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Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5725]
POSTED ON BEHALF OF MARJA RUOHONEN-LEHTO (MODERATOR)

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Dear Participants of the Online Forum,

I am pleased and honoured to have been invited to moderate this discussion.

As you are well aware, one of our tasks, as mandated by the COP-MOP, is to develop “a package that aligns the Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms (e.g. the Roadmap) with the training manual ‘Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms’ in a coherent and complementary manner”.

Under the skilful guidance of previous moderators, we had seven rounds of discussion on this topic, and made steady progress towards the development of the package. Thus, as we approach the final product, I hope you will share my excitement during this last round of discussion on this topic prior to the face-to-face meeting of the AHTEG.

The objective of our current discussion is to provide recommendations to the AHTEG on possible improvements to the draft of an online package aligning the Manual on Risk Assessment of LMOs and the Guidance (i.e. the Roadmap).

On the basis of your interventions during previous discussions on this topic, the Secretariat has prepared two documents that will serve as the basis for our discussion. One document, in Word format, shows how the text of the Manual on Risk Assessment of LMOs was aligned to the text of the Roadmap. A second document contains a draft concept of the aligned package in a graphic format to be further developed into an online tool.

You are invited to review these two background documents and suggest possible ways to improve (a) the alignment of the text of the Manual in relation to the text of the Roadmap, and (b) the graphics of the draft concept of the aligned package; as well as to (c) provide general recommendations to the AHTEG regarding the development of a package that aligns the Guidance and the Manual.

The discussion will take place for the next two weeks but, to the extent possible, I encourage you to post your views as soon as possible in order to foster a lively debate.

I look forward to reading your suggestions and comments.

Warm regards,
Marja
posted on 2014-03-31 01:42 UTC by Ms. Manoela Miranda, UNEP/SCBD
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5732]
Dear Marja,

First of all I would like to thank you for your willingness to moderate the last round of on-line discussion on this topic before next COP/MOP.

I also thank the Secretariat for their efforts to producing the two draft documents - in word and graphic versions, which are concluding our previous discussion in the forum.

I have exercised with the draft graphic Concept Manual with interest following to see how much understandable and helpful can it be for national risk assessors, and how much it is aligned to  Roadmap. First I find the graphic expression of the Manual is done very professional and useful. I am comfortable with the text of Manual and find it as consistent with the Roadmap and the Protocol. In my view the language used in Manual is understandable and explicit.

As a general recommendation to improving of the draft Concept graphic Manual  I would suggest to bring in the text more relevant pictures where it is appropriate. The pictures(photos) might illustrate the topics discussed under Module 3 (ex. receiving environment, vertical gene flow etc.).
This would help the reader in better understanding and remembering of content of steps of RA.

The text of the Manual may also be enriched with providing of examples of risks from specific LMOs and its relation with receiving environment, ecosystems,examples of management strategies etc. 

Warm regards,

Angela
posted on 2014-04-03 20:20 UTC by Angela Lozan
Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – a hello from the moderator [#5740]
Dear participants of the RA & RM forum,

I hope that this message finds you all well. Here up in the North the spring is gradually approaching. This does not mean very much warmer days, at least not yet, but we have more light and migrating birds start to arrive. This is always very nice after the dark winter.

I would like to thank Angela for “breaking the ice” and starting this round of discussion and comments! Thank you very much Angela for your concrete and helpful comments. My general thoughts go very much in the same lines as yours. The draft graphic alignment (to be further developed into an online tool that is interactive and more user-friendly) is in very good shape and very useful indeed. I take note of your suggestion of adding more relevant and informative pictures. Moreover, I think that the word document where the text of the Manual is aligned with the text of the Roadmap is also very useful as a working document to assist in our discussion. I personally think that the alignment is well done, informative and helpful.

But now, dear colleagues, I am eager to hear your comments! What do you think about the draft graphic alignment? What about the alignment of text of the Manual with the Roadmap? Is this informative, would you like to suggest improvements? Aligning two distinct documents may be challenging, as we know, and our task it to find the best way to achieve this alignment.

