Summary report, 17–23 June 1996

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

The Fourth International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources (ITCPGR-4)met in Leipzig, Germany, from 17-23 June 1996. During the Conference, participantsreached agreement on an international programme for the conservation and utilization ofplant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). Representatives of 148 Statesadopted the Leipzig Declaration - a 12-point political statement - and a delicatelybalanced Global Plan of Action (GPA) - the Conference's main substantive output.

Contentious issues, including financing and implementation of the GPA, technologytransfer, Farmers' Rights, and access and benefit-sharing, were the subject of protractedand often closed consultations. Their resolution, adopted as a package in the closingPlenary, represented a careful compromise of strongly held positions on issues that poseboth old and new challenges to the international community. While the debate overfinancing and technology transfer is long-standing, the operationalization of Farmers'Rights, and access and benefit-sharing arrangements pose new challenges in an evolvinginternational environment. ITCPGR-4 confirmed that even the most technical issues mustbe addressed within the context of cross-cutting international regimes, such as theConvention on Biological Diversity and the GATT.


While plant genetic resources (PGR) have been sought after, collected, used andimproved for centuries, it has only been since the 1930s that concern has been voicedover the need for conservation. Concerted international efforts to promote conservation,exchange and utilization are somewhat more recent.

To this end, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) established anintergovernmental Commission on Plant Genetic Resources in 1983, and adopted a non-binding International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (IU), which is now beingrevised in light of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In 1995, theCommission was renamed the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food andAgriculture (CGRFA), a body which is currently comprised of the 143 member States ofthe FAO. The Commission and the International Undertaking constitute the maininstitutional components of the Global System for the Conservation and Utilization ofPlant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which includes other internationalinstruments and technical mechanisms being developed by the FAO.

A series of international technical conferences and meetings on PGR have been convenedby the FAO, in cooperation with other organizations, in order to facilitate technicaldiscussions among scientists and to create awareness about PGR issues among policy-makers at the national and international levels. The first significant meeting was held in1961 and focused on plant exploration and introduction. The 1967 Conference formulateda number of important resolutions subsequently adopted by the 1972 UN Conference onthe Human Environment. The most recent international technical conference, which tookplace in 1981, catalyzed the development of the FAO Global System.

By the early 1990s, it was evident that another international conference was needed toassess progress, identify problems and opportunities, and give direction to futureactivities in the conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources for food andagriculture (PGRFA). At its fourth session in 1991, the Commission proposed theconvening of an international technical conference on plant genetic resources. The FAOestablished a multi-donor trust fund project to coordinate the preparatory process for theFourth International Technical Conference on PGR to be held in Leipzig, Germany from17-23 June 1996.

The importance of PGRFA was formally recognized in Chapter 14 of Agenda 21, whichincludes programmes of action on the conservation and sustainable utilization of PGRFA.At the international level, Agenda 21 proposes actions to: strengthen the FAO GlobalSystem; prepare periodic state of the world reports on PGRFA and a rolling globalcooperative plan of action on PGRFA; and promote the International TechnicalConference on PGRFA, which would consider both the report and the plan of action.

In April 1993, the fifth session of the Commission noted that the Conference processwould "transform the relevant parts of the UNCED process (including Agenda 21 and theCBD) into a costed Global Plan of Action based on the first FAO Report on the State ofthe World's Plant Genetic Resources." The Commission also noted that the processwould "make the Global System fully operational."

In June 1995, at its Sixth Session, the CGRFA concentrated on two issues in particular:negotiations for the revision of the IU (the focus of the CGRFA's First ExtraordinarySession in November 1994) and preparations for the Leipzig Conference (the focus of theCGRFA's Second Extraordinary Session).


The Second Extraordinary Session of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources forFood and Agriculture (CGRFA-EX2) was held at FAO Headquarters in Rome from 22-27April 1996. During the week-long meeting, delegates addressed several issues inpreparation for Leipzig, including the first comprehensive Report on the State of theWorld's Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (RSW), to be forwarded to theConference, as well as a heavily bracketed Global Plan of Action. By the session's close,the GPA had been reviewed by a drafting group that met nine times, but completed only apartial reading.

The AFRICAN GROUP, the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) and theEU each tabled their own version of a draft declaration, and these regional drafts wereconsolidated into a new draft declaration for consideration in the Plenary. By thesession's close, the draft text of the Leipzig Declaration had undergone a paragraph-by-paragraph review, but remained subject to substantial negotiation. The Chair inviteddelegations to make written submissions to the Secretariat, to be taken up as bracketedtext in Leipzig.

Delegates also agreed to hold the Commission's next extraordinary session on therevision of the IU in early December 1996, immediately preceded by a meeting of aworking group that will prepare a simplified text to serve as a basis for the Commission'snegotiations.


A working group of the Commission, consisting of two representatives from each of theseven FAO regions, met from 10-12 June 1996 in Rome in order to resolve thesubstantially bracketed text in the GPA to facilitate final negotiations in Leipzig.Completing its work at 1:00 am on 13 June, the working group made substantial progressin resolving a large number of the issues. The consultations produced a document withonly 12 brackets remaining for resolution at ITCPGR-4. The outstanding issues mainlyrelated to implementation and financing of the GPA, technology transfer, Farmers'Rights, access and benefit-sharing.


The Conference was officially opened by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, whowelcomed delegates to Leipzig. In his opening speech, Jochen Borchert, the GermanFederal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Forestry, emphasized that the main task facingthe Conference was consensus on the GPA, which would serve as a milestone in the FAOGlobal System. Rolf Jahnichen, the Minister of Agriculture and Food of the German FreeState of Saxony, noted the important role of PGR in maintenance of the world's culturalheritage, and expressed the hope that delegates would agree upon recommendations forfuture action in this area.

Herr Lehmann-Grube, the Lord Mayor of Leipzig, welcomed all delegates, and noted thesymbolic importance of holding the Conference in a city that had undergone majorpolitical changes in the last decade. He expressed hope that the "spirit and energy" ofLeipzig would inspire delegates to resolve the many difficult issues facing theConference.

In his keynote address, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf noted that ITCPGR-4 was aunique and historic event, and one that represented a watershed in international efforts toconserve and sustainably use the world's PGR. He underscored the need for scientific andtechnological breakthroughs, and for political will at the highest level to ensuresustainable agriculture and food security for all in the coming decades.

After the opening speeches, participants unanimously elected Franz-Josef Feiter(Germany) as Chair of the Conference. In his acceptance speech, Feiter called ondelegates to demonstrate the common commitment and capacity for compromise thatcharacterized the preparatory process leading up to Leipzig. He then informed delegatesof the results of the Bureau elections. Based on unanimous agreement that the Bureauwould be drawn from the FAO regions, the following Vice-Chairs were elected byacclamation: Abel Mahmoud Aboul-Naga (Egypt), Thomas Forbord (US), Abdul JamilMohd. Ali (Malaysia), Don Fernando Gerbasi (Venezuela), Kristiane Herrmann(Australia) and Djibril Sene (Senegal). R. B. Singh (India) was elected Rapporteur.

