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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Programme of Work on Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) under the Convention on Biological Diversity
The CEPA Fair during COP-MOP took place in 2008, 2010 and 2012 as part of 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 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. Please find more information at: https://bch.cbd.int/mop6/cepafair/
The next CEPA Fair during COP-MOP is in October 2014, in Pyeongyang, Republic of Korea (COP-MOP 7).
Throughout several international initiatives of the Convention on Biodiversity, such as the International Day for Biological Diversity (22 May), the International Year of Biodiversity (2010), the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020), a number of outreach materials have been produced and exhibits have been held to highlight the Protocol's contribution to biodiversity. For example, please review the factsheets for the Protocol
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/
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
provides access to relevant information to the public including news updates concerning ongoing biotechnology and biosafety activities and existing publications. Likewise the FAO Biotechnology Forum, established in 2000, provides a platform for the exchange of views and experiences on agricultural biotechnologies and one of its online conferences was dedicated to "Public participation in decision-making regarding GMOs in developing countries: How to effectively involve rural people".
FAO has also supported a number of biosafety projects, which included activities for promoting public awareness and education regarding living modified organisms. For example, the FAO publication on "Building biosafety capacities: FAO's experience and outlook"
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. In 2011, FAO also published its essential "Biosafety Resource Book"
based on materials from training courses organized by FAO from 2002 to 2010 which were tailored to meet the needs of biosafety regulators, policy-makers and members of national biosafety committees. The book consists of five modules, where the fifth one, dedicated to legal aspects, also covers issues such as public participation and access to information, and transparency of decisions and public engagement. In addition, the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia is preparing a regional communication guide on biosafety issues for different stakeholder groups (scientists, farmers, policy makers, students and NGOs) and the guide should be available before the end of 2015.
The Aarhus Convention promotes access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice regarding all environmental matters including genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In this context, through decision II/1 (Almaty 25-27 May 2005) the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention adopted an amendment to the Convention on public participation in decisions on deliberate release into the environment and placing on the market of genetically modified organisms (Almaty Amendment on GMOs). As of February 2014 the amendment has been ratified by 27 Parties. It will enter into force when it has been ratified by a further 5 Parties that were party to the Convention at the time of its adoption. Further information regarding the Aarhus Convention's activities on GMOs, including the Almaty Amendment on GMOs
Over the years, the Aarhus Convention and the CBD has also worked on several other joint activities.
A round table on access to information, public participation and access to justice regarding living modified organisms/genetically modified organisms was held 16-17 October 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland. The aim was to build countries’ capacities in promoting access to information, participation and access to justice regarding LMOs/GMOs through sharing knowledge, good practices and lessons learned, and to make recommendations for future action at the national, regional and international level in that regard. Please review the report of the round table
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 African Union Organization started to engage itself in the field of biosafety in 1999, when the negotiations of the Cartagena Protocol were stalled and African countries feared that no international agreement might be achieved in the end. The African Model Law on Safety in Biotechnology was developed and finalised in 2001 to provide Africa with an harmonised framework for creating national biosafety laws. After the Cartagena Protocol was adopted, the OAU started a dialogue with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to develop a regional capacity building project to implement both the Protocol and the Model Law.
Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture
The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA
) is a specialized agency of the Inter-American System for the promotion of agriculture and rural well-being, and our efforts are fully focused on making agriculture competitive and sustainable in the Americas. In our 34 Member States –in all of them IICA has offices-; we work very closely with the ministries of agriculture. Our governing body is the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA), comprising the ministers of agriculture of the hemisphere.
Since year 2006, by official requirement of the 34 member countries, IICA has been carried out activities focused on (i) capacity building on different groups of society (regulators, journalists, decision makers, etc.), (ii) public awareness and efficient communication of biotechnology, and (iii) support to national authorities for implementation of policies and regulatory frameworks on biotechnology and biosafety. With these activities and with a broad view on biotechnology, IICA has facilitated the advance of biotechnology and biosafety in the hemisphere.