I hope that you find time in your busy schedules to work on this important issue and help to further improve the guidance on RA & RM.

Thanks a lot in advance,

warm wishes,

Marja
posted on 2014-04-05 03:59 UTC by Marja Ruohonen-Lehto
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – a hello from the moderator [#5741]
Dear Marja and colleagues

Thank you Marja for moderating this session. I share the general good feeling expressed by both you and Angela on the graphic interface and the overall coordination of the manual and the guidance.

I suspect that many users would like to use the various pages in their own presentations. In the final format, will it be downloadable as a powerpoint compatible file? And if not, would it be possible as some journals now do to give the option to export different screens, and separately the example boxes, as a powerpoint slide?
Finally, I noticed a few minor typos which I will report to assist the Secretariat

Slide 30 “he results of risk assessments of living modified organisms (LMOs) are typically used by decision-makers to make informed decisions regarding the approval, with or without conditions (e.g. requirements for risk management and monitoring strategies), or prohibition of a certain use of the LMO.”

Slide 34 “Scientifically sound methodologies should be determined and documented for testing any identified risk scenario. When assessment methods are well described, risk assessors and  ubsequent reviewers are better equipped to determine whether the information used was adequate and sufficient for characterizing the risk.”

I will read with interest what my other colleagues think of the alignment.

Best wishes to all
Jack
posted on 2014-04-06 06:33 UTC by Mr. Jack Heinemann, University of Canterbury
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – a hello from the moderator [#5746]
Dear Marja and Colleagues,
as I was just nominated as expert some days before, it is the first time I comment in the forum.
First of all, I would like to thank all of you who have done a great work on the manual in the last years.
I think that the online package is very compromising and informative and also aligning the roadmap. To make the use more comfortable I would propose to divide it in different parts may be one file for every chapter. Therefore it would be much easier to get to the chapter that contains the relevant information for the user. Thinking about my experience in risk assessment, it is important to have the background information once but separate, because for conducting the risk assessment it is better to have the points to consider easily available.  
I would also prefer to have less text on the slides and am of the opinion of Angela that explaining graphs or pictures would increase the value of the manual. I found the idea that additional information pops up if you need it very comfortable and also the links are really helpful.

Best wishes

Birgit
posted on 2014-04-09 14:02 UTC by Ms. Birgit Winkel, Germany
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – a hello from the moderator [#5748]
Dear Marja and participants
I appreciate the efforts of the Secretariat to producing these two draft documents, and thank you Marja for moderating this on line forum and encourage participating.
I am preparing my comments but have some question about how to be specific with the objective of this particular on line forum.
Here my thought and questions. We can see that there were several on line forum about the alignment of the Guidance and the Manual, and some participants have expressed their conformity with the improvement done, and some other have made suggestions of improvements and also expressed that more improvements are needed.
At this point I feel that there is more work to do taking into account these suggestions to improve the Guidance, and also we will have to consider in the near future the suggestion that could come from the testing of the Guidance. Said that, I don’t understand completely if this Word document is just a document to follow checking the alignment of the Manual and the Guidance in this on line forum, and the graphic format document is additional material, besides the Guideline and the Manual, for consulting, such as downloadable presentation to use for capacity building about the RA and RM according to the Protocol, by the Parties?
If so, I think that first is the first, and I propose to finalize first with the alignment and improvement in the text of the Guidance and then develop attractive and well designed material, such really it is this document in graphic format, that could be very useful for capacity building or others purposes, but with the final version of the Guidance taking into account the comments and suggestions given by the testing process.
I wonder if participants at this stage can still send their suggestions for improve the text or comments about their impression of the Guidance; or they can only send suggestions regarding the design of the documents in graphic format (i.e suggestion of other elements to include like examples and new and more appropriated figures). I also wonder if it is practical to do that in these documents because, in the future when the Secretariat and/or the AHTEG decide to analyze and incorporate the suggestions of the testing, the Secretariat and/or the AHTEG will have to come back to the text of the Guidance and modify this graphic document at the same time. Unless they decide to organize a new on line forum to ask for an alignment regarding all the material.
I appreciate Marja if you would mind give us further explanation about the procedures to complete the improvement and alignment of the Guidance and the Manual.

Best regards,

Patricia Gadaleta
posted on 2014-04-09 16:43 UTC by Dr. Patricia Gadaleta, Argentina
Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual - from the moderator [#5750]
Dear Patricia, dear all,

Once again sorry for a delayed reaction due to travelling!
And I really appreciate your (and everybody else’s) thorough involvement in this important job!

Our mandate given by the COP-MOP is to develop “[a] package that aligns the Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms (e.g. the Roadmap) with the training manual ‘Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms’ in a coherent and complementary manner” and we should do so “with the clear understanding that the Guidance is still being tested” (annex to decision BS-VI/12).

As has been explained in previous rounds of discussion on the alignment, the text of the Guidance may or may not change depending on what the COP-MOP decides based on the suggestions for improvements submitted as part of the testing process.

Your understanding that the “Word document is just a document to follow checking the alignment of the Manual and the Guidance in this on line forum, and the graphic format document is additional material, besides the Guidance and the Manual, for consulting, such as downloadable presentation to use for capacity building about the RA and RM according to the Protocol, by the Parties” is correct.

However, in order to deliver the expected outcome above and because the discussion on the graphic alignment is limited to “form” (please see my reply to Piet which may help answer some of your questions), in order to make it more user-friendly, the graphic document can be improved independently of the possible changes to the text of the Guidance. Being the graphic alignment is a draft, it is inevitable that revisions will be needed.

Hope this helps!

Warm wishes,

Marja
posted on 2014-04-10 09:56 UTC by Marja Ruohonen-Lehto
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5747]
Dear All,

My thanks to Marja for accepting to moderate this session.

Having looked at the two documents, I would agree with the previous speakers that the matrix looks like a helpful tool to discuss alignment and the graphic presentation looks very nice indeed.

Yet, I have to confess that it is not quite clear to me what exactly it is that I am looking at. By consequence it is also not very clear what it is that we are expected to exchange views on, i.e. form or substance?

Let me explain.

The two column matrix approach is indeed a very practical way to align two documents. In fact,
what would make this approach even stronger is if we add a first column with the actual texts of the corresponding provisions of the Protocol, because consistency with the Protocol is still a major concern (see below). 

Yet, given that we are well past halfway the time allocated for alignment, the question I have is why introducing this matrix in this late stage. Is this matrix intended as an end result of this process?

This also brings me to the point that it is not clear to me what we are expected to discuss. Whether a matrix is useful in comparing documents for alignment? It is. But then what? Are we then expected to go back to discussing the substance of the text? In that case we will have to compare the content of these columns with the comments we have made earlier.

I have done a quick scan, and found that some comments that I had made were taken on board, and some others were not. Unfortunately, there are no (foot note) explanations why certain comments were not incorporated. I find that particularly troubling where it concerns comments about consistency with the Protocol and comments based on actual experience.

As for consistency with the Protocol, my concern is still that sometimes simplifications or rephrasing of Protocol text are introduced that actually have a different meaning. In particular when it concerns definitions, manuals and guidance documents should not take too many liberties, but rather stick to the original text as much as possible. To give an example: slide 8 of the manual says “an LMO is  an organism that contains a novel combination of genetic material and results from (i) in vitro modification of nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) molecules; or (ii) cell fusion between organisms of different taxonomic families“. This rephrasing diverts from the actual definition on several important points. First, the manual uses the term “contains” instead of the intensely negotiated term “possesses”, which has quite a different meaning. Second, the manual only refers to in vitro nucleic acid techniques, while the Protocol also refers to direct injection techniques. Third, the manual talks about ‘cell fusion between organisms’, while the Protocol more elegantly talks about ‘fusion of cells’. These are unnecessary changes that are incorrect and confusing.

As for the graphic presentation, that looks indeed very nice, and I envy folks who can produce this kind of things, but here too, I am not clear what exactly we are expected to discuss.

