Codex Challenges and future directions discussed at the @CODEXCCLAC – IICA Colloquium

IICA CCLAC US DA Colloquium was opened on March 4th 2014.

I was given the opportunity to take part in the Codex Colloquium organised by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Coordination for the Codex Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (CCLAC): Costa Rica and the United States Department of Agriculture (US DA) on Codex standard development.

The colloquium is gathering representatives of most Latin American and Caribbean countries who are either participating in person or through web streaming. The meeting is taking the form of a three day workshop from March 4th to 6th 2014, inclusive.

The meeting is an opportunity to enhance communication amongst member countries of the region, to discuss key Codex files, challenges and agenda items for upcoming Codex committees, with an attempt to share views, data and information and with the goal of coordinating positions of countries from the region.

I will attempt to use this medium to share with you the outcomes of most of the discussions in which I had/ am having the opportunity to contribute.

Today’s (March 4th) proceedings were opened by officials from IICA, US DA and senior officials of the Government of Costa Rica: the Vice Minister of the Economy and the CCLAC coordinator.

My colleague Dr. Guilherme Costa (Brazil) and I had the opportunity to open the discussions on challenges to be faced by Codex as an organisation in the upcoming period, as well as the way we would address such challenges as engaged members. Some of the challenges discussed by participants included:

– Sustainability of Codex as an organisation and the sustainability of our ability to contribute to codex standard development as members. The discussion also encompassed the way to address the sustainability of scientific advice and ways to ensure timely availability of key scientific assessments to inform health protection standards

– Relevance of codex standards and their responsiveness to members’ needs and to emerging issues

– Effective participation of all members in Codex standard development and ways to enhance it, in particular for developing nations

– Workflow management and timely advancement of codex standards

– Ways to address current polarisation of positions witnessed over the latest couple of commission meetings

Ms. Isabel Cristina Araya, Coordinator for CCLAC, provided hers and CCLAC’s perspective on these challenges and others.

Other open discussions amongst participants were held supported by an initial presentation made by a member or an expert from the region. These discussions focussed on:

– Preparation of country positions for various codex committee agenda items and the various processes followed to engage domestic stakeholders on these positions

– Coordination of positions within the CCLAC community and with other regions

– Fostering the availability of scientific data from the region, in response to JECFA’s calls for data

Dr. Jose Luis Rojas Martinez, discussing the importance of scientific data provided by the Region in response to JECFA and other expert bodies calls

Dr. Jose Luis Rojas Martinez, discussing the importance of scientific data provided by the Region in response to JECFA and other expert bodies calls

Participants congratulated the CCLAC coordination team for their exemplary efforts to engage and mobilise colleagues across the region in support of developing positions for key Codex agenda items. The pioneering efforts of CCLAC’s coordination in accessing and using virtual meeting tools on a regular basis to foster members’ participation across the region were highlighted.

Members of the CCLAC Coordination team

Members of the CCLAC Coordination team

This first session of the meeting also enabled an excellent networking opportunity amongst/between the various delegations participating from the Latin American and Caribbean region and other guest participants.