UN Biodiversity Conference Considers Draft Decisions on Financial Mechanism, Synthetic Biology, Traditional Knowledge and EBSAs
Photo by IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon
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UN Biodiversity Conference Working Group I (WG I) addressed draft decisions on: financial resources and mechanism under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the financial mechanism and cooperation under the Nagoya Protocol; public awareness, resource mobilization and compliance under the Cartagena Protocol; and capacity building under the Protocols.

WG I approved a draft decision on the financial mechanism under the Cartagena Protocol.

Working Group II (WG II) considered draft decisions on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) and synthetic biology, and approved a draft decision on guidelines for the sixth national reports.

Side events to the Conference addressed the topics of traditional knowledge, indigenous peoples' lands and territories and agrobiodiversity, among others.

15 December 2016: On Thursday morning, 15 December, during the UN Biodiversity Conference, Working Group I (WG I) addressed draft decisions on: financial resources and mechanism under the Convention; the financial mechanism and cooperation under the Nagoya Protocol; public awareness, resource mobilization and compliance under the Cartagena Protocol; and capacity building under the Protocols. It approved a draft decision on the financial mechanism under the Cartagena Protocol.

Regarding annexed priority activities and areas for the programme of work on public awareness, education and participation, delegates agreed, inter alia, to: include reference to regional nodes in the Biosafety Clearing House; consistently use the term indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs); delete reference to development and use of training materials and other training activities; and delete examples regarding strengthening biosafety education and advancing tools and procedures for access to information.

Working Group II (WG II) considered draft decisions on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) and synthetic biology, and approved a draft decision on guidelines for the sixth national reports. On EBSAs, delegates agreed to an EU proposal requesting the Secretariat, in collaboration with others, including indigenous peoples and local communities, to use the training manual on the use of traditional knowledge (TK) in the application of EBSA criteria in organizing training material “as appropriate and subject to financial resources.”

On synthetic biology, delegates diverged on, inter alia, whether to: delete text on applying the precautionary approach when considering the release of gene drives until thorough risk assessments are performed; refer to the application of the precautionary approach “when addressing threats of significant reduction or loss of biodiversity posed by organisms, components and products resulting from synthetic biology, including gene drives, in accordance with domestic legislation and other relevant international obligations”; and have as a task “work towards an operational definition of synthetic biology comprising of inclusion and exclusion criteria using all relevant information, based on scientific and peer-reviewed studies.” Discussions are continuing in a contact group.

Contact groups and Friends of the Chair groups also met to address: transboundary movements of living modified organisms (LMOs); Article 8(j); capacity building; digital sequence information on genetic resources; EBSAs; synergies; financial mechanism; a global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism under the Nagoya Protocol; risk assessment of LMOs; and the budget. On Article 8(j), delegates discussed whether the guidelines on national legislation on prior informed consent (PIC) and benefit-sharing should explain the possible content of community protocols. They agreed to consider incentives to promote the use of, rather than compliance with, the guidelines in relation to benefit-sharing from access to or use of traditional knowledge. A regional group opposed applying such guidelines under the Nagoya Protocol, and requested bracketing the whole text.

On digital sequence information, delegates agreed, inter alia, to: consider any potential implications of the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources for the aforementioned objectives; and commission a fact-finding and scoping study to clarify terminology and concepts, and to assess the extent, terms and conditions of use of digital sequence information on genetic resources.

On EBSAs, delegates debated, inter alia, text on: convening a workshop aimed at ensuring scientific credibility and transparency of the EBSA process, and for the development of options regarding procedures to modify and describe new EBSAs; and the description of EBSAs within and beyond national jurisdiction. Discussions are continuing.

On synergies, discussions focused on establishing a network to provide advice on further prioritization of actions and their implementation, through identification and involvement of relevant experts. Delegates also discussed the nature and benefits of the network. Discussions are continuing.

On the financial mechanism, the group discussed a request to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to launch a process to expand its direct access modality to allow participation of more national agencies from developing countries. Discussions are continuing.

On risk assessment of LMOs, delegates agreed to seek information from parties on: their needs and priorities; proposals on criteria including the technical justification that may facilitate the selection of topics for the development of further guidance; and views on perceived gaps in existing guidance materials. [IISD RS Coverage of the UN Biodiversity Conference]

Many side events were also held throughout the day. During an event on multiple incentives that can be used to support smallholder farmers for sustainable agricultural production, especially in the conservation of agrobiodiversity and in policy support to improve livelihoods, panelists: described the ‘Incentives for Ecosystem Services in Agriculture’ initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO); identified the need for an integrated agri-food systems approach that promotes diversity in farming systems; discussed the extent to which it is feasible to “kill two birds with one stone” in addressing environmental sustainability and poverty alleviation through payments for ecosystem services (PES); discussed the Payments/Rewards for Agrobiodiversity Conservation Services (PACS/RACS) initiative; and emphasized the importance of establishing local and regional alliances with stakeholders to align public policies to the provision of multiple incentives for biodiversity conservation at the smallholder scale.

Another event discussed the effectiveness of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) as a Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) implementation tool, and an assessment of post-2010 NBSAPs. Panelists focused on: an assessment of second generation NBSAPs, which concluded that they are much more targeted, have a stronger focus on mainstreaming, and address the need for legal reform to a larger extent than the first generation of NBSAPs; Benin’s updated 2011-2020 NBSAP on biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and equitable benefit sharing; development of Norway’s most recent NBSAP; and experiences with updating Bahrain’s NBSAP.

A “flash event” to demonstrate the plunder of indigenous peoples lands and territories was organized by the ICCA Consortium (indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas), followed by a press conference with ICCA members, who discussed, inter alia: the criminalization of rotational farming in Myanmar; threats posed by large-scale developments and extractive industries; indigenous peoples ability to decide how to use their resources in their territories, and their inclusion in negotiation processes; opposition to industrial fishing in traditional marine territories; and the need to empower communities to plant and restore mangroves.

Other side events convened on: genetically-engineered soy and pesticides, their impact on traditional maize crops, and responses and solutions regarding transgenic soy plantations in the Yucatán Peninsula; the operationalization of the CBD voluntary guidelines on safeguards relevant for biodiversity resource mobilization and for including lessons learned from practice; the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME) Sea Area strategy for ecosystem-based management; and the current state of play regarding the various negotiations on genetic resources, TK, access and benefit sharing (ABS), and intellectual property in a number of international fora and processes. [IISD Reporting Services Coverage of Side Events]


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