Following the elections, Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, the President of the second meeting ofthe Conference of Parties (COP-2) to the CBD, addressed the Conference. He noted theimportance of other conventions to the CBD's three objectives, and urged otherinternational fora to help achieve these objectives through the CBD's overarchingframework. He underscored that many Parties to the CBD are also FAO members, andthat this should allow for a strong basis from which to build complementary programmesin PGR. He emphasized the importance of PGRFA as critical components of biodiversity,and the sovereign rights of States over their natural resources. He highlighted the need tomake ITCPGR-4 processes and the provisions of the CBD mutually supportive,complementary and consistent, and invited the FAO to present the outcome of ITCPGR-4 to COP-3.

Delegates then adopted the Provisional Agenda (ITCPGR/96/1-Rev. 1), which included:Presentation of a report on the ITCPGR-4 in the context of the FAO Global System forthe Conservation and Sustainable use of PGR (item 4); Presentation of a Progress Reporton the Revision of the International Undertaking on PGR (item 5); A review of theReport on the State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture(RSW) (item 6); Review of the GPA (item 7); Adoption of the GPA andrecommendations for its implementation (item 8); Review of possibilities for theimplementation and financing of the GPA (item 9); Adoption of the Leipzig Declaration(item 10); and Adoption of the ITCPGR-4 Report (item 11).

Bureau deliberations on the organization of work continued through the first full day ofthe meeting. On the second day, the Chair announced the decision to establish a workinggroup (WG) to discuss adoption of the GPA (Agenda item 7), to be chaired by FernandoGerbasi (Venezuela), which would report to the Plenary on Thursday. The WG wouldthen reconvene to discuss the Leipzig Declaration (Agenda item 10), under thechairmanship of Thomas Forbord (US). He also announced the establishment of a contactgroup, under the chairmanship of Jurgen Detken (Germany), to discuss implementationand financing of the GPA (Agenda item 9). This contact group met throughout the week.The working group on the GPA also established additional contact groups on technologytransfer and Farmers' Rights.


Jose Esquinas-Alcazar, Secretary of the CGRFA, introduced the document on the FourthInternational Technical Conference in the context of the FAO Global System for theConservation and Sustainable Utilization of PGRFA (ITCPGR/96/INF/2). He outlinedthe process by which the Global System had developed over the years, and noted the callby UNCED to develop a periodic report on the state of the world's genetic resources, anda rolling global plan of action, under the auspices of the fourth international technicalconference.


Gerald Moore, FAO Legal Counsel, introduced the Progress Report on the Revision ofthe International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (ITCPGR/96/INF/3). Hesummarized the negotiation processes that have already taken place with regard to the IUrevision, and noted that the next round of negotiations is scheduled for the ThirdExtraordinary Session of the CGRFA in December 1996. He pointed out that access onmutually agreed terms and Farmers' Rights (FR) were being considered within theauspices of the IU, and noted that the CGRFA is developing a simplified text of the IU tofacilitate the next round of negotiations.


The Secretariat introduced the Report on the State of the World's Plant GeneticResources (ITCPGR/96/3), and emphasized that it constituted the first worldwideassessment of conservation and sustainable utilization of the world's PGR. He noted thatthe Report is designed to guide the Commission in its activities, and provide a basis forthe actions outlined in the GPA. The Report was based upon information from 154country reports, as well as 11 regional and subregional meetings. It also drew on inputfrom the FAO World Information and Early Warning System, international institutions,NGOs, and the private sector. He summarized the country-driven, participatory andbottom-up approach utilized in the report's preparation, in addition to its main findings.

One of the Report's most important findings is that major gaps exist in activities andavailable information on PGR. These gaps include valuation methodologies, insitu conservation and inadequate ex situ collections. The Report notes thatwhile PGR activities to date have concentrated on ex situ conservation and use,crops of local importance are rarely found in such collections, and very few countries canprovide for sustained long-term storage of germplasm in their ex situ collections.It concludes that genetic diversity is being lost, and that, while farmers are helping toconserve diversity, there are insufficient links between farmers and plant breeders.Finally, it highlights the Report's purpose as a comprehensive background source ofinformation, to be updated and revised on a periodic basis. Following this presentation,the US and CANADA called on the FAO to clearly reflect the Report's status as an FAObackground document, rather than as a negotiated text, in its title and preface.


Following discussion of Agenda item 6, and pending a decision on organization of workrelating to discussion of Agenda item 7 on the GPA, delegates began presenting formalstatements in Plenary. Delegates who did not have a chance to take the floor due to timeconstraints during the three days dedicated to formal statements submitted writtenstatements to the Secretariat. The following are highlights of the statements that weredelivered in Plenary.

CANADA noted the importance of achieving consensus at Leipzig on a GPA. Hesuggested that the GPA, in its capacity as a scientific and technical document, was aunique tool with which to prioritize and coordinate actions on PGR at the national andinternational levels. The US emphasized that all countries were dependent on each otherwith regard to PGR, and noted that the US Department of Agriculture has supplied moregermplasm, unrestricted and at no cost, to the world's scientific community than anyother single system. She also highlighted her delegation's view that "the concept offarmers' rights" was "only a means of emphasizing the importance of farmers' practicesin promoting conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity."

ITALY, on behalf of the EU, noted that the GPA must be implemented on a scientificallysound basis, and called for more information on activities already underway at global andnational levels. INDONESIA noted that promoting education on PGR issues should begiven higher priority, and that forest PGR should be recognized. JAPAN called fordiscussions at Leipzig to be scientifically sound.

MALAYSIA called for the GPA to examine the growth in "propriety rights over PGR"and emphasized the need for institutional mechanisms to deal with the fair and equitablesharing of benefits from the use of PGR. He noted that the international environmentwithin which PGR debates were taking place had changed as a result of the existence ofthe CBD and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The REPUBLIC OFKOREA stated that free access to PGR should be explored, and that the CBD provided aneffective forum for the exchange of information on PGR.

POLAND noted that the GPA and the RSW reflect the understanding that PGR are both acommon heritage and a common responsibility. IRAN commended the FAO for its hardwork in the area of PGRFA. ETHIOPIA, later supported by the PHILIPPINES, noted thatpeasant farmers' traditional generosity regarding PGR must be reciprocated throughcontinued free-flow of PGRFA and funding. He called on the Conference to commit tothe legal protection of farmers' intellectual innovations, within the framework of the IU.

BRAZIL expressed its desire to adopt an implementable GPA that contains a strongfinancial commitment, a solid scientific basis and capacity-building for nationalprogrammes. INDIA noted that the outcome of the ITCPGR-4 would be a key input tothe World Food Summit, especially given agro-biodiversity's importance for world foodsecurity. He underscored the importance of bringing together the rights of farmers andplant breeders to meet world food demand in the face of massive population growth.

CHINA called for a GPA that contains both financial and political commitments. ThePHILIPPINES noted the GPA's omission of the impact of intellectual property rights(IPR) on PGR. He called for explicit recognition of indigenous and local rights, andlinkage of ex situ and in situ approaches to PGR conservation and use. Heemphasized the sovereign rights of countries over their genetic resources, and outlinednational access legislation that includes elements dealing with prior informed consent,benefit-sharing and technology transfer.

