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AHTEG on Socio-economic considerations: online discussion

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opening of the discussion [#7836]
MESSAGE POSTED ON BEHALF OF CO-CHAIRS RANJINI WARRIER AND ANDREAS HEISSENBERGER

Dear participants to the online discussion, dear AHTEG members!

As you already know from the information provided by the Secretariat, we are not able to have a face-to-face meeting of the AHTEG, due to lack of funding. Nevertheless, it was decided to work on the mandate as far as possible, making use of online tools in order to provide input to the COP/MOP and also to keep the process towards reaching operational objective 1.7 of the strategic plan alive.

We identified the further development of the “conceptual clarity” as the most important aspect of the mandate and the one we should focus our discussions on. In order to facilitate the discussion, we provide you with a co-chair’s text which is based on elements of a framework for conceptual clarity on socio-economic considerations, agreed to at the first meeting of the AHTEG. The document has been further developed, taking into account views and comments submitted by Parties on the Elements of a framework, following notification 2015-007, as well as comments provided in the discussion of the document during COP-MOP 7.

In accordance with a number of comments and views submitted, the co-chairs‘ text seeks to limit its focus to providing conceptual clarity. To this end, an operational definition has been added and a number of elements have been taken out of the original document, for example the “points to consider”, “methodological approaches” and the “dimensions”. These elements can be used in a future guidance document.

The aim of the first round of discussion is to allow participants to provide input on the co-chairs’ text. On the basis of these suggestions, we will develop a revised co-chairs’ text. The second round of discussions, is intended to facilitate the finalization of the co-chairs’ text, and to develop recommendations for submission to COP-MOP.

We therefore invite you to:

1. make general observations on the co-chairs text, focusing on its structure, nature, the approach taken by the co-chairs and, if necessary, procedural issues

2. provide textual changes to be submitted in word format to the content.
We would like to first conclude the general discussion under 1 before moving forward to discuss content under 2.

We are looking forward to a fruitful discussion and stand ready in case you need clarification on the proposed text or the approach chosen.

Kind regards

Ranjini Warrier and Andreas Heissenberger
posted on 2016-05-09 14:03 UTC by Peter Deupmann, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
RE: opening of the discussion [#7837]
Dear all,

Firstly, I would like to think all participants of this discussion and the co-chairs for their time and effort to provide a basis for today’s discussion.

Here are some personal thoughts about the content of the texts we received:

• I appreciate the inclusion of an operation definition of the socio-economic concept that provides a good basis to further develop the conceptual clarity; although this definition may be refined to include, probably, other points expressed by different countries (see the attached texts “Definitions of Socio-economic considerations” and “Practical applications of socio-economic considerations in decision-making on LMOs”    
• I agree with the idea of focusing, at this step, on the general principals and postpone the discussion of “points to consider”, “methodological approaches” and the “dimensions” to a later stage when the concept is clear enough in order to provide practical and feasible means for the countries to adopt, while addressing all their concerns.
• Regarding the revised co-chairs’ text, (point 11), I have a minor suggestion regarding the wording in “point 11”:
o 11. Public participation and consultation, and access to information, may form part of the process of taking socio-economic considerations into account. 
I suggest using “should” instead of “may” consistent with many conventions and agreements (e.g., Aarhus convention; Cartagena Protocol, Article 23, etc.) where the public consultation is necessary to reach a final decision on the use of a GMO.
posted on 2016-05-09 15:38 UTC by Mr. Noreddine Benkerroum, Morocco
RE: opening of the discussion [#7838]
Thanks to the co-chairs for drafting this text.  While there is nothing generally wrong with the text, I am not convinced that it provides any of the needed conceptual clarity.

To my mind, to provide conceptual clarity of Socio-economic issues arising from the impacts of LMOs on biodiversity [...], we should explain the possible links between biodiversity impacts and socio-economic issues, so that readers can appreciate what this is all about.

This could include:

1) Impacts to Ecosystem Functions: clean air and clean water (and a myriad of other services) are directly related to human health and quality of life.   Biodiversity impacts of LMOs could increase or decrease such functioning.

2) Impacts to those Biodiversity Resources which are directly used by humans/ domesticated animals, resulting in differential availability for those humans.  Biodiversity impacts of LMOs could increase or decrease such resources.

3) Impacts to the aesthetic, religious or cultural value of ecosystems by local communities or indigenous peoples, which may impact quality of life / tourism, etc.  Biodiversity impacts of LMOs could increase or decrease such biodiversity values.

I have more specific comments on the exact wording of some 'General Principles', but will leave that for another posting.

Ben Durham
posted on 2016-05-09 15:39 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: opening of the discussion [#7839]
In addition to my previous post, I would like to comment on point 7 of the revised text:
“7. Lack of scientific knowledge or scientific consensus on socio-economic considerations should not necessarily be interpreted as indicating a particular positive or negative impact, or an absence of an impact.”

This exact wording has been used in other conventions and Protocols, namely the Rio declaration (Principle 15) and Cartagena Protocol (article 9 on decision procedure).

In the Rio declaration (1992), it was used as the basis for the “Precautionary Principle” to allow Parties prevent risks on environment and biodiversity in the absence of a sound scientific knowledge. However, to be consistent with other regional or international obligations (e.g. WTO), this should be used in a limited timeframe as defined by a moratorium of 2-3 year that can be renewed once or twice. This period is meant to be sufficient for the Party who uses the PP to have a clearer scientific insight into the issue, and decide whether or not the risk can be acceptable.     


In Cartagena Protocol (2003), article 9 stipulates that a Party can postpone the decision of accepting the importation of an LMO in the absence of knowledge of its impact on human health and the environment (Article 9, alinea 6). However, this alinea refers to alinea 3 of the same article where there is a fixed time for the importing Party to inform the notifying Party on the final “accept” or “reject” decision on the basis of further information he should have gathered in due course. This period should be “within two hundred and seventy days of the date of receipt of notification” (CP, Article 9, alinea 3)

Therefore, if we are to retain point 7 as is in the revised AHTEG text, we should bear in mind that this cannot be used to definitely accept or reject the importation of an LMO on an account of the lack of knowledge.  Otherwise, the Party would be considered in contradiction with WTO agreement and subject to TBT dispute.
(edited on 2016-05-09 18:27 UTC by Mr. Noreddine Benkerroum)
posted on 2016-05-09 16:57 UTC by Mr. Noreddine Benkerroum, Morocco
RE: opening of the discussion [#7840]
Please read "TBT dispute" instead of "TBT disbute"
posted on 2016-05-09 16:58 UTC by Mr. Noreddine Benkerroum, Morocco
RE: opening of the discussion [#7841]
I believe that the points 1 and 2 raised by Mr. Durham (7838) regarding the impacts of LMOs on biodiversity and ecosystems are normally addressed in the environmental risk assessment before any dissemination or liberalisation of an LMO.
posted on 2016-05-09 17:56 UTC by Mr. Noreddine Benkerroum, Morocco
RE: opening of the discussion [#7843]
Mr Benkerroum (# 7841) is correct that my first two points (in #7838 or at least the first part of them ie. impact to ecosystem functioning or biodiversity resources) will be identified in a Risk Assessment process, but that is a starting point for any SE consideration: the LMO must have a biodiversity impact.