Turning to the specific questions that Marja’s specific requests:

(a) suggest possible ways to improve the alignment of the text of the Manual in relation to the text of the Roadmap:

1 >> screen both Manual and Roadmap meticulously for consistency with the Protocol (see above), for example by adding a column to the matrix with the actual text of the relevant provisions of the Protocol.

(b) suggest possible ways to improve the graphics of the draft concept of the aligned package;

1>> The suggestions made by Birgit and Angela  are fine with me.

2>> Whether the graphic design is useful and practical: as with everything, the proof of the pudding is of course in the eating, so, we should have comments from the target audience whether they like this form.

(c) provide general recommendations to the AHTEG regarding the development of a package that aligns the Guidance and the Manual.
1>> Check that the “points to consider” elaborated in the Steps of the risk assessment of both the manual and the Guidance are the same.

2>> Align the way in which the steps are described in both the Manual and the Guidance. For example, Slide 56  of the Manual gives as an example of Step 1 (identification of potential adverse effects...) the possible consequences of the development of resistant weeds and insects. The rest of the text talks about resistance management plans. This is confusing and  not in line with the Guidance, because consideration of resistance management plans logically only comes in Step 5 (“Acceptability of risk and identification of risk management and monitoring strategies”). The whole idea of the Guidance was to underline the logical, step wise nature of risk assessment. The Manual in its current form mixes elements of different steps.

3>> Add clear and concrete examples from realistic cases (but not necessarily from existing dossiers) to illustrate things that are not self evident.  Taking as an example the points to consider in Step 1: The taxonomic status of the donor is self evident and does not need an illustration. Yet, novice risk assessors would benefit from an example what the relevant biological characteristics of a donor are in a certain case. 

Finally, I return to my original questions about the nature of the input in this round, i.e.,
1) is input expected about form or also about substance ?
2) if also about substance: is that input expected to be general or specific?

Looking forward to the rest of the discussion


Piet
posted on 2014-04-09 16:07 UTC by Mr. Piet van der Meer, Ghent University, Belgium
Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5749]
Dear Piet, dear all,

Sorry for a delayed reaction due to travelling.
Thanks a lot Piet for a very elaborate intervention. It contained many useful comments.

You asked if input is expected about form or also about “substance”?
And whether input should be general or specific?

The forum is invited to provide input about the “substance” of the matrix (i.e. to ensure that the alignment between the text of the two documents is done in the best way possible) and about the “form” of the graphic alignment (i.e. to improve its user friendliness). But we should keep in mind that the Guidance has not been revised because of the ongoing testing and request to the Executive Secretary to “provide a report on possible improvements to the Guidance for consideration by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol at its seventh meeting”. General or specific – whatever improves the output!

For instance, your example about the text of the Manual not being entirely consistent with the Protocol is a good example for improvement. And I have taken note of this. But I still ask for comments on the alignment itself – is it possible to improve the alignment of the text of the Manual and the Roadmap?

Looking forward to more interventions and thanking those of you who have had time to send your valuable comments already!

Best wishes,

Marja
posted on 2014-04-10 09:34 UTC by Marja Ruohonen-Lehto
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5751]
Dear colleagues,

We would like to thank Marja for moderating this round of discussion, and the Secretariat for providing us with discussion material!
We think that the 'graphic' representation of the alignment of the Manual and the Roadmap of the Guidance is a very nice tool, and a lot of ingenuity has been spent on developing it.

What is less clear is for whom this tool is meant to be: is it the 'less experienced' risk assessor, or is it a tool for further discussion in the AHTEG? We think that it will be helpful for both, but if it is only meant for the participants of the AHTEG, who all have a certain level of experience, it may even be too fancy.
For the less experienced risk assessor the tool may be confusing because they see both the text of the Manual and of the Roadmap (in blocks) in the same slide, but the messages are not always the same and the wording is not in always fully compatible.

