Synthetic Biology and the Convention on Biological Diversity

Synthetic biology: What is it? Why does it matter? And why are some countries and NGOs pushing for this discussion at COP11?

by Mariana Calderon

On Thursday in Working Group 2, during a seemingly innocuous discussion on  Operations of the Convention, a relatively heated discussion caught my attention–delegates were debating a topic buried under agenda item 6.2 of the COP: Synthetic Biology.

Item 6.2 actually deals with consideration of the “need to strengthen existing mechanisms of the convention,” but this bland title prefaces draft decisions on ways to improve the effectiveness of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). Within the draft decisions are three proposed textual options for dealing with (or ignoring) the topic of synthetic biology as a new & emerging issue.

So what is synthetic biology?

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COP11 Policy Round Up no. 1

Panel on the Contact Group on Resource Mobilization

Policy updates from day four of the Conference

by Mariana Calderon

This morning, now the fifth day of the conference, I realized that there is no way I can follow everything I am interested in, nor everything that I see as most crucial to follow. Took me a while…However, with the help of the marvelous Earth Negotiation Bulletins, and by attending the CBD Alliance briefings and GYBN daily meetings, I've been able to get an overall view of the proceedings.

The pace seems to have picked up in the last couple days — yesterday (day 4 of the COP) even saw the adoption of a few decisions. However, with some exceptions (as with the Global Taxonomy Inititive decision, which passed through with flying colors), this progress does not signify that there is a lack of dissent in negotiations. Discussions in the Working Groups and in the smaller Contact Groups and Friends of the Chair meetings have led to some frustration for both observers and delegates.

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Video Blog: Youth briefing with Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias

by Mariana Calderon

This morning, GYBN was able to meet with CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias:

**Note — two self-corrections, as I wasn't able to re-record: 1) Obviously, I'm reporting on COP 11, not 10; 2) The existing voluntary fund is for ILCs — Indigenous [Peoples!] and Local Communities, not LDCs.



Video Blog: Youth meeting with CBD Executive Secretary, Braulio Dias from [Earth in Brackets] on Vimeo.

Youth Statement on Stakeholder Engagement

by Mariana Calderon

During the opening ceremonies of the COP, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network was scheduled to deliver a youth intervention, but, like many other observers, we were pushed so far down the schedule by lengthy State speeches that our moment to speak never came.

So, we decided to create our own opportunity. I spent much of today drafting a statement on item 5.4, Engagement of other stakeholders, major groups, and subnational authorities, with other members of the Network — unlike in the UNFCCC process, the CBD opens the floor to observers after all States have had a chance to speak, meaning we could address a speficic agenda item as it was being discussed. Agenda item 5.4 is directly relevent to youth, and yet the draft decisions made no mention of youth participation. We decided to introduce GYBN to the delegates, emphasize the importance of including youth in decision-making process, and finally, to propose the addition of specific text on youth engagement:

CBD COP11 youth statement, 10.10.12 from [Earth in Brackets] on Vimeo.

Full text after the jump

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