This is the incongruency of Article 26, and as highlighted in the last online forum: SA (Dr Smythe indicated Canada) and I am sure most countries, would not permit LMOs that are likely to have negative biodiversity impacts. And yet we are being asked to provide SE considerations for LMO events that have biodiversity impacts(!).

In my opinion, therefore, the only biodiversity impacts a regulator is likely to approve are positive ones. Ironically, then, we might want to understand the SE impacts resulting from improved ecosystem functioning, or increased biodiversity resources!!!

My view is that we are thus only providing clarity for (very largely) hypothetical situations...

Ben Durham
posted on 2016-05-10 04:52 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: opening of the discussion [#7842]
Dear Ranjini / Andreas

Many thanks for your dedication and the time and effort that you have invested in producing the text we now have in hands. As advised, I will start by talking about general issues in this post.

I believe that the provided text is missing 2 very critical points with regards to socioeconomic coniderations:

1. Socio-economic considerations within the Protocol are not restricted to Article 26. One of the most important socio-economic issues addressed in the Protocol is explicitly stated in all the relevant provisions of the CPB, particularly its Article 1 (Objective) and Article 4 (Scope) which emphasize the need to take into account the risks to human health when considering the possible adverse effects of LMOs. The issue of public health in itself has a strong socio-economic dimension.

2. Socio-economic considerations in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety are rooted in its parent treaty, the Convention on Biological Diversity. Both the CBD and CPB, as legally biding international instruments, must be implemented in a complementary and consistent fashion.

Articles 7 to 10 of the CBD establish clear and mandatory biosafety and socio-economic provisions for Parties:

• Article 7 establishes the mandate, in particular for the purposes of Articles 8 - 10, to establish a system for identification and monitoring of components of biological diversity that are important for its conservation and sustainable use. In addition, to identify and monitor the effect of processes and categories of activities, (which would include modern biotechnology), which have or are likely to have significant adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. An indicative list, clearly including socio-economic aspects, of categories of components of biological diversity to be considered is set out in Annex I.
• Article 8(g), together with Articles 19(3) and 19(4), relate to living modified organisms (LMOs), and gave origin to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. It implies that Parties should establish or maintain means to regulate, manage or control the risks associated with the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology and are likely to have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account the risks to human health.
• Article 8(j) provides that Parties need to put in place measures to: i) respect, preserve and maintain the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation of biological diversity; ii) promote their wider application under the approval and involvement of the corresponding knowledge holders; and iii) encourage equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of biological diversity.
• Article 10 specifically provides for the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity. Both “sustainable” and “use” are intrinsically socio-economic issues in themselves, captured by specific elements - such as protection and encouragement of customary use, consistency with traditional cultural practices – spelt out in the CBD´s Article 10.

having said that, it is important to highlight that the Protocol should not be interpreted in a way that contradicts the aim and objectives of the CBD. While certain socioeconomic aspects are mandatory under the CBD. The language in the article 26 of the protocol could be seen as a way to establish and justify the right of a Party to take into account impacts on its social or economic conditions for purposes of making decisions on imports of LMOs or in implementing domestic measures under the Protocol

Regards,

O.A.El-Kawy
posted on 2016-05-09 19:56 UTC by Mr. Ossama AbdelKawy, Mauritania
RE: opening of the discussion [#7844]
While I agree that there is a strong foundation of Sociology-economics in the CBD and the CPB as posited by Ossama, I do not think that Article 26 - which has very specific scope - is the place to address general SE issues.

While I also agree that health and public health have strong SE components, I am of the view that regulators would consider these under the human health aspects of a risk assessment. Article 26 covers only a small subset of possible health issues: those that arise from biodiversity impacts.

Ben Durham
posted on 2016-05-10 06:18 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: opening of the discussion [#7859]
POSTED ON BEHALF OF DR. LEONARDO GONZALES, Philippines

Hi all,

I agree with Ben that we just need to simplify the spirit of Article 26 of the Protocol. Risk assessment has already covered public health as a direct impact of an lmo introduction.. If there are socio-economic considerations in this area, they are far and so far indirect..

Lets conceptualize the socio-economic impacts of an lmo as triggered by the market forces before and after its commercial introduction. For a change under the Protocol, socio-economic impacts are considered, given an implied reference to a market place where the LMO product is traded. In the decision making process, the regulators can make decisions to stop off hand, the introduction of lmo if the empirical evidence will show that the lmo to be introduced is insignificant or will right away endanger the current economic set up of the  economy. This requires rigorous economic ex ante analysis.

However if the ex ante analysis is neutral before commercial propagation then the lmo should be assessed ex post after its introduction...

As part of the discussion on conceptual clarity, may i suggest that the following socio economic indicators be considered:

.Impact on productivity (yield): how is it compared to the current system of production before lmo introduction?
. Impact on cost efficiency
.impact on profitability or household income
.impact on livelihood
. Impact on global competitiveness
. Impact on food security and poverty

I presume that the regulators have a system of monitoring LMOs before and after introduction with the power to stop its propagation if there are negative impacts.

Socio-economic clarity Implies the use of effective and operational indicators and the standard accepted methods to qualify and quantify them!

Kind regards,
Leo Gonzales
posted on 2016-05-11 20:01 UTC by Ms. Paola Scarone, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
RE: opening of the discussion [#7868]
All,
I also want to thank the co-chairs for providing text that we can discuss and share our views.

I want to reinforce an early comment by Ben [#7838] wherein he emphasizes the need to establish a link between LMO impacts on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity as a trigger for taking socio-economic considerations into account.

Much of the discussion to date is focused on delivering guidance to Parties that choose to take SECs into account in decision-making.  Proponents have enumerated a wide range of considerations. So far the discussion regarding conceptual clarity implies that some or all of these considerations could apply to commercialization of LMOs. However, what is being overlooked is the trigger for taking SECs into account.

Under the auspices of Art. 26, SECs are only to be considered if the commercialized LMO impacts the conservation and/or sustainable use of biodiversity. Prior to our discussion about the potential inclusion of SECs, we need to first identify the impact(s), e.g., loss of biodiversity caused by the LMO.  Once the impact(s) are known, only then it is possible to ask whether there are any socio-economic impacts associated with the measured impact(s). 

Until there is an identified impact on biodiversity, there is no basis for a socio-economic impact assessment. It is premature to engage in discussion about consideration of potential SECs prior to determining the trigger(s) that could actually result in socio-economic impacts.  This is sometimes called putting the cart before the horse.

One cause of the present lack of clarity is the assumption that Article 26.1 is concerned with SECs associated with the commercialization of an LMO.  Commercializing an LMO is not the impact to be assessed. Only SECs that arise from impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are relevant and in scope.

Eric Sachs
posted on 2016-05-14 05:07 UTC by Dr. Eric Sachs, Monsanto/Global Industry Coalition
RE: opening of the discussion [#7845]
Dear all
I respectfully disagree with some of the views expressed so far for the following reasons:

1. There are sometimes no clear cutting edge between environmental risk assessment and socio-economic considerations. Example of these includes risk assessment applying the null hypothesis to ensure that nothing goes wrong with:
- Ecosystems and habitats required by species of social, economic, cultural or scientific importance; or, which are representative, unique or associated with key evolutionary or other biological processes;
- Species which are of medicinal, agricultural or other economic value; or social, scientific or cultural importance; or importance for research into the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, such as indicator species.
These are considered protection goals.