Piet has made a number of very valid comments about this, and we would like to support the points that he made.
Very important: when referring to the CPB use direct and full quotes.
Slide 45 is an example where it becomes clear that the Manual and the Roadmap are not very well aligned: the two texts are similar at first glance, but put emphasis on different aspects.
As already indicated before, in Step 1 of conducting the risk assessment it is most obvious that the two documents are not very well aligned.
A clear example is slide 51, where extracts from the text of the Roadmap are put side by side with text from the Manual, that misses the point made in the Roadmap. The text of the Roadmap in this slide is cut short and the order has been changed. The reason behind these changes is not clear.
The slides following slide 51 appear not to have a counterpart in the Roadmap (no quotes from the Roadmap there), which is strange. One reason is, as Piet indicates, that this text is not just on Step 1 of the risk assessment, but also about the next steps, or about issues that are not germane to the CPB.

Finally, we would like to refer to the general comments that we made in a previous round of discussion, in posting #5367 in the discussion from 27 May through 9 June 2013.  We think these comments are still valid for this discussion. These remarks were:

• There are many terms that are used in the Guidance but not in the manual. This is probably (also) due to the fact that the manual is much more introductory and general than the Guidance. There is probably no reason to be alarmed by this.
• The Guidance uses terms, whereas the Manual explains risk assessment. Therefore it is only to be expected that the Manual has broader explanations of terms, as is the case now. So, no reason for alarm, either.
• In a number of cases descriptions of terms are open to discussion, and I would say, improvement.
• Descriptions for some terms have been taken from other documents. It is not clear why these documents were chosen. Descriptions found on the internet often quote different sources, which may give a more complete picture.
• There should be a discussion what the status of these descriptions is. In principle, these should not be taken as ‘definitions’ or ‘standards’. That is why we speak of the ‘use of terms’ and ‘a working glossary’ in the Guidance.

Best wishes,

Boet Glandorf
posted on 2014-04-11 11:59 UTC by Ms. Boet Glandorf, Netherlands
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5752]
Dear all,

As Patricia and Piet have posted, (#5748, #5747), I am also a little bit confused about the object of this new round of debate. I do not know if it is because the dateline for the remission of the questionnaire has been changed, but I think that we should postpone this new review of the alignment until we have the results of the testing. For this task, as Piet said, I think it could be helpful to introduce on the table an explanation about those comments that have been incorporated or not. Otherwise we can come back to points that have been already taken into consideration, and not accepted for same reason.

Regarding the form of the Manual online, I do not know if the idea is that it will be read for the users online or it will be used as a presentation. If it is going to be read online, I find it useful, due to the opportunity to open more information and examples if needed. If the idea is to use it as a presentation, I agree with Birgit (#5746) that there is too much information in each slide, and it would be much friendly with less text on the slides.

Best regards,

Victoria
posted on 2014-04-11 12:20 UTC by Dra Victoria Colombo Rodríguez, Spain
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5753]
A big thank you to Dr Marja Ruohonen-Lehto for moderating the forum.

I thought the documents were very good.  In fact, I want to congratulate those who developed the graphics alignment powerpoint presentation.  The “slide show” was very clear, informative, user-friendly and clever.  It will make an excellent on-line tool.  I particularly liked the pop-up boxes of explanations whenever an “eg” button was pressed.  Very useful!

I found a typo on slide 34, left column: “ubsequent” should be “subsequent”
posted on 2014-04-11 14:52 UTC by Dr Judy Carman, Institute of Health and Environmental Research
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5754]
Hello everyone.

Thank you to Marja for facilitating this online discussion.

In principle, I like the side-by-side alignment of the content from the manual and the roadmap.  I note that in places you have highlighted where the text has been rearranged a bit to facilitate the alignment, but the content in essence has not been changed from the most recent round.

I concur with those who have already noted we should be prepared to expect considerable changes to the text, both in content and in arrangement, based on results from the testing of the roadmap.  I also concur that this current version of the roadmap and manual still does not incorporate some key suggestions for changes from previous rounds, especially where there are concerns about consistency with the Protocol.

