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Report of main proceedings for 13 November 1996

CBD COP 3

Delegates to COP-3 heard over 30 statements during the first day of the MinisterialSegment, including a statement from Argentine President Carlos Menem. The Committeeof the Whole met for its final meeting and adopted all but three draft decisions onfinance. The Working Group on financial issues met during the afternoon and evening.

MINISTERIAL SEGMENT

COP President Maria Julia Alsagoray (Argentina) recognized that the time has come totake decisions and formulate declarations regarding the implementation of the CBD. Shealso stressed the need to evaluate the effectiveness of CBD implementation at nationaland international levels. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Executive Director of UNEP, urged theCOP to design a reasonable and feasible programme of work. She stated that a new phaseof implementation can be achieved by forging close linkages with other relatedinstitutions.

The Ministers were also addressed by President Menem of Argentina. He stated that notenough progress had been made in halting human destruction of their own habitat, whichhe described as “the challenge of our times.” He called for a world strategy on forests anda “nature contract” similar in impact to the “social contract” of the 18th Century. Hestated that respect for traditional communities has been deferred for too long within theCBD.

During the Ministerial Segment, ministers focused on a number of issues important to theimplementation of the CBD. The G-77/CHINA stressed the need for providing financialresources in a timely and predictable manner and facilitating adequate transfer oftechnology. He recognized that the primary hindrance to implementation is the lack ofdeveloped countries’ compliance with Article 20 on financial resources. Manydeveloping country ministers reiterated this point. KAZAKHSTAN noted a lack ofunderstanding on the need for financial assistance and the possible loss of biologicaldiversity in countries with economies in transition. A number of countries, such asALGERIA, BRAZIL, CHAD, CHINA and CUBA, urged the expedited dispersion offunds from the GEF and other donors, and called for simplified procedures andelimination of conditionalities. The EU also said that funds must be allocated anddispersed in an efficient manner and the GEF should be improved and simplified.BRAZIL favored the GEF as the interim financial mechanism until the next COP andcalled for the GEF to “reinforce its credentials” to respond to COP priorities.

Many countries also supported the implementation of Article 8(j) on traditionalknowledge, innovations and practices. CANADA proposed an active intersessional worksession to further the goals of Article 8(j). COLOMBIA cautioned against allowing CBDto focus only on conservation. He noted a recent Andean pact decision on access togenetic resources. BOLIVIA noted national efforts to recognize the rights of indigenous,rural and local communities.

CHINA called for the protection of farmers’ rights with regard to genetic resources.INDONESIA said benefit-sharing should be continuously reviewed by the Parties.INDIA called for concrete progress on benefit-sharing with countries of origin andnational capacity-building in bioprospecting. BRAZIL underscored the conflict betweenthe access regimes set out under the CBD and the International Undertaking on PGRFA.MEXICO cautioned against linking IPR and genetic resources issues to implementingin situ conservation and called for an examination of the effects of databasecopyrighting on the generation of scientific knowledge.

Many delegations also highlighted the relationship of CBD to other biodiversity-relatedconventions. INDONESIA said the CBD should provide guidance to other relatedconventions. COLOMBIA said that subjects such as agriculture and forests should not beremoved from the Convention, which should be maintained as a framework for all issuesrelated to biodiversity. PERU called on UNEP to coordinate the CBD with conventionson desertification and climate change. The UK stated that the CBD should not be seen asthe “poor relation to the Climate Change Convention” despite the absence of manyOECD ministers. He appealed to the US to ratify the CBD and to put its weight behindjoint action on internationally agreed conventions rather than to “press unilateral actionon issues which divide the world.”

Ministers stressed a number of other key points. The EU noted the importance ofensuring that all Parties develop national strategies, which should aim toward relevantsectoral policies and require the involvement of all relevant sectors. GERMANY calledfor sustainable agriculture in developing countries, and help for farmers in avoidingunsustainable practices. He also highlighted sustainable tourism. The need for increasedcapacity-building, infrastructure development, partnerships, the active participation ofNGOs, and the need to prioritize the work of the COP were stressed by the G-77/CHINA.COLOMBIA expressed concern over the number of subjects on the agenda of SBSTTA.SWITZERLAND also called for a clear definition of objectives and priorities.

CANADA offered a roster of volunteers to be put at the disposal of developing countriesto provide additional assistance in preparation for COP-4. INDONESIA, AUSTRALIAand the EU highlighted the importance of marine and coastal protected areas, under theframework of the Jakarta Mandate. The G-77/CHINA and BARBADOS drew attention toSIDS. MALAWI called for making the review of the forest work programme a standingagenda item. NORWAY stated that the biosafety protocol “deepens” the CBD and thedecision on agriculture mainstreams agriculture in biodiversity issues. Some ministersalso noted the upcoming Special Session.

