International Instruments Address Agriculture – Biodiversity Link
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) announced a US$1.1 million contribution for the development and implementation of the ITPGR Global Information System (GLIS).

DivSeek reported on the implications of its underlying technologies on the objectives of the ITPGR.

According to media reports, the Japanese Cabinet approved the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol on 19 May 2017.

On 26 April 2017, Cuba became the 38th CBD party to ratify the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Biosafety Protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

May 2017: Plant genetic resources that support the production sufficient quantities of nutritious food are one of the links between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on zero hunger (SDG 2) and life on land (SDG 15). This update discusses developments within three instruments under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that facilitate the equitable and sustainable use of such biodiversity.

The CBD Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) commits parties to facilitate access to genetic resources subject to the condition that a mutually agreed share of the benefits generated through their use is channeled back to the holders of such resources. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) establishes a Multilateral System (MLS) for implementing ABS regarding those genetic resources that are at the basis of plant breeding and food production. Finally, the CBD’s Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety addresses the safety of transboundary movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) most of which are agricultural commodities.

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Biosafety Protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has moved one step closer to entering into force. On 26 April 2017, Cuba became the 38th CBD party to ratify the Supplementary Protocol, which means that now, only three more ratifications are necessary to trigger its entry into force. The Supplementary Protocol provides international rules and procedures for response measures to be taken by parties in case of damage from living modified organisms (LMOs) originating in transboundary transfers of LMOs under the Cartagena Protocol. Adopted in 2010, the Supplementary Protocol will enter into force once 40 CBD Parties have ratified. To date, 37 Parties and the European Union have ratified the Supplementary Protocol. The last country to ratify before Cuba was Swaziland, which deposited its instrument of ratification in September 2016. [CBD Press Release on Cuba] [CBD Press Release on Swaziland] [List of Parties to the Supplementary Protocol] [Information on becoming a Party to the Supplementary Protocol]

In related news, the CBD Secretariat released the report of a workshop on LMO detection and identification for representatives from the Group of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) held 15-19 August 2016 in Mexico City, Mexico. The workshop aimed to provide theoretical and practical training on sampling and detection and laboratory methods, and provide a forum for exchange of experiences and the assessment of needs and capacity gaps for the effective implementation of the Protocol at the national level. [CBD Workshop Report (in Spanish)]

Nagoya Protocol

While already in force, the CBD’s Nagoya Protocol is still waiting for ratification by several key parties. Japan, which was the host of the 2010 CBD Conference of the Parties (COP) that adopted the Protocol, recently finalized its preparations for ratification. According to media reports, the Japanese Cabinet approved the ratification on 19 May and will soon deposit its instrument of ratification with the CBD Secretariat. [The Mainichi News]

Moving towards implementation, Bhutan, supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Bhutan, launched a project to build the capacity of government, private sector and local communities to sustainably use the country’s rich biological resources as assets for inclusive and green economic development. The project supports collaborative partnerships between government agencies, private businesses and local communities in three villages, focusing on developing market access for natural products and medicines from traditional plants in collaboration with local companies. Next to implementing ABS (SDG target 15.6), the project contributes to achieving SDG 1 on poverty, SDG 3 on good health and well-being, SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production, SDG 13 on climate action and SDG 15 on life on land. [GEF Press Release] [UNDP Bhutan Project Outline]

ITPGR

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) announced a US$1.1 million contribution for the development and implementation of the ITPGR Global Information System (GLIS). The GLIS seeks to increase the capacity of countries to conserve, manage, use and exchange plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) by integrating and enhancing existing information systems of parties and organizations. The funds will be used to implement the GLIS pilot phase, which includes a capacity building component for countries from the Near East Region and the Southern African Development Community. [ITPGR Press Release, Germany]

One of the activities that was supported with the German funding was a workshop on strengthening national capacities on plant genetic resources in the Near East Region in the context of the GLIS, held 9-11 May 2017 in Cairo, Egypt. The workshop’s objective was to strengthen individual and institutional capacities of ITPGR parties to document and exchange non-confidential information in the context of the Treaty’s Multilateral System (MLS) for Access and Benefit-sharing. The event further aimed to promote common standards and tools, such as digital object identifiers (DOIs) to facilitate documentation and registration through the GLIS. Participants also conducted a regional evaluation of the status of documentation systems, which revealed that several countries use systems that are outdated or obsolete. Experts therefore also discussed the need for support to those countries to update their information and documentation systems. [ITPGR Press Release, Near East] [Workshop Concept Note and Agenda]

The GLIS was also highlighted as a regional priority at a seminar for ITPGR national focal points from GRULAC countries, which aimed to prepare for the seventh session of the ITPGR Governing Body to be held in October-November 2017. Participants focused on analyzing measures to enhance the functioning of the MLS, including suggested amendments to the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA), as discussed at the sixth meeting of the Ad hoc Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) to Enhance the Functioning of the MLS. Regarding other regional priorities, the workshop highlighted the GLIS and farmers’ rights. [ITPGR Press Release – GRULAC] [SGD-hub Story on the sixth session of the OEWG to enhance the functioning of the MLS]

In related news, the sixth session of the ITPGR Governing Body invited DivSeek to report on the implications of its underlying technologies on the objectives of the Treaty. DivSeek is a community-driven initiative facilitating the linkage of germplasm with characterization data. While DivSeek does not conduct genome sequencing, manage germplasm collections or store and manage data, it seeks to facilitate coordination of such activities among its members to limit redundancy and support integration and inter-operability of information generated through them.

The report states that these technologies could generate major benefits for the conservation and sustainable use of PGRFA and “bring major enhancements to the fair and equitable sharing of benefits.” It also notes that by using the DOIs for PGRFA, the information system of DivSeek partners contributes to GLIS. The publication further lists detailed potential contributions for each ITPGR objective. The report will be submitted to GB 7 for further discussion of the relationship between DivSeek and the Treaty, particularly regarding GLIS. The draft report was developed during a workshop of DivSeek partners on the contributions of the DivSeek initiative to achieving the SDGs, held 28 November – 1 December 2016 in Bellagio, Italy. [ITPGR-FAO Notification] [DivSeek News]

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