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Online discussions 2015

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I. Background

  1. In decision BS-VII/13, Parties extended the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Socio-economic Considerations (AHTEG) and determined that it should work, in a stepwise approach, on: (i) the further development of conceptual clarity on socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and (ii) developing an outline for guidance with a view to making progress towards achieving operational objective 1.7 of the Strategic Plan and its outcomes.
  2. To assist the AHTEG in its work, paragraph 5 (b) of decision BS-VII/13 requests the Executive Secretary to convene online discussion groups to facilitate the exchange of views, information and experiences on socio-economic considerations in the context of paragraph 1 of Article 26 of the Protocol, including concerning:
    1. international obligations that may be relevant to socio-economic considerations;
    2. socio-economic considerations and the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities;
    3. environment-related aspects of socio-economic considerations;
    4. the relationship, if any, with risk assessment;
    5. the relationship, if any, with human health-related issues.
  3. Previous discussions on socio-economic considerations in the context of Article 26 are archived and can be accessed here. Those who are participating in the current discussion are highly recommended to look at the archived materials from the previous discussions.

II. Timetable

The Secretariat has prepared, on the basis of the elements above, guiding questions to help facilitate the discussions. There are five sets of guiding questions followed by some notes. Each set of questions will be open for discussion in the order presented in III below. The first set of questions will be open for discussion on 30 March 2015. Each set of questions will remain open for discussion for a week (opening and closing at 1:00pm GMT) and will be moderated by a member of the AHTEG on socio-economic considerations. Accordingly, the time table for each set of questions is as follows:

Q1: 30 March 2015 – 6 April 2015 (moderated by Andreas Heissenberger, Austria);

Q2: 6 – 13 April 2015 (moderated by Martha Elva Germán Sánchez, Mexico);

Q3: 13 – 20 April 2015 (moderated by Ben Durham, South Africa);

Q4: 20 - 27 April 2015 (moderated by Angela Lozan, Republic of Moldova);

Q5: 27 April 2015 – 4 May 2015 (moderated by Ranjini Warrier, India);

Open discussion: 4 -6 May 2015 (for any other relevant comments, questions and suggestions).

III. Guiding questions for the online discussion group

1. In previous discussions on socio-economic considerations under the Protocol, a number of international agreements have been identified as possibly being relevant to the issue (see list below). Are there any other agreements, including regional agreements, that could be relevant in this context? How might the agreements listed below and the obligations they contain be relevant to Parties taking socio-economic considerations into account in their decision-making on LMOs pursuant to Article 26 of the Protocol?
 
  Note:

A number of previous discussions have addressed the issue of which international agreements and obligations might be relevant to socio-economic considerations. This discussion is aimed at building on those previous exercises by focusing on the specific aspects of the agreements that could be relevant.

List of international agreements previously identified as being relevant to socio-economic considerations

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
  • The General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
  • The Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS)
  • The Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
  • International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)
  • Agreement on Trade- Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
  • UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
  • Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention (ILO Convention No. 169)

Socio-economic considerations and other international obligations has been discussed in two previous discussion groups hosted on the BCH:

 March 2011: Theme 2: What other international obligations may Parties need to follow when taking socio-economic considerations into account in their decision-making on living modified organisms?

 April 2013: Question 4: Can you think of any criteria that a Party may apply in order to ensure that the socio-economic considerations that it takes into account in reaching import decision are consistent with international obligations? Are there international obligations which exclude socio-economic considerations or limit the scope of such considerations? A summary of the 2013 online discussions is also available.

2. What are some concrete examples, besides the intrinsic value, of the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities? How are they linked to possible socio economic effects of LMOs? How can an effect, if any, be assessed?
 
  Note:

Art. 26 of the Protocol refers specifically to indigenous and local communities. Therefore it is important to identify and discuss possible effects on these communities with special emphasis on the value of biological diversity to them. In previous discussions, (Online discussion of March-April 2013, Question 3: How could the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities be measured or determined – http://bch.cbd.int/onlineconferences/portal_art26/se_forum_discussiongroups_2013-2014.shtml?threadid=4630) the focus was on possibilities for measuring such effects. However, at COP-MOP 7 there was a strong feeling that more work is needed on the identification of links between possible socio economic effects and the value of biodiversity to indigenous and local communities (see decision BS-VII/13).

3. What are possible environment-related aspects of socio economic considerations that could arise from the use of LMOs, and which would be relevant in the context Article 26 of the Protocol? How can they be distinguished from those covered in other processes under the Protocol, e.g. risk assessment and risk management??
 
  Note:

The use of LMOs may have environment-related aspects with a direct link to social or economic issues. The aim of this session is to identify such aspects and to discuss the possibility to include them in an assessment framework under Art 26 of the Protocol.

4. Is there any relationship between risk assessment and the assessment of possible socio-economic effects? Are there any concrete examples of links between those assessment areas?
 
  Note:

The risk assessment process in accordance with Article 15 of the Protocol is intended to evaluate all possible adverse effects of LMOs on the likely potential receiving environment. However, some environment-related aspects of socio-economic considerations may not be fully or adequately addressed during an environmental risk assessment. This section of the discussion is aimed at collecting different views on this issue and the arguments substantiating those.

5. Are there any possible human health-related issues with relevance for socio economic considerations? Are they already dealt with under food safety assessments or the provisions of Articles 15 and 16 (Risk assessment and risk management) of the Protocol? Are there any situations when they could they be dealt with under Art 26 of the Protocol?
 
  Note:

Possible effects of LMOs on human health are typically dealt with under food safety assessments. Articles 15 and 16 of the Protocol also allow for taking into account risks to human health. However, some human health-related aspects of socio-economic considerations may not be fully or adequately addressed during food safety assessments. These might be human health related aspects with a direct link to social or economic issues. The aim of this session is to identify such aspects, if there are any, and to discuss their relationship with socio-economic considerations.

6. Open forum for any other relevant comments, questions and suggestions