MEXICO outlined its efforts to conserve important PGR through the establishment ofgene banks and other research activities. COLOMBIA emphasized that Farmers' Rights(FR), free access regimes, and mechanisms for the preferential transfer of technology tocountries that are centers of origin of PGR should be the cornerstone to the GlobalSystem of PGR, and that countries should not avoid agreements on financing. KENYAstated that future reports on PGR should include steps for implementation. Heemphasized the interdependence of countries with regard to PGRFA and stated that boththe benefits and the burden of conservation must be shared, in line with the CBD.

ECUADOR highlighted conclusions and recommendations developed at regionalmeetings not included in the draft GPA, as well as the contribution of peasantcommunities to PGR conservation. AUSTRALIA called for finalization of the GPA atthis meeting and for a set of practical and feasible measures to support conservation ofPGRFA, including policies on access, benefit-sharing and revision of the IU.

Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN), on behalf of a number of NGOs,reported on their pre-conference weekend meeting on agricultural biodiversity andsummarized a statement on FR. They called for farming communities and IndigenousPeoples to have rights over PGR, and for FR to include land rights and the right toparticipatory agricultural research support.

PORTUGAL stated that it is committed to conservation and sustainable use of PGR, andoutlined national activities in this area. BANGLADESH noted that the GPA shouldutilize a grassroots approach, with FR playing a vital role. He called for the strengtheningof national agricultural research systems. PERU highlighted its participation in Leipzig asa signatory of the IU.

ISRAEL called for establishment of a scientific working group to help implement theGPA. CUBA suggested that the GPA should focus on the technical aspects of PGRconservation and use, and on the mobilization of financial resources. He called for theGPA to include a discussion of technology transfer, which he described as a gap in thedraft document. SWEDEN highlighted the political nature of the GPA, and called forimmediate implementation of its recommendations with concrete projects on the ground,and with financing, without which little action is possible. He stressed that access to genebanks and advice from plant breeders to small farmers would be a concrete way to ensureFR at the national level. He suggested that COP-3 of the CBD be invited to use the GPAas a major input in guiding conservation and sustainable use of PGR.

NEPAL emphasized the importance of acknowledging farmers' contributions to PGRconservation and use. VENEZUELA, supported by BOLIVIA, MOROCCO and IRAQ,stressed the need for financial resources to underwrite the GPA. She praised the RSW,and called for it to be updated on a periodic basis.

BOLIVIA emphasized that food security was intimately linked to conservation andsustainable use of PGR. He called for preferential access to appropriate technology andthe sharing of benefits from the use of PGR. ARMENIA highlighted the importance ofhis country's PGR. FINLAND stated that the GPA was only one part of the GlobalSystem and should be seen as an evolving and on-going process. AZERBAIJANhighlighted the significant climatic and genetic diversity of his country and expressedconcern about the effects of war on PGR.

CAMEROON, on behalf of the Central and West African States, noted that countries inthis region were focusing on strengthening national capacities by establishing gene banksin each subregion, developing legislation, and supporting the work of women in theconservation and sustainable use of PGR. SYRIA highlighted the importance of theRSW. BHUTAN emphasized the need for political will to ensure food security. Hepointed to the establishment of a special trust fund for PGR in his country as anexpression of political commitment.

ARGENTINA noted that her country was a donor to the World Food Programme andoutlined national efforts to develop legislation and technologies for PGR conservationand use. GHANA recalled the CGRFA's 1993 statement that ITCPGR-4 would"transform relevant parts of the UNCED process into a costed GPA" in order to "makethe FAO Global System fully operational." She underscored in vitro methods forgermplasm conservation and utilization.

The NETHERLANDS noted that the diversity of PGRFA, including forest resources, wasessential for sustainable agriculture and forestry. He hailed the FAO, in close cooperationwith the CBD, as the appropriate UN organization to address agro-biodiversity issues. Heunderscored the Netherlands' willingness to contribute financially to the implementationof the GPA, and called on the Secretariat to prepare a work plan as a follow-up to thisConference.

The PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF KOREA noted that PGR is the mostimportant raw material for world food security. TURKEY invited all countries toparticipate in the international conference on in situ biodiversity conservation inTurkey this November. SAMOA underscored its genetic vulnerability as a small islanddeveloping State.

BURKINA FASO noted the "combined action of climate and man" in damagingbiodiversity and described PGR as essential to food, health and the economy. ROMANIAnoted the need for inventories of existing PGR. SRI LANKA emphasized that foodsecurity requires valuing PGR, sharing of benefits and financial resources. ZIMBABWEhighlighted the need for the GPA to address indigenous knowledge regarding PGR,access to genetic resources, sui generis IPR for FR, and sustainable funding.

GEORGIA noted that the Caucasus region was a center of origin for wheat and grapevarieties. FRANCE described national programmes for PGR conservation. ANGOLAhighlighted the severe food security problems of the Southern African DevelopmentCommunity (SADC), and pointed to national programmes in PGR. GERMANY notedthat the draft GPA was well-balanced, and would be his government's basis for action.The GPA should be in line with Agenda 21.

The PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION noted that the easternMediterranean is rich in PGR. The International Association of Plant Breeders for theProtection of Plant Varieties (ASSINSEL) described the services it offered in the area ofPGR, including training, regeneration of PGR, preselection and evaluation and freeaccess. NIGERIA emphasized the need for country-oriented rather than globalprogrammes, and cost-sharing between the FAO and governments in PGR-relatedactivities. He also noted the importance of forest PGR.

SUDAN requested that, in the area of financing of the GPA, priority be given to leastdeveloped countries. KUWAIT underscored the importance of the CGRFA-EX2 and theITCPGR-4 to the World Food Summit. ZAIRE highlighted her country's substantialgenetic diversity and high levels of endemism. SWITZERLAND expressed support forthe GPA, and stated that remaining differences over access, financing andimplementation, and FR would be resolved.

MOVIMIENTO INDIGENA COLOMBIANA highlighted the importance of the CBD,Agenda 21, and the International Labor Organization Convention 169 to IndigenousPeoples. THIRD WORLD NETWORK, later supported by the RURALADVANCEMENT FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL (RAFI), highlighted the needfor new and additional financial resources as well as FR to be included in the GPA. Shenoted that the majority of farmers in developing countries are women, and equatedsupport for women's rights with support for FR. RAFI called for a legally-binding IU,incorporating FR, to be administered by the FAO and included under the umbrella of theCBD.

The INSTITUTE FOR AGRICULTURE AND TRADE POLICY expressed frustrationwith the US position on FR, and emphasized that FR are already recognized around theworld. VIA CAMPESINA pointed out that this was the first time a farmer's organizationwas participating in the FAO process on PGR. He called on the Conference to request theFAO to establish a permanent mechanism for participation of farmers and IndigenousPeoples in the implementation of the GPA, a suggestion that was later supported bySWEDEN. Finally, two youth networks, PLAY FAIR EUROPE and A SEED EUROPE,presented a combined statement, noting that the political results of the Conference wouldimpact the destiny of many, and expressing disappointment with a GPA that"consolidates control" over biological resources.


The Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of PlantGenetic Resources (ITCPGR/96/5 - Rev.2, plus amendments contained in documentsAdd. 1, 2 and 3) is part of the FAO Global System for the Conservation and SustainableUtilization of PGRFA, and was developed by the CGRFA. The GPA is a "rolling actionplan" designed to be periodically updated, with programmes and activities aimed atfilling in gaps, overcoming constraints and facing emergency situations identified in theRSW pertaining to PGRFA. The GPA is intended to allow the CGRFA to recommendpriorities and promote the rationalization and coordination of efforts in order to promoteworld food security.