Seeing this document visually aligned in this way gives me an idea.   It would be very helpful to add a third ‘column’ to this document (both the .doc and the .ppt) that captures the ‘points of disagreement’ among the members of the AHTEG (especially where there is disagreement about consistency with the Protocol).  Of course, three columns starts to be a bit cumbersome, and perhaps a row across the bottom of each section would be better.

Although not without an effort to incorporate the different view points from the members of the AHTEG and the online discussion, we know the documents in their current form do not represent a consensus view.   Furthermore, it is my understanding that this guidance is meant to be a ‘living document’.  Therefore, it seems most appropriate to make the ‘points of disagreement’ very clear to the user.  If these parts are aligned with the roadmap and the manual, we might actually find that there are more points where we agree than where we disagree.  And we can expect that this section will also change based on the outcome of the testing.

I believe this would go a very long way toward making this guidance more useful for the intended audience, and more useful as a training tool.  In this way, the users would have the opportunity to make more-informed decisions about how the guidance can help them implement their risk assessments.  We have said many times during these discussions that the guidance is not meant to be a ‘requirement’ and that parties can choose whether or not to follow the guidance.

Thanks,
Karen
posted on 2014-04-11 19:19 UTC by Ms. Karen Hokanson, University of Minnesota
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5755]
Thanks to Marja for agreeing to moderate the online discussion and to those that have taken the time to provide comments.   I think Boet in particular has provided a very thoughtful analysis and I strongly support her input.

As others have stated, I find the task at hand is a bit confusing.  In principle, the side by side alignment is a good model  for comparison but since there may still be considerable changes to the roadmap that arise from the testing,  it is difficult to provide further comments. 
If the purpose of the graphic is to serve as a presentation, then I agree with Victoria that there is far too much text on each slide.  Unfortunately, capacity building workshops often feature presentations that look like the graphic presented here and as a result often confuse more than they inform.  As an online training tool, it may be a useful addition to other training materials, especially if there are links in the material.

I really liked Karen's suggestion of capturing areas of diverging views.  There is considerable value in reflecting the range of expert views and as Karen has stated we may very well find that there are significant areas of agreement.   Capturing areas of disagreement can only enhance the utility of the guidance as a training tool.
I would support Piet’s suggestion that the guidance and manual need to be screened for consistency to the Protocol.  This point has arisen on previous occasions and should be addressed.

I look forward to the inevitable flurry of last minute comments.
Phil
posted on 2014-04-11 21:06 UTC by Mr. Phil Macdonald, Canada
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5756]
Dear All,

Thanks for all your helpful discussion to improve the works. I like the documents and appreciate the endeavor to provide a graphic file.

A quick point comes to me as I am reading comments from our colleagues. Indeed, the manual including the graphic one is for the convenience of the users of the roadmap. It is not good and even dangerous to present different view in a manual, which will confuse the users at all.

Thank you!

Wei
(edited on 2014-04-12 14:57 UTC by Wei Wei)
posted on 2014-04-12 14:57 UTC by Mr. Wei Wei, China
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5758]
Dear Marja,


I appreciate your enthusiasm that you invite comments on both form and substance, both general and specific, or - as you summarised it: “whatever improves the output!”.

Yet, we have actually done that for many months, in fact many years now.

The result of the previous rounds was submitted to MOP6, and the reaction was – to put it mildly – not overly jubilant.  The MOP asked that the Guidance be tested for its usefulness and practicality, and requested to the Executive Secretary to provide a report on possible improvements to the Guidance.

To avoid that the result of the current process receives a similar reaction from the MOP in October, I have the following recommendations to ‘improve the output’ as you called it: 

1. Given that the Guidance has not yet been revised because of the ongoing testing, I would recommend that instead of putting much energy in aligning two documents that are not yet finished, we put more emphasis on an alignment that is not dependent on the testing: i.e. alignment with the Protocol. As others and I have illustrated in the last and previous rounds of online discussions, there are several significant inconstancies between the Manual/Guidance and the Cartagena Protocol that can be cleaned up.