2.  The work of the AHTEG on socioeconomic considerations and the one on Risk assessment should be complementary with regards to the issue of human health in order not to leave a gap that is not covered. While the ATHEG on RA left out the issue of public health from the scope of Environmental risk assessment because it has strong socioeconomic aspect. I believe that this issue needs to be covered by the document produced by AHTEG on socioeconomic noting that no one denies the socioeconomic aspect of public health.

3. The CPB, as any other protocol, is related to its parent treaty, the CBD, through substantive, procedural, and institutional links; accordingly, it must comply with the Convention’s provisions when implemented. Moreover, Parties to the Protocol have to also be Parties to the CBD (Article 32 of the CBD). Thus, the CPB cannot be read separately from the CBD, but in conjunction with each other since the Protocol implements the Convention.

Regards,
O.A.El-Kawy
posted on 2016-05-10 06:52 UTC by Mr. Ossama AbdelKawy, Mauritania
RE: opening of the discussion [#7846]
Thank you to the co-chairs for the draft text and the attempt to focus our discussions on the aspect of conceptual clarity.

I understand that the sections on “methodological considerations” and “points to consider” will form the basis for the discussion on the structure and elements of guidance at a later stage. It is not clear to me though, when the AHTEG will embark on this task of “developing an outline for guidance with a view to making progress towards achieving operational objective 1.7 of the Strategic Plan and its outcomes”, as per Decision BS VII/13. Will this be achieved before COPMOP8? The timeline outlined in the ‘update’ email only points to discussion on possible steps on this. I would greatly appreciate it if the co-Chairs and/or Secretariat could clarify.

Having said that, I would like to make initial comments on three aspects of the document:

1) I thank Ossama AbdelKawy [#7842] for contextualising our discussions within the wider remit of the Protocol and the CBD. In this regard, the health issues are conspicuously missing in the current draft.

Articles 1 (Objective) and 4 (Scope) of the Protocol clearly include the human health aspects and the formulation ‘taking also into account risks to human health’ is found throughout the Protocol’s text, making clear that the intention is also to evaluate the risks to human health. While one could argue that this should be addressed in the risk assessment, and indeed these aspects are to some extent, the previous framework included ‘human health-related issues arising from impacts of LMOs on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, provided that they are not already addressed in the risk assessment’, which removes any potential overlap while ensuring that there are no gaps, particularly when many health aspects are socio-economic issues. I believe this issue should be reinstated in the document.

The issue of the socio-economic impacts of GM crop co-technologies (e.g. herbicides used with herbicide-resistant crops) should also be taken into consideration. This is urgent in light of increasing evidence of the impacts of herbicide sprays used in conjunction with GM herbicide-resistant crops on the health and socio-economic well-being of rural communities.

2) The precautionary principle, which underpins the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and is operationalized in paragraph 6 of Article 10 and paragraph 9 of Article 11 of the Protocol, is an important principle that rightly sits in the section on ‘General principles’. Precaution applies to technology assessment in its broad sense, including in relation to socio-economic considerations.

The current formulation as contained in general principle #7, in my view, is not clear enough in providing a focus on the elements of preventative action to be taken in the event of uncertainty or insufficient information or knowledge regarding the extent of potential adverse effects of LMOs. The objective and scope of the Protocol, contained in its Articles 1 and 4, clearly focus on LMOs that may have adverse effects.

In addition, I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with the focus on ‘scientific knowledge’ and ‘scientific consensus’ in relation to socio-economic considerations and would like to seek further clarification on the meaning and implications of these terms.

3) I am in agreement with Noreddine Benkerroum [#7837] that public participation and consultation, and access to information, should be part of the process of taking socio-economic considerations into account. This is because Article 23 of the Cartagena Protocol obliges Parties to ensure access to information, public participation and consultation, including in the decision-making process regarding LMOs (at which point socio-economic considerations may be taken into account).

As such, the participation of the public in areas including the identification of socio-economic considerations and farming of the socio-economic impact assessment, is important. Early involvement of the public, particularly of indigenous and local communities, via effective participation mechanisms is necessary, as is the facilitation of access to information. These elements are integral to the “Akwé: Kon Voluntary Guidelines for the conduct of cultural, environmental and social impact assessment regarding developments proposed to take place on, or which are likely to impact on, sacred sites and on lands and waters traditionally occupied or used by indigenous and local communities” adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in its Decision VII/16, which is relevant in the discussions on socio-economic considerations.

We again urge that the participation of, and consultation with, indigenous and local communities be specifically mentioned, as their views are especially important in this context and in light of paragraph 1 of Article 26.

Thank you for the opportunity to make comments and I look forward to the further discussions.

Kind regards
Lim Li Ching
Third World Network
(edited on 2016-05-20 00:53 UTC by Ms. Li Ching Lim)
posted on 2016-05-10 08:58 UTC by Ms. Li Ching Lim, Third World Network
RE: opening of the discussion [#7847]
Although there is a certain logic to include in Article 26 'health issues that are not already addressed in the risk assessment', emphasising health has implications:

* Article 26 is optional. Are we then suggesting that public health issues are optional?

* If we include health issues, should we then not also be listing business, trade, livelihoods, cultural practices, traditions, religion, tourism, etc, etc, as these are also based on socio-economic foundations?  Why the apparent emphasis on health alone?

Ben Durham
posted on 2016-05-10 09:37 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: opening of the discussion [#7849]
I note that the co-chairs text under the objective includes "... cover economic, social, cultural/traditional/religious/ethical aspects, as well as ecological aspects, if they are not already covered by risk assessment procedures under Article 15 of the Protocol".

I then withdraw my comment opposing health being included here (because there would not be a specific emphasis on health), but I would suggest that we expand economic and social to read as "... cover economic (including business, trade, and tourism issues), and social (including cultural/traditional/religious/ethical and livelihoods aspects), health as well as ecological aspects, if they are not already...."

Ben Durham
posted on 2016-05-10 11:32 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: opening of the discussion [#7848]
Dear colleagues!
First of all I want to thank all of you who have quickly started the discussion - your inputs are extremely important to fulfill our task.
For the moment I will not comment on any of the issues concerning the document raised so far, but will try to answer Ching’s question regarding the process:
We have to face the situation that the AHTEG has received a mandate with two tasks - working further on the conceptual clarity framework and develop an outline of a future guidance document, but that the funds to have a face-to-face meeting, where we could have extensively discussed both tasks, have not been made available.
This left us with only two options, i.e. not to work on the mandate at all, or trying to achieve as much as possible using alternative tools. Given the responses to the first framework presented at COP/MOP7 and the written comments and contributions by Parties, we decided that it is of utmost importance to reach some consensus on the issue of conceptual clarity in order to get the agreement from Parties at COP/MOP8 to continue the process.
Given that an online discussion forum can never be as effective as a face-to-face meeting we believe that we need focus on the first task of the mandate, in order to enable us to present a result to the COP/MOP.
If we are very effective and can reach an agreement on a document on conceptual clarity very fast we could start to work on the guidance as well. Let me at this point remind you that a discussion on the structure and general outline of such a guidance is anyway foreseen for the last days of our discussions.
However; I think at this point we need to be pragmatic and try to achieve as much as possible given the financial situation. We also need to finalize this first step before we could continue our work on the guidance. If we don’t get the necessary funds, I guess it cannot be expected to fulfill the mandate in its entirety.
I hope this provides some clarity on the process.
If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to post them.

