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Daily report for 4 November 1996


Delegates to the third Conference of the Parties (COP-3) of the Convention on BiologicalDiversity (CBD) began their two-week session with opening statements by the outgoingand incoming Presidents, as well as representatives of the GEF, UNEP and UNDP andthe CBD Executive Director. Organizational and substantive issues were also addressedduring the morning and afternoon in Plenary. Louis Currant (Switzerland) was elected toChair the Committee of the Whole (COW) and presided over an afternoon discussion onagricultural biodiversity.


OPENING OF THE MEETING: The President of COP-2, Indonesia’s Ministerof Environment Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, opened the third session of the Conference ofParties to the CBD and urged delegates to consider the Convention in the broader contextof international action. Minister Maria Julia Alsogaray, Argentina’s Secretary forEnvironment and Natural Resources, was then elected by acclamation to serve asPresident of COP-3. She called for effective measures to implement the Convention andhighlighted important issues, including: resource availability; the financial mechanism;the establishment of norms to guide sustainable agricultural practices; and access togenetic resources.

Mohamed El-Ashry, CEO of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), noted that relationshave been strengthened between the GEF and the Convention Secretariat and underscoredthe importance of partnership-building in the search for sustainable development.

Reuben Olembo, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, acknowledged progress made bythe CBD to date, but cautioned that the COP can no longer theorize but must act now. Heexpressed hope that COP-3 would: initiate implementation of the CBD; adopt additionalpractical resolutions; resolve outstanding issues; improve intergovernmental interaction;and devise a mechanism for the Council of the GEF to solve the urgent needs of theCBD.

CBD Executive Secretary Calestous Juma noted distinctive phases of the CBD: COP-1established the organs necessary for internal function; COP-2 adopted decisions neededto make the transition toward implementation; and COP-3 should attempt to implementthe CBD in the context of decisions made at COP-2, with few changes. He called forimplementation of the clearing-house mechanism (CHM) and enhanced collaborationamong related institutions. Deputy Assistant Administrator of UNDP Thelma Aworiemphasized the centrality of the CBD’s goals to the organization’s programmes andaffirmed UNDP’s commitment to working in supportive partnership with UNEP, theCBD Secretariat and other institutions to implement the Convention.

Costa Rica, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, emphasized both the need to prioritize thesteps necessary to implement the Convention and the importance of promoting the thirdobjective of the Convention, the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of theuse of genetic resources.

INTERSESSIONAL ACTIVITIES: Secretary of State for the Ministry ofAgriculture Feiter (Germany) presented the report from the Fourth InternationalTechnical Conference on Plant and Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture(PGRFA) held in Leipzig from 17-23 June 1996. He stated that delegates adopted aGlobal Plan of Action (GPA) for the conservation and utilization of PGRFA and theLeipzig Declaration. He called for immediate implementation of the GPA at all levels.

The host countries of each of the four regional preparatory meetings reported the resultsof their meetings, which were held in the weeks preceding COP-3. The report of theCentral and Eastern European Regional Preparatory Meeting (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/Inf.28)outlined 14 recommendations, including training of national and regional focal points tocoordinate regional and sub-regional activities. The report of the African RegionalPreparatory Meeting (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/Inf.29) emphasized the urgent need for accessto financial resources and scientific and technical capacity-building, and deplored theunder-representation of African countries in CBD-related meetings. The report of theAsian Regional Preparatory Meeting (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/Inf.30) expressed concernregarding the growing perception of the CBD as a conservation tool and called for equalconsideration of all three CBD objectives. The report of the Latin American andCarribean Regional Preparatory Meeting (UNEP/CBD/COP/ 3/Inf.31) recommended: atwo-year budget cycle to ensure smooth functioning of the administration of the CBD;Secretariat staff positions to address the specific needs of SIDS; and use of the Internet tocomplement, rather than replace, regular distribution through government-designatedchannels. The Chair of SBSTTA-2, Peter Johan Schei (Norway), introduced the report ofSBSTTA-2 (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/3) and highlighted recommendations not on the COP-3agenda, such as developing linkages with the existing scientific community and receivingclear advice from the COP on how to “get things developed” at SBSTTA-3. ThePRESIDENT postponed discussion on the SBSTTA-2 report.

ITALY presented the results of the International Symposium on MediterraneanBiodiversity held from 14-15 October in Rome. Highlighting the historical, cultural andbiogeographic importance of the Mediterranean, he called for a “common science-based”approach to regional cooperation. SYRIA, reporting on an intersessional Arab regionalmeeting on biodiversity, underscored the need for the COP to consider the importance ofpreserving ancient monuments and the role of Arab women in protecting biodiversity.

A representative of the GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY FORUM, which was held from 1-3November in Buenos Aires and attended by 145 people from 35 countries, outlined theresults of the meeting’s four workshops: investment in biodiversity; agriculture andbiodiversity; integrating biodiversity and land use; and biodiversity and indigenouspeoples. COORDINADORA INDIGENA DE LA CUENCA AMAZONICA noted thatindigenous peoples’ knowledge and practices have been taken without consent orcompensation, and called for recognition of their right to self-determination and respectfor the integrity of their lands and territories. NEPAL FEDERATION OFNATIONALITIES outlined several recommendations for the implementation of Article8(j) (indigenous knowledge, practices and innovations) including: realization ofindigenous peoples’ focal point positions within the Secretariat; funding to facilitateparticipation of indigenous peoples in all aspects of work of the CBD; development ofalternatives to current IPR systems for the protection of indigenous knowledge systems; amoratorium on bioprospecting and ethnobotanical collections within indigenous peoples’territories pending adequate protection mechanisms for indigenous knowledge; and anopen-ended intersessional working group on indigenous peoples and biodiversity.

