The Intergovernmental Committee on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety,
Noting with appreciation that the inter-sessional activities related to information-sharing recommended at its first meeting (UNEP/CBD/ICCP/1/9 and Corr.1, annex I) have been successfully implemented by the Secretariat as requested,
Recognizing that the pilot phase is an ongoing activity being implemented in accordance with the recommendations made at its first meeting,
Recalling that the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House should be, inter alia, user-friendly, searchable, and understandable and open to all Governments,
1. Proposes that the future development of the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House also be undertaken in accordance with the second note from the Bureau on technical issues associated with the implementation of the pilot phase (reproduced in the annex to the present recommendation);
2. Urges Governments to nominate a national focal point for the Biosafety Clearing-House, which will be responsible for approving information registered on the Biosafety Clearing-House for that country, as elaborated in the annex to the present recommendation;
3. Urges Governments to participate in the development of the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House by registering and retrieving information, and submitting comments on their experiences to the Executive Secretary as the basis for the review of the effectiveness of the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House and as a necessary prerequisite for moving from the pilot phase to the fully operational Biosafety Clearing-House;
4. Recommends that Governments use the Biosafety Clearing-House tool-kit to assist in undertaking national assessments of capacity-building needs;
5. Recognizes the interconnection between national capacities, effective use of the Biosafety Clearing-House, and successful implementation of the Protocol, and urges developed country Governments and other donors to provide financial support and appropriate technical assistance to 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, to enable them to access and use the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House;
6. Notes with appreciation the outcomes of the regional meetings on capacity-building needs for the Biosafety Clearing-House held for Africa and Latin America/Caribbean, and encourages Governments to support the implementation of the recommendations made at those meetings. The Intergovernmental Committee further notes that regional meetings are planned for Asia/Pacific and Central and Eastern Europe, and recommends that such regional capacity-building meetings be made an ongoing activity, subject to the necessary financial resources being made available;
7. Requests the Executive Secretary to develop and distribute of CD-ROMs of the pilot phase for training purposes, and to provide templates and guidance to facilitate the creation of national biosafety clearing-houses that are inter-operable with the Biosafety Clearing-House, subject to the necessary financial resources being made available;
8. Requests the Executive Secretary to facilitate access to, and use of, the biosafety roster of experts through the Biosafety Clearing-House, following final decision on the operation of the roster;
9. Requests the Executive Secretary to seek further cooperation with international, regional and subregional organizations, and with national biosafety clearing-houses, and to make the biosafety clearing-house inter-operable with their information exchange systems;
10. Invites any international organization, as appropriate:
(a) To make available to the Executive Secretary, as soon as possible, harmonized unique identification systems in relation to databases on living modified organisms;
(b) To facilitate the inclusion of relevant information on living modified organisms, including information from countries that may not be members of such organizations, in their own databases or in the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House;
11. Recalls the request made at its first meeting for the Executive Secretary to commission an independent and transparent review of the pilot phase of the biosafety clearing-house, utilizing feedback from the countries and indicators to measure success against the objectives of the pilot phase, and recommends that such review be undertaken prior to the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
SECOND NOTE FROM THE BUREAU ON TECHNICAL ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PILOT PHASE OF THE BIOSAFETY CLEARING-HOUSE
The Bureau re-emphasized that the primary audience for the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House is the Governments that will register and retrieve data from the system, and noted that all participants should be encouraged to contribute information to the pilot phase and to actively participate in its development and use.
A. Development of the central portal and the central database
B7 Use an interactive site map with explanatory text as an introductory page to better assist in the use and navigation of the Biosafety Clearing-House.
B7 Reorganize information categories to consolidate, wherever possible.
B7 Reconsider the format of the disclaimer on the entry of the central portal to make it shorter.
B7 Recommend that countries establish a national focal point for the Biosafety Clearing-House, which will be responsible for validating data registered on the Biosafety Clearing-Housefor that country. Other authorized users will be able to register data on the Biosafety Clearing-House. However, to ensure authenticity of the information, the focal point for the Biosafety Clearing-House will be required to verify the accuracy of the record before it is made public. A copy of each record will also be sent to the ICCP/Biosafety Protocol national focal point for information.
B7 Facilitate registration of information by the use of automatic defaults whenever possible, and by linking fields with existing information.
B7 The registration of national focal points should be the responsibility of the Secretariat; however, contact details should be available for editing by authorized users of the Biosafety Clearing-House.
B7 Encourage the use of hyperlinks to existing information, to avoid duplication of work, such as applicant contact details.
B7 Where possible, make use of existing initiatives such as the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI), for example to link taxonomic data with common names of organisms. Special emphasis was also put on linking inserted genes with traits.
B7 Allow organizations undertaking biosafety-related activities to register relevant websites on the Biosafety Clearing-House, including brief descriptions and metadata (to be validated by the Secretariat before being made public).
B7 Review and examine the possibility of including other categories of information in the related websites category of the Biosafety Clearing-House, e.g. creation of a biosafety journal bibliography.
B. Linkage of central portal to national, regional and international databases/nodes
B7 Continue to encourage international, regional and subregional organizations, and national databases, to become interoperable with the Biosafety Clearing-House.
C. Common formats for registering information on the Biosafety Clearing-House
B7 Revise the common formats for registering information to enhance user-friendliness.
B7 Draft common format for registering summaries of risk assessments.
B7 Recognize the need for common formats to accommodate different categories of LMOs, such as plants, micro-organisms, animals, etc.
D. Development of the Biosafety Clearing-House tool-kit
B7 Further adapt the tool-kit with a search engine and elucidate the intended audience of each module in the tool-kit.
B7 Link specific sections of the Biosafety Clearing-House to the appropriate section in the tool-kit to better assist users and incorporate interactive components whenever possible.
E. Cooperation with other international organizations
B7 Make the guidelines for interoperability with the Biosafety Clearing-House better known to other international, regional, subregional organizations.
B7 Advise participants that they must ensure that mandatory information housed at other organizations is backed-up appropriately.
F. Alternatives to a Web-based information-sharing system
B7 Efforts to develop capacities should aim for full and equitable access to the Internet by all regions of the world. Where possible, make use of existing initiatives aimed at addressing the digital divide.
B7 Develop and disseminate CD-ROM versions of the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House, for training purposes.
G. Access to the roster of experts
B7 Pending the outcomes of the second meeting of the ICCP, incorporate the biosafety roster of experts in the Biosafety Clearing-House.
H. Identify and address the capacity needs of countries
B7 Assist Parties in the development of national databases by making the interoperability guidelines better known, and by developing and making available guidelines for the creation of a national Biosafety Clearing-House. This could include web page templates for the creation of national web sites, interoperable databases to register national information, etc.
B7 Where possible, encourage incorporation of training workshops on the Biosafety Clearing-House with other relevant biosafety-related meetings, and make regional training workshops an ongoing activity (subject to the necessary financial resources being made available).
B7 Redesign the 93biosafety capacity-building projects94 database along the lines of the Action Plan for Building Capacities for the Effective Implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and include it in the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House to allow organizations to register information online.
B7 Develop and implement controlled vocabularies and keywords, based on multilingual international thesauri, wherever possible, to facilitate searching and retrieval of information in the official United Nations languages.
B7 Encourage countries to provide links to information that is available in the official United Nations languages.
J. Monitoring and review
B7 The future independent review should assess the effectiveness of the pilot phase, as perceived by the different users of the Biosafety Clearing-House, on the basis of the criteria identified in the first note by the Bureau on technical issues associated with the implementation of the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House.