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Portal on Synthetic Biology

New! The documents for the meeting of the AHTEG on Synthetic Biology, including a synthesis of submissions and online discussions, are now available at https://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=SYNBIOAHTEG-2015-01.

Background

In its decision X/13 on new and emerging issues the Conference of the Parties (COP) invited Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to submit information on, inter alia, synthetic biology for consideration by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), in accordance with the procedures of decision IX/29.

At its eleventh meeting, the COP took note of the proposals for new and emerging issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and in their decision XI/11, noted, based on the precautionary approach, the need to consider the potential positive and negative impacts of components, organisms and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and requested the Executive Secretary to:

  1. Invite Parties, other Governments, relevant international organizations, indigenous and local communities and other stakeholders to submit, in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 of decision IX/29, additional relevant information on components, organisms and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques that may have impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and associated social, economic and cultural considerations;
  2. Compile and synthesize relevant available information, together with the accompanying information;
  3. Consider possible gaps and overlaps with the applicable provisions of the Convention, its Protocols and other relevant agreements related to components, organisms and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques;
  4. Make a synthesis of the above information, including an analysis of how the criteria set out in paragraph 12 of decision IX/29 apply to this issue, available for peer review and subsequent consideration by a meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice prior to the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, in accordance with paragraph 13 of decision IX/29.

In implementing these requests, the Executive Secretary presented, for the consideration of the Parties at their twelfth meeting, reports on:
  • The potential positive and negative impacts of components, organisms and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, associated social, economic and cultural considerations (UNEP/CBD/COP/12/INF/11)
  • Possible gaps and overlaps with the applicable provisions of the Convention, its Protocols and other relevant agreements related to components, organisms and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques (UNEP/CBD/COP/12/INF/12)

In light of this information and taking note of the conclusions of the SBSTTA at its eighteenth meeting, the Parties decided, in their decision XII/24, to establish an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG), with terms of reference contained in the annex to the decision and requested the Executive Secretary to convene a moderated open-ended online forum to support the work of the AHTEG in meeting its terms of reference.

The text from the two information documents submitted to the Conference of the Parties, have been issued, with minor editorial corrections, as part of the CBD Technical Series to support the work of the AHTEG.

Furthermore the COP invited Parties, other Governments, relevant organizations and stakeholders to submit information to the Executive Secretary relevant to the work of the AHTEG, as well as on measures undertaken in accordance with paragraph 3 of decision XII/24, including the identification of needs for guidance.

A tentative calendar of activities outlining a way forward for the implementation of the elements of the COP decision is now available.