The second session of SBSTTA took place from 2-6 September 1996 in Montreal, Canada. The crowded agenda included complex technical issues such 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 CHM. 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.
Chair Peter Johan Schei cautioned delegates against turning the SBSTTA into a mini- COP, but the issue of the identity and role of SBSTTA in managing the scientific content continued to occupy many participants at the conclusion of the meeting. Some issues, including economic valuation and taxonomy, were covered in adequate technical detail. The primary outcome of SBSTTA, however, seemed to be a desire to reform the process. Delegates suggestions included setting limits to the agenda and increasing the involvement of scientific organizations. Some privately called for more focused background documents presenting specific options or proposals, presentations of case studies, and delegations with greater technical expertise.