AOSIS outlines capacity building needs to protect biodiversity

2004-03-04 Cook Islands Download PDF

Topic: Sustainable Development

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
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
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: Cross-cutting

Forum: None

Meeting: ICCP1