COP 4 Decision IV/6
Retired sections: paragraphs 1, 2, 5, 7 to 13.

Agricultural biological diversity

The Conference of the Parties,

Recalling its decision III/11, on the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biological diversity, and reiterating the importance of agricultural biological diversity as containing the most vital elements of biological diversity essential for food and livelihood security,

Emphasizing the need for a worldwide reorientation towards sustainable agriculture which balances production and conservation objectives in such a way as to meet the needs of expanding populations while maintaining an ecological balance,

Welcoming the statement presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations at the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, regarding its offer to provide further technical assistance to Parties in the implementation of the three objectives of the Convention, in particular, in response to decision III/11,

Further welcoming the establishment by the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, of an intergovernmental Technical Working Group for Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the first meeting of which is scheduled for September 1998,

1. Endorses recommendation III/4 of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and, noting the progress made so far in initiating the development of the multi-year work programme on agricultural biological diversity called for in decision III/11, highlights the importance of speeding up implementation and requests full support of the Convention's instruments in such efforts;

2. Reiterates its wish, in accordance with paragraph 2 of decision III/11, that FAO maintain its coordinating role in the assessment of ongoing activities and instruments at regional and international levels and requests the Executive Secretary, in collaboration with FAO, to further consult with Parties, Governments and relevant organizations and bodies in the finalization of this review with a view to making available a clear and well structured report, well in advance of the fourth meeting of SBSTTA, that will facilitate the work of SBSTTA;

3. Requests the Executive Secretary to reiterate the invitation to Parties and Governments for further national submissions, if possible in electronic form, on ongoing activities, existing instruments and lessons learnt in the area of agricultural biological diversity, in the light of paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 and annex 2 of decision III/11;

4. Suggests that Governments, funding agencies, the private sector and non-governmental organizations should join efforts to identify and promote sustainable agricultural practices, integrated landscape management of mosaics of agriculture and natural areas, as well as appropriate farming systems that will reduce possible negative impacts of agricultural practices on biological diversity and enhance the ecological functions provided by biological diversity to agriculture. In this regard, invites Parties, Governments and organizations to begin the process of conducting case-studies based on socio-economic and ecological analyses of different land-use management options and to provide such case-studies to the Secretariat.

5. Decides to expand the focus placed on soil micro-organisms in annex 3 of decision III/11 to address all soil biota, as outlined in paragraph 8 of SBSTTA recommendation III/4, and invites Parties, Governments and international organizations to conduct case-studies on soil biota in agriculture and to provide them to the Executive Secretary for compilation in the form of a synthesis report for consideration by SBSTTA;

6. Requests Parties, Governments and international organizations, in particular FAO, in the light of paragraphs 9, 15 (a) and 15 (m) of decision III/11 and of part A of decision IV/1 to begin to provide inputs on the development and application of methodologies for assessments of agricultural biological diversity and tools for identification and monitoring, including: criteria and indicators for agricultural biological diversity, including those addressing farming systems and agricultural ecosystems; rapid assessment techniques; the identification of underlying causes behind the loss of biological diversity; and the identification of incentives to overcome constraints and enhance the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biological diversity and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits;

7. Requests SBSTTA at its fourth meeting, in accordance with paragraph 7 of decision III/11 and decision IV/16, to develop and provide to the Conference of the Parties at its fifth meeting, advice and recommendations for the development of the first phase, and subsequent phases, of the multi-year work programme on agricultural biological diversity;

8. Welcomes the close cooperation established between the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and FAO and, with reference to decision II/15 and decision III/11, paragraph 19, of the Conference of the Parties, urges that the momentum in the intergovernmental negotiations of the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources in harmony with the Convention should be maintained with a view to its timely conclusion before the end of 1999;

9. Requests the Executive Secretary, as a complement to decision III/17, paragraph 6, to apply for observer status in the Committee on Agriculture of the World Trade Organization for the purpose of representing the Convention in meetings whose agendas may influence implementation of decision III/11 and related decisions of the Conference of the Parties;

10. Requests the Executive Secretary to report to the Conference of the Parties on the impact of trade liberalization on the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biological diversity in consultation with relevant bodies, such as the World Trade Organization;

11. Reiterating the precautionary approach, requests SBSTTA, to consider and assess, in light of contributions to be provided by Parties, Governments and organizations, whether there are any consequences for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity from the development and use of new technology for the control of plant gene expression, such as that described in United States patent 5723765, and to elaborate scientifically based advice to the Conference of the Parties. Moreover, urges Parties, Governments as well as civil society and public and private institutions to consider the precautionary approach in its application;

12. With reference to paragraphs 21 and 22 of decision III/11, draws the attention of international funding agencies, including the financial mechanism, of the need to support capacity-building in the development and implementation of this work programme;

13. Welcomes the efforts being made by the financial mechanism in the development of its operational policy framework on agricultural biological diversity and urges the early completion of this framework, fully in line with decision III/11, so as to provide effective implementation support to Parties and Governments in all agricultural ecosystems.