The GPA comprises 20 activity areas organized into four groups. The first group, "InSitu Conservation and Development," contains the following priorities: surveying andinventorying PGRFA; on-farm management of PGRFA; disaster assistance to restoreagriculture; and promoting in situ conservation of wild crop relatives and plants.The second group, "Ex Situ Conservation" contains the following priorities:sustaining ex situ collections; regenerating threatened ex situ accessions;planned collecting of PGRFA; and expanding ex situ conservation.

The third group, "Utilization of PGR," contains the following priorities: expanding corecollections to facilitate use; increasing genetic enhancement; sustainable agriculturethrough diversification; commercialization of under-utilized species; seed production anddistribution; and new markets for local varieties. The fourth group, "Institutions andCapacity Building," contains the following priorities: strengthening nationalprogrammes; networks for PGRFA; information systems for PGRFA; monitoring for lossof PGRFA; improving education; and promoting public awareness.

Negotiation of the GPA in Leipzig began on Tuesday, 18 June, when the Chairannounced the decision to form an open-ended working group (WG) on the GPA, chairedby Fernando Gerbasi (Venezuela). The WG began deliberations on the revised draft GPA(ITCPGR/96/5 - Rev 1) forwarded to ITCPGR-4 following pre-Conference consultationsin Rome, which took place from 10-12 June 1996. These consultations had produced adocument containing only 12 sets of brackets. The WG focused its deliberations on thesesections of bracketed text.

The Chair also created a closed contact group on Agenda item 9, implementation andfinancing of the GPA, one of the most sensitive issues remaining. This contact group waschaired by Jurgen Detken (Germany) and included two delegates from each of the sevenFAO regions.

The WG completed its work during a late night session on 19 June. However, by thepenultimate Plenary session on 22 June, unresolved issues still remained, includingbenefit-sharing, Farmers' Rights, technology transfer, and implementation and financing.The Chair of the Plenary formed a "Friends of the Chair" contact group that met untilmidnight to resolve all remaining differences. On convening the closing Plenary, theChair, noting the "delicate balance" of compromise arrived at by the "Friends of theChair," urged delegates to adopt all the amendments as a single package, which wasaccomplished with little further discussion.

The following sections describe negotiations over key areas in the text of the GPA.


The Working Group discussed bracketed text referring to "the concept of Farmers'Rights," as defined by FAO Resolution 5/89. This definition states that Farmers' Rights(FR) means "rights arising from the past, present and future contributions of farmers inconserving, improving and making available PGR, particularly those in the centres oforigin/diversity. These rights are vested in the International Community, as trustee forpresent and future generations of farmers, for the purpose of ensuring full benefits tofarmers, and supporting the continuation of their contributions".

Outlining several legal problems associated with FR, and the lack of internationallyaccepted "normative standards," the US emphasized that "the concept of" FR was theonly acceptable formulation. VENEZUELA, supported by PAPUA NEW GUINEA,CAMEROON, BANGLADESH, COLOMBIA, EGYPT, SUDAN and BRAZIL, soughtremoval of "the concept of". SWEDEN proposed language to link FR, the IU and theCBD. MAURITIUS proposed adding the phrase "...and/or national legislation" to the endof the bracketed text.

SWEDEN, supported by NORWAY, noted that while he favored the elements of theproposal, FR as a legal mechanism had not been agreed upon internationally and theproper place for such consideration was within the revision of the IU in harmony with theCBD. JAPAN, the EU and SWITZERLAND maintained that the IU rather than the GPAwas the appropriate element within the FAO Global System to address FR.

Noting the polarized positions on the issue, the Chair created a small contact group on FRchaired by Kristiane Herrmann (Australia). In a later session of the Working Group,Herrmann, reporting back on the work of this contact group, offered text with lengthyqualifiers to "realizing" FR. With no real agreement, delegates decided to forwardoriginal bracketed text on "the concept of Farmers' Rights" to the Plenary.

During the Plenary, NEW ZEALAND stated that FR had not been properly explored inthe WG and will be dealt with under the IU. The Chair emphasized that it was not theresponsibility of ITCPGR-4 to define FR.

Remaining differences over language were resolved through informal consultations bythe "Friends of the Chair". Final language on FR read "to realize Farmers' Rights, asdefined in FAO Resolution 5/89," rather than realizing "the concept of" FR.


All negotiation of text on implementation and financing of the GPA occurred in a closedcontact group. Though observers predicted compromise language without strong fundingcommitments, it was reported that one delegation from a donor country had proposedincorporating reference to "new and additional financial resources". Some delegatesstated that the Sixth Session of the CGRFA had decided that financing of the GPA wouldnot be discussed at all at ITCPGR-4.

During the final session of the open-ended working group on the GPA, the Chairproposed that the section of the GPA on Cost Estimates and Sources of Funding bedeleted and referred instead to the Third Extraordinary Session of the CGRFA. EGYPTexpressed concern, but the Chair's proposal was adopted.

The sensitive issue of implementation and financing was finally resolved throughinformal consultations in the "Friends of the Chair" contact group. To expeditenegotiations on the GPA, the Chair proposed that the language from the contact group beincorporated in the Report of Conference. This was adopted. Final language on financingof the GPA states that "funding should come from developed countries and/or othersources, and should, where possible, seek to facilitate the leveraging of other fundingsources and mechanisms, and assist countries to implement the GPA."


The US, CANADA and JAPAN proposed deleting bracketed text in a paragraph callingon the GPA to promote fair and equitable benefit-sharing from use of PGRFA "[or fromthe use of the knowledge, practices or innovations associated with such resources]". TheUS offered original text previously deleted, to promote benefit-sharing "within and withcountries, and with farmers and communities." VENEZUELA, supported by PERU, theAFRICAN GROUP, SWEDEN, CAMEROON, BOLIVIA, KENYA, EGYPT, SPAIN,MALAYSIA and ITALY, proposed deleting the brackets.

NORWAY, later supported by PERU, proposed language from Article 8(j) of the CBD,referring to language calling on signatories to: "respect, preserve and maintainknowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities...andencourage the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of suchknowledge, innovations and practices." CANADA, pointing out that the CBD qualifiesits call for rights for indigenous and local communities, cited Article 8(j) in its entirety,including that these rights are "subject to national legislation" and that they are to berespected only in the context of promoting "in situ conservation". The CBD alsoqualifies its call for these rights with the phrase "as far as possible and appropriate". Withthis in mind, COLOMBIA proposed referring instead to the CBD's Preamble due to itsbroader treatment of benefit-sharing, which recognizes the "close and traditionaldependence of many indigenous and local communities on biological resources" as wellas the desirability of equitable benefits-sharing.

After informal consultations, VENEZUELA, supported by CANADA, COLOMBIA,GERMANY, NORWAY and the US, proposed text relating to the "desirability of sharingof benefits from the use of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices..." which wasadopted.

