBD. France said that seeming disparities between the GEFinstrument and the CBD are semantic and not philosophical. The USand France noted that national legislative bodies would get asignal from this meeting. The UK and Switzerland noted that the GEFrestructuring was negotiated by countries present and the UK notedthat Pakistan had even contributed to the GEF. Argentina suggestedthat the ICCBD should recommend the GEF as the interim structureuntil the COP decides otherwise. The Chair said that both groups inthe debate needed each other to make any of the possible decisionsregarding the institutional structure.
OTHER FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS: France noted that a procedure,similar to that of the Climate Convention, should be establishedwhere regional banks and the World Bank provide information to theClimate Secretariat. The UK, US, Brazil, and Australia, amongothers, supported France's proposal for a survey of various bodiesthat would evaluate the roles and nature of activities carried outby other financial institutions, and whether their policies areconsistent with the aims of the CBD.
ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN THE COP AND THE INSTITUTIONAL STRUCTURE:Australia's proposal for an arrangement such as a memorandum ofunderstanding between the COP and the institutional structure, wasstrongly supported. It would provide a formal basis while providingflexibility and avoiding legal arrangements. The InterimSecretariat will likely develop a draft list of elements that sucha memorandum would contain. The Bahamas suggested that anintermediary body between the COP and all agencies operating underits authority be developed (including financial institutions,scientific and technical bodies etc). Such a body would receivereports from subsidiary bodies and perform an independentmonitoring and evaluation role. This intervention was widelysupported. Australia also noted that the GEF is committed toindependent evaluations of its operation, and suggested that theCOP may wish to be part of such evaluations. Brazil, on the otherhand, suggested that the COP should not be involved in monitoringand evaluation functions and should confine itself to the mandategiven to it in the CBD.
It was agreed that a small open-ended Working Group would conveneto further address 4.1.6 and 4.1.7, taking into account thediscussions to date. The group, Chaired by Mexico, also includesUganda, Nigeria, India, Malaysia, China, Uruguay, Antigua &Barbuda, Brazil, the US, France, Japan, Australia, the UK, andAustria.
Germany reported that the informal working group on the draftfinancial rules of the trust fund, and budget, for the Secretariat,had met four times since Monday. The group will continue meetingand submit a final report later in the session.
IN THE BREEZEWAYS
The hottest document yesterday was IUCN's explanatory guide to theCBD, presented during an evening soire. The document, intended tohelp non-specialists understand the CBD and its implications, isexpected to be a useful tool in assisting countries determinespecific steps to implement the Convention.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
WORKING GROUP I: Given the speed with which the group hasconducted its discussions on agenda items, the Chair noted that thegroup will consider agenda item 4.2.2 previously scheduled forMonday, 27 June "Consideration of the need for, and modalities ofa protocol on biosafety" (UNEP/CBD/IC/2/12). A request was made tothe Interim Secretariat to prepare a draft report of the activitiesof the Group.
WORKING GROUP II: Working Group II will begin at 11:00 am todiscuss the Secretariat's report of the first two day's work. Theinformal groups on matters relating to the financial mechanism andfinancial rules governing the funding of the Secretariat will alsomeet during the day.
THE CRUCIBLE GROUP REPORT: A buffet luncheon and seminar forICCBD delegates will be held in meeting room 4 at 1:00 pm topresent the Crucible Group report published by IDRC, "People,Plants and Patents, The Impact of Intellectual Property on Trade,Plant Biodiversity and Rural Society."