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History of the AHTEG

In decision BS-IV/11, the Parties to the Protocol established an open-ended online forum, through the Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH), and an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Risk Assessment and Risk Management, with the aim of developing further guidance on specific aspects of risk assessment and risk management.

The First Meeting of the Ad hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Risk Assessment and Risk Management was held from 20 to 24 April 2009 at the CBD Secretariat in Montreal, Canada (the report of the meeting is available here). In accordance with its terms of reference (Annex to decision BS-IV/11), the Group discussed the development of guidance documents to further support countries in conducting risk assessment of LMOs in the context of the Protocol.

To further draft the Roadmap and test it, a Meeting of the AHTEG Sub-working Group on the Roadmap was held from 12 to 14 October 2009 in The Hague, The Netherlands (the report of the meeting is available here).

The Group produced a draft roadmap on the steps in risk assessment and established four Sub-working Groups (SWGs) and an Action Plan outlining the work to further develop the roadmap and guidance documents on specific aspects of risk assessment and risk management prior to the Group’s second meeting, scheduled to take place in April 2010 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. During this meeting the group revised and finalised the work on the Roadmap as outlined in the report of the meeting

At their fifth meeting, the Parties welcomed the resulting Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms developed through the joint efforts of these two groups and noted that the first version of the Guidance required further scientific review and testing to establish its overall utility and applicability to living modified organisms of different taxa introduced into different environments. The Parties decided to extend the work of the open-ended online forum and AHTEG to acomplish these tasks.

To achieve the expected outcomes outlined in its terms of reference (Annex to decision BS-V/12), the Group held several rounds of online discussions and two face to face meetings. The third meeting of the AHTEG took place in Mexico City, Mexico on 30 May - 3 June 2011 and the outcomes of the discussions are available in the final report of the meeting. The fourth meeting of the AHTEG took place in Montreal, Canada on 4 - 8 June 2012. During this meeting the group finalised the Guidance to be submitted to the COP-MOP6 and submitted its recommendations to the Parties as outlined in the final report of the meeting.

In their decision BS-VI/12, the Parties commended the progress made on the resulting Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms and decided to extend the Open-ended Online Forum while establishing a new AHTEG on Risk Assessment and Risk Management. The online forum and AHTEG provided input to assist the Executive Secretary with structuring and focusing the process of testing the guidance, and in the analysis of the results gathered from the testing; co-ordinated, in collaboration with the Secretariat, the development of a package that aligns the Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms with the “Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms” training manual in a coherent and complementary manner; and considered the development of guidance on new topics of risk assessment and risk management.

At their seventh meeting, the Parties welcomed the results of the testing of the Guidance and invited Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to test or use, as appropriate, the Guidance in actual cases of risk assessment and as a tool for capacity-building activities in risk assessment. In their decision BS-VII/12, the COP-MOP also decided to extend the Online Forum and AHTEG on Risk Assessment and Risk Management as well as expanding the composition of the AHTEG to add one new member from each region. The expanded AHTEG will work following the input provided by the Open-Ended Online Forum, in accordance with the terms of reference and modalities of work in the Annex to the decision, to revise and improve the Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms, taking into account the results of the testing process, established in decision BS-VI/12.

In its decision BS-VIII/12, the COP-MOP acknowledged the work of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Risk Assessment and Risk Management, having completed its mandate, as well as the Online Forum on Risk Assessment and Risk Management and took note of the voluntary Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms as the outcome of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group with input from the Online Forum. In the same decision, the COP-MOP also invited interested Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to take the Guidance into account as a voluntary tool to assist in conducting risk assessment in accordance with the Cartagena Protocol while acknowledging that other guidance documents and national approaches can also assist in conducting risk assessment in accordance with the Protocol.