In the paragraph on long-term objectives to sustain existing ex situ collections,COLOMBIA, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC),MEXICO, SENEGAL, MALAYSIA, on behalf of the developing countries of Asia,EGYPT, on behalf of the Middle East region, PERU, NIGERIA, ARGENTINA, PAPUANEW GUINEA and the CONGO supported the removal of brackets from the sentenceensuring "[the observance of the sovereign rights of the countries of origin]". TheCONGO noted the principle of sovereignty in the CBD, and SENEGAL underscored theright to monitor material given to international centers. The EU, the US, AUSTRALIAand NEW ZEALAND proposed deleting the sentence. The compromise wording,developed through informal consultations, reads as follows: "...strengthen cooperation...tosustain ex situ collections, recognizing that States have sovereign rights over theirPGRFA."

In the subparagraph calling on governments, the private sector, and institutions to"facilitate [unrestricted] access to PGRFA stored ex situ", the US supported areference to "unrestricted", stating that this is necessary to ensure world food security.SENEGAL noted that restriction would foster duplication. The EU, supported byZIMBABWE, EGYPT, PAPUA NEW GUINEA, IRAN, PERU, ECUADOR, KENYAand MEXICO, proposed deleting "unrestricted". VENEZUELA, COLOMBIA,MALAYSIA and TANZANIA cited the need for consistency with the CBD. JAPANstated that "unrestricted access" should apply to public domain PGRFA, not privatesector PGRFA. CANADA and GERMANY noted that "unrestricted" in the GPA wouldpre-judge IU negotiations. The US agreed to the deletion of "unrestricted" and thesubparagraph was adopted.

When the Plenary re-convened, differences over language on benefit-sharing remained.These differences were resolved through informal consultations in the "Friends of theChair" contact group. Final language on benefit-sharing was changed from "the needs andrights of farmers and farming communities to have access" to "the needs and individualrights of farmers and, collectively, where recognized by national law, to have non-discriminatory access to germplasm, information, technologies and financial resources".


In the discussion on forests, delegates considered whether or not to retain a quotefrom the Report of the Second Extraordinary Session of the CGRFA that "agreed thatforestry would not be included in the GPA to be discussed at Leipzig." Delegates alsoconsidered subsequent text that suggested that the GPA, in the future, could include"other sub-sets" of PGR. On request, the Secretariat clarified that "other sub-sets ofPGR" referred to forests.

AUSTRALIA, supported by FRANCE, BRAZIL and NIGERIA, reiterated that theplacing and wording of the sentence represented a delicate balance between those whowanted no reference to forests in the GPA, and those who did. NIGERIA explained thatin regions of Africa, PGRFA were either found in or closely linked to forests, hencenational programmes in this area could not be formulated in complete isolation fromforests. Subsequently, COLOMBIA withdrew its objections to the reference to "othersub-sets of PGR". In the final Plenary, ARGENTINA, later supported by PERU, acceptedthe final version of the GPA, but recorded her country's reservation on the languagereferring to "other sub-sets of PGR, as its meaning was unclear.


Another significant portion of bracketed text related to the transfer of technology. TheGPA document (ITCPGR/95/5 - Rev 1) issued at the Conference, included a new PriorityActivity entitled: "Developing Effective Mechanisms for Technology Transfer". Thisnew bracketed section stated that its long term objective was to "help improve thecapacity of national systems, facilitating and promoting their access to appropriatetechnologies for the conservation and sustainable utilization of genetic resources." In theWorking Group on the GPA, FRANCE, supported by ITALY, TURKEY, CANADA, theUS and AUSTRALIA, proposed that reference to technology transfer should beincorporated throughout the text rather than be represented as a separate section.COLOMBIA, supported by ETHIOPIA and BANGLADESH, urged that this new textshould remain as a separate section. He underscored the importance that GRULACcountries had placed on the need for technology transfer and referred to the BogotaDeclaration (Appendix F, CGRFA-EX2/96/REP) to signify their commitment to thisissue. He emphasized that technology transfer needed separate consideration becausegenetic technologies were a new field and have a close connection with intellectualproperty rights. A contact group was established to resolve this issue.

After lengthy deliberations, the contact group reported that it had agreed to incorporatereference to technology transfer throughout the body of the GPA. Only one section oftext, referring to the need to promote institutional links among national institutions andentities specializing in technology transfer under mutually agreed terms, as defined underArticle 16 of the CBD, remained unresolved. In the final Plenary the reference to theCBD was replaced with actual text from Article 16.2, which reads: "under fair and mostfavourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreedto" and added "by all parties to the transaction." This final formulation was adopted.


On-farm conservation of PGR was another point of contention. During the discussions onenhancing the capacities of farmers in their efforts to assist in in situ conservationof PGR, the US proposed "market-based" farmer "owned" cooperatives. He explainedthat this was UN consensus language. ZIMBABWE and GHANA disagreed.BANGLADESH proposed an additional list of institutions and groups that can assistfarmers, and enhance their capacities for in situ conservation. The listincluded "extension agencies", "NGOs" and farmer "owned" cooperatives. Thisformulation, excluding reference to "market-based," was adopted.

Delegates discussed a programme to assist in the creation of specialized niche markets forbiodiverse food crops to act as a positive stimulus to farmers to grow landraces/farmersvarieties, heritage and traditional varieties and other under-utilized crops. There was somecontention over the use of the term "heritage varieties", particularly since the term did nottranslate well into Russian, Spanish or French. Delegates decided to adopt language takenfrom the IU referring to "obsolete varieties".

Another aspect of on-farm conservation was introduced by POLAND. He proposed a newPolicy/Strategy stating that governments should consider legislation to allow distributionand commercialization of land races/farmers' varieties and obsolete varieties of PGR ifthey meet the same distribution and commercialization criteria for disease, pests, healthand the environment as other conventional or registered varieties. This proposal wassupported by a number of developing countries. During the Plenary, ECUADOR notedthat before Poland's proposal could be adopted, the definition of local varieties wouldneed to be clarified since it might be problematic for the International Union for theProtection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). After informal consultations amongdelegations, the Polish text, with minor alterations, was adopted.


In discussions on bracketed text relating to ex situ conservation of PGR and thestatus of accessions, delegations debated whether they sought retention or deletion of textsuggesting that inadequately duplicated PGR should be multiplied and placedappropriately in secure storage. BRAZIL and COLOMBIA noted their preference fordeletion. CANADA stated the importance of maintaining the text to provide a guide foraction in this area, including providing direction for funding agencies. There wasdiscussion as to whether the text should have the imperative "should". CANADA,supported by the PHILIPPINES, INDIA, on behalf of the developing countries of Asia,and POLAND, strongly reiterated the need to retain the imperative in order not to softeninternational obligations in this area. In response, BRAZIL proposed amended text thatretained "should" but added "with the full observance of applicable internationalagreements, and national legislation". This final formulation was adopted.


Delegates then deliberated text on policy and strategies of governments' cooperation withorganizations to expand the characterization, evaluation and number of core collections tofacilitate gene use. At issue was Canada's proposal to include, "in particular theInternational Agricultural Centres of the CGIAR". Based on consultations with dissentingdelegations who opposed specific reference to the CGIAR, CANADA revised itsproposal by generalizing the reference to read, "international agricultural centres of theCGIAR". This proposal was supported by the EU and EGYPT. The final formulationretains "international agricultural centres" but makes no specific reference to the CGIAR.


