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About the AHTEG

The Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Socio-economic Considerations was established by the meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol through decision BS-VI/13, to develop conceptual clarity in the context of paragraph 1 of Article 26.

Experts were selected in consultation with the COP-MOP Bureau and in accordance with the terms of reference specified in the Annex to decision BS-VI/13, and the applicable rules of procedure for meetings under the Protocol.

The first meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Socio-economic Considerations was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea from 17 to 21 February 2014.

Pursuant to paragraph 4 of decision BS-VI/13, the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Socio-economic Considerations examined: (i) the outcomes of the online forums that were held throughout March and April of 2013 and the four regional online real-time conferences that took place in June 2013; and (ii) the compilation and review of information on socio-economic considerations (global overview) that the Executive Secretary had commissioned, in order to develop conceptual clarity on socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities. Documents prepared for the meeting are available here.

The AHTEG agreed to a list of elements of a framework for conceptual clarity on socio-economic considerations as contained in the annex to its report. The AHTEG also made a recommendation for the seventh meeting of the COP-MOP to extend the AHTEG.

Following the seventh meeting of the COP-MOP, due to the lack of sufficient funding to organize a face-to-face meeting of the AHTEG, an on-line discussion was held from 9 May to 17 June 2016 to enable the AHTEG to undertake certain aspects of its mandate, focusing in particular on the further development of conceptual clarity. Through the online discussion, the AHTEG agreed on a revised Framework for Conceptual Clarity, as contained in the annex of document UNEP/CBD/BS/COP-MOP/MOP/8/13 submitted to the eighth meeting of the COP-MOP.

In response to decision CP-VIII/13, the Executive Secretary, in consultation with the Bureau of the COP-MOP, selected experts nominated by Parties to replace experts that were no longer available to service on the AHTEG as well as an expert nominated by indigenous peoples and local communities. The composition of the AHTEG was published in notification 2017-63).

The Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Socio-economic Considerations met again in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from 9 to 13 October 2017.

Pursuant to paragraph 2 of decision CP-VIII/13, the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Socio-economic Considerations worked on the guidelines envisaged under the outcomes for operational objectives 1.7 of the Strategic Plan for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Following extensive discussions, the AHTEG agreed on the draft “Guidance on the assessment of socio-economic considerations in the context of Article 26 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety” as contained in the annex to its report.

Among other things, the AHTEG recommended that the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties, at its ninth meeting, consider the report of the meeting of the AHTEG, including the draft Guidance. The Group also noted that further work was needed to supplement the draft Guidance, in particular on the application of methodologies and examples of application of socio-economic considerations. The Group made some recommendations to COP-MOP 9 in this regard.

At the ninth meeting of the COP-MOP, in decision CP-9/14, Parties took note of the “Guidance on the Assessment of Socio-Economic Considerations in the Context of Article 26 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety” (voluntary Guidance) contained in the annex to document CBD/CP/MOP/9/10. In the same decision, the COP-MOP invited Parties, other Governments, relevant organizations and other stakeholders, as appropriate, to use and submit preliminary experiences using the voluntary Guidance, as well as examples of methodologies and applications of socio-economic considerations in the light of the elements of the voluntary Guidance, preferably in the form of case studies. The COP-MOP also established an online forum on socio-economic considerations through the Biosafety Clearing-House to facilitate moderated discussions to comment and add views to review the submissions. The Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Socio-economic Considerations was extended and mandated to review the outcomes of the online forum in accordance with the terms of reference contained in the annex to decision CP-9/14.

The Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Socio-economic Considerations met again in Vienna, Austria from 10 to 13 December 2019.

The composition of the AHTEG was revised to replace some experts that were no longer available to serve on the AHTEG (see Notification 2019-088).

Pursuant to the terms of reference contained in the annex to decision CP-9/14, the AHTEG reviewed the submissions received in response to Notification 2019-031 and the outcomes of the online discussions, held in September 2019, with a view to supplementing the voluntary Guidance by indicating for which stage of the assessment process the information might be relevant.

The AHTEG recognized that Parties had had limited time to gain preliminary experience using the Guidance and that, as a result, the submissions made related to experiences predating the Guidance. The AHTEG was of the view that additional time would be needed for Parties and other relevant stakeholders to gain experience using the Guidance.

Nonetheless, the AHTEG noted that the submissions and outcomes of the online discussions provided useful information on experiences with socio-economic considerations that were relevant to different stages and steps of the assessment process as outlined in the Guidance. The findings by the AHTEG are provided in annex III of the report of the AHTEG.

Experts also discussed assessing the values of biological diversity to indigenous peoples and local communities; and the use of a variety of methods for assessing social, cultural, ethical, monetary and non-monetary aspects and values, given the limitations in different methodologies. In this regard, the AHTEG suggested that more information on a variety of methodologies should be gathered and shared. The issue of the availability of relevant data and the need for more information on review and monitoring processes was also discussed.

The AHTEG further noted that the work on socio-economic considerations had contributed to achieving operational objective 1.7 of the Strategic Plan for the Cartagena Protocol and that the Guidance would facilitate implementation of Article 26 of the Protocol. It also acknowledged that the issue of socio-economic considerations was addressed in the draft post-2020 implementation plan for the Cartagena Protocol and the Capacity-Building Action Plan.

The report of the AHTEG will be submitted to the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol for its consideration at its tenth meeting.