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Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a supplementary agreement to the Convention known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. It establishes an advance informed agreement (AIA) procedure for ensuring that countries are provided with the information necessary to make informed decisions before agreeing to the import of such organisms into their territory. The Protocol also establishes a Biosafety Clearing-House to facilitate the exchange of information on living modified organisms and to assist countries in the implementation of the Protocol.
The biosafety clearing-house is expected to facilitate the exchange of scientific, technical, environmental and legal information on, and experience with, living modified organisms and to assist Parties to implement the Protocol, taking into account the special needs of developing countries, in particular the least developed and small island developing States among them, and countries with economies in transition as well as countries that are centres of origin and centres of genetic diversity.
Capacity building is one of the critical elements for the effective implementation of the Protocol. Article 22 (Capacity-building) of the Protocol states that "Parties shall cooperate in the development and/or strengthening of human resources and institutional capacities in biosafety, including biotechnology, to the extent that it is required for biosafety, for the purpose of the effective implementation of this Protocol, in developing country Parties, in particular the least developed and small island developing States among them, and in Parties with economies in transition, including through existing global, regional, sub-regional and national institutions and organizations and, as appropriate, through facilitating private sector involvement. For the purposes of implementing paragraph 1 above, in relation to cooperation, the needs of developing country Parties, in particular the least developed and small island developing States among them, for financial resources and access to and transfer of technology and know-how in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, shall be taken fully into account for capacity-building in biosafety. Cooperation in capacity-building shall, subject to the different situation, capabilities and requirements of each Party, include scientific and technical training in the proper and safe management of biotechnology, and in the use of risk assessment and risk management for biosafety, and the enhancement of technological and institutional capacities in biosafety. The needs of Parties with economies in transition shall also be taken fully into account for such capacity-building in biosafety."
In view of
the above, Working Party members might consider what role can be played
by Earthwatch partners to assist countries to adhere to the requirements
of the Biosafety Protocol, including determining what relevant information
systems there are on living modified organisms and their relatives, and
which issues could be considered inter-agency issues concerning information
for decision-making on the topic.
ReferencesUNEP/EWWP7/3. 7th Earthwatch Working Party. NEW AND EMERGING ISSUES. Dec. 2001.
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