Best regards
Andreas
posted on 2016-05-10 10:33 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
RE: opening of the discussion [#7851]
Good morning estimated colleagues, I appreciate the effort of Andreas and Ranjini this first document in general I support it completely, I have been following the initial discusuion and I have some observations that we will be commenting later, by the time I fully support the decision by Andreas in focus on the first item, so far only clarify that an article was 26.1 is not mandatory and under that premise we should approach the work as the co-chairs have advanced.

Best regards.

Carlos Almendares
Honduras
(edited on 2016-05-10 15:18 UTC by Dr. Carlos Alberto Almendares Ordonez)
posted on 2016-05-10 15:17 UTC by Dr. Carlos Alberto Almendares Ordonez, Honduras
RE: opening of the discussion [#7852]
Dear all!
Again I want to thank you for your interventions so far. I also thank those who have posted their opinion expressed an overall support for the general approach chosen, and appreciate their suggestions for improving the document.
I noticed the concern of some of you regarding the deletion of the “health related aspects” from the document. The deletion was following the unanimous rejection by Parties in their written comments. As you remember we had already heavily discussed this issue at our AHTEG meeting in Korea as well as at the COP/MOP, where many Parties raised their concern to include health aspects in a guidance document on socio economic considerations. However, I also noted the arguments by Ossama and Ching, referring to the CBD and the wording used in the Protocol itself where human health is referred to in many places.
Again, I think we need to be pragmatic if we want to present an acceptable document to the COP/MOP. Therefore, if we believe that health aspects are important to be mentioned – and from your first interventions I think that is the case – we need to find a proper wording. I have no concrete suggestion at the moment, but can think of possibilities like referring explicitly to “public health aspects” or to include the health aspects as examples for social effects, based on Ben’s proposal.
A second point which was brought up is point 7 of the general principles, where we tried, again following the comments from Parties, to follow language already used in the Protocol. I’m aware that the wording “Scientific knowledge” and “scientific consensus” may be critic as “scientific” is often (mis-) interpreted as referring natural or life science only, disregarding economic and social sciences. If you feel that the wording proposed is misleading, I’m of course happy if there are alternative suggestions. Just deleting the “scientific” would in my opinion not be acceptable for many Parties.
I would appreciate to hear your opinions and I’m looking forward to the further interventions.
Best regards
Andreas
posted on 2016-05-10 19:11 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
RE: opening of the discussion [#7853]
Dear Andreas:
I remember, that point of human health was discussed at the meeting of Korea and noted that everything related to health, is seen in the field of risk analysis and that it was appropriate to focus more on the issues that really are of socio-economic considerations .
With regard to item 7, I do not understand your question, as I read it I do not find some confusion. Please see if you'll help to clarify the idea.

Best regards.
posted on 2016-05-10 20:07 UTC by Dr. Carlos Alberto Almendares Ordonez, Honduras
RE: opening of the discussion [#7854]
Hi to all,
I wish to thank the co-chairs for the text  which forms a good basis for our discussion. Thanks  also to you all who have provided comments.

Like Carlos, I am not too clear on  the intent of  item 7 under General  principles, and  will kindly  appreciate clarity.

Regards,
Johansen T.Voker
posted on 2016-05-10 21:39 UTC by Mr. Johansen T. Voker, Liberia
RE: opening of the discussion [#7855]
Dear Carlos, dear Johansen!
I'm sorry if I have caused some confusion on point 7 of the general priniciples.
My remark was a reply to Ching's post [#7846], who was referring to the wording "scientific" in the context of the precautionary principle and SECs.

Best regards
Andreas
posted on 2016-05-11 06:45 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
RE: opening of the discussion [#7856]
Hi to ALL
I want to thank sincerely the co-chairs for the quality of the forms text and the important comments made by colleagues  i think that there is no worry to mention health aspects, this will contribute to improve the document for the COP-MOP
Best regards
Gado
posted on 2016-05-11 11:59 UTC by Mr. Mahaman Gado Zaki, Niger
RE: opening of the discussion [#7857]
Dear Andreas:
Thank you very much for your reply, although I'm not very clear in the Ching´s consultation, I will try to interpret point 7: in my opinion, it is intended that all arguments related with the effects of new technologies on society, should be demonstrated scientifically and not only as "news" or "complaint" if we see the definition of Sociology, we found that deals with the knowledge or study of society and is classified as a science because it uses the scientific method to their studies here I guess the idea of placing point 7 arises, but it is only my interpretation perhaps a colleague can help expand this observation in order to clarify concepts.

Best regards.
(edited on 2016-05-11 16:24 UTC by Dr. Carlos Alberto Almendares Ordonez)
posted on 2016-05-11 15:46 UTC by Dr. Carlos Alberto Almendares Ordonez, Honduras
RE: opening of the discussion [#7858]
Dear all,

I would refer to point 21 in the document « synthesis of views » we received as a guidance of the present discussion.

I understand from the views expressed by a number of countries that the decision to be taken in relation to an LMO should be “scientifically” sound, “measurable”, “verifiable” and based on “quantitative and qualitative” data, for which only science (different disciplines including, but not limited to, mathematics and statistics in addition to life sciences) can provide the appropriate tool to measure the beneficial and adverse effects.

In the same point (21 of synthesis of views), it was also emphasised that “decisions taken on the basis of uncertainty must be proportionate and be subject to review” in accordance with SPS agreement (Article 5.7), which again emphasises the fact that uncertainties when “significant in nature” should be periodically reviewed as more scientific data is made available to take a final decision of “reject” or “accept” on a scientific basis and after weighing soundly the benefits against the adverse effects. Also, according to the article 5.7 of the SPS agreement, this should be done “within a reasonable period of time”.

I agree with the above views expressed by a number of countries among those that have submitted their comments and suggestions regarding this particular point of the “Elements”, and I am in favour of retaining the wording “scientific knowledge” and “scientific consensus”   

Thanks

Noreddine
posted on 2016-05-11 17:01 UTC by Mr. Noreddine Benkerroum, Morocco
RE: opening of the discussion [#7867]
Dear members of AHTEG and Participants
On behalf of Andreas and myself, I thank you all for your active participation and observations on the co-Chairs’ text   We are happy to note that there has been a general agreement on the structure of the document.   We now look forward to suggestions for incorporating your observations and request you all to submit text proposals for redrafting the Co-Chairs’ text.  We urge all members of AHTEG and other Participants  to actively participate in the online discussions.
Thank you for your support and co-operations.  I also thank the Secretariat for their constant support to facilitate our work.
Ranjini
posted on 2016-05-14 03:12 UTC by Dr. Ranjini Warrier, India
RE: opening of the discussion [#7874]
Dear participants,

Following co-chair Warrier's invitation to submit proposals for amendments to the co-chair's text, we kindly remind you to take note of the guidance provided to this end on the on-line discussion page (https://bch.cbd.int/onlineconferences/portal_art26/ahteg_discussion/), reproduced below:

"You are kindly invited to provide your views and suggest textual amendments to the co-chairs’ text.

