Report of main proceedings for 24 June 1994

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


The Chair of the ICCBD, Amb. Vincente S nchez opened the discussionof agenda item 4.1.1, Rules of Procedure, contained in documentUNEP/CBD/IC/2/3. The Plenary moved quickly through the remainingrules, 26 to 57. These addressed subsidiary bodies, theSecretariat, conduct of business, voting, languages, amendments tothe rules of procedure, and the overriding authority of theConvention. While a few States repeated views that were alreadyincluded in the text, no new interventions were made. S nchez thenclarified that the COP's involvement in the 1995 session of the CSDwould not require the preparation of reports, because UNEP has beenappointed as task manager. This would also ensure coordinationamong UN agencies working on biodiversity and the CBD.


The Group reviewed the issue of the clearing-house mechanism fortechnical and scientific cooperation contained in the draft report,UNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.I/L.1. The Group later began to examine documentUNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.I/L.1/Add.1, the second draft report of theirdiscussion on the selection of a competent internationalorganization to carry out the functions of a Secretariat of theConvention.


Paragraph 2 lists the issues relating to the Clearing-housemechanism considered by the Group: characteristics of themechanism; functions; modalities for establishment; potential rangeof subject areas covered; and further tasks for the InterimSecretariat. Although this paragraph was accepted without anyobjections, the Group moved arduously through each paragraph,picking and choosing, because the functions, modalities and thepotential range of subject areas covered by the mechanisms, werenot clearly delineated in the Report.

CHARACTERISTICS: Paragraph 3 and 4: New Zealand,supported by Australia, wanted to fuse paragraph 3 and 4, statingthat both described the nature of the clearing-house mechanism.Brazil requested that the word "completely" be deleted from"completely transparent structure." India asked if "meta-data"could be changed to something more easily understandable andproposed adding the word "further" in subparagraph (c) to read:"small in the initial phase but capable of further development." Healso wanted the deletion of "if demand and resources allow." The UKopposed this proposal. The Chair asked the UK and India to preparetext acceptable to both.

FUNCTIONS AND POTENTIAL RANGE OF SUBJECT AREAS COVERED:Paragraph 5: Canada, supported by Australia, stated that thefirst sentence of the paragraph be altered because it does notaddress functions but rather the range of subject areas covered bythe mechanism. He proposed a detailed revision that would mergeparagraphs 5 and 10. It was agreed that the range of subject areasof the proposed clearing house mechanism should be based upon theobjectives of the Convention.

However, there was disagreement on whether components such as,agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife, should be listed ornot. India, supported by Brazil and others, proposed that thesentence should either not list these components or if there is alist, then the word "pharmaceuticals" should be added as well.Ethiopia, supported by Tanzania, wanted to include "microorganisms." After considerable discussion, it was agreed not tolist any examples of these components. Brazil raised another issue.She wanted to add the phrase "new and additional financialresources should be available whenever necessary to implement theclearing-house mechanism."

Another problem was the suggestion by Sweden to add the phrase, "inorder to promote technological cooperation among nations, inparticular between partners in developing and developed countries."Canada, Japan, US and others disagreed. The US stated that itpreferred a widening rather than narrowing of the scope ofcooperation. Kenya, supported by the US, stated that it was notcomfortable with particularizing partnerships between developed anddeveloping countries as such partnerships could be between anyone.There was again considerable discussion on the issue and nature ofpartnership but it was agreed that the phrase should read:"scientific and technological cooperation and partnership amongnations."

MODALITIES FOR ESTABLISHMENT: There seemed to be consensusthat the establishment of a clearing-house should be based onexisting structures. Several approaches were proposed. Paragraph6 suggests a process that involves identifying and recognizingsources of information in areas including: Third World Academies ofSciences and the various national science academies; centers ofexcellence; universities and institutions involved in training andeducation; organizations that facilitate exchanges of technologies;and existing national, regional and international databases.Paragraph 7 notes that the mechanism could possibly beestablished within a UN organization. Important tenets include:building on existing experience, structures and relevantconventions; avoiding duplication; and maximizingcost-effectiveness and efficiency. The necessary mechanismsidentified include, inter alia, meta-bases at the national,regional and international levels. Although delegates acknowledgedthe need to establish new institutions where they are lacking,there was heated debate between the developed and developingcountries on the necessity for "new and additional resources" tostrengthen and adapt existing mechanisms. The developed countriespreferred to say, "new and additional resources may be necessary."In order not to deviate from the language in the Convention,consensus was reached that the report should state that, "manydelegations stressed the need that new and additional resourceswere necessary...."

Paragraph 8: Sri Lanka provided text requiring that anytraditional knowledge documented by the clearing-house mechanismnot be commercialized without the benefits getting to the sources,as the notion of "copyright" does not exist with respect totraditional knowledge.

Paragraph 9 emphasizes the need for capacity-building at thenational level, along the lines outlined in the report of theOpen-ended Intergovernmental Meeting of Scientific Experts onBiological Diversity, document UNEP/CBD/IC/2/11, paragraphs 31 (b)and (c). It was agreed that within the framework of capacitybuilding, "the provision of financial, technical and trainingsupport was particularly emphasized." In addition, the consortiaand joint ventures could facilitate the establishment of thefunctioning of the Secretariat.

FURTHER TASKS OF THE INTERIM SECRETARIAT: There was nodebate on the five tasks that the Interim Secretariat is mandatedto undertake. These are: to continue the survey of clearing housemechanisms; to continue information collection on gaps and linkagesbetween databases; to examine the legal implications of theclearing-house mechanism; to examine the relationship between theclearing-house mechanism and the COP; and to examine therelationship of the clearing-house mechanisms and any associatedregional centers.


