Report of main proceedings for 18 June 1996

4th International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources (ITCPGR-4)

The CHAIR announced the decision to form an Open-Ended Working Group (WG),chaired by the G-77, to discuss the GPA, and a Contact Group to discuss Agenda item 9(implementation and financing of the GPA). Both groups began deliberations today, andwill report to the Plenary on Thursday morning, after which the WG will discuss theLeipzig Declaration, to be chaired by an OECD country delegate.

PLENARY

PORTUGAL stated that it is committed to conservation and sustainable use of PGR, andoutlined national activities in this area. BANGLADESH called for the GPA to utilize agrassroots approach, with Farmers’ Rights (FR) playing a vital role, and for strengtheningnational agricultural research systems. PERU highlighted its participation in Leipzig as asignatory of the IU. ISRAEL called for establishment of a scientific working group to helpimplement the GPA. CUBA suggested that the GPA should focus on technical aspects,and on mobilization of the financial resources, without which it would only be a set ofrecommendations. He called for the GPA to address technology transfer.

SWEDEN highlighted the political nature of the GPA, and called for immediateimplementation of its recommendations with concrete projects on the ground, andfinancing, without which little action was possible. He stressed that access to gene banksand advice from plant breeders to small farmers would be concrete ways to ensure FR atthe national level. He suggested that CBD COP-3 be invited to use the GPA as a majorinput in guiding conservation and sustainable use of PGR. NEPAL emphasized theimportance of acknowledging farmers’ contributions to PGR conservation and use.

VENEZUELA, supported by BOLIVIA, MOROCCO and IRAQ, stressed the need forfinancial resources to underwrite the GPA. She suggested that the Report on the State ofthe World’s PGR (RSW) was a great piece of work and should be updated on a periodicbasis. BOLIVIA emphasized that food security is a strategic objective which is linked toconservation and sustainable use of PGR, and called for preferential access to appropriatetechnology and the sharing of benefits. ARMENIA highlighted his country’s role as asource of important PGRFA.

FINLAND stated that the GPA is only one part of the Global System and should be seenas an evolving and ongoing process. AZERBAIJAN highlighted the significant climaticand genetic diversity of his country and expressed concern about the effects of war onPGR. CAMEROON, on behalf of Central and West African countries, noted that thesecountries had focused on: strengthening national capacities by developing gene banks ineach sub-region; developing legislation; training instructors and supporting the work ofwomen, who are key players in the conservation and sustainable use of PGR. SYRIAhighlighted the importance of the RSW.

BHUTAN enforced the need for political will to ensure food security and indicated hiscountry’s commitment by the fact that it had established a special trust fund for PGR. Heemphasized the importance of FR. ARGENTINA noted that her country was a donor tothe World Food Programme and that Agenda 21, the CBD and GPA had been translatedinto action in her region. She emphasized that her country wanted to develop newlegislation and technologies for PGR. She welcomed the establishment of open-endedworking groups at the ITCPGR-4.

GHANA recalled the CGRFA’s 1993 statement that ITCPGR-4 would “transformrelevant parts of the UNCED process into a costed GPA” in order to “make the FAOGlobal System fully operational.” She further underscored in vitro methods forgermplasm conservation and utilization. The NETHERLANDS noted that the diversity ofPGRFA, including forest resources, is essential to rural development, sustainableagriculture and forestry. He hailed the FAO, in close cooperation with the CBD, as theappropriate UN organisation to address agro-biodiversity issues. He underscored theNetherlands’ willingness to contribute financially, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to theimplementation of the GPA and called on the Secretariat to prepare a workplan as afollow-up to this Conference. The PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF KOREAnoted that PGR is the most important raw material for world food security and althoughself-sufficiency is desirable, he underscored his gratitude to the international communityfor providing emergency assistance for a flood disaster.

TURKEY invited all countries to participate in the international conference on insitu biodiversity conservation in Anatolia this November. SAMOA underscored itsgenetic vulnerability as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) and called for recognitionof indigenous knowledge and FR as well as the safe exchange of PGR between countries,especially those in need. BURKINA FASO noted the “combined action of climate andman” in damaging biodiversity and described PGR as a heritage with no price tag as it isessential to food, health and the economy. ROMANIA noted the need for inventories ofexisting PGR and called for the upcoming years to focus on PGR evaluation andpreservation.

SRI LANKA stated that food security requires valuing PGR and sharing benefits andfinancial resources. Regarding the GPA, ZIMBABWE highlighted: indigenous knowledgefor PGR conservation; access to genetic resources; sui generis IPR for FR; andsustainable funding. GEORGIA emphasized the Caucasus region as a centre of origin forwheat and grape varieties. FRANCE described national programmes for PGRconservation.

ANGOLA highlighted severe food security problems of the Southern AfricanDevelopment Community (SADC), and emphasized national programmes includingenhancement of farmers’ systems. GERMANY stated that the draft GPA: is well-balanced; should be in line with Agenda 21; and will be his government’s basis for action.The PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANISATION stated that the easternMediterranean is rich in PGR, underscored the problems of poor soils and scarce water,and described a national report.

