The Fourth Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) was held in Bali, Indonesia, 14-18 March 2011. It adopted a resolution on Farmers' Rights, Resolution 6/2011 which marks progress with regard to the attention the Governing Body attaches to this important component of the Treaty.
An important background for this achievement was the Global Consultations on Farmers’ Rights that had been held in the inter-sessional period up to the Fourth Session of the Governing Body, comprising an e-mail-based survey and a global consultation conference with regional components, held in Addis Ababa in 2010. Ethiopia presented an input paper (translated into Spanish and French) to the Governing Body about the consultation process that had been organized by the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway, in collaboration with the Institute of Biodiversity Conservation, Ethiopia (now Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute). The results were also presented at a side event during the session.
Following the presentation of Ethiopia of the outcomes of the Global Consultations on Farmers’ Rights, the Governing Body started the negotiations on the agenda item. Based on the first round of negotiations, an informal working group met to discuss elements of a resolution text based on a draft from the Philippines. Contracting parties, as well as relevant organizations, were invited to participate in the discussion on an informal basis. The group made progress, but due to controversies among the Parties, the text remained bracketed. Thus, the plenary decided to establish a formal Contact Group to seek finalization of the text. Due to continued controversies among the Parties, the resolution text was presented to the plenary with several brackets, which were finally resolved on the last day of the session.
In Resolution 6/2011 on Farmers’ Rights, the Governing Body invites contracting parties to convene national consultations and requests the Secretariat to convene regional workshops on the implementation of Farmers' Rights. In Resolution7/2011 on sustainable use of plant genetic resources, an Ad Hoc Technical Committee was established on the implementation of Article 6, sustainable use of crop genetic resources, which will also work on important questions related to the implementation of Farmers' Rights (the two resolutions should therefore be read together). Furthermore, contracting parties were encouraged to continue submitting views, experiences and best practices on the implementation of Farmers' Rights to the Secretariat, and they were invited to consider reviewing, and if necessary, adjusting their national measures affecting the realization of Farmers' Rights.