The Group completed discussion of the first six paragraphs ofdocument UNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.I/L.1/Add.1, with minor amendments. Thethree issues tackled in Paragraph 1 are: attributes ofcompetent international organizations; procedure for receivingoffers from interested organizations; and other matters relevant tothe establishment of the Secretariat.

ATTRIBUTES OF COMPETENT INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS:Paragraph 2 outlines the 11 attributes to be proposed to theCOP for consideration in identifying the appropriate Secretariat.These include: the relevance of its mandate to the Convention;ability to provide technical support on the substantive work of theConvention; past involvement, or familiarity with the Convention;effectiveness in its work; the possibility to establish workingrelationships with other relevant conventions; experience inproviding secretariat functions to intergovernmental processes;and existing organizational infrastructure. As well as: the extentto which the organization would ensure the Secretariat's autonomyand independence; the organization's expertise in the conservationof biological diversity; ability to operate on the global, regionaland national levels; and ability to accommodate any future decisionby the COP on the location of the Secretariat.

Paragraph 3 stipulates additional criteria that would ensurethe autonomy of the Secretariat. These include: ability to supportthe operation of the Convention through its own budgetarymechanisms; stature of the Secretariat; and the approval processrequired from the organization's governing authority.

PROCEDURES OF RECEIVING OFFERS FROM INTERESTEDORGANIZATIONS: Paragraph 4 notes two procedures: eitherfor the Interim Secretariat to request offers, or for interestedorganizations to indicate their interest. The Group recommendedthat all organizations interested in hosting the Secretariat shouldnotify their interest to the Interim Secretariat before 15 August1994, accompanied by details of their offer.

Paragraph 5 lists six potential organizations includingUNEP, UNDP, FAO, UNESCO, IOC, DPCSD and the IUCN. Many delegatessupported UNEP. However, the list should not prejudge the selectionprocess of the COP.

Paragraph 6 recommends a second type of Secretariat thatwould be assisted by a consortium of agencies within the UN family.There was debate on whether this option is provided for in theConvention, but it was agreed that since the Convention did not barthe option either, it should be recommended.


The Group reconvened after a day of informal consultations. TheChair, Amb. V. Koester, introduced agenda item 4.1.8 by noting thatArt 20 (2) specifies that the COP shall, at its first meeting,establish a list of developed country Parties and other Partiesthat voluntarily assume the obligations of the developed countryParties. However, there is no definitive list of developedcountries. A number of lists are currently used by variousorganizations for different purposes. By the end of the discussionno consensus was reached on how the list would be formulated, or ifan existing list should be used. Agreement was reached that onlycontracting Parties would be included in the list. Also, provisionwill be made to ensure contracting non-country Parties, such asregional economic organizations, can also assume developing Partyobligations. A list that defines developed country Parties isrequired, as it is an obligation for these Parties to contributefinancial resources.

The UK, supported by Germany, suggested that the list of developedcountry Parties should mirror the list of donors to the interimfinancial mechanism - the GEF. However, several delegates notedthat India, China, and Pakistan, among others, donate money to theGEF and would therefore be classified as donor countries. Mexiconoted that these, and other countries, are both donors andrecipients of the GEF, and would therefore be classified asdeveloped countries according to the UK proposal. Accordingly, theUK amended their suggestion of donors that contribute to the GEF toread "non-recipient donors." However, this created furtherdifficulties as some countries, such as Iceland, would not beregarded as developed. Brazil and Malaysia rejected using a listprovided by the proposed interim financial institution, chargingthat it would be inconsistent to use lists that would enshrine theGEF in the CBD. China suggested that the practice used in theClimate Convention and the Montreal Protocol should be considered.Australia suggested the list developed by the World Bank. SeveralStates supported the proposal that the Secretariat develop a listof developed countries that have already ratified the CBD, as thereis little secret about who these countries are. However, thisreceived little support. The Chair referred further discussion ofthis to the informal group addressing the financial issues underagenda item 4.1.6 and 4.1.7. The suggestion made by the UK, beingthe only new one, will be added to the Secretariat's document.

INFORMAL GROUPS: The Contact Group on Finances met todiscuss the Chair's draft paper on Programme Priorities. Littleprogress was reported, with more than six hours spent Saturday onthe issue of the development and transfer of technologies(paragraph vi).

The Group on Rules of Procedure completed its work onUNEP/CBD/IC/2/CRP.3. The six outstanding issues are: periodicity ofmeetings; rule 6.1 on observer status; number of officers in theBureau; voting procedures on finance and biosafety; and the numberof official languages.


PLENARY: The Plenary will hear reports on the status ofWorking Groups I & II, the informal groups of Working Group II, thereport of the Contact Group on the rules of procedure, and anoverview by the Chair of the progress of work. It is expected thatthe first part of the report of the second session will be adopted.The Chair is likely to propose his organization of work for thesecond week.

WORKING GROUP I: This Working Group will continue itsexamination of document UNEP/CBD/IC/2/WG.I/L.1 on the selection ofa competent international organization to carry out the functionsof the Secretariat of the Convention. Thereafter, it may considerthe second draft of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technicaland Technological Advice.

WORKING GROUP II: Working Group II's contact group on Financesis expected to continue with its informal meetings today and mayreturn to the issue of poverty. Look for both parts of the revisedtext on Rules of Procedure.