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MOP 2 Decision BS-II/2

Operations and activities of the Biosafety Clearing-House

The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol,

Having examined the note by the Executive Secretary (UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/2/3), reviewing the operation and development of the Biosafety Clearing-House,

Welcoming and taking into account the outcomes of the internal review of the operation of the Biosafety Clearing-House conducted by the Secretariat,

Welcoming with appreciation the transition of the pilot phase to the fully operational Biosafety Clearing-House, and the ongoing development of its Central Portal,

Emphasizing the need for capacity-building to enable developing countries to effectively use the Biosafety Clearing-House, including managing their obligations to report information, and welcoming in this regard the continuing efforts of the Global Environment Facility to expand its support to building capacity for effective participation in the Biosafety Clearing-House and its recent extension of country eligibility for this purpose,

Welcoming with appreciation the capacity-building activities of the Secretariat, such as the Biosafety Clearing-House training workshop, and extending its thanks to the Government of the Netherlands and the Global Industry Coalition for their generous sponsorship of this workshop, and the UNEP/GEF biosafety team for their collaboration,

Recalling that the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol at its first meeting encouraged the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other organizations involved in the development of unique identification systems for living modified organisms to initiate or enhance their activities towards the development of a harmonized system of unique identifiers for genetically modified micro-organisms and animals (decision BS-I/6 C, paragraph 3),

Noting that the provision of relevant information is essential for the effective operation of the Biosafety Clearing-House,

1. Adopts the multi-year programme of work contained in the annex to the present decision;

2. Welcomes the participation of Governments and international organizations that have provided information to the Biosafety Clearing-House, either directly through the Management Centre of the Central Portal, or through the development of nodes that are interoperable with the Central Portal of the Biosafety Clearing-House;

3. Encourages Parties, Governments and other users to continue to use the Management Centre to provide information, and/or to develop national, regional, subregional and institutional nodes that are interlinked and interoperable with the Central Portal, as appropriate;

4. Urges all Parties, Governments and other users to provide relevant information to the Biosafety Clearing-House as soon as possible, including information pertaining to decisions on the release or import of living modified organisms and risk assessments taken prior to entry into force of the Protocol, and to undertake regular review of the information they have previously made available;

5. Invites Parties, Governments and other users to identify constraints on making information available in a timely manner, and to implement strategies to overcome these difficulties;

6. Invites Parties, Governments and international organizations to make relevant biosafety information available through the Biosafety Information Resource Centre;

7. Calls upon each Party that has not yet done so to designate an appropriate national focal point for the Biosafety Clearing-House;

8. Invites donor Governments and organizations to assist developing country Parties, 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, to access and use the Biosafety Clearing-House, particularly in the areas of improved capacity for data collection and data management at a national level, strengthening of core human resources at a national level, and the establishment of appropriate infrastructure to share information at both national, regional and international levels;

9. Requests the Executive Secretary to continue to support capacity-building efforts to meet the 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 with limited capacity that are centres of origin and centres of genetic diversity, to enable their active participation in the Biosafety Clearing-House.

Annex

MULTI-YEAR PROGRAMMME OF WORK FOR THE OPERATION OF THE BIOSAFETY CLEARING-HOUSE

Programme element 1: Structure and function of the central portal

Objective: Improve ease of reporting and accessing information in the Biosafety Clearing-House in response to identified needs of users.

Possible activities:

  • Expand the general user base of the Biosafety Clearing-House by making it more accessible to novice users, for example by making the information more intuitively easy to find (while maintaining as much of the existing structure as is feasible), clustering search results, improving support functions such as an interactive Biosafety Clearing House user guide. Main actor: Secretariat, with input from Governments and relevant organizations. Timeframe: ongoing.
  • Ensure that common formats are flexible enough to enable full reporting of information (for example, able to accommodate reporting of data produced prior to entry into force of the Protocol, such as risk assessments conducted outside the annex III format; able to accommodate data reported through product-based regulatory models), while maintaining backwards compatibility with existing information-exchange partners. Main actor: Secretariat, with input from Governments and relevant organizations. Timeframe: annual review of common formats.
  • Expand controlled vocabularies as required to reflect changing technologies and types of information that are being reported to the Biosafety Clearing-House. Main actor: Secretariat, with input from other organizations maintaining multilingual thesauri. Timeframe: annual.
  • Differentiate between null responses where information is not available because it does not exist, versus information that has not been reported on. Main actor: Secretariat, with input from Governments and relevant organizations. Timeframe: December 2005.
  • Maintain support for interoperability options with partner Governments and organizations. Main actor: Secretariat with input from Governments and relevant organizations. Timeframe: ongoing.

Programme element 2: Information content and management

Objective: Increase the amount of information that is currently being reported to the Biosafety Clearing-House, and ensure it is provided in a timely manner.

Possible activities:

  • Appoint national focal points (or, where appropriate, institutional focal points) for the Biosafety Clearing-House, to actively make information available through the Biosafety Clearing-House. Main actor: Governments. Timeframe: To be appointed by mid-2005.
  • Collate information relating to obligations of Governments to provide certain data within particular time-limits and make this more visible through the Biosafety Clearing-House. Main actor: Secretariat. Timeframe: To be made available by mid-2005.
  • Compile existing biosafety information required to be reported under the Protocol (see section A of the Modalities of Operation of the Biosafety Clearing-House) and ensure it has been made available to the Biosafety Clearing-House where appropriate. Main actor: Governments. Timeframe: December 2005.
  • Review existing information in the Biosafety Clearing-House to ensure it has been accurately reported and categorized. Main actor: Governments. Timeframe: quarterly.
  • Improve user documentation to assist focal points and other authorized users by providing clear examples and descriptions of data required in each field within the common formats. Main actor: Secretariat, in collaboration with capacity-building organizations. Timeframe: as appropriate.
  • Identify constraints on making information available in a timely manner and implement strategies to overcome these difficulties. Main actor: Governments. Timeframe: December 2005.
  • Share experiences with the use of the Biosafety Clearing-House, particularly by providing case-studies of experiences with national management and clearance of information ("validation"). Main actor: Governments. Timeframe: December 2005.
  • Continue to encourage Governments to provide information to the Biosafety Clearing-House through, for example, reminders of information-exchange requirements and provision of tools to allow Governments to assess their performance in meeting their reporting requirements to the Biosafety Clearing-House. Main actor: Secretariat. Timeframe: ongoing.

Programme element 3: Sharing information on and experience with LMOs

Objective: Make a broader range of biosafety information accessible to users of the Biosafety Clearing House.

Possible activities:

  • Continue to develop the Biosafety Information Resource Centre. Main actor: Secretariat. Timeframe: December 2005.
  • Collect information relevant to biosafety issues, and make it available through the Biosafety Information Resource Centre. Main actor: Governments and relevant organizations. Timeframe: biannual.
  • Make use of information-sharing mechanisms such as discussion forums and online conference facilities through the Biosafety Clearing-House to facilitate a broad exchange of views on experience with LMOs. Main actor: Secretariat with Governments and relevant organizations. Timeframe: as appropriate.
  • Consult among national, regional, subregional and institutional centres with relevant expertise, as well as non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to maximize use of existing experience and expertise. Main actor: Secretariat with relevant organizations. Timeframe: Initial consultations to be completed by June 2006.

Programme element 4: Capacity-building and non-Internet accessibility

Objective: Ensure that countries have the necessary capabilities to access the Internet-based central Portal and are able to access information through the Biosafety Clearing-House in a timely manner.

Possible activities:

  • Continue to take into account the identified capacity-building constraints and financial limitations of developing countries with regard to effective participation in the Biosafety Clearing-House, placing a high priority on data collection and data management, strengthening of core human resources at a national level, and the establishment of appropriate infrastructure to share information at national, regional and international levels. Main actor: Donor governments and relevant organizations. Timeframe: ongoing.
  • Examine the feasibility of expanding existing web features to enable distribution by e-mail and fax (for example, participation in discussion forums). Main actor: Secretariat, if adequate resources are made available. Timeframe: December 2005.
  • Circulate regularly updated CD-ROM versions of information in the Biosafety Clearing-House to those users without good access to the Internet. Main actor: Secretariat, if adequate resources are made available. Timeframe: biannual.
  • Take advantage of opportunities for providing training in the use of the Biosafety Clearing-House, such as meetings of the Parties to the Protocol, taking into account the need for the Biosafety Clearing-House to be used in the broader context of Protocol implementation. Main actor: Secretariat, if adequate resources are made available. Timeframe: ongoing.

Programme element 5: Review of activities

Objective: Ensure that the programme of work is achieving the goals of the Biosafety Clearing-House effectively.

Possible activities:

  • Continue to review the operation of the Biosafety Clearing-House, including through the use of targeted follow-up surveys and usability studies, and by providing user feedback mechanisms directly on the Biosafety Clearing House, subject to available resources. Main actor: Secretariat with input from Governments and relevant organizations. Timeframe: ongoing.
  • Conduct a second review of the Biosafety Clearing-House, and compare improvements against existing baseline data, as part of the review of the implementation of the Protocol envisaged in the medium-term programme of work for the Protocol. Timeframe: for consideration at the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme