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Cooperation with WTO

Information Exchange

Documents and notifications prepared by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity

The Secretariat has kept the WTO informed of the decisions of the Conference of the Parties that are of relevance to the work on the WTO and its committees, and invited further cooperation and input as appropriate, including through notifications and briefing notes.

Participation in WTO meetings, including informal information sessions, and cooperation in technical assistance

The Secretariat participates, on a regular basis, in meetings of the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) in regular and special sessions. It follows closely the discussions in other relevant WTO bodies, and seeks cooperation through liaising with the WTO Secretariat and information sessions.

Cooperation in Technical Assistance Activities

The CBD Secretariat cooperates with the WTO Secretariat in its technical assistance activities, in particular the Regional Seminars on Trade and Environment.

Observer Status of the Convention in WTO Committees

Committee on Trade and Environment in Regular Session (CTE-R)

Further to the request of the Conference of the Parties, the Executive Secretary was granted observer status for the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment. Regular updates are provided to the CTE on the relevant work under the CBD.

Committee on Trade and Environment in Special Session (CTE-SS)

At the fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, in November 2001, Ministers agreed to start negotiations on, inter alia, the relationship between existing WTO rules and specific trade obligations set out in multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), procedures for regular information exchange between MEA Secretariats and the relevant WTO committees, and criteria for the granting of observer status (paragraph 31 of the Doha Declaration). These issues are addressed in the Committee on Trade and Environment in Special (negotating) Session. As they are key to further enhance the mutual supportiveness between the Convention and the rules and provisions of the WTO, the Executive Secretary has requested to extend the observer status of the Convention in the Committee on Trade and Environment to the Special (negotiating) Session of this committee. This request is pending. The Secretariat is invited on a regular basis to attend the formal meetings of the CTE in Special Session.

Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Council)

The COP has repeatedly emphasized the interrelationship between the Convention and the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), and the need to further explore this interrelationship. Specifically, the Conference of the Parties has recognized the role of intellectual property rights in encouraging access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits from the use of those resources, as well as in contributing to the protection of traditional knowledge.

At the Doha Ministerial Conference, in 2001, the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights was instructed to examine, in pursuance of its work programme including under the review of article 27.3(b), the review of the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement under Article 71.1 and the work foreseen pursuant to paragraph 12 of the Declaration, inter alia, - the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity and the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore (paragraph 19 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration). The WTO Committee on Trade and Environment was also instructed to further take up relevant provisions of the TRIPS Agreement (paragraph 32 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration).

Pursuant to requests of the COP, the Executive Secretary has renewed his request for observer status in the TRIPS Council. To date, the application submitted by the Executive Secretary is pending.

Committee on Agriculture

The WTO Agreement on Agriculture and the Doha Ministerial Declaration mandated further negotiations relating to agricultural trade, on market access, export subsidies and on trade-distorting domestic support. Special and differential treatment for developing countries is an integral part of all elements of the negotiations and non-trade concerns are taken into account. These negotiations are taking place in the Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture. This mandate has important linkages with the Convention’s programme of work on agricultural biodiversity as well as its work on incentive measures and its focus on positive incentives for the conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use as well as on the removal or mitigation of perverse incentives.

The Conference of the Parties requested the Executive Secretary to apply for observer status in the WTO Committee on Agriculture for the purpose of representing the Convention in meetings whose agendas may influence implementation of the work on agricultural biological diversity and related decisions, and encouraged Parties to support this application. The application submitted by the Executive Secretary is pending.

Committees on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and on Technical Barriers to Trade (SPS Committee and TBT Committee)

COP emphasized the need to ensure mutual supportiveness of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and, in particular, the WTO Agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) and on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) paragraph 27). The Biosafety Protocol is based on the precautionary approach and establishes a set of procedures relating to import and export of living modified organisms to ensure that Parties can make informed decisions. The Protocol may therefore have trade implications and relate to the ongoing discussions under the SPS and TBT Committees on the issue of living modified organisms.

COP also recognized the need to strengthen institutional coordination at international, regional and national levels on invasive alien species as a trade-related issue, and therefore invited the World Trade Organization and its relevant bodies – in particular the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Committee) and the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Committee) - to give consideration to the risks from invasive alien species in their deliberations. Further to pertinent invitations expressed by COP, work is currently being undertaken with the SPS Committee as well as other partners on the lack of international standards covering invasive alien species, in particular animals, that are not pests of plants under the International Plant Protection Convention, nor diseases that are listed by the World Organization for Animal Health.

The applications submitted by the Executive Secretary to these two Committees are pending.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme