In its decision BS-V/13, paragraph 3, Parties underlined the importance of ensuring coherence among the programme of work and relevant activities of the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters and other relevant conventions and organisations to maximize opportunities for cooperation in the promotion of public awareness, education and participation concerning living modified organisms.
In addition, under operational objective 1.4 of the programme of work, Parties and the Secretariat were invited to establish a register of non-governmental organizations doing outreach work closely related to the Protocol, such as in the BCH and its national nodes.
In this regard, the Secretariat has established a list of conventions, organizations and other relevant partners assisting in implementing the programme of work. The Secretariat also encourages more partners to participate in implementing the programme of work. If this is of interest, please contact email@example.com
The Aarhus Convention is a prominent partner in the organization of the online forum on the programme of work. Over the years, several other joint activities have also taken place.
On 30 June 2011, the Secretariat organized a side event together with the Aarhus Convention Secretariat in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, during the fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention. More than 40 participants attended. The participants discussed practical ways to maximize synergies in the implementation of Article 23 of the Protocol (including its programme of work on public awareness, education and participation), and the Aarhus Convention’s provisions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
A joint Aarhus Convention/Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety workshop on public awareness, access to information and participation regarding living modified organisms/genetically modified organisms (LMOs/GMOs) was held in Nagoya, Japan, from 8 to 9 October 2010. The workshop enable participants to share knowledge, experiences and lessons learned in promoting public awareness, access to information and participation. It also developed recommendations on the programme of work and facilitated the implementation of the Aarhus Convention’s Almaty Amendment on GMOs. Please review the report of the workshop
The Secretariat also co-organised and facilitated, together with the Aarhus Convention Secretariat, the international workshop on access to information, public participation and access to justice regarding GMOs, held on 19-20 May 2008 in Cologne, Germany. The participants shared experiences, good practices and lessons learned regarding access to information, public participation and access to justice with respect to GMOs and identified the most pressing needs and challenges in respect of these issues and possible measures to address them.
The Convention on Biological Diversity
In 2008 and 2010 during COP-MOP, a CEPA fair took place initiated by the Convention on Biodiversity's Programme of Work on Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA). Participants attended a series of presentations during the fair and a number of countries showcased their national experiences, good practices and lessons learned learned with regard to different issues, including: the development and implementation of National Biosafety Frameworks (NBFs); the design and implementation of biosafety capacity-building activities: the use of the Biosafety Clearing-House and its national nodes; public awareness, education and participation concerning the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms; and contribution of the Protocol to the achievement of the 2010 biodiversity target. It is expected that another fair will take place in 2010 at the margins of COP-MOP 6. Please find more information at: https://bch.cbd.int/mop6/cepafair/
On 11 November 2009, a joint journalist dialogue in collaboration with the Convention on Biological Diversity was held in Montreal, Canada. About 30 journalist attended. Issues related to the Protocol were higlighted during a presentation.
During several interternational events organized by the Convention on Biodiversity, such as the Internatinal Year of Biodiveristy and the UN Decade on Biodiversity and the International Day for Biodiversity, a number of outreach materials were developed and exhibits have been held to, among other things, highlight the Cartagena Protocol's contribution to biodiversity. For more infomation on the recent outreach materials, please review the factsheets for the Protocol
or the regularly held exhibit at the Redpath Museum at McGill University in Montreal
United Nations Environment Programme - Global Environment Facility
The United Nations Environment Programme - Global Environment Facility (UNEP-GEF) development and implementation project has served as a starting point for building capacity to implement Article 23. Over 100 countries have incorporated systems for public awareness, information and public participation in their draft national biosafety frameworks and proposed specific measures for implementation. As a result, many countries have national policies and legal provisions, institutional policies, administrative systems, national strategies related to Article 23. They also have national biosafety websites and/or databases to provide a source of information for the general public. Furthermore, they have procedures for public consultation and involvement in decision making and incorporated biosafety education into school curricular at different levels. In implementing the systems for public awareness, education and participation based on the NBFs, the UNEP-GEF projects have recently been guided by the progarmme of work. For more information, please visit http://www.unep.org/biosafety/
The UNEP-GEF has also held the BCH Capacity Building Projects aimed at “Building Capacity for Effective Participation in the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH) of the Cartagena Protocol” to assist Parties of the Protocol. A main objective is to provide training in data entry and management, identification and access to information required for decision- making under the Protocol, access to, and registration of, information in the BCH.
