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Welcome to the AHTEG members and election of a Chair [#5212]
Dear members of the AHTEG,

I wish to welcome you all to this first activity of the new Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Risk Assessment and Risk Management. May I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Group for your availability to undertake this important task under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. I am very confident your diverse experiences will ensure a successful outcome of this multi-stakeholder process. 

In its decision BS-VI/12, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP-MOP) decided to extend the Open-ended Online Forum on Risk Assessment and Risk Management. The COP-MOP also decided to bring to a close the previous Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Risk Assessment and Risk Management, and establish a new AHTEG to serve until the seventh meeting of the Parties.

The COP-MOP requested the Executive Secretary, inter alia, (i) with a view to achieving a balance between previous and new members, to select experts for the new AHTEG, in consultation with the Bureau of the COP-MOP, in accordance with paragraph 18 of the consolidated modus operandi of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity (decision VIII/10, annex III), and (ii) ensure that the participation of experts nominated by other Governments and relevant organizations to the Open-ended Online Forum and AHTEG is in accordance with rules 6 and 7 of the rules of procedure for meetings of the COP-MOP.

The Open-ended Online Forum and AHTEG will work together, primarily online, to develop and achieve the following outcomes as outlined in the terms of reference set out by the COP-MOP:

(a) Moderated online discussions relating to the testing of the practicality, usefulness and utility of the Guidance on Risk Assessment of Living Modified Organisms;

(b) 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

(c) A recommendation on how to proceed with respect to the development of further guidance on specific topics of risk assessment, selected on the basis of the priorities and needs indicated by the Parties with the view of moving toward the operational objectives 1.3 and 1.4 of the Strategic Plan and its outcomes. 

As you may be aware, you were selected, in consultation with the COP-MOP Bureau, from among the experts who have participated in the recent discussions under the Open-ended Online Forum. I urge you to share freely your experience during your discussions.

In order to ensure continuity between the previous and the new AHTEG, I would like to recommend that the chairmanship of the Group be once again entrusted to the capable hands of Mr. Helmut Gaugitsch from Austria. I trust that this proposal is acceptable to all but if there are any objections from Parties in the Group, the objection is to be posted in this forum by 1 am GMT on 14 May 2013.

I am confident that you will undertake the tasks entrusted upon you by the COP-MOP in a spirit of collaboration, collegiality and compromise which are the underlying principles of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and thank you for your continued support.

Yours sincerely,
Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias
Executive Secretary
posted on 2013-05-13 01:07 UTC by Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
This is a reply to 5212 RE: Welcome to the AHTEG members and election of a Chair [#5213]
Dear Helmut, fellow AHTEG members and the Secretariat

Thank you for the opportunity to take part in the risk assessment and risk management AHTEG. I look for to forward to some robust discussion that will allow us to reach the desired outcome as articulated in the Protocol.

Geoff Ridley
Environmental Protection Agency, New Zealand
posted on 2013-05-13 01:51 UTC by Dr. Geoff Ridley, Environmental Protection Authority
This is a reply to 5212 RE: Welcome to the AHTEG members and election of a Chair [#5217]
Dear Members of the AHTEG,

Further to the proposal by the Executive Secretary and the subsequent acceptance by the AHTEG, we would like to welcome Mr. Helmut Gaugitsch from Austria as the chair of the AHTEG on Risk Assessment and Risk Management.

We commend the Group for the choice and thank Mr. Gaugitsch for his continued efforts and commitment to the Risk Assessment and Risk Management process. Mr. Gaugitsch informs the Secretariat that he will soon post his opening remarks in which he would propose a plan for the discussions during the coming two weeks.

Once again we thank you all and look forward to very fruitful discussions.

Mr. Chair, you have the floor.

Best Regards,
The Secretariat
posted on 2013-05-14 01:15 UTC by Ms. Manoela Miranda, UNEP/SCBD
This is a reply to 5217 RE: Welcome to the AHTEG members and election of a Chair [#5218]
Dear AHTEG Members,

May I first express my gratitude to you for trust and confidence you have placed in me. It is a pleasure and a great honour to chair the new AHTEG on Risk Assessment and Risk Management.