Ministers from CUBA, BENIN, CHINA, HUNGARY, MALAWI, COTE D'IVOIRE,SLOVAKIA, SOUTH AFRICA, LAOS, HAITI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC andINDONESIA highlighted their national implementation efforts. These have included:establishment or expansion of protected areas and nature reserves; strengthening ofnational policies on forest management, agricultural research, environmental educationand public awareness; development of national strategies and action plans for biodiversityprotection and monitoring; and initiation of studies to evaluate national biodiversity.

SLOVAKIA, supported by SWITZERLAND, invited COP to hold its fourth meeting inBratislava.

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

The COW met in the evening to discuss the remaining draft decisions. Three decisions onfinancial issues (MOU, guidelines for review, and guidance for the financial mechanism)were postponed for consideration until the final Plenary, because the Working Group hadnot completed its deliberations.

The draft decision on technology transfer (CRP.36) was approved with the deletion of aparagraph that endorses the remaining paragraphs of recommendation II/3.

The draft decision on Intellectual Property Rights (CRP.34) was adopted withoutcomment.

The draft decision on Implementation of Article 8(j) (CRP.35) was adopted with minoramendments. The bracketed paragraph requesting the GEF to examine support forcapacity-building for indigenous and local communities did not lack consensus butawaited approval by the finance Working Group. RUSSIA, supported by CHINA, calledfor the use of all six official languages instead of three for the intersessional workshop tobe arranged by the Executive Secretary. ANTIGUA and BARBUDA stated that the corefigure of US$350,000 for the workshop was adequate for servicing in all six languages,so this paragraph was unbracketed and the former paragraph, providing for the use ofthree languages, was deleted. The text was adopted as amended.

To the draft decision on the Medium-Term Programme of Work (CRP.39), the EUproposed a new paragraph requesting the Bureau of SBSTTA to focus the agenda ofSBSTTA-3 and to submit it to the Parties sufficiently in advance of SBSTTA-3. The UKsaid that the preambular paragraph noting difficulties in matching the programme of workwith the available resources implies a failure to provide sufficient funds, but the existenceof surpluses suggests that this is not the case. The paragraph was deleted. The G-77/CHINA, supported by the EU, proposed deleting a reference to States who are notParties in a paragraph inviting Parties and other relevant institutions to submit their viewson the medium-term and longer term programmes of work. The US said the widestpossible range of views should be solicited. ARGENTINA proposed “governments andrelevant institutions.” The EUROPEAN COMMUNITY recommended adding “regionaleconomic integration organizations.” AUSTRALIA’s proposal to replace “States notParties” with “participants” was accepted and the decision was adopted as amended.

The draft decision on Biosafety (CRP.38) was adopted following informal consultationsthroughout the day. The original draft decision (CRP.11) was amended to reflect two newoperative paragraphs: two representatives from each region will be put forward before thenext meeting of the Open-Ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety (BSWG),and both this new Bureau and Chair Veit Koester will retain their positions until COP-4.

The draft decision on the SBSTTA Modus Operandi (CRP.30) was adopted withthe understanding that the meetings could be serviced in the six official languages of theUN, as indicated by John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda), Chair of the Budget Group.

WORKING GROUP ON FINANCIAL ISSUES

Delegates to the Working Group on financial issues considered the draft decision onAdditional Guidance to the Financial Mechanism. The preambular paragraph“underlining the importance of paragraph 4 of Article 20" remains bracketed, as does areference in the operative section referencing the endorsement in the decision onidentification, monitoring and assessment of SBSTTA recommendation II/2. Guidancebased on COP-3 decisions was added regarding: capacity-building in biosafety; capacity-building related to Article 7; conservation and sustainable use related to agriculture;capacity-building and country-driven pilot projects related to the CHM; capacity-buildingrelated to access to genetic resources; and examination of support for capacity-buildingrelated to preservation of indigenous knowledge and practices. Text was also addedcalling for: targeted research that contributes to conservation and sustainable use;promotion of understanding of the importance of conservation and sustainable use; andpreparation by the Secretariat and GEF of a proposal on the means to address the thirdobjective of the CBD. Delegates also added text reconfirming the importance of supportfor incentive measures as contained in the Annex to decision I/2, paragraph 4(i), takinginto account relevant provisions of the COP-3 decision on incentive measures. Delegatesdid not remove the brackets on the related text in the incentive measures decision.

IN THE CORRIDORS

Delegates expressed differing views on the value-added of the Ministerial Segment to theCOP. Some delegates said the ministers’ attendance raises both the political and publicprofile of the biodiversity agenda. The Segment also provides an opportunity forgovernments and participants to take note of national implemention efforts as well astheir specific areas of concern regarding biodiversity. Some noted, however, that devotingtwo full days to the Segment puts pressure on delegates to negotiate quickly, which maynot allow them to adequately address all substantive issues. Some observers said that aMinisterial Segment is useful when pushing through high-level decisions in the finalhour, whereas they seem to be more of a formality at CBD.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY

MINISTERIAL SEGMENT: The Ministerial Segment is expected to meet formorning, afternoon and evening sessions.

WORKING GROUP: The Working Group on financial issues is expected tomeet during the morning.

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