Delegates adopted the Leipzig Declaration on Conservation and Sustainable Utilization ofPlant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITCPGR/96/6 Rev.2), a twelve-pointpolitical statement in which governments, inter alia:

  • assert and renew their commitment to the conservation, sustainable utilization, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of PGRFA;
  • recognize State sovereignty over PGRFA, and confirm common and individual responsibilities in respect of these resources;
  • underscore the necessity of PGRFA for increased food supplies and sustainable agricultural production;
  • recognize the roles played by generations of men and women farmers and plant breeders, and by indigenous and local communities, in conserving and improving PGR;
  • assert that access to and sharing of technologies with developing countries should be provided and/or facilitated under fair and most favorable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed to by all parties to the transaction;
  • underscore the importance of long-term national commitments for indispensable national, regional and international cooperation; and
  • invite the World Food Summit to consider the GPA.

As a basis for delegates' deliberations on the Declaration, the Secretariat introduceddocument ITCPGR/96/6, which reflects negotiations at CGRFA-EX2 and incorporateswritten submissions of governments since that meeting. Following initial interventions inPlenary, the Declaration was the subject of a open-ended working group chaired byThomas Forbord (US), which met for three sessions on Thursday to review the draft text.The bracketed text that emerged from the working group (ITCPGR/96/6 Rev.1) reflectedthe unresolved issues being deliberated in the contact groups on finance andimplementation, and technology transfer, respectively. Other outstanding issues, such aswording on the IU and location of the paragraph on national sovereignty over PGR, wereresolved through informal consultations.

SUB-TITLE: Based on a proposal from the US, delegates first agreed to removethe sub-headings that described the Declaration as a call for "commitment" or "globaleffort" on conservation and sustainable utilization of PGRFA.

PARAGRAPH 1: In the opening paragraph, which underscores the Conference'skey objectives and its contribution to both the CBD and Agenda 21, delegates extensivelydebated text that read "recognition of the vital importance of PGRFA [including forests][excluding forests] to [food security]." On the basis of the CGRFA-EX2 decision that"forests not be included in the GPA", delegates agreed to remove references to forests asPGRFA in the Declaration. EGYPT's proposal to remove the reference to food security,explaining that it was covered by a subsequent paragraph, was supported by FRANCE,SUDAN, CHINA, on behalf developing countries of Asia, MALTA, SOUTH AFRICAand ARGENTINA. The US disagreed and expressed its preference to explicitly linkPGRFA to food security in the first sentence of the Declaration. This proposal wassupported by PERU, PAPUA NEW GUINEA and SWEDEN, who noted that theDeclaration would be the Conference's main message to the World Food Summit. Thereference to food security was retained on the basis of compromise language put forth byboth ARGENTINA (who suggested replacing "vital" with "essential") and PERU (whosuggested adding the qualifier "in particular" before food security).

In a subsequent sentence in the first paragraph, delegates debated a reference to thesharing of benefits from the use of PGRFA. The Chair's initial proposal to replace thebracketed text with agreed language from the GPA was supported by COLOMBIA,CHINA, PERU, INDIA, on behalf of developing countries of Asia, SWEDEN and theUS. Noting the need for a succinct and balanced presentation of the Conference's threemain objectives in the opening paragraph, CANADA, supported by FRANCE, suggestedlimiting the reference to "sharing of benefits from use of such resources". However, inthe interest of achieving consensus, both countries accepted the longer formulation of theGPA which read: "sharing of benefits from the use of PGRFA, recognizing thedesirability of sharing equitably benefits arising from the use of traditional knowledge,innovations and practices."

Also within the first paragraph, delegates deliberated bracketed text that read: "We areconvinced that these efforts are an essential contribution to the implementation of theCBD and Agenda 21." CHINA, on behalf of developing countries of Asia and the Pacific,COLOMBIA, on behalf of GRULAC, TANZANIA, ZIMBABWE, PERU, SUDAN andTURKEY proposed retaining the text intact. SWEDEN's proposal to add "World FoodSummit," and IRAN's proposal to add "food security" were ultimately rejected. TheCONGO's proposal to replace "efforts" with the stronger word "commitment" wassupported by BURKINA FASO and COLOMBIA but opposed by the US. The USproposed replacing "implementation" with "realizing the objectives" of the CBD. TheChair's compromise proposal to retain "implementation" (for Parties) and add"realization of the objectives" (for non-Parties) was supported by POLAND,TANZANIA, on behalf of the African Group, BRAZIL, BOLIVIA, COLOMBIA, onbehalf of GRULAC, and CHINA, on behalf of developing countries of Asia and thePacific. Based on informal consultations, the amended text was eventually adopted toread: "We are convinced that these efforts can be an essential contribution to achievingthe objectives, and facilitating the implementation, of the CBD and Agenda 21."

PARAGRAPH 2: Delegates then deliberated the Declaration's secondparagraph, regarding "States' sovereign rights over their biological resources" and"common and individual responsibilities in respect of this heritage." The Chair'ssuggestion to retain language consistent with the GPA concerning "recognizing the rightsof sovereign States over their biological resources" was supported by CANADA,FRANCE and the US. COLOMBIA's request to remove the reference, "confirming ourcommon and individual responsibilities" was rejected while MEXICO's proposal toreplace the word "heritage" with "resources" was accepted. With this last amendment, theoriginal text was accepted.

CANADA's proposal to relocate the paragraph to the middle of the Declaration wasopposed by MEXICO, CHINA, on behalf of developing countries of Asia and the Pacific,PERU and SENEGAL, largely on the basis that sovereignty over resources was a"generic" principle that belonged at the beginning. Noting an impasse, the Chair deferredthe issue to informal consultations where delegates supported its original location.

PARAGRAPH 3: The third paragraph, regarding the importance of PGR, wasmodified by the delegates' decision to remove, "are essential for world food security"upon the recommendation of the Chair. Delegates also agreed to retain the phrase,"agricultural production" in the sentence that read: "All countries require plant geneticresources if they are to increase food supplies and agricultural production sustainably andmeet the related challenges of changes to the environment, including climate change."

PARAGRAPH 4: Delegates discussed the role of various groups in collecting,conserving, improving and sustainably using PGRFA, using text proposed byBELGIUM, which acknowledged "the role of generations of farmers and plant breeders".ARGENTINA, supported by INDONESIA, CANADA and SWEDEN, called for aspecific reference to women farmers. FRANCE, supported by SOUTH AFRICA andCYPRUS, maintained that such a reference was unnecessary. MEXICO, supported bySWEDEN and VENEZUELA, called for reference to indigenous and local communities.Delegates adopted the Chair's proposal that broadened the Belgian text to read: "the rolesplayed by generations of men and women farmers and plant breeders, and by indigenousand local communities".

PARAGRAPH 5: Delegates then considered the paragraph on serious threats toPGR security. In reference to "efforts to conserve, develop and sustainably use geneticresources", the US preference for the option "[could be improved]" rather than "[areinadequate]" was adopted, while its preference for "PGRFA" rather than "geneticdiversity" was not. Following further debate on whether "ecosystems" or "farms andnature" should be employed in reference to the loss of genetic diversity, delegatesadopted the Chair's formulation, "fields and other ecosystems".