When suggesting text changes, the modified Word document should be uploaded/attached and changes made should be clearly identified (tracked or in a different colour)."

Please note that attachments will not appear in the e-mail notification you may receive of postings and can only be viewed by opening the posts on the on-line discussion page through the portal on socio-economic considerations.

Should you encounter any technical difficulties, please do not hesitate to contact the secretariat.

Thank you very much.

Best wishes

Peter
posted on 2016-05-16 13:54 UTC by Peter Deupmann, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
RE: opening of the discussion [#7878]
Dear Colleagues,

It is a pleasure to be working with you once again on the issues of socio-economic considerations.  Many thanks to the co-chairs for their work in compiling their draft text, and for the comments that have been provided on it to date.

My comments on the draft text address the following issues, most of which have been raised in earlier comments.

Scope: A major challenge in arriving at clarity on the concept of socio-economic considerations has been the scope of what SECs are relevant under Article 26.  I believe that Ben's articulation of the scope is key - we should be looking at socio-economic considerations that arise from the impact of an imported LMO on biodiversity.  Therefore, the text should use the wording of Article 26 as much as possible, for example, in the operational definition.  In my view, it would create confusion if the text were to use the word 'impacts' to apply to both the impacts on biodiversity and the socio-economic impacts of impacts on biodiversity.  Therefore, I propose that we use the word 'effects' to refer to any socio-economic consequences that arise from impacts on biodiversity. I have also removed the reference to ecological aspects.  Those are covered under risk assessment and are under the purview of other experts.   In my view, including language on ecological aspects defeats the purpose of trying to provide clarity on what socio-economic considerations means.  

Objective: As the co-chairs have said, at this juncture our work is focused on attaining conceptual clarity on socio-economic considerations, as opposed to the development of guidance or guidelines for conducting assessments or evaluations of SECs.  The 'general principles' that we have identified to date are more useful as input for how to conduct an assessment or valuation than for understanding when or why a Party would chose to do so.  We could decide to pursue a discussion of principles that are useful for the when/why questions, and use the general principles that we have developed already at a later point in time when we turn to guidance for how to conduct assessments.  If we don't want to pursue principles more specific to the when/why question, we should be clear about the way in which the principles could help Parties understand SECs, and ensure that we do not put the cart (guidance on how to evaluate SECs) before the horse (understanding what SECs are relevant under Article 26).

In place of 'General Principles', I have used the term 'Related Concepts'.  We are attempting to use some concepts to help people understand what is meant by socio-economic considerations.  To me, the word 'principles' implies something more fixed and established than what we have at this point in time.  In this part of the document, I deleted the first bullet, which seemed unnecessary and unhelpfully repetitive, and re-ordered what was the second bullet so that it flows more smoothly into the one that now follows it.  These two together could also be put at the top of the Related Concepts section. 

With regard to the bullet on international obligations, it is important that this reflect the obligation under Article 26 for any consideration of SECs to be consistent with international obligations.  Therefore, I have changed 'should' to 'must' in this bullet.  By contrast, the other bullets can be considered recommendations.  In a number of places, I have changed 'may' to 'can' or 'could' because I believe 'may' implies a right to do something, and I believe we should avoid implying that there is a right to do something in this text (other than the rights that are in Article 26 itself).

With regard to the bullet on scientific uncertainty, I, like a number of other commenters, found this language unclear and not helpful.  Personally, I am not convinced that the concept of scientific uncertainty or 'precaution' can be extended to the socio-economic sphrere.  I noted that a number of earlier comments on the AHTEG's report emphasized the importance of basing evaluations on data, and therefore I have tried to include this idea in the bullet, balanced with the discussion of situations when data are insufficient.

With regard to the relationship between risk assessment and SECs, we need to reflect the fact that the risk assessment is required and taking SECs into account is optional.  My proposed edits to the relevant bullets numbers 8, 9 and 10 in the co-chairs' text) are an attempt to do this. Many commenters appear to feel that risk assessment and consideration of SECs need to occur sequentially - impacts on conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity would have to be identified first through a risk assessment before any socio-economic considerations associated with them could be looked at.  This is probably an area for some more discussion.

I hope that my comments and suggestions are useful, and look forward to our continued exchanges on this issue.

Best regards,

Mary Lisa
posted on 2016-05-18 10:11 UTC by Ms. Mary Lisa Madell, United States of America
RE: opening of the discussion [#7879]
Dear All

I would like to strongly support the interventions of Mary Lisa, as these address some of the issues I was intending to raise.  I believe her proposed amendments simplify and clarify the doc.

I would further like to suggest that we include, as a paragraph following  the  text in the operational definition (or otherwise in the Related Concept/General Principles), the following:

"Socio-economic considerations may be prompted where biodiversity impacts are predicted or realised from the introduction of LMOs. Such impacts may include changes in the availability of specific biodiversity resources, impacts on biodiversity-based food chains, and impacts to ecosystem functions. Consideration will thus be given to the human use, value attributed, or other socio-economic effect, based on such impacts."

I believe this will assist the 'conceptual clarity' we are seeking to provide.

Ben Durham
posted on 2016-05-18 11:57 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: opening of the discussion [#7881]
Dear All:
I agree with Mary Lisa and Ben at the point relating to the scope and partly with the aim, to develop a guide, other conditions need to work it, so I think right now we could only focus on conceptual clarity.
Greetings.
posted on 2016-05-18 15:37 UTC by Dr. Carlos Alberto Almendares Ordonez, Honduras
RE: opening of the discussion [#7883]
Dear Andreas/Ranjini
I respectfully oppose the proposed changes in post [#7878]. I believe those changes do not improve conceptual clarity they just limit the scope of socioeconomic considerations which contradicts the ideas we agreed upon in our previous AHTEG meeting.

On another issue, Kindly find attached my proposed amendments to the co-chairs text.

Warm regards,
O.A.El-Kawy
posted on 2016-05-18 20:54 UTC by Mr. Ossama AbdelKawy, Mauritania
RE: opening of the discussion [#7884]
I want to thank the co-chairs for your efforts and providing text that help discuss, share our views

In this regard,as with other participants of the discussion, it is important to include aspects of human health, because the socio-economic considerations within the Protocol are not restricted to Article 26, the issue of public health in itself has a strong socio-economic dimension, one of the most important socio-economic issues the need to take into account the risks to human health when considering the possible adverse effects of LMOs.

The socio-economic considerations, must be addressed and implement integral, complementary and coherent manner, in order that does not contradict the objectives of the CBD. 

