<$TEfWeight=4>The Second Session of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-2) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met in Montreal, Canada, from 2-6 September, 1996. Many Parties sent scientific and technical experts to the meeting, which was also attended by observers from non-Parties, NGOs, indigenous peoples organizations, industry groups and scientific organizations. Delegates grappled with a crowded agenda, including such complex technical issues as the monitoring and assessment of biodiversity, practical approaches to taxonomy, economic valuation of biodiversity, access to genetic resources, agricultural biodiversity, terrestrial biodiversity, marine and coastal biodiversity, biosafety and the clearing-house mechanism.
Despite Chair Peter Johan Scheis plea to delegates to maintain scientific integrity and avoid turning the SBSTTA into a mini-Conference of the Parties," the issue of identity and the precise role of the SBSTTA in managing the scientific content continued to occupy many participants as they left for home at the conclusion of the week-long meeting. While a few issues were covered in adequate technical detail, notably economic valuation and taxonomy, the primary outcome of SBSTTA-2 seemed to be a desire to reform the process. Publicly, delegates called for sharp limits to the agenda and greater involvement of scientific organizations. Privately, many thought that the Secretariat should provide more focused background documentation that delineates specific options or proposals, and that delegations should be allowed to present case studies based on national experiences. Another private plea, encouraging governments to send delegations that are more technically oriented, reflected the mood that Parties are hungry for progress on key scientific and technical issues under the Convention.