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What has been done on awareness and participation

The COP-MOP in its decision BS-I/12 on the medium-term programme of work for the COP-MOP agreed to consider, at its second meeting, “options for cooperation between Parties, other States and relevant international bodies on the promotion and facilitation of public awareness, education and participation concerning the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms”.

At its second meeting, the COP-MOP in decision BS-II/13, encouraged countries to develop and implement national programmes, to make effective use of the media and to leverage opportunities for cooperation in the promotion of public awareness, education and participation concerning the safe transfer, handling and use of LMOs. The COP-MOP urged Parties, other Governments and international bodies to support subregional and regional initiatives and share, through the BCH, information, awareness materials and case studies about their ongoing initiatives. The COP-MOP decided to considered this issue again at MOP 5.

At its fourth meeting, the COP-MOP considered an interim report on the status of implementation of Article 23, the experiences gained and the lessons learned and underscored the need for a cohesive and focused approach to public awareness,education and participation. In its decision BS-IV/17, the COP-MOP agreed to develop a programme of work on public awareness, education and participation concerning the safe transfer, handling and use of LMOs and invited Governments and relevant organizations to submit views on its possible elements. The Executive Secretary was requested to prepare a draft work programme, taking account the submission of views, for consideration at the fifth meeting. The COP-MOP also welcomed the new Outreach Strategy for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (2008-2012) and requested the Executive Secretary to advance its implementation and report on the progress at the sixth meeting.

At its fifth meeting, the COP-MOP in decision BS-V/3 adopted a comprehensive programme of work on public awareness, education and participation concerning the safe transfer, handling and use of LMOs and invited Parties, other governments and relevant organizations to implement it and share their experiences and lessons learned through the BCH. The Secretariat was invited to establish an online forum and other means needed to facilitate exchange of information and experiences on the implementation of the programme of work.

A Portal on Public Awareness, Education and Participation was established to host online discussions and make available resources.

At its seventh meeting, COP MOP, in decision BS-VII/1, encouraged Parties to implement requirements under Article 23 of the Protocol within a mechanism appropriate to their national circumstances, which could include the integration of public awareness, education and participation in national biodiversity strategies and action plans, broader national frameworks for communication, education and public awareness (CEPA), or efforts to implement Aichi Target 1, taking into account relevant elements of the programme of work on public awareness, education and participation, adopted in decision BS-V/13. In decision BS-VII/5, the Secretariat was also requested to mobilize additional financial resources, among other things, to mainstream biosafety into the national development plans, establish strong outreach programmes and identify "biosafety champions" to promote awareness and greater understanding of biotechnology and its regulation among the public and parliamentarians.

At its eighth meeting, COP-MOP, in decision CP-VIII/18, extended the programme of work until 2020 with revised priority areas and activities and encouraged regional stakeholders and donors to play a greater role in supporting the integration of the programme of work into national initiatives with a view to raising the profile of the Protocol through outreach and communication. Seven priority areas were identified: 1) Advance legal and/or policy frameworks and mechanisms; 2) Build and maintain joint initiatives; 3) Advance tools, resources and processes to broaden training activities; 4) Communicate biosafety and empower a wider audience; 5) Strengthen biosafety education at all levels; 6) Improve tools and procedures for access to information; and 7) Mobilize the public and ensure gender-equality for a wider target audience to participate in the decision-making process. The COP-MOP requested the Secretariat to assist in the implementation of priority areas and activities, provide links to national websites and national biosafety clearing-houses and enhance cooperation with relevant organizations and initiatives.