Best Regards,

Sorka Copa R.
posted on 2016-05-18 22:29 UTC by Ms. Sorka Jannet Copa Romero, Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
RE: opening of the discussion [#7886]
Dear participants, dear members of the AHTEG!
Thank you again for your contributions, and especially for having already made concrete suggestions for amendments to the text.
Please allow me to briefly follow up on those proposed changes. Let me kindly remind us, that we are not discussing or developing a completely new document. The document we proposed is based on the general line to take we agreed at the first AHTEG meeting in Seoul, and which was not challenged by the COP/MOP.
The changes made to the document are based on comments and remarks made by Parties at The COP/MOP7 and the written comments we received earlier this year (those that are made available by the Secretariat). I think that in order to make progress and in order to use the limited time we have, we should try to stick to our agreed general approach and the comments as closely as possible
I do understand that there are still different views on the term “conceptual clarity” and the way how to deal with that. That’s the reason we chose to integrate an operational definition, which was welcomed by all the participants at the beginning of our discussion. The other parts of the document (objective and general principles) are aimed at providing more information and to provide some insight to the actual assessment of SEC, also to reflect the “framework character” we agreed on at the first meeting.
I’m also well aware that the text does contain repetitions. However this is not accidentally, but based on the fact, that we were urged by Parties to point out issues like the voluntary nature more clearly and that those remarks were made to several parts of the text. Also the language chosen in the text is following the request by Parties to use soft language.
I’m also a little concerned that if we introduce completely new parts to the document, even if they contain very valuable background information, we might reopen the discussion at COP/MOP on the general approach.  In my opinion this could lead to a halt or at least to a serious delay of the process. However, we can think of introducing such parts as an explanatory annex to the actual document.
I’m really looking forward to your further interventions and suggestions!
Please let me also take the opportunity to urge those who have not raised their voice so far to please join our discussions. As you know the first round will end tomorrow and we would be very happy to receive input from as many of you as possible.
Best regards
Andreas
posted on 2016-05-19 06:37 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
RE: opening of the discussion [#7888]
Dear colleagues,
I agree with Andreas. The Co-chairs' text is the basis of our discussions. Introduction of new text is fine if the intent is to provide  information but we need to focus on the agreed text under discussion.

Regards,

Johansen
posted on 2016-05-19 09:59 UTC by Mr. Johansen T. Voker, Liberia
RE: opening of the discussion [#7892]
Dear all, and thanks to the co-chairs and the Secretariat for facilitating this discussion! Let me also thank the co-chairs for providing us with the text that is a good starting point for further deliberations.
As we currently are trying to improve our "conceptual clarity", I think it is very important to touch upon a topic that has proven challenging also on previous occations, namely the link, relationship and order between 1) an LMO, 2) its impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and 3) socio-economic considerations. In order to be within the scope of article 26, do we only consider the socio-economic effects directly derived from the impacts on biodiversity?
Article 26 states that Parties may take into account "socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity". Several messages posted, for instance by Mary Lisa (#7878), Eric (#7868) and Ben (#7838), indicate a quite narrow interpretation of the scope for socio-economic considerations under article 26. I would argue that article 26 allows for a much wider interpretation.
To me, the relationship between an LMO, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and socio-economic considerations is not strictly linear. Both conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is heavily influenced by socio-economic parameters. The initial impact of an LMO may even be of a more "socio-economic" nature, having an effect that in turn, has profound influence on conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, that again in turn, may have yet other socio-economic consequences. These interlinked relationships are not linear, but rather like feedback loops, in my mind.
Maybe the co-chairs can provide me with some guidance on this, as I do not think we have resolved this issue. I also think this topic is a very important part of trying to arrive at a higher level of conceptual clarity.
Best wishes,
Casper.
posted on 2016-05-19 19:10 UTC by Mr. Casper Linnestad, Norway
RE: opening of the discussion [#7893]
I think Casper’s post (#7892) is helping to move us is a useful direction.  Fundamental to our work is improving “conceptual clarity” regarding when and what socio-economic considerations may be taken into account.

Several members of this group have argued that there are two clear conclusions that can be taken directly from the phrasing of article 26.1.
1. Socio-economic considerations may be taken into account only after there are impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity…
2. Socio-economic considerations to be taken into account are those that arise from the impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity…

I appreciate that there might be socio-economic considerations that arise from the use of an LMO but those considerations are not referenced in the text of article 26.1.  If they were in scope then the language of article 26.1 would have been written differently. 

For example, the text might have been written as “The Parties, in reaching a decision on import under this Protocol or under its domestic measures implementing the Protocol, may take into account, consistent with their international obligations, socio-economic considerations.”

However, the Parties also included the additional qualifying text, “arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities.”

I realize everyone knows this, so please bear with me.  It is informative that an additional 31 words were deemed important and relevant to the article.  It is these additional words that help to provide the conceptual clarity needed.

Our challenge now and in the past has been in part driven by the preference by some Parties to adopt only the first 30 words of the article.  If we stop there, then there are many questions to ask about taking socio-economic considerations into account; for example, when or under what circumstances, what kind of considerations, what methods are available, etc.

On the other hand, if we read and use the entire text, then the questions related to when and what are answered.

Other posts have attempted to identify possible “impacts on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity” since an elaboration of examples could also contribute to conceptual clarity.

I would welcome more discussion on what I called in my earlier post the “trigger” since I continue to believe that only by considering this important qualify of article 26.1 will we begin to have clarity.

I also recognize, outside of any obligations under the CPB, any country may choose under its sovereign authority to make decisions consistent with only on the first half of the article; however under the CPB, they must be guided by the full text. 

Regards,
Eric
posted on 2016-05-19 21:03 UTC by Dr. Eric Sachs, Monsanto/Global Industry Coalition
RE: opening of the discussion [#7894]
Dear all,

The Convention on Biological Diversity and Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, both as legally binding international instruments, must be implemented in a integral,complementary and consistent fashion. The CPB, is related to its parent treaty, the CBD, through substantive, procedural, and institutional links; accordingly, it must comply with the Convention’s provisions when implemented. In this sense, socio-economic considerations can not be separated treatment of the Convention, the read should be integral with the CPB and its application under the CBD

The conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is heavily related by socio-economic aspect. The impact of an LMO may be higher in "socio-economic" nature, having an effect that in turn, on conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, so it must be read complementary fashion and to holistic

It is also very important, the participation, particularly of indigenous and local communities, via effective participation mechanisms is necessary, as is the facilitation of access to information, about the impact of the socio-economic assessment of living modified organisms to preserve and maintain the knowledge, innovations and traditional practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities, in accordance with Article 8(j) CDB. 

Best Regards,
Sorka Copa R.
posted on 2016-05-19 22:44 UTC by Ms. Sorka Jannet Copa Romero, Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
RE: opening of the discussion [#7896]
Dear all

I agree with Casper [#7892]. I find the interpretation that there must be a causal effect (‘only after there is an impact on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity’) to be too narrow. In addition, ‘arising from the impacts’ does not necessarily convey that there must be a measurable impact, as some appear to be suggesting. Potential effects of the LMO on biological diversity should also be considered and are in line with the Protocol, which addresses LMOs ‘that may have adverse effects’.