PARAGRAPH 6: In the paragraph pertaining to major gaps and weaknesses innational and international capacity vis--vis PGRFA, delegates agreed to delete thephrase "notably in developing countries" in reference to the inadequacy of existinginstitutions, based on objections raised by CHINA, INDONESIA and FRANCE.

In a subsequent sentence, which noted that the linkage between PGR conservation andutilization could be improved, FRANCE, the US, ISRAEL, INDONESIA and FINLANDobjected to the phrase, "[particularly in many developing countries]". PERU andSENEGAL called for its retention. Following informal consultations, BELGIUMintroduced text that read: "It is necessary to strengthen national capabilities, particularlyin developing countries" as the concluding sentence. The paragraph was adopted withminor changes introduced by TANZANIA and BRAZIL.

PARAGRAPH 7: The paragraph pertaining to technology transfer largelyreflected the conclusion of the Contact Group's deliberations on this matter and reads:"access to and sharing of technologies with developing countries should beprovided and/or facilitated under fair and most favourable terms, including onconcessional and preferential terms, as mutually agreed to by all parties to the transaction.In the case of technology subject to patents and other intellectual property rights,access and transfer of technology should be provided on terms which recognize and areconsistent with the adequate and effective protection of IPR." The agreed languagereproduces wording from CBD Article 16.2 on "access to and transfer of technology". Itreplaces "transfer" with "sharing" with respect to technologies and adds the phrase, "allparties to the transaction." The bracketed text referring to international and regionalcooperation between countries, IGOs, NGOs and the private sector, was adopted withoutamendment.

PARAGRAPH 8: In the paragraph regarding the importance of PGR diversity tobreeders and farmers, delegates added a reference to "indigenous and local communities"as proposed by MEXICO and BRAZIL. Delegates also chose "sustain" rather than"secure" ex situ collections of PGR, and changed in situ "sites" of PGR toin situ "habitats".

PARAGRAPH 9: In the paragraph regarding the Conference's primaryobjective, a formulation by CHINA, which read "our primary objective must be toenhance world food security through conserving PGR, and using them sustainably," wasmodified by the US to read "conserving and sustainably using PGR" and adopted. In asubsequent sentence, CHINA suggested deletion of bracketed text on benefit-sharing,since it had been covered earlier. PERU, supported by BELGIUM, preferred retention ofthe text here. Informal consultations resulted in a new text which read: "Means areneeded to identify, increase, and share fairly and equitably the benefits derived from thesustainable use of PGR." Delegates adopted this text, with the addition of "conservation"to "sustainable use of PGR", as proposed by COLOMBIA.

PARAGRAPH 10: The paragraph pertaining to the financing andimplementation of the GPA reflected the results of the contact group on this matter.Initial references to "commitment to taking the necessary steps to implement the GPA"and "mobilization of the necessary financial resources" for "priority areas" was replacedwith references to the GPA as a "coherent framework for institution- andcapacity-building," which will "contribute to creating synergies among ongoingactivities, as well as the more efficient use of available resources."

PARAGRAPH 11: This paragraph, regarding the relationship between the GPA,the IU and the FAO Global System, was the subject of protracted negotiation.Compromise language stating that the "GPA and the non-binding IU are elements of theFAO Global System for the conservation and sustainable utilization of PGRFA," andadvocating revision of the IU, was acceptable to all. However, the remainder of theparagraph asserting that "the Global System be strengthened, reviewed and adjusted inharmony with the CBD" was unacceptable to the US and VENEZUELA and was revisedto read: "We believe it important to revise the International Undertaking and to adjust theGlobal System, in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity."

PARAGRAPH 12: Delegates then turned to the closing paragraph of theDeclaration, regarding future responsibilities and difficulties with regard to PGRFA.SWEDEN's proposal to add "our fundamental responsibilities for meeting the most basichuman rights, the right to life and the right to freedom from hunger" was rejected byMALTA as too pedantic, and by the US due to domestic political overtones of "right tolife." FRANCE and PERU objected to introducing a hierarchy of human rights, andproposed "right to freedom from hunger" instead. ARGENTINA's proposal for asimplified text served as the basis for the adopted paragraph. Most notably, delegatesagreed that the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA in agricultural policy was "anessential element" rather than "a cornerstone" of food security. The Conference "invitedattention to be paid to" the GPA at the World Food Summit, and called upon "all people"rather than "all parties concerned" to join in its common cause.


The final Plenary convened at midnight on Saturday, 22 June 1996. The Chair announcedthat the "Friends of the Chair" had reached consensus on outstanding issues regarding theGPA, its financing and implementation, and the Leipzig Declaration. He urged delegatesto adopt all of the amendments as a single package. The main amendments related to fourareas: benefit-sharing; Farmers' Rights; technology transfer; and financing. CHINA,supported by many other countries, endorsed the Chair's proposal to adopt the documentsas a single package. He paid tribute to the Chair's leadership and thanked theGovernment of Germany for its hospitality, and the Secretariat and all those who workedbehind the scenes for their hard work. He noted that since Rio in 1992, countries havemarched a long path to reach this moment. He said that the GPA is our common propertyand that it will make a significant contribution to world food security.

Many delegates indicated that they were not entirely happy with the final documents, butrealized that they are the result of intense negotiations and represent a "delicate balance"of interests. The Rapporteur, R. B. Singh (India), thanked the Chair for his brilliantleadership and noted that the documents had been adopted by acclamation. On behalf ofthe FAO Director-General, Dr. Sawadogo thanked all delegates and pointed out the costof conserving PGR is high, but far less than the cost of allowing their degradation. TheEU, supported by VENEZUELA, nominated the Chair to present the Report of ITCPGR-4 to both the CBD COP-3 and the World Food Summit. The Conference came to a closeat 3:00 am on Sunday morning, 23 June 1996.


The Leipzig Conference brought together countries from all corners of the world todebate actions necessary to stem the relentless loss of plant genetic diversity essential forfood and agriculture and, in particular, world food security. The State of the WorldReport, which was presented at the Conference, highlighted the importance of conservingthese resources, particularly as it noted the fact that 800 million people areundernourished. Long, late hours were spent pulling a Global Plan of Action (GPA)towards a final resolution. Many delegations indicated that they were not happy with theoutcome, but conceded that it represented a fragile consensus. Nevertheless, this fragileconsensus appears to have diminished the opportunity for the GPA to be a true plan ofaction.

A number of contentious issues underscored the tension between delegations. These werereflected in the wordy and cautiously written Leipzig Declaration. The primary debate ofthe Conference centered around finances. Other nerve points, pertinent to conserving andsustainably using plant genetic resources included: forests, access and benefit sharing,and Farmers' Rights.

FINANCING: Prescribing funding sources for the GPA was the mostcontentious issue of the Conference. From the outset it was clear that there was asignificant gulf between donor and developing countries. According to one source in thecontact group established to address this issue, a developing country regional groupsought a commitment to cover the full incremental cost of implementing the GPA. Apartfrom the ambiguity inherent in the term "full incremental cost", this proposal was notwell received by donor countries. The lack of any substantial reference to funding in theGPA and its complete absence in the Leipzig Declaration, signifies the delicate nature ofthese negotiations. Delinking discussions on funding from the negotiation of both theGPA and the Declaration, and only including it in the Report of the Conference, appearedto be an attempt to ensure that one's adoption was not contingent upon the other's.

