Report of main proceedings for 12 October 2007
5th Meetings of the CBD Working Groups on Access and Benefit-sharing and on Article 8(j)
Delegates to the fifth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met in plenary and in informal regional consultations. In the morning they discussed the status of two informal documents tabled by the Co-Chairs, one containing delegates’ proposals, the other containing the Co-Chairs’ reflections on progress made. In the afternoon the closing plenary convened to adopt the meeting’s report.
Co-Chair Hodges outlined editorial changes to the informal Co-Chairs’ documents tabled on Thursday, 10 October, including renaming the document previously entitled “compendium of proposals made at WG ABS-5” to “notes on proposals made at ABS-5” (proposals document), and noted the removal of a section on indicators for ABS, since it did not refer to elements of the international ABS regime. He restated the Co-Chairs’ proposal to attach these documents to the meeting’s report.
Portugal, for the EU, Tuvalu, for the PACIFIC SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES, Croatia, for the CENTAL EUROPEAN REGION, and SWITZERLAND supported the Co-Chairs’ proposal. SWITZERLAND and MEXICO, opposed by COLOMBIA, suggested holding further informal consultations before ABS 6.
Brazil, for the LMMC, supported by Chile, for GRULAC, Namibia, for the AFRICAN GROUP, and ARGENTINA, proposed annexing the proposals document, but not the reflections document to the meeting’s report, noting that the latter requires further refinement. He also proposed compiling parties’ intersessional submissions with those contained in the proposals document as a working paper for future work.
CANADA opposed appending the Co-Chairs’ documents and proposed beginning ABS 6 with a clean slate. The INTERNATIONAL FORUM OF LOCAL COMMUNITIES called for the international regime to link ABS with the protection of collective intellectual heritage.
Co-Chair Hodges proposed language stating that ABS 5: invites parties, governments, indigenous and local communities and stakeholders to submit, by 30 November 2007, options on substantive agenda items of ABS 5 and ABS 6; and requests the Secretariat to circulate these options prior to ABS 6.
Rapporteur Mary Fosi (Cameroon) presented the meeting’s report (UNEP/CBD/WG-ABS/5/L.1). CANADA asked for the record to reflect the reasons for its opposition to references to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. AUSTRALIA opposed attaching either of the Co-Chairs’ documents to the report. After consultations, he suggested adding language stressing that the documents were the sole responsibility of the Co-Chairs and that they will be circulated to the parties as information documents. Delegates then adopted the report as amended.
Many delegates thanked the Co-Chairs for their efforts. CANADA called on states to implement existing obligations by developing model contracts, and to work on administrative measures and capacity building. The LMMC said he considered the further submissions as proposed by the Co-Chairs to also form the basis of negotiations at ABS 6, AUSTRALIA explained his unwillingness to negotiate text at ABS 6, preferring to simply identify elements of an international regime. The AFRICAN GROUP underscored the need for an international regime on ABS, adding that without benefit-sharing there are no incentives for conservation.
Referring to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Albert Gore Jr. and the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf pointed to the environmental dimension of peace and security and reminded delegates that peace and the CBD’s objectives are inextricably linked. Welcoming the constructive proposals from indigenous representatives, commending the positive spirit of negotiations during the week and reminding delegates to work hard before ABS 6, the Co-Chairs gaveled the meeting to a close at 6:55 p.m.
IN THE CORRIDORS
As delegates streamed out of the plenary hall after the conclusion of ABS 5, one commented that an ABS regime is still a long way down the road, stressing that the Co-Chairs’ role in facilitating informal consultations is crucial to making progress on the path towards ABS 6. Expressing confidence in the Co-Chairs’ leadership, another delegate responded that their assertive style is both a blessing and a curse, as they may have built up expectations about what can be achieved during the intersessional period and beyond. Recalling the remaining divisions among delegations on key issues, one veteran delegate opined that all multilateral environmental negotiations experience rocky patches, advising ABS practitioners to prepare themselves for a “bumpy ride.”
ENB SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS: The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary and analysis of ABS 5 will be combined with the summary of the fifth meeting of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and will be available on Monday, 22 October 2007, online at: http://enb.iisd.org/biodiv/abs5/