Attempt to Implement the Biodiversity Convention in the Andean Region
Walter Jaffé and Miguel Rojas
Keywords:  Latin America/Carribean; Access to genetic resources.
Correct citation: Jaffé, W. and Rojas, M. (1994), "Attempt to Implement the Biodiversity Convention in the Andean Region." Biotechnology and Development Monitor, No. 21, p. 5.

In October 1993, the Andean Pact countries Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela approved a common plant breeders rights statute. Simultaneously, they set themselves the target to establish common policies towards biosafety and access to genetic resources within a year. These three issues were seen as necessary components of a coherent legal framework consonant with the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The responsibility of preparing a draft directive for the access of genetic resources was assigned to the Junta del Acuerdo de Cartagena (JUNAC), the administrative body of the Andean Pact. JUNAC contracted the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the Peruvian Center for Environmental Law, a private consultant, for this job. First, they convened a small meeting of experts in Lima to gather ideas. In July 1994, a larger meeting was held in Colombia to discuss a draft proposal. This last meeting was attended by representatives of environmental NGOs, indigenous people organizations and government experts.
The strategy chosen by JUNAC has been criticized because of a perceived lack of consultation with the individual countries, particularly with Colombia where the Ministry of Environment is also working on a proposal. The meeting in Colombia was taken over by the participants, who, instead of discussing and amending the IUCN proposal, changed the original agenda in order to discuss more general issues of genetic resources management. At a second meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Environment of Venezuela in August 1994, the Colombian draft which set the basis for a common Venezuelan­Colombian proposal was discussed. This last document was one of the drafts presented to a meeting of government representatives.
The whole discussion process revealed several differences of opinion:

Progress in the discussions is hindered by differences in knowledge of the participants on the issues, but also by genuine difficulties of a new and unchartered terrain. Plant breeders, botanists and zoologists are the most familiar with some of the concrete problems facing genetic resources, such as the management of ex situ and in situ collections. They urge solutions for their problems first, which could provide the basis for tackling the more complicated problems of distribution of benefits to indigenous communities in the future.
Walter Jaffé/Miguel Rojas (IICA)

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