OTHER INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS: Delmar Blasco, ExecutiveSecretary of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (RamsarConvention), noted that the Ramsar Convention shares many of the same objectives asthe CBD and expressed his eagerness to implement the goals of the Memorandum ofCooperation signed between the Ramsar Convention and the CBD in January 1996.

Arnulf Mller-Helmbrecht, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservationof Migratory Species (Bonn Convention), announced the agreement between the Bureauof the Bonn Convention and the CBD Secretariat on a Memorandum of Cooperation inJune 1996. He highlighted the need for a common approach to conservation andutilization among the two conventions and appealed to the Parties to the CBD who havenot yet done so to sign the Bonn Convention so that conservation measures can beundertaken in a more comprehensive manner.

Salvano Briceo, representing the Desertification and Climate Change Secretariats, outlined the activities under each convention and called for closer and more effective cooperation between the “Rio conventions,” especially in the area of public educationand participation.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: The Executive Secretary highlighted twounresolved issues — contributions to the CBD Trust Fund and voting procedures. ThePresident invited comments on the provisional organization of work(UNEP/CBD/COP/3/1/Add.2). AUSTRALIA’s proposal to discuss the budget of theTrust Fund after the medium-term work programme was supported by COLOMBIA, andits suggestion to create a limited number of small working groups to facilitate fullconsideration of the COP-3 agenda was supported by the EU. COLOMBIA, SENEGALand the SEYCHELLES cautioned against simultaneous working group meetings.COLOMBIA emphasized implementing all three objectives of the CBD in a balancedmanner.

The Executive Secretary called for the establishment of a budget for 1997, noting theneed for an indicative budget at a minimum.

Also during the Plenary, the annotated provisional agenda (UNEP/CBD/COP/3/1/Add.1)was adopted and Bureau members were elected as follows: Suzana Guziova (Slovakia)and Igor Glukhovtsev (Kazakhstan); Manfred Schneider (Austria) and Louis Currat(Switzerland); Franois Ndeckere-Ziangba (Central African Republic) and Terry Jones(Seychelles); and Mohammed Reza Salamat (Iran) and Rad Bani Hani (Jordan). TheLatin American and Caribbean regional group had not yet appointed its representatives.


The Bureau met briefly during the afternoon and selected Louis Currat (Switzerland) asthe Chair of the Committee of the Whole (COW). Chair Currat noted the need for theCOW to establish its objectives to carry out the fundamental goals of the CBD. Hehighlighted the need to regulate the use of time; called for enhanced trust among theParties; and said objectives should be framed for the long term rather than the short term.

The Executive Secretary introduced the Secretariat’s report on agricultural biodiversity(UNEP/CBD/COP/3/14). The G-77/CHINA, generally supported by the EU, proposedcreating two working groups, one on financial and legal aspects of the CBD, the other onsuch issues as Article 8j, agrobiodiversity, access to genetic resources, benefit-sharing,and technology transfer.

SRI LANKA underscored the need to address the biodiversity of agro-ecosystems. TheEU highlighted integrated land use planning to minimize negative environmental impactsand underscored the Leipzig Technical Conference and the FAO GPA. ZIMBABWEhighlighted the role of indigenous farmers and traditional communities in managingnatural resources and achieving food security as discussed at a recent CGIARInternational Centres meeting. BRAZIL stated that agriculture should be the major focusof the CBD, and called for a work programme including: ex situ and in situconservation; access; technology transfer; biosafety; sustainable use; benefit sharing; andeconomic valuation.

NORWAY noted the need for an integrative approach in agriculture. He stressed theimportance of focusing the work that is decided upon, and called for a proactive approachon the identified gaps. He stated that the FAO GPA is relevant for the Convention and forGEF funding, and suggested sending a message to FAO calling for a speedy renegotiationof the International Undertaking. MALAYSIA regretted that the fragile consensusreached during the Leipzig Technical Conference has diminished the opportunity for theGPA to be truly implemented. Farmers’ Rights and benefit-sharing arrangements wereamong the issues he did not believe were adequately covered. He stressed the importanceof resolving the issue of access to ex situ collections, and called for a built-inmechanism for their fair and equitable utilization.


Several delegations expressed concern about the prospect of numerous simultaneousworking groups, particularly worrisome to small delegations. Some alternatives havebeen put forth to discourage the proliferation problem, including limiting the total numberof working groups to two, commencing working group meetings immediately, banningconcurrent meetings, and encouraging regional groups to work out consensus positions inadvance. Participants speculated that working groups soon would be formed aroundagricultural biodiversity and financial issues. One delegate observed that ultimately aproliferation of working groups will be necessary given the large number of complexissues on the COP-3 agenda. Look for a Bureau decision regarding the establishment ofworking groups during the morning COW.


COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE: The COW will resume its discussion ofagricultural biological diversity during a morning meeting in Salon Dorado. An afternoonmeeting is expected. Issues related to the GEF will be addressed.

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