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AHTEG on Socio-economic considerations: online discussion

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Opening message from the Co-chairs [#7961]

Dear Participants!

First we want to thank you all again for your contributions during our second round of the online discussion and the great support for the document we received from a great majority of the group.

After some internal consultations the co-chairs have prepared a third version of the revised framework for conceptual clarity, taking into account the suggestions made during the discussion. With the help of the Secretariat we also have drafted conclusions of the discussion which make reference to some points raised by some participants and contain some recommendations. These conclusions will be submitted with the revised framework to COP/MOP for consideration. The conclusions provide a brief description of the proceedings of the online discussion and of the context in which the framework for conceptual clarity has been developed. Importantly, they include a description of those views that could not entirely be reflected in the framework for conceptual clarity, which members felt should nevertheless be brought to the attention of the COP/MOP.

We hope that we addressed the concerns raised either in the framework itself or in the conclusions.

May I kindly remind you that we need an agreed text to be sent to COP/MOP. If we don’t reach an agreement, there will be no document to be sent to COP/MOP and any discussion there will be extremely difficult and the risk that the process stops will be quite high.

As we have an almost agreed on text for the framework we ask you during the last week of this online forum to:

• Please propose changes to the actual framework only if you have major concerns, which cannot be addressed properly in the conclusions.
• Provide concrete wording for amendments or additions to the text for the conclusions.

We count on your spirit of cooperation and your dedication, you have shown during the last five weeks of our discussions, and are optimistic that we will reach an agreement on the text by the end of the week.

We are looking again forward to a fruitful discussion and hope for your active participation.

Thank you very much in advance

Ranjini Warrier and Andreas Heissenberger
posted on 2016-06-13 13:56 UTC by Ms. Paola Scarone, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
RE: Opening message from the Co-chairs [#7972]
Dear Andreas/ Ranjini
Many thanks for the provided text.
I believe that the relationship with the convention is not well reflected in the conclusions. I am proposing the following attached amendments in the conclusions.
I also propose to add one phrase in the framework to better reflect the discussion we had.
posted on 2016-06-17 08:13 UTC by Mr. Ossama AbdelKawy, Mauritania
RE: Opening message from the Co-chairs [#7973]
Dear Ranjini and Andreas,

thank you for the revised text. I support the last version of the text and consider it is OK to be submitted for discussion to the next COP/MOP.

Best wishes,
posted on 2016-06-17 09:20 UTC by Ms. Angela Lozan, Republic of Moldova
RE: Opening message from the Co-chairs [#7974]
Dear Ossama!
As we are in the very last phase of our discussions, and as we just have a few hours left, which does not allow to restart the discussions on fundamental issues I just have a few remarks to the amendments suggested by you this morning:

The statement that under the CBD some SECs are mandatory, though correct, does in my opinion not belong in a framework for conceptual clarity under the Cartagena Protocol. If we include this, we have to explain that statement in much more detail – which will be counterproductive, as we have been asked by the Parties to restrict our work to the Art. 26 of the Protocol.

As you remember, the 1st version of the proposed text did not include a reference to health issues, as this was unanimously rejected by the Parties. It was reintroduced (in the operational definition) after some discussion in the first round. We also took up your suggestion to make reference to Art 1 and 4 of the Protocol, however without making explicit reference to the health issues – as this might again cause a rejection of our work at the COP/MOP.

With regard to the detailed reference to the CBD you are bringing up again, I don’t think this detail is necessary and even might give the impression that we deviated quite a bit from the mandate given to us. Again I believe that this counterproductive for making progress. In addition, several members of the AHTEG did not support this explicit and detaild refence to the CBD. Furthermore, as you have noticed, we have introduced “the right to take SECs into consideration” explicitly in the framework.

I therefore suggest the following:
1) We leave the framework as it is.
2) We change the conclusions and take up some parts of your amendments regarding the CBD reference.

The concerned paragraph will then read:
"During the online discussion, some members stated that there is a link between socio-economic considerations in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety under Article 26, and its Articles 1 and 4. Furthermore, it was highlighted by some members that 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 binding international instruments, must be implemented in a complementary and consistent fashion. Other members disagreed with this interpretation."