ASSINSEL described a recent conference on PGR, and offered the following services:training; technology transfer; regeneration of PGR; preselection and evaluation; and freeaccess. NIGERIA highlighted forestry, country-oriented rather than global programmes,and cost-sharing between the FAO and governments. SUDAN requested that priority inthe GPA, including funding, be given to least developed countries (LDCs). KUWAITunderscored the role of the CGRFA-EX2 and the ITCPGR-4 vis-a-vis the WorldFood Summit.

OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP ON GPA

The Working Group (WG) began deliberations on the revised draft GPA (DocumentITCPGR/96/5-Rev1) The Chair, Fernando Gerbasi of Venezuela, emphasized that the WGhad been given a clear mandate to discuss only bracketed text, and urged delegates tomake concrete proposals. SWEDEN and POLAND requested re-insertion of earlier textthat had been removed by the Rome Working Group (10-12 June), but accepted theCHAIR’s request to re-introduce text either in plenary or after all current bracketed texthad been discussed.

In discussing a paragraph with a reference to forests, delegates debated whether or not toretain a quote from the Report of the Second Extraordinary Session of the CGRFA which“agreed that forestry would not be included in the GPA to be discussed at Leipzig...”.Delegates also considered whether the next sentence which stated that “future refinementsof the Plan could include other subsets of PGR” should be retained. While consensus wasinitially achieved on removing brackets from the first sentence, COLOMBIA, PERU andARGENTINA requested deletion of the second sentence. On request, the Secretariatclarified that “other sub-sets of PGR” referred to forests. AUSTRALIA, supported byFRANCE, BRAZIL and NIGERIA, reiterated that the placing and wording of thesentence represented a delicate balance between those who wanted no reference to forestsin the GPA, and those who did. Following the explanation by NIGERIA that in regions ofAfrica, PGR issues were closely tied to forests, and hence national programmes in thisarea could not be formulated in complete isolation from them, COLOMBIA withdrew itsobjections to retaining the reference to “other sub-sets of PGR” and brackets from the textwere removed.

Delegates then discussed the paragraph on components of the GPA. Discussion startedwith the subparagraph that read, “to promote a fair and equitable sharing of the benefitsarising from the use of PGRFA [or from the use of the knowledge, practices orinnovations associated with such resources].” The US, later supported by CANADA andJAPAN, proposed deletion of the bracketed text altogether. As a second option, the USproposed to re-introduce some of the original text which had been deleted: “within andwith countries, and with farmers and communities.” VENEZUELA, later supported byPERU, the AFRICAN GROUP, SWEDEN, CAMEROON, BOLIVIA, KENYA, EGYPT,SPAIN, MALAYSIA and ITALY proposed to drop the brackets and replace “or from theuse of” with “and” before the knowledge, practices or innovations.

NORWAY, later supported by PERU, proposed using language from the CBD text,Article 8(j). CANADA noted that it had originally bracketed the phrase due to reasonsassociated with CBD Article 8(j), arguing that if the purpose of the phrase is to refer tothe CBD, this reference should be explicit, precise and complete. He then cited Article 8(j)in its entirety, including the phrases “subject to national legislation” and “in situconservation” of PGRFA as well as the qualifier “as far as possible and appropriate.”

The AFRICAN GROUP questioned the wisdom of recalling Article 8(j). INDONESIAand ZIMBABWE proposed deleting the brackets but did not specify whether theysupported Venezuela’s wording. The US expressed grave reservation about the course ofthe discussion and noted that any reference to the CBD would need to include “nationallegislation” and the qualifier “as far as possible and appropriate” or should simplyreference Article 8(j) itself.

GERMANY proposed the addition of “subject to national legislation” as a compromise toVenezuela’s proposal. COLOMBIA expressed concern with the “useless attempt torewrite CBD Articles” and proposed referring to the CBD Preamble due to its broadertreatment of benefit-sharing. Noting broad support for the Venezuelan proposal, theCHAIR called on Canada, Colombia, Germany, Norway, Venezuela and the US to consultand provide a proposal at the next WG session.

Under the same paragraph, the subparagraph calling for strengthened national programmeson PGRFA and enhanced institutional capacity building “of those aspects which today arenon-existent,” was amended to “strengthen, in particular, national programmes, as well asregional and international.” The text following “institutional capacity building” wasdropped, and the subparagraph was adopted.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Two delegates from each of the seven FAO regions met in the morning in a ContactGroup, chaired by Jrgen Detken of Germany, to discuss implementation and financing ofthe GPA. Some delegates reported that several governments presented different versionsof draft working text to be discussed in the Contact Group on Wednesday. According tothose interviewed, there is substantial disagreement between North and South overwhether existing funding mechanisms are adequate to implement the draft GPA.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

PLENARY: There will be no Plenary session today.

OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP: The Open-Ended Working Group on theGPA will continue with a paragraph-by-paragraph review of bracketed text in Hall 1. It isexpected that this Group will meet all day. The Contact Group on finances will continueits deliberations.

NGO MEETING: An NGO presentation on women’s in situ conservationstrategies will be given in Hall 2 at 3:00 pm.

Further information

Participants

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