Food and Agricultural Organization
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has contributed to the promotion of public awareness, education and participation concerning the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms , including through the FAO Biotechnology website and e-mail newsletter FAO-BiotechNews, both published in all six official UN languages, as well as the FAO Biotechnology Forum. The website (http://www.fao.org/biotech/)
provides relevant information to the public including news updates concerning ongoing biotechnology and biosafety activities and existing publications. Likewise the FAO Electronic Forum on Biotechnology, which was established in March 2000, provides a platform for the exchange of views and experiences on agricultural biotechnologies and biosafety. For examples, in 2005, an online conference entitled "Public participation in decision-making regarding GMOs in developing countries: How to effectively involve rural people" was organized through the Forum. Over 500 people subscribed and 116 messages were posted. The FAO has also supported a number of biosafety projects, which included activities for promoting public awareness and education regarding living modified organisms. For example, a recent FAO publication (http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/i1033e/i1033e00.htm)
gives an overview of 26 FAO biosafety capacity building projects worth approximately USD 7.5 million that have been completed or are underway, including 18 national projects as well as six that are subregional, regional or interregional and two that are global.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO hosts the Global Biotechnology Forum covering several fields of biotechnology, such as bioindustries, technology transfer, financing and public-private partnership, intellectual property right, biosafety, biodiversity, capacity building, networks and inter-agency cooperation. UNESCO is also developing a teaching tool on GMOs to empower teachers to prepare and implement their lessons on the subject of GMOs. It has the ultimate goal to prepare youth to understand new (technological) challenges on the 21st century in order to make informed decisions as consumers as well as democratic citizens.
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB)
The Biosafety Unit of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) disseminates information related to the biosafety issues raised through the use of products derived from modern biotechnology. The Unit has established the BIBLIOSAFETY database (http://bibliosafety.icgeb.org/)
, an open access searchable collection of scientific studies on biosafety and risk assessment in biotechnology. The BIBLIOSAFETY is updated monthly and the new records are immediately distributed by e-mail to freely subscribed users. The database contains more than 7000 records (full reference with abstracts) of scientific articles published since 1990. The database is also interoperable with the central portal of the Biosafety Clearing House, hosted by the Convention on Biological Diversity. ICGEB Biosafety Unit has also established BIOSAFE.RES (http://biosaferes.icgeb.org/)
, a worldwide, web based, public-access database of past and current research projects in GMO Biosafety. The BIOSAFE.RES is improving communication within the scientific community, and thus facilitates the development of more and better worldwide collaborative research ventures in this field by encouraging synergy. It is also a useful tool for those seeking scientific expertise on GMO biosafety research, and also for journalists and the general public seeking further information in this area. Another database initiated by the ICGEB Biosafety Unit is the RISK ASSESSMENT SEARCHING MECHANISM (RASM, http://www.icgeb.org/biosafety/rasm.html)
, is an open access collection of Risk Assessment documents related to official government decisions concerning the commercial release of GMOs, irrespective of the individual authority’s CBD signatory status. It contains over 1000 documents issued globally, relating to more than 150 different GM crops. Furthermore, the ICGEB produces the “Collection of Biosafety Reviews”, which is an annual compilation of scientific studies on areas of major interest for biosafety and risk assessment (http://www.icgeb.org/~bsafesrv/publications/publications.html).
Third World Network
The Third World Network (TWN) runs two online services: the Biosafety Information Service and the Biosafety Info Update, which disseminate news and information, including developments related to biosafety, through direct electronic mailing to subscribed members. TWN also manages the Biosafety Information Centre (www.biosafety-info.net
), a dedicated website on biosafety which among other things, aims to increase knowledge on, and deepen understanding of, (w)holistic approaches for a comprehensive assessment of technologies and techniques that involve genetic engineering.
Croplife has promoted public awareness and participation, including access to information, related to biosafety issues by developing a number of news releases, brochures and books related to biosafety issues. Croplife has also made available case studies from global partners related to information on ongoing initiatives on public awareness, education and participation, including major accomplishments, success stories, best practices and lessons learned.
African Center for Biosafety
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) is a non-profit organisation, based in Johannesburg. We provide authoritative, credible, relevant and current information, research and policy analysis in issues pertaining to genetic engineering, biosafety, and biopiracy in Africa. The ACB has a long track record of engaging in biosafety debates at the national, regional, and international level. Since its inception in 2003, the ACB has submitted numerous biosafety comments on a wide variety of GMO applications for imports, field trials and commercial release to the GMO regulatory agency in South Africa. As a member of the South African public, it has interrogated public participation and consultation, access to information and confidential business information mechanisms extensively. It has also been involved in three appeals involving, GM sorghum, GM cassava and GM potatoes respectively. The ACB has especially singled out access to information in the context of compliance with the Biosafety Clearing House provisions of the Biosafety Protocol as an important issue.
Asian Biosafety Education Network
The Asian Biosafety Education Network (ABEN) has fostered regional cooperation in the field of biosafety education and training. The goal of the Network is to support human resource development, education and research in biosafety and biotechnology to contribute to the effective implementation of the Protocol. It includes scientists and academics from the public sector in Asian countries.