I kindly ask you to consider this proposal.

I also want to kindly remind you that we need an agreed text without any brackets to go to COP/MOP. There, especially given the new setting with COP and COP/MOP running in parallel, which will also cause a somewhat different audience, will probably be the better place to bring up these issues up again.

I would greatly appreciate if you, in a spirit of co-operation, could agree to the proposed changes.

Best regards
posted on 2016-06-17 09:31 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria
RE: Opening message from the Co-chairs [#7975]
Dear Andreas
I acknowledge that the current version was substantially improved compared to the previous one. With your last proposed amendment, I would not ask for further changes this time. Let it be submitted to the COP/MOP and we see how things will evolve.
posted on 2016-06-17 11:18 UTC by Mr. Ossama AbdelKawy, Mauritania
RE: Opening message from the Co-chairs [#7976]
Dear Andreas and Ranjini,

Many thanks for your work on this draft of the Framework.  I have two small suggestions, and one big concern. 
I propose an edit in the Framework document for clarity: I think the first indent of the third paragraph should read as follows: 
"- While this framework and related guidance does not imply an obligation on Parties to make use of socio-economic considerations when reaching a decision on import of LMOs, it provides conceptual clarity to Parties when exercising the right to take into account socio-economic considerations into account arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, when reaching a decision on import."

I also propose that the background document reflect the fact that our discussions have highlighted some important differences of view that we haven't moved closer to resolving.  My suggested edit for the third paragraph is:
"Following extensive discussions, a revised Framework for Conceptual Clarity on Socio-Economic Considerations was agreed upon although differences of view on important issues remain. The AHTEG recommended that the revised Framework be welcomed by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety at its eighth meeting."

My big concern relates to this latter point, namely that neither the face-to-face meeting or the subsequent on-line discussions have led us to a point of agreement on important issues like the scope of Article 26.  It is difficult for us to help Parties achieve conceptual clarity when there are such different views on the AHTEG itself.  Any future work we are asked to do will be constrained by these differences.  I don't have a solution to propose here, but I do think that we should be frank with ourselves about it. 

I am attaching the documents with the edits that I propose, since it might be easier for your purposes to see them in track-changes mode. 

Again, thanks to you and to all the AHTEG members!
posted on 2016-06-17 11:31 UTC by Ms. Mary Lisa Madell, United States of America
RE: Opening message from the Co-chairs [#7977]
Dear all,

I support the latest version as drafted by the co-chairs and, at the same time, I agree with the minor amendments and concerns expressed by Dr. Madell.

posted on 2016-06-17 13:21 UTC by Mr. Noreddine Benkerroum, Morocco
RE: Opening message from the Co-chairs [#7978]
Dear Participants!
On behalf of Ranjini Warrier and myself I want to thank you all for your contributions during the last few weeks. We had intense discussions and we are grateful for your inputs.

As we have resolved the issues raised by members of the AHTEG regarding the last version of the documents, i.e. the revised framework and the conclusions, we take it that we have a document which we can send to COP/MOP for further discussion.

We are aware of all the concerns raised and have tried to include the main points of the interventions either in the framework or in the conclusions. We want to thank all of you for your spirit of cooperation and your willingness to finally accept the documents. We do believe that these documents (which will be included into the main document on SECs for COP/MOP) are a good basis for the discussion ahead of us and are confident that the process will continue during - and hopefully also after - COP/MOP.

Let me also thank you that you have stayed with us during the whole process so far, which was not easy given the lack of funding for a face-to face meeting. We acknowledge the difficulties of an online discussion and appreciate very much that you have found time to contribute to the main objective of our work: to fulfill the mandate given to us by COP/MOP and work towards the implementation of operational objective 1.7 of the Strategic Plan.

Thank you all again, and looking forward to see many of you in Cancun.

Ranjini Warrier and Andreas Heissenberger
posted on 2016-06-17 13:32 UTC by Dr. Andreas Heissenberger, Austria