ITPGRFA Working Group Continues Work on Revising Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing
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The eighth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group to Enhance the Functioning of the Multilateral System was held from 10-12 October 2018 at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy.

The meeting continued text-based negotiations aiming to increase user-based payments and contributions to the Treaty’s Benefit-sharing Fund, with the overall objective to enhance the functioning of the Treaty’s Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing for food security and sustainable agriculture.

15 October 2018: A Working Group, convened in the framework of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), continued text-based negotiations aiming to increase user-based payments and contributions to the Treaty’s Benefit-sharing Fund. Its overall objective is to enhance the functioning of the Treaty’s Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing for food security and sustainable agriculture.

The eighth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group to Enhance the Functioning of the Multilateral System (MLS) was held from 10-12 October 2018, at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) in Rome, Italy. The Working Group continued text-based negotiations on the revision of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) for exchanges of crops within the Treaty’s Multilateral System (MLS). Participants also considered criteria and options for a possible expansion of the coverage of the MLS; a proposal for a growth plan to attain the enhanced MLS; and issues related to digital sequence information arising from plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

The meeting did not achieve any concrete outcomes in relation to specific clauses in the SMTA. In addition, questions related to digital sequence information and a possible expansion of the MLS remain deeply divisive. However, several participants welcomed the constructive spirit and open discussion that provided opportunities for mutual learning and clear procedural steps allowing for informed deliberations at the next meeting of the Working Group, to be held in Rome from 17-21 June 2019.

Questions related to digital sequence information remain deeply divisive.

The Working Group was established by the fifth session of the Treaty’s Governing Body (September 2013, Muscat, Oman), with the mandate to develop measures to increase user-based payments and contributions to the Treaty’s Benefit-sharing Fund, as a priority, as well as additional measures to enhance the functioning of the MLS. It is composed of up to 27 regional representatives: up to five from Europe; up to five from Asia; up to five from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC); up to three from the Near East; up to two from North America; and up to two from Southwest Pacific. Up to two representatives from each of the following groups may participate as observers: civil society organizations; the seed industry; farmers’ organizations; and the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers.

Since its establishment, the Working Group has focused on the revision of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) and elaboration of a subscription system for user-based payments to the MLS. Its mandate was extended by the seventh meeting of the ITPGRFA Governing Body (30 October – 3 November 2017, Kigali, Rwanda). Accordingly, the Working Group is holding two meetings during the intersessional period, focusing on:

  • development of a proposal for a growth plan to attain the enhanced MLS;
  • revision of the SMTA on the basis of prior deliberations and proposals; and
  • elaboration of criteria and options for possible adaptation of the coverage of the MLS.

The Working Group negotiations are of relevance to a number of international processes on access and benefit-sharing (ABS), including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Nagoya Protocol on ABS, and the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The Treaty’s MLS is crucial for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including in particular SDG 2 (zero hunger) and 15 (life on land). [IISD RS Coverage of the Meeting] [Meeting Website]


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