2. The Moderator/Chair/Secretariat should explain why interventions suggesting inconstancies have not resulted in changes of the text, to avoid that we have to make the same comments over and over again. 

3. Participants in this online forum are encouraged to have an actual discussion where this is possible. I am very aware that given the broad range of topics, direct discussion is not always possible, but in several cases it is possible. For example, in my previous intervention I have identified some blatant inconsistencies between the Protocol and the Manual text, yet some subsequent submissions cheerfully mention that they believe all is fine (be it that one very perceptive participant found an ‘s’ missing somewhere).  This is a missed opportunity for an actual online debate. Assuming that the participants who believe that all is fine, disagree that the identified points are inconsistencies, it would be a useful substantive debate why they believe that.

4. This process should stop racing ahead with developing new documents and aligning documents that themselves still clearly subject of much disagreement, and rather focus on properly finishing what we have. With ‘properly finishing ‘ I mean that either a substantial consensus is reached on substance, or – as Karen and others suggested – explicitly identify where there are differences of view. 

I believe that it is not too late to prepare for consideration by MOP a text that is consistent with the Protocol, based on actual experience, and useful to novice risk assessors,

Best regards to all,

Piet
posted on 2014-04-13 20:30 UTC by Mr. Piet van der Meer, Ghent University, Belgium
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5759]
Dear all.

I would likt to thank Marja for facilitating this online discussion. I will keep my comments brief, since there is no need for me to reiterate the constructive comments of others previously put forward during this discussion session.

I have found many constructive suggestions in Piet's earlier comment, as well as the comments from Victoria, Karen, Patricia, Boet, and Phil. I realize that the AHTEG will have to do a lot of work to use these logical and constructive comments when making revisions to the documents are intended to provide the Parties with the guidance that they have requested for novice risk assessors.

I have read all of the comments with great interest, including Marja's response to those who have shared my confusion about what we are supposed to be doing in this online session.  For me, the most recent comments from Piet van der Meer today have put into words the thoughts I have been struggling to express over the past few days. Let me just state simply that I completely support his comment today and previously, and I especially would like to echo the four points he lists in his comment today.

Piet has summarized the need quite well when he emphasizes the need for revisions that will result in documents that are "consistent with the Protocol, based on actual experience, and useful to novice risk assessors".  The documents are not there yet, but I believe that many of the comments for substantive revision made in this online session provide a clear way forward.  I wish the members of the AHTEG all the best for the substantial work that lies ahead for them.

Best regards,

David Heron
posted on 2014-04-13 21:25 UTC by David Heron, United States of America
RE: Opening of the discussion “Alignment of the Guidance and training manual – Comments on the draft online package” [#5757]
Dear Marja, Secretariat and companions of the open online forum:
I had not had an opportunity to look into the documents although I had been following the two week discussions up to now.
First, I would like to thank Marja for her input and interest in leading the discussion, and thank all for the inputs into the discussions....and above all, I would like to thank the Secretariat for providing such useful materials.
Even though I must confess that I have not read this time every line in every slide (neither of the graphics provided nor the alignment document), I did scroll through both of them and found them to be insightful and clear (not confusing...not imprecise...).
The alignment and the graphics really help understanding how the two documents (i.e. the manual and the roadmap) relate to each other (what they have in common and in what they are clearly different) and therefore help in understanding how one might use them both in: i.-learning how risk assessment is envisioned by an international body such as the the Cartagena Protocol; ii.- what the Cartagena Protocols annex III means in relation to its article 15.  After all, this is what was meant to be achieved in my personal view (not a "roadmap" that would help "new comers understand what risk assessment is meant to be or achieve" but a "roadmap" that would "explain what annex III of the Cartagena Protocol really meant in its text").
I am conscience of the testing process and that this might imply changes in the roadmap itself, nevertheless, this whole exercise will still have been useful and valid and will surely be helpful in revisiting the roadmap to make those changes (and the links to he manual).
Again, thanks again for the effort made. I find it to be useful.

Un abrazo,
Francisca
posted on 2014-04-12 18:00 UTC by Ms. Francisca Acevedo, Mexico