In addition, the other main point of contention seems to be the question of ‘when’ socioeconomic considerations are taken into account. Article 26 implies that there are two instances when Parties may take socioeconomic considerations into account: when ‘reaching a decision on import’ of LMOs; and under its domestic measures implementing the Protocol, which then link to the implementation of many other Articles in the Protocol. In this regard, I’m afraid that I cannot agree to the amendments proposed by Mary Lisa [#7878], which confines this to a ‘decision on import’.

Thank you also to Andreas for the earlier clarification on point #7 of the General Principles. I think that if we include some text describing the information and processes needed to collect that information, that could better explain the meaning. This is so that we do not confuse between the need to have robust information and processes, with having only ‘scientific’ knowledge applied to socioeconomic considerations, at the possible exclusion of other ways of knowing. In relation to point #7, I would again suggest that the precautionary elements of the Protocol are also included to convey the need for preventative action.

On the question of the inclusion of health issues, many have expressed that this is within the scope of the Protocol and clearly within the realm of socioeconomic considerations.  I suggest that this can be easily included in the Operational Definition, i.e. “Socio-economic impacts in the context of Article 26 of the Cartagena Protocol may, depending on the national or regional circumstances and on national measures implementing the Protocol, cover economic, social, cultural/traditional/religious/ethical aspects, as well as health and ecological aspects, if they are not already covered by risk assessment procedures under Article 15 of the Protocol.” I suggest also adding a point in the General Principles be included to further clarify the issue. 

Thank you again.

kind regards
Lim Li Ching
Third World Network
posted on 2016-05-20 00:52 UTC by Ms. Li Ching Lim, Third World Network
RE: opening of the discussion [#7905]
Dear co-chairs

It is just I am concerned that with the new co-chairs text we are missing a lot of important issues. It is important to highlight that these are not newly introduced issues and have been discussed during our previous meeting only the current text does not reflect them appropriately.

I believe that the same concerns were expressed by Casper and Ching who are also AHTEG members. Maybe you can provide us with some guidance on how to deal with this.

Regards,

O.A.El-Kawy
posted on 2016-05-20 11:19 UTC by Mr. Ossama AbdelKawy, Mauritania
RE: opening of the discussion [#7906]
Dear Ossama!
Thank you for raising your concerns and for pointing out important issues.
I'm well aware that we discussed many issues e.g. the relationship and the links to the CBD, at the AHTEG meeting. However, they were also not included in the first framework document of the AHTEG, which formed the basis for drafting the new version of the document. That is the reason why the text does not contain a reference to those issues.

If there is a strong wish to include some of those aspects, and that has been pointed out in some interventions, I suggested to include them as an Annex providing background information. This will enable us to have a concise Framework on "conceptual clarity" (which was the wish of many Parties) and not to lose any of the information provided by you and other AHTEG members.

I hope that is agreeable.

Best regards
Andreas
posted on 2016-05-20 11:52 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
RE: opening of the discussion [#7898]
Dear all,

First of all please accept my apologies for not being able to participate any sooner. 

Thank you to the co-chairs for their time and effort to provide the text as a basis for discussion and also all participants of the forum for this robust discussion. 

Some comments on the document of the text:
1. The proposed operational definition seems to be acceptable and covers all the items that I think are relevant impact to socio-economic such as economic, social, cultural/traditional/religious/ethical aspects as well as ecological aspects. The term “economic” should cover means of livelihood of the communities, unless it has already been known to be so. I agree on the importance to link it back to the national or regional circumstances and on national measure implementing the Protocol.
2. I also agree that the risk assessment as well as the socio-economic consideration  are distinct processes and may be conducted concurrently or consecutively.
3. Finally, for item 11, I think it is acceptable to have “may” as part of the process of taking socio-economic consideration as some aspects, such as economic implications or policy considerations might not be so effective through this mechanism for getting information on socio-economic implications.
posted on 2016-05-20 03:57 UTC by Mr. Ramatha Letchumanan, Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment
RE: opening of the discussion [#7900]
I would like to thank Eric (# 7893) for clarifying his points further. I think it is quite clear that Parties have different views on the scope of Article 26 and whether the socio-economic considerations are to be limited to the effects following a direct impact on biodiversity or not. Hence, I would (respectfully!) disagree with Eric's statement that "Socio-economic considerations may be taken into account only after there are impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity". If a Party wishes to assess socio-economic consequences prior to a decision on whether or not to import an LMO, this is done ex ante, as Ching reminded us of (#7896). Furthermore, we all know that article 26 was a hard one when the Protocol was negotiated. It is not surprising that the agreed text opens up for different interpretations.

Regards,
Casper.
posted on 2016-05-20 07:44 UTC by Mr. Casper Linnestad, Norway
RE: opening of the discussion [#7901]
Casper is raising again the issue that I thought we had put to rest at the AHTEG meeting in Seoul: Direct vs Indirect SE impacts of LMOs.  I am really concerned that this suggestion - that we consider direct SE impacts of LMOs in addition to SE impacts based on biodiversity impacts (indirect), is opening a can of worms that is FAR more complex to resolve - i.e. provide conceptual clarity on - than the strict reading of 26.1.

My reading of Art 26.1 is clear and explicit, and retains the biodiversity focus of the CBD and CPB:  The SEC option of 26.1 is incurred only on the basis of an impact (predicted or actual) to biodiversity.  As Eric (#7893) rightly said, countries retain their sovereign right to consider direct SEC's (i.e. beyond article 26).

For information, South Africa DOES undertake direct SE considerations of LMOs.  We consider whether the introduction of an LMO is "good" for trade, for the specific industry sector, for users, for consumers, and various other considerations.  These have nothing to do with biodiversity impacts - we are very unlikely to approve an LMO that is considered likely to have a biodiversity impact (noting I have previously defined that impacts to pests or weeds is not falling under such definition).  But these SE considerations are not guided by the CPB Art 26.1

I strongly urge the AHTEG to focus only on the precise wording of the Article 26.1, so that we can move forward.

Ben Durham
posted on 2016-05-20 08:05 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: opening of the discussion [#7902]
Dear all,

First, I would like to thank the co-chairs for their time and efforts to provide a basis for this discussion. Unfortunately, I have a lot of business trips in summer time and have as usual poor Internet connections in small towns and villages to be enough active during the forum time.

Talking about general issues, I would like to express my assent to the opinions of Mr. Ossama AbdelKawy & Ms. Lim Li Ching in regard to necessity to take into account the risks to human health when considering possible adverse effects of LMOs. I strongly believe that public health has a socio-economic dimension and should not be restricted by Article 26 of the Protocol.

In regard to Para 7, General Principles, I should say that scientific consensus on socio-economic considerations will not be achieved if the lack of scientific knowledge is in place. I believe that the principle, formulated in Para 7 opens the door to its subjective interpretation to get required benefits from the specific situation. So, the Party should be careful with that and first follow the precautionary approach, contained in Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development.

I would like to support the intervention of Mary Lisa in the part concerning the replacement of the 'General Principles' term by “General Concepts” and agree with her opinion in regard to international obligations, that "it is important that this reflects the obligation under Article 26 for any consideration of SECs to be consistent with international obligations",  and agree with some changes of verbs she has made.

