WIPO Members Divided On IP Agency’s Role In Implementation Of UN Sustainable Development Goals 02/11/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Countries of the world decided in 2015 to launch an ambitious agenda to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all by 2030. What should be the role of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization in the attainment of the adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals? This question, discussed at the WIPO Committee on Development and IP, is dividing countries, as developed countries argue that only a few goals apply to the work of WIPO, and others argue that there should be no ‘cherrypicking’ as all the goals in one way or another do apply to WIPO’s work as a UN agency. CDIP Chair Amb. Luis Enrique Chávez Basagoitia of Peru The question was debated today at the WIPO Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP), meeting from 31 October to 4 November. CDIP Chair Amb. Luis Enrique Chávez Basagoitia of Peru warned against a theoretisation of the debate rather than a focus on concrete actions, which would prevent the dichotomy between the two positions. Informal consultations to try to come to an agreement on the way forward for the discussion, and in particular if a standing agenda item should be devoted to the sustainable development goals in the CDIP, were being carried out by the chair at press time. The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), encompassing some 169 targets of the Sustainable Development Agenda, came into force on 1 January 2016. The CDIP had previously started discussion on which SDGs could apply to WIPO’s work. In a document [pdf] issued at the 16th session of the CDIP by WIPO, the secretariat identified the activities undertaken by WIPO which are related to the SDGs. WIPO identified Goal 9 (Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation), and Goal 17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development), as having a direct link with WIPO’s activities, and a set of other goals indirectly related. Several countries, including China, Brazil, the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULAC), and Uganda submitted comments on the issue, compiled in a meeting document [pdf] this week. All SDGs Apply to WIPO’s Work, Some Countries Say In a long statement, Brazil, taking the floor this morning, explained that in its view, all SDGs are related to intellectual property, in view of its dissemination and widespread use in contemporary society. The Brazilian delegate gave the example of Goal 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) relating to access to medicine. WIPO could help countries with their fight against hepatitis through the elaboration of a patent landscape report on the main medicines used for treating the disease, he said. Goal 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) equally applies, said Brazil, referring to ongoing discussion in the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) on limitations and exceptions for libraries, archives, research and educational institutions. Goal 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all) and Goal 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts) also apply to WIPO’s work, he said, in particular through WIPO Green and WIPO Match. The CDIP is the most appropriate committee for dealing with the SDGs, he said, proposing that a permanent item be created in the CDIP agenda on the implementation of the SDGs. A number of countries supported this proposal, such as the African Group, China, GRULAC, Indonesia, South Africa, India, Ecuador, and Tunisia. Nigeria for the African Group also pointed to different WIPO committees where the SDGs would be applicable, such as the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC), and the Standing Committee on the Law of Patent (SCP). Developed Countries Argue Some SDGs Not a WIPO Matter Turkey on behalf of Group B said the group fully supports the SDGs and that IP rights create a number of benefits from an economic perspective by creating incentives for innovation and creativity, thus contributing to long-term economic growth. IP rights, particularly patents, promote technology transfer, the delegate said. IP can help member states to achieve the SDGs, he said, also remarking that the responsibility of the achievement of the SDGs lies primarily with countries. However, Group B finds that it is both “difficult and undesirable” to aim for an exhaustive list of SDGs, he said, adding that processes at the UN level are still “at a rather early stage, and the work on further refining indicators to measure the implementation of SDGs is still ongoing.” WIPO, as a specialised agency, should not attempt to do everything, at the risk of ending up doing nothing, he said. “WIPO’s work in relation to the SDGs must be in line with the organisation’s mandate as per its Convention and focus on the areas of expertise of the organisation,” he added. Group B suggested that particular attention be given to WIPO’s technical assistance activities to Goal 9 and that the secretariat present to the next CDIP a project proposal in view to support member states in implementing SDG 9. Group B agreed that the body competent within WIPO for discussing the implementation of SDGs is the CDIP, but said SDGs can be discussed under existing agenda items of the committee. The European Union and the Group of Central European and Baltic States agreed that WIPO’s work is relevant to SDG 9 and 17. Theoretical Discussion Dangerous Ground, Chair Says The chair warned delegations against launching into theoretical discussions and said the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda states in very clear terms that the primary responsibility of implementing the SDGs lies on each state. He suggested that the WIPO secretariat could give the CDIP periodic reports on concrete requests for cooperation have come from member states to WIPO in their efforts to implement the SDGs. It would be interesting to ground the debate in practical terms and in particular look at specific requests made to the secretariat, and on the basis of those requests, decide what SDGs are relevant to WIPO or not, he said. However, Brazil indicated that no SDGs should be a priori excluded and cited as an example Goal 5 (Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls). The Brazilian delegate said that several developed countries submitted an agenda item to the World Trade Organization Council of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on women and innovation (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 19 February 2015). Under this item were discussed the benefits of gender equality for entrepreneurship, he said. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."WIPO Members Divided On IP Agency’s Role In Implementation Of UN Sustainable Development Goals" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.