11-15 OCTOBER 2010

The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP 5) was held from 11-15 October 2011 in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Approximately 1600 participants representing parties to the Protocol and other governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academia and industry attended the meeting.

The meeting adopted the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (the Supplementary Protocol) and 16 other decisions on: the Compliance Committee; the Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH); capacity building; the Roster of Biosafety Experts; experiences with documentation requirements for handling, packaging, transport and identification (HTPI) of living modified organisms (LMOs) for food, feed and processing (LMO-FFPs); HTPI standards; rights and/or obligations of parties of transit of LMOs; monitoring and reporting; assessment and review; the Strategic Plan and multi-year programme of work (MYPOW); cooperation with other organizations, conventions and initiatives; risk assessment and risk management; public awareness and participation; financial mechanism and resources; and the budget.

The adoption of the Supplementary Protocol was hailed as an important success against the background of complex and often protracted negotiations. The Supplementary Protocol fills an important gap in the implementation of the Biosafety Protocol. While some lauded it as a catalyst for action not only on biosafety but also in other areas of liability and redress for damage to the environment, others raised concerns on its questionable legal effectiveness, noting that much of the original substance has been lost in the six-year negotiation processes. Overall, delegates felt that COP/MOP 5 had been quite successful in creating a basis for advancing the implementation of the Biosafety Protocol.




The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety addresses the safe transfer, handling and use of LMOs that may have adverse effects on biodiversity, taking into account human health, with a specific focus on transboundary movements of LMOs. It includes an advance informed agreement (AIA) procedure for imports of LMOs for intentional introduction into the environment, and also incorporates the precautionary approach and mechanisms for risk assessment and risk management.

The Protocol establishes a BCH to facilitate information exchange, and contains provisions on capacity building and financial resources, with special attention to developing countries and those without domestic regulatory systems. The Protocol entered into force on 11 September 2003 and currently has 160 parties.

NEGOTIATION PROCESS: In 1995, CBD COP 2, held in Jakarta, Indonesia, established a Biosafety Working Group (BSWG) to comply with Article 19.3 of the CBD, which requests parties to consider the need for, and modalities of, a protocol setting out procedures in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of LMOs resulting from biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biodiversity and its components.

The BSWG held six meetings between 1996 and 1999. The first two meetings identified elements for the future protocol and helped to articulate positions. BSWG 3 developed a consolidated draft text to serve as the basis for negotiation. The fourth and fifth meetings focused on reducing and refining options for each article of the draft protocol. At the final meeting of the BSWG (February 1999, Cartagena, Colombia), delegates attempted to complete negotiations and submit the draft protocol to the first Extraordinary Meeting of the COP (ExCOP), convened immediately following BSWG 6. Despite intense negotiations, delegates could not agree on a compromise package that would finalize the protocol, and the meeting was suspended. Outstanding issues included: the scope of the protocol; its relationship with other agreements, especially those related to trade; its reference to precaution; the treatment of LMO-FFPs; liability and redress; and documentation requirements.

Following suspension of the ExCOP, three sets of informal consultations were held, involving the five negotiating groups that had emerged during the negotiations: the Central and Eastern European Group; the Compromise Group (Japan, Mexico, Norway, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland, joined later by New Zealand and Singapore); the European Union; the Like-minded Group (the majority of developing countries); and the Miami Group (Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, the US and Uruguay). Compromise was reached on the outstanding issues, and the resumed ExCOP adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety on 29 January 2000 in Montreal, Canada. The meeting also established the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP) to undertake preparations for COP/MOP 1, and requested the CBD Executive Secretary to prepare work for development of a BCH. During a special ceremony held at COP 5 (May 2000, Nairobi, Kenya), 67 countries and the European Community signed the Protocol.

ICCP PROCESS: The ICCP held three meetings between December 2000 and April 2002, focusing on: information sharing and the BCH; capacity building and the Roster of Experts; decision-making procedures; compliance; HTPI; monitoring and reporting; and liability and redress.

COP/MOP 1: At its first meeting (February 2004, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), the COP/MOP adopted decisions on: information sharing and the BCH; capacity building; decision-making procedures; HTPI; compliance; liability and redress; monitoring and reporting; the Secretariat; guidance to the financial mechanism; and the medium-term work programme. Delegates also agreed on elements of documentation of LMOs-FFPs, pending a decision on detailed requirements; and also reached agreement on more detailed documentation requirements for LMOs destined for direct introduction into the environment. The meeting established the Compliance Committee, and launched the Working Group on Liability and Redress (WGLR), co-chaired by Jimena Nieto (Colombia) and René Lefeber (the Netherlands), to elaborate international rules and procedures in the field of liability and redress for damage resulting from transboundary movements of LMOs in the context of the Protocol.

WGLR 1: At its first meeting (May 2005, Montreal, Canada), the Working Group heard presentations on: scientific analysis and risk assessment; state responsibility and international liability; and expanded options, approaches and issues for further consideration in elaborating international rules and procedures on liability and redress.

COP/MOP 2: At its second meeting (May/June 2005, Montreal, Canada), the COP/MOP adopted decisions on capacity building, and public awareness and participation; and agreed to establish an intersessional technical expert group on risk assessment and risk management. COP/MOP 2 did not reach agreement on detailed requirements for documentation of LMO-FFPs that were to be approved “no later than two years after the date of entry into force of this Protocol.