CRITERIA FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIES
The Chair provided a summary of the criteria for national strategies, as expressed in Wednesday's reports on national activities. The Chair then asked for brief comments on the list. India requested the addition of population; changes in rainfall or climate that affect species; disasters; need to integrate human and conservation needs and traditional knowledge in biodiversity conservation; and land use and soil degradation. The Netherlands added responsibility for ecosystems and species. Sweden added genetic diversity. Indonesia added poverty. Bolivia suggested grouping the list into three broad categories. The Chair then asked for a small group to reorder the list, including Costa Rica as chair and Bolivia, Cuba, Norway, Sweden, India, Indonesia, Malawi, and a representative to be named by the EC. Brazil requested that this list not be considered as formal recommendations or decisions of the Working Group. He reserved the right to keep this issue open in the Plenary, noting that the list included criteria that could be considered as pre-conditions for funding. The Chair suggested that the list is but a first step that could result in a recommendation to the Plenary if the delegates so wished. Or the issue could be re-discussed in the Plenary. Another option would be to defer it to the next ICCBD.
The Chair next referred to Article 25 and Resolution 2 of the Nairobi Final Act that call for a meeting of scientists to advise the ICCBD up to the first meeting of the COP. All countries could attend until the COP establishes rules of procedure. Norway suggested that the body should quickly be established and should be of manageable size, but open to all governments. Belgium, for the EC, referred to paragraph 2(b) of the Nairobi Final Act that calls for the establishment of an interim scientific and technical advisory committee of government experts to assist in the preparation of draft guidelines. Belgium proposed a restricted group with representatives of the five regional groups to make recommendations regarding the ISTAC. Sweden stated that ISTAC's job under Resolution 2(b) is to establish an agenda and arrangements among governments. Thus the body should report to this Working Group. Some of the opponents of the creation of an ISTAC, such as Nigeria, are concerned about the terms of reference and composition of the body. Australia noted on the other hand, that a number of scientific issues need to be worked out during the intersessional period to enable the COP to deal with substantive issues. The Chair stated that this committee will set the terms of reference for ISTAC if they decide to create such a body. Brazil and India raised questions regarding the need for such a body just one year before the COP. Costa Rica, the US, and Norway referred to the need to establish ISTAC with high calibre scientists and technologists. The Bahamas recommended including resource economists and others beyond strict scientific and technical experts on the advisory body.
The World Conservation Monitoring Centre reminded the delegates of the urgent need to address biodiversity loss, and referred to the need for scientific and technical information, traditional knowledge and experience from indigenous and local communities and NGOs. Mexico called for the creation of ISTAC as an open-ended body.
The Chair established a small committee to resolve the question of whether to create ISTAC, and if so, to discuss its composition and terms of reference. This group included India as Chair, with Nigeria, Malawi, Costa Rica, UK, Indonesia, Bolivia, and Brazil.
The Chair reconvened the afternoon session by introducing the recommendation of the informal group on ISTAC. They requested that, before the next ICCBD meeting, the UNEP Executive Director should convene a scientific meeting to report on several issues including: international cooperation and research to implement the Convention; scientific and technical assessment of status of biodiversity; and state-of-the-art technology. Governments would be able to nominate competent experts.
The Chair noted consensus among delegations that any subsidiary body should be set up on an interim basis. He referred to the divergence of views about the size and scope of the body's activities. The UK stated that ISTAC must be of a manageable size and geographically representative. She also suggested that it should be limited to providing advice to the COP. Brazil insisted that the size of the interim meeting should not be smaller than the ISTAC when it is established after the first meeting of the COP. He noted that the Convention calls for an open-ended body, a point echoed by Mexico. The UK noted that the open-ended requirement in Article 25 applies only to the subsidiary body to be set up under the COP, and not the interim body. The IUCN noted the many scientific meetings that address biodiversity, and stated that the main objective of the interim meeting would be to assess how this information can be applied to the substantive issues.
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