We indeed have an exciting challenge on our hands. On the one hand we must achieve the three very important outcomes as requested by the COP-MOP in its decision BS-VI/12. On the other hand, COP-MOP has also requested us to use available IT-technology as a cost effective facility that enables us to conduct most of our work virtually, in collaboration with the Open-ended Online Forum, which in itself can equally be challenging. The Group also has the possibility of one face-to-face meeting, subject to voluntary contribution from Parties. We hope these contributions will be coming to help enrich the process further.

To my knowledge this is the first time in the history of the CBD, perhaps even of the entire UN, that an AHTEG conducts its first meeting in the virtual world. The Internet has given us the convenience to work from our offices, homes or anywhere we choose, but we must also recognize its limitations due to the lack of interpersonal interactions. With that in mind, I would like to echo the words of the Executive Secretary that I am also confident we will carry out our work in a spirit of collaboration, collegiality and compromise. I therefore invite all AHTEG members to express their views freely and very actively, yet in a concise, focused and collegial manner.

In accordance with the timeframe for the work of the Group, during the next week and a half we will be discussing, through this online forum, the first task entrusted to us by the COP-MOP, which is to “provide input, inter alia, to assist the Executive Secretary in his task to structure and focus the process of testing the guidance, and in the analysis of the results gathered from the testing”.

The Secretariat has revised the draft concept note and questionnaire and made the documents available last week through the AHTEG portal to serve as the basis of our present discussion (version updated on 29 April 2013). You would notice that only a few revisions were made to the initial versions of the draft concept note and questionnaire to reflect those issues that received high level of convergence from participants of the Open-ended Forum. Other issues that remain to be further discussed include, but are not limited to, the following:

In the concept note:

- The use of full dossiers and/or summaries of notifications as the source of technical and scientific information;

- Exact identification of the actual case of risk assessment used in the testing by linking the results of the testing to one or more BCH Risk Assessment Record(s);

In the questionnaire:

- The appropriateness of the type of answers (e.g. by numbers, descriptors or both);

- Further clarity to the existing questions;

- Need of additional questions. If so, which additional questions could be posed.

To make the best use of our time and focus the discussions, I propose that we start with the concept note for the first 48 hours of our discussion (i.e. between now and 6:00 a.m. GMT on Thursday, 16 May). After that we will focus on the draft questionnaire from Thursday, 16 May until Tuesday, 21 May at 6:00 a.m. GMT. On Tuesday, I will attempt to provide an interim summary of the main views and emerging concepts before continuing with the second half of our discussions on the structure and focus of the process of testing the Guidance.

Again I would like to thank you for the confidence placed in me. I look forward to your feedback and views on the issues at hand.

The floor is open for your comments.

Best regards,
posted on 2013-05-14 05:59 UTC by Mr. Helmut Gaugitsch, Austria
This is a reply to 5212 RE: Welcome to the AHTEG members and election of a Chair [#5221]
It is my great pleasure to participate in this important forum and be able to collaborate with the chair, the Secretariat and all AHTEG members.

At this early stage of our discussion, I would like some clarification on the "instructions" which is to be linked to the header part of the questionnaire. Is it the same as the concept note? If not, what will it look like, and who will draft it?

I think that the questionnaire itself should not be too much complicated for the ease of the analysis of testing results. Instead, many of the important, though sometimes divergent, views and opinions expressed in previous online discussions can be incorporated into the instructions to
assist testers with various backgrounds. At the same time, we need to be aware of the danger that such instructions may lead to a certain bias in the attitude of testers and responders. So I think that the development process of the instructions, if it is to be developed separately, should also be transparent in addition to the questionnaire and concept note.


Nobuyuki Fujita
National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE), Japan
posted on 2013-05-15 12:45 UTC by Mr. Nobuyuki Fujita, Japan