I support the proposed operational definition, namely: “Socio-economic impacts in the context of Article 26 of the Cartagena Protocol may, depending on the national or regional circumstances and on national measures implementing the Protocol, cover economic, social, cultural/traditional/religious/ethical aspects, as well as health and ecological aspects, if they are not already covered by risk assessment procedures under Article 15 of the Protocol.” It covers most of the items discussed.
      
I would also like to say that I agree with the structure of the document, presented by co-chairs.  Thank you for the opportunity to make comments.

Best regards,
Elena
posted on 2016-05-20 08:25 UTC by Assoc. Prof. Elena Makeyeva, Belarus
RE: opening of the discussion [#7903]
Ben (#7901) is rightfully urging us to move forward and to focus on the precise wording of Article 26.1. My starting point is also the precise wording of this article. However, I cannot recall that the scope (indirect/direct effect) issue of 26.1 was put at rest during our AHTEG meeting in 2014. This is why I felt it was appropriate to surface this again, as it is crucial for conceptual clarity.

I agree that article 26.1 clearly couples socio-economic considerations to the effects on biological diversity, its conservation and sustainable use and its value to indigenous and local communities. Like Ben, I also find it very useful to stick to the biodiversity focus of the CBD and its definitions: When looking at the CBD definition of biodiversity, it is described as " the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems". An ecosystem is defined by the CBD as a "dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit". This means that biodiversity impacts potentially relate to a huge range of effects. Furthermore, sustainable use of biodiversity has an intrinsic socio-economic component to it, tightly linked to cultural, social and economical factors.

Biodiversity is not a narrow concept, it is broad. So in my mind, if Parties find it appropriate, consistant with their international obligations, to remove the lid from "the can of worms" (#7901) and argue that the scope is broad, I think this can be justified by the guidance and definitions provided by the Convention itself.

I wish us all the best of luck…
Casper.
posted on 2016-05-20 09:44 UTC by Mr. Casper Linnestad, Norway
RE: opening of the discussion [#7907]
Dear participants!
Following some of the interventions, e.g. by Eric, Ben, and Casper, I would respectfully remind us all that the starting point of our discussion right now, is the framework document we agreed on at the meeting in 2014.

In this framework document we agreed that ex ante studies are a possible tool for assessment and we listed "dimensions"  at that time - on which there was general agreement within the AHTEG and which were - with the exception of health issues - not challenged by the Parties neither at COP/MOP nor in their written comments.

I think that points on two issues raised in the above mentioned interventions:
1) SEC can be taken into account based on ex-ante studies - which is common practice anyway. Many SEC assessments are based on models.
2) The AHTEG chose to develop a rather broad framework, dealing with indirect and direct effects.

At this point and given the limited time and difficult format of discussion, I believe that we should not re-open the discussion on issues we already agreed upon at an earlier stage.

Thank you very much and best regatrds
Andreas
posted on 2016-05-20 12:12 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
RE: opening of the discussion [#7911]
Thanks to our co-Chair for important, clarifying comments (#7907). Our framework is then to be developed based on a common understanding that also ex-ante assessments are possible and relevant, and that both indirect and direct effects may be included.
Cheers,
Casper.
posted on 2016-05-20 12:58 UTC by Mr. Casper Linnestad, Norway
RE: opening of the discussion [#7912]
Respectfully, I want to record my disagreement with Andreas' view (#7907 i.e. that we deal with both indirect and direct effects).

*Article 26.1 is, in my view, sufficiently clear.  It refers to "[...] SECs arising from the impact of LMOs on [...] biodiversity [...]".

*Further, there is an emphasis in the latter part of 26.1 "[...] especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local  communities".  If we were to deal with direct effects, this latter part of Article 26.1 would more likely say something like "[...] especially with regard to the value/impacts of LMOs to/on indigenous and local communities." It does not.

As I've said, this wording is consistent with the CBD and CPB.  I don't  believe that there is room to maneuver on an interpretation of biodiversity in this context.

This issue is - I believe - a crucial aspect of conceptual clarity we have to provide, because it could open up possible SE considerations well beyond biodiversity resource 'utilisation'. We then would have to delve into issues, like consumer preferences, social moralities, and others, which GREATLY expands the difficulty of providing clarity and eventually, guidelines.

If we include direct SE issues, I believe we are operating beyond our mandate, and there is likely to be censure by COP/MOP.

I honestly thought this matter was resolved at the last AHTEG...
Ben
posted on 2016-05-20 13:01 UTC by Mr. Ben David Durham, South Africa
RE: opening of the discussion [#7913]
Dear all, I think that Ben's warning that some Parties may regard it as not appropriate to work from a starting point with a wide scope is valid. However, among Parties, there are clearly different views on this. At this stage, I honestly don't think we are "outside our mandate" and I would like us to proceed and then face the COP-MOP censorship in December.

As I have mentioned earlier, article 26.1 is a text resulting from a heavy compromise between Parties (and the article is not obligatory). The latter part of 26.1 that Ben refers too (#7912) "[...] especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local  communities" in my mind can be interpreted to rather support the contradictory view of Ben, namely that it underlines the importance of a need for additional considerations when it comes to the effects on livelihood, culture, religion and traditions of societal groups of indigenous people and local communities.

Best wishes,
Casper.
posted on 2016-05-20 13:50 UTC by Mr. Casper Linnestad, Norway
RE: opening of the discussion [#7914]
Dear Colleagues,
Clearly, it is not easy to get around our differences regarding the scope. I think the scope is decisions on import: with all due respect to Ching, the phrase ‘under its domestic measures implementing the Protocol’ modifies ‘reaching a decision on import’ (as does the phrase ‘under this Protocol’, because Parties can make such decisions following Article 10 or following their own regulatory processes).  I believe that Casper (#7903) is correct that we were not able to resolve the scope question in our face-to-face meeting in Korea, and that significant differences of view remain.  That is why we opted for a descriptive approach in the framework document, rather than trying to develop a definition or an explanation of when SECs would apply.   The broad framework that the AHTEG produced in Korea was adopted as part of a descriptive approach – it was a way of dealing with the lack of consensus on scope, but it was not a decision that the scope of Article 26 was broad. 
I would disagree with Casper’s view, if I am reading the comment correctly, that Article 26 is supposed to be open to interpretations:  a difficult negotiation would mean that there were differences in positions among the Parties and that the language that was eventually adopted was carefully constructed to reflect the limit of consensus.  My chief concern is that it is not appropriate for the AHTEG to broaden the scope of Article 26 beyond what the Parties were willing to agree to.  If Parties want to open the can of worms, they would do that by negotiating a new text.  That isn’t our job. 
There is quite a lot in that framework document that is useful, but it does not appear to meet Parties’ needs in terms of conceptual clarity.  The co-chairs have tried to distill the framework document down, and to present an operational definition of SECs.  I agree with the commenters who suggest that we work with the co-chairs’ text, and keep some of the other elements of the framework document in reserve for future work, for example on guidelines. 
The solution that I proposed in the edits I submitted was to be sure to use the language of Article 26 in the operational definition and in the related concepts.  Attempting to rephrase or restate the language could move us further apart, rather than getting closer to a text we can share with Parties. 
Best regards,
Mary Lisa
posted on 2016-05-20 13:57 UTC by Ms. Mary Lisa Madell, United States of America