According to some sources, despite the overall non-committal language on funding, somedonor countries made verbal funding commitments in the contact group. One delegatesuggested that the consensus reached in the contact group was contingent on these verbalcommitments being honored. If so, it is extraordinary that the final endorsement of theGPA was contingent on verbal commitments made by some donor countries in thecontact group. The final formulation in the Report of the Conference, indicating thatfunding "should come from developed countries and/or other sources", is hardlyconclusive since it essentially leaves the GPA hanging in a financial void.

The Report of the Conference also suggests that multilateral funding institutions shouldbe invited to support the GPA and recommends close cooperation with the Convention onBiological Diversity (CBD). According to one observer, this may imply that an appeal isbeing made to the CBD, so that the GPA can access funds through a window of theGlobal Environment Facility (GEF). If so, the GPA may have the potential to absorb asignificant percentage of biodiversity funding, making other aspects of the CBDinoperable through lack of funds.

FORESTS: Discussion about forest genetic resources surfaced again during theworking group deliberations on both the GPA and the Declaration. One African countrydrew attention to the fact that it relies on forest species as an integral part of its plantgenetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA). This apparently sparked tensionsamong some developing countries, as certain Latin American and Caribbean countrieswere clearly reluctant to bring discussion on forests into another international arena,preferring that the issue be dealt with by the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests of theCommission on Sustainable Development.

The interest in forests was reinvigorated after the Secretariat clarified the meaning of theterm "sub-sets" of PGR, stating that it referred to forests. In doing so, this text leavesopen the possibility that forests may be discussed within the context of PGRFA in thefuture. As a result, two Latin American countries indicated their reservation over the useof the term "sub-sets". This casts a cloud over a complete consensus adoption of theGPA.

ACCESS AND BENEFIT-SHARING: The issue of access and benefit-sharingwas highly debated in the working group during discussions on ex situ collections,a cross-cutting issue also addressed by the CBD. For example, during debate over long-term objectives for ex situ conservation, the US claimed that "unrestricted" accessto ex situ PGRFA was necessary for world food security. Many nations objected,pointing to language in the CBD implying a new international paradigm on access andbenefit-sharing. Even industrialized nations such as Japan pointed out that it may not beappropriate to provide unrestricted access for the private sector to public domaingermplasm stored ex situ. Also relevant to this topic was agreed text oncooperation to "sustain ex situ collections, recognizing that States have sovereignrights over their PGRFA." The International Agricultural Research Centres of theConsultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) are closelyfollowing this issue. The international centres will likely take their cue from internationalnegotiations such as these before modifying their policy toward the private sector onaccess and benefit-sharing regarding the ex situ collections maintained by them.

FARMERS' RIGHTS: Farmers' Rights (FR) was another cross-cutting issue inthe GPA that was closely scrutinized. Some observers had difficulty understanding thedistinction between FR, as defined by the IU, and the rights of communities to share thebenefits derived from the use of genetic resources, as mentioned in Article 8(j) of theCBD. Governments, however, may not wait for the results of UN processes to resolvethese definitions. Some have already begun experimenting with incorporating FR intoproposals for genetic resources access legislation.

LEIPZIG DECLARATION: Whereas the GPA is the Conference's mainworking document, the Leipzig Declaration is its key political document. Delegatesexercised caution and conservatism in crafting the Declaration, which resulted in aclumsy compromise text, prompting one NGO in Plenary to pronounce it the "LeipzigDeclension". Given the text's cumbersome wordiness, it is difficult to perceive this as thebrief and inspiring expression of vision originally intended. The wording of theDeclaration reflects delegates' preference for juxtaposing already agreed upon languagerather than risking new - and potentially divisive - formulations. As it stands, theoverloaded Declaration will need to be converted into executive summaries for nationalgovernments so as to be intelligible to the broader audience it is trying to target.

INCONCLUSIVE OUTCOME: The principle outcome of the LeipzigConference is the GPA. Delegations spent many hours debating language, primarilyfocused around whether words implied the need for new and additional funding.Although the intentions of the GPA are noteworthy, it is clear that there is a strong lackof commitment to the Plan, particularly by some key donor countries. The 800 millionundernourished people mentioned in the Report on the State of the World's PGR will findlittle consolation in outcomes of the Leipzig Conference.


EXPERT MEETING ON INTRODUCTION OF ALIEN SPECIES: Thismeeting, which is sponsored by Norway in cooperation with UNESCO and IUCN, will beheld in Trondheim, Norway, from 1-5 July 1996.

OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP ON BIOSAFETY: The first meeting of theworking group on biosafety, which was established by the Conference of the Parties tothe Convention on Biological Diversity, will meet in Aarhus, Denmark, from 22-26 July1996. For more information, contact: the CBD Secretariat, World TradeCentre, 413 St. Jacques Street, Office 630, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2Y 1N9. Tel: +1-514- 288-2220; Fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:

CBD SBSTTA-2: The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical andTechnological Advice to the COP of the Convention on Biological Diversity will meet atthe headquarters of the Secretariat in Montreal, Canada, from 2-6 September 1996. Thesubstantive theme will be "Terrestrial Ecosystems."

INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON FORESTS: The third meeting of UNCommission on Sustainable Development's Intergovernmental Panel on Forests isscheduled to meet from 9-20 September 1996 in Geneva, Switzerland. Formore information contact: Elizabeth Barsk-Rundquist, Tel: +1-212-963-3263; Fax: +1-212-963-1795; e-mail:; Internet:

IUCN WORLD CONSERVATION CONGRESS: The Congress will be held inMontreal, Canada, from 13-23 October 1996. The theme will be "Caring for the Earth".For more information, contact: Ricardo Bayon, Special Assistant to theDirector General, 28 Rue de Mauverney, 1196, Gland, Switzerland; Tel: +41 22 9990001; Fax: +41 22 999 0002; e-mail:; Internet: or

CBD COP-3: The third meeting of the COP to the Convention on BiologicalDiversity will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 4-15 November 1996, with aMinisterial Segment from 13-14 November 1996. For more information, contact the CBDSecretariat (see above).

FAO WORLD FOOD SUMMIT: A World Food Summiton the theme "Renewing Global Commitment to Fight Hunger" will be held at FAOHeadquarters in Rome from 13-17 November 1996. Forinformation contact: the World Food Summit Secretariat, FAO, viale delle Terme diCaracalla, I-00100, Rome, Italy. Tel: +39-6-5225 2932; Fax: +39-6-5225 5249;; Internet:

THIRD EXTRAORDINARY MEETING OF THE COMMISSION ON PLANTGENETIC RESOURCES: The FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Foodand Agriculture will meet for its Third Extraordinary Session from 9-12 December 1996,to further negotiations on the revision of the International Undertaking in line with theConvention on Biological Diversity. The session will be preceded by a two-day meetingof the working group.

SEVENTH SESSION OF THE FAO COMMISSION ON GENETIC RESOURCESFOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE: This meeting is tentatively scheduled for May1997 at FAO Headquarters in Rome.

Further information