AOSIS addresses the 1st meeting of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

2000-12-11 AOSIS Download PDF

Topic: Sustainable Development

Mr. Chairman, the delegation of Antigua and Barbuda is acting as Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island
States at this 1st meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol. We will be
having daily meetings, and we have designated spokespersons for each of the working groups – Jamaica in
Working Group 1 and Cook Islands in Working Group 2. Other members of our group will add specific
comments as appropriate. I would therefore seek your indulgence and pass the microphone to my
colleague, who will speak on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States in this working group.
Statement by the delegation of the Cook Islands on capacity building
Mr. Chairman, I have the honor to speak on behalf of the 43 Members and Observers of the Alliance of
Small Island States – AOSIS. Our delegations will be speaking as a group at this first meeting of the
Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol, as well as at the future sessions. Our group held
a preparatory workshop last week in Saint Kitts and Nevis. We thoroughly discussed all issues on the
agenda of this meeting.
My delegation will the spokesperson for the Alliance of Small Island States in this working group, and I
wish to share with other delegations some of our views on capacity building. We have generally agreed that
the potential benefits and the possible threats posed by modern biotechnology to Small Island Developing
States creates a very difficult and unique scenario for SIDS as a group among developing countries. We
therefore reaffirm the principles of the Rio Declaration and the Barbados Declaration, in that special
attention and care must be given to SIDS unique constraints, given our vulnerability to external shocks and
relative dependence on certain imports and exports. Since SIDS are entirely or predominantly coastal
entities, there is the potential to view SIDS as possible laboratory sites for controlled experimentation with
field releases. Moreover, the lack of infrastructure, capacity, legislation and information in SIDS on current
biotechnology experimentation and use raises concerns. In addition the fragility of the biodiversity in SIDS
makes the risk management particularly difficult.
It has been generally noted that the capacity building needs of SIDS will be a very great challenge. This
issue will remain a major preoccupation for the group for a considerable time.
While we have not made a final decision on what capacity building requirements will be needed for our
countries, the following issues should be taken into account as fundamental recommendations:
the creation of national centers for information exchange, utilizing existing capacity where appropriate such
as the national focal points for biodiversity;
the creation of regional biosafety and biotechnology centers of excellence, and where possible these should
build on existing capacities, bearing in mind the need for a careful balance between the scientific and
technical advice with legal and regulatory frameworks, utilizing regional organizations and universities
where appropriate;
the establishment of a SIDS biosafety network, as a means of information sharing of particular concern to
SIDS, building on the existing infrastructure and linkages provided by SIDSNet;
the need to focus on strengthening countries ability to carry out risk assessments, to evaluate and control
risks, and to thoroughly manage these risks in the short and long term; and
the need to also focus on the training and education needs of SIDS in the determination of their needs in
complying with and effectively implementing the Cartagena Protocol, through workshops and training
courses at the national, regional and inter-regional level.
There is also a need to look at the unique situation of SIDS when providing guidance on the development
of legislation on biosafety. This is particularly relevant in the context of any discussion on transit of LMOs.

Let me also mention the generous offer by the Government of Cuba to host an international workshop on
capacity building on biosafety for developing countries in 2001.
Mr. Chairman, we are of course not in a position to answer, in an absolute fashion, the question of what are
our capacity building needs. We can not say that we will need so many microbiologists, so many
biochemists, so many pharmacologists. We know that we will need some of these, and we also know that
there may be some existing capacity in our regions. One of our first tasks will be to look into the status of
our capacity. A parallel priority will be to hold national and regional meetings that would further elaborate
on our capacity building needs. We will require financial and technical assistance to carry out these
activities, which we expect will lead to concrete national needs assessments.
Mr. Chairman, we do have some concrete textual proposals to the document, which we can put forward at
the appropriate time. Let me only mention that we wish to adhere strictly to the text of the protocol, and
that the terminology which recognizes the special needs of the least developed and small island developing
States among them must be retained in our decision.
Thank you.

Sub Topic: Capacity Building

Forum: None

Meeting: ICCP1