There are several good reports on the COP-MOP6 in Hyderabad India October 1-5 2012. A quite good one is that done by the IISD Reporting Services, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin. You can read this report by clicking here. The following are some of my own personal impressions on the issue of socioeconomics and Article 26 having been in many of the deliberations.

Parties to The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Parties supported the creation of an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on the issue of socioeconomics. The recommendation by the parties was to have between 5 and 8 experts for each one of the five regions in the Protocol, plus between five and ten observers from UN and related organizations in addition to representatives from indigenous and local communities.

The AHTEG on socioeconomics would focus on am almost literal read of Article 26, on the socioeconomic issues arising from the value to local and indigenous communities with an emphasis of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The AHTEG would provide guidance and “conceptual clarity” to this issue.

The AHTEG on socioeconomics may represent a good opportunity for countries to define all issues related to Article 26 especially if in its deliberations the group considers all implementation issues including providing guidance to countries on defining issues, setting priorities, determining feasibility, defining general rules and standards for decision making, providing information on the cost of compliance and all positive or negative implications from such decision.

The AHTEG may be a valuable political approach to engage countries if done properly. At the same time, the activities conducted by the AHTEG group may be redundant or not useful to many countries who may want to apply voluntarily Article 26 at the national level.

I would have preferred that the mandate of each regional AHTEG be conducting a robust issues and needs determination exercise at the national level or taking into consideration the many financial limitations limiting such exercise, preferably consulting all the readily available information about socioeconomic assessments and approaches in the public sector.

In the end, Article 26 is not mandatory, thus there is no obligation to implement this article, even when included in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Any indication to the contrary is clearly wrong.

I will continue discussing other issues that I foresee will need to be addressed if the intention is to build a functional biosafety system.