by the International
Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 09 No. 185
Friday, 16 March 2001
THURSDAY, 15 MARCH 2001
Delegates to the sixth
meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and
Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) met in two working groups. Working Group I
(WG-I) on invasive alien species (IAS) met during the day and
in a long night session to review recommendations on options
for future work and a revision of the Guiding Principles
(GPs). Working Group II (WG-II) reviewed recommendations on
scientific assessments, migratory species, the Global Taxonomy
Initiative (GTI) and biodiversity and climate change.
WORKING GROUP I – INVASIVE
In the morning session,
delegates heard brief reports on evening roundtables on
protected areas, and on border controls and quarantine
measures. Jeffrey McNeely, IUCN, presented the Global Invasive
Species Programme’s (GISP) Global Strategy on IAS included
in UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/INF/9. The INTERNATIONAL PLANT PROTECTION
CONVENTION (IPPC) also reported on areas of potential
collaboration with the CBD.
OPTIONS FOR FUTURE WORK:
Chair Anastasios Legakis (Greece) introduced a conference room
paper, incorporating delegates’ previous comments on options
for future work. Delegates debated whether to delete a
recommendation on identifying and exploring legal gaps in the
international legal framework. After informal consultations,
delegates agreed that SBSTTA identify and explore such gaps in
light of inter-sessional work. Regarding the importance of IAS
strategies and action plans, PORTUGAL proposed addition of
regional strategies and plans, and PAPUA NEW GUINEA
highlighted the need for their funding. Delegates debated
inclusion of a footnote on the occasional necessity of
eradication of IAS, including mammals and vertebrates, with
specific regard to concerns of animal welfare organizations.
Several developing countries supported requesting financial
assistance from international organizations. HAITI proposed
inclusion of lifestyles of local and indigenous communities
regarding UNFCCC considerations regarding IAS. The US proposed
inclusion of collaboration with trading partners.
Regarding the Clearing-house
Mechanism (CHM), MEXICO called for inclusion of national focal
points. On development of technical tools for prevention,
early detection, eradication and control, BURKINA FASO and
SENEGAL called for inclusion of environmental education, and
the US of monitoring. CANADA proposed that IAS be a pilot
thematic issue under the CHM. Regarding arrangements for
financial resources, several delegates supported a list of
activities to be financed and priority attention to isolated
ecosystems. Delegates also called for references to GISP,
CITES, IPPC, the Berne Convention and the Island Cooperative
GUIDING PRINCIPLES: Delegates
based their deliberations on a Chair’s revised text.
Delegates agreed to rename the document "Alien Species
that Threaten Ecosystems, Habitats or Species," while
referring a decision on whether the points would be Guiding
Principles or Guidelines to COP-6.
In reviewing changes to the introduction, Chair Legakis noted
reference to the GPs’ non-binding nature, dependence of
implementation on available resources and inclusion of IUCN/
GISP definitions from UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/INF/5. After
discussion of the definitions, upon ARGENTINA’s suggestion,
delegates agreed to move them to a footnote pending further
discussion on terminology by COP-6. Regarding a proposal
recognizing that species distributions vary over time, several
delegates objected to reference to climatic factors, and
delegates agreed to note their variation without human impact.
GP-1 Precautionary Approach:
After prolonged debate, delegates
formulated three alternatives for presentation to COP-6,
including: use of Rio Declaration Principle 15 (Rio-15) with
reference to "full" scientific certainty; reference
to the approach as "initially" set forth by Rio-15
and "further elaborated" in the CBD and Cartagena
Protocol on Biosafety; and retention of original text with no
reference to Rio-15. Some proposed applying the
precautionary approach to unintended introductions and
eradication, control or containment measures.
Hierarchical Approach: The GP was
accepted with AUSTRALIA’s proposal to remove specification
of costs to be evaluated.
GP-3 Ecosