Let the discussions begin.

Today we met all day with the other NGO’s and the IPC representing small farmer groups around the world to make sure our collective voice is clear and ready to be delivered at the appropriate time over the next 5 days to the Treaty delegates from 149 nations.

Sept. 19, 2022

The first day of the official GB9 Session began with an Opening Ceremony in the morning and official business beginning in the afternoon.  Expected debate on agenda item concerning reopening the discussion of enhancing the Multi-lateral system was postponed until the next day as time ran out before the item was reached.  A full discussion of the days events is published each day thanks to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB), a balanced, timely, and independent reporting service on United Nations environment and development negotiations.


Francois Meienberg preparing remarks.

U.S. Delegate to GB9

View of initial Plenary Session from the big screen.

We are offical.  Global Seed Savers is recognized with its own table sign and microphone.

Sept. 20, 2022

Serious Treay discussion begins.  Chairperson Ms Yasina El-Bahloul linked discussion of adding the list of plants covered by the Treaty, a key North American demand with discussion of enhancing the MLS, the Multilateral System of germplasm distribution, a key demand of countries representing small-holder farmers.  Although delegates expressed the importance of reopening offical discussion of both agenda items, the official positions of many countries seemed to have changed little since GB8 when negotiations broke down completely.  Link to Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) for the day’s summary.

Our dear friend, Andrew Mushita, CTDT, Zimbabwe, calls for enhancing the MLS to deliver the initial promise of the Treaty, to share resources derived from the world’s genetic resources with the small-holder farmers that created and steward them.

Francois Meienberg, Pro Species Rara, intervenes on behalf of the attending NGO’s with concise exposure of two loop holes in the functioning of the MLS.  The first allows material to be taken from a large national genebank without filling out the Treaty’s standard material transfer agreement, SMTA.  The second allows patents on material taken from the MLS without any way to trace such activity.

Our own Karen Lee Hizola was given the honor of reading the NGO statement on Farmer’s Rights.

Sept. 21, 2022

As is usual at this stage of the session, the most contentious issues moved to committees in the background.  Contact and informal groups on the more controversial issues met in the evening and into the night, to address a process for enhancing the Multilateral System (MLS), farmers’ rights, guardians of crop diversity, the capacity-development strategy, as well as the budget.  The plenary addressed a series of items related to conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), compliance, and cooperation with other organizations. A complete summary of the day’s activities can be found here in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

Farmers are the unsung heroes and guardians of the world’s crop diversity, and contribute directly to global food security.  The is the theme of the 9th Session.  As a result, a mind-boggling number of displays of farmers and the diversity they steward is being showcased.  

Sept. 22, 2022

With most of the difficult work now taking place in smaller working contact groups behind the scenes, Plenary Session delt with issues concerning the functioning of the governing body itself, i.e. re-electing Secretary Nardozi, and mult-year program of work.  A summary of the day’s events can be found here in this link to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

Sherry leads an important Global Seed Savers presentation at a Side Event at the 9th Session.

Karen Lee Hizola drives home the power of seeds with personal stories from the farmers from the Philippines in Global Seed Savers.

Celebratory mood following successful presentation by Global Seed Savers at their 9th Session Side Event.

We are so happy our dear friend Indra Shekhar Singh, New Dehli, activist in the Farmer’s Rights movement, was able to join us for the Side Session.

Sept. 23, 2022

Another day.  Another argument.  As the 9th Session rushes toward its conclusion tomorrow, word-smithing intensifies so the remaining documents can be approved including Farmers Rights and Conservation and Sustainable Use…  The real work will probably commence late into the tonight in contact groups and small working groups.  A link to a complete summary of the day’s events can be found here.

Our morning NGO/CSO meeting was graced by the attendance of representatives of CGIAR, Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, the organization tasked with operating the world’s largest seed banks.  They came to answer questions about farmer access to seeds and about protocols for collecting new “accessions” in the field.

Sept. 24, 2022

Its a wrap.  Final word smithing continued late into the night.  No major breakthroughs were reported on the most important issues confronting the Treaty.  Unlike the 8th Session, a compromise was reached to allow official intersessional work to continue on Farmer’s Rights, DSI and enhancing the MLS, and a 10th Session will be held next year in Rome, November 20-25.  A link to a full report and summary of the week can be found here.

 Congratulations all around for reaching a compromise on continuing the arguments as the session closes.

Final class photo of the very fine folks from the world’s NGO’s and CSO’s that represented the views of millions of small-holder farmers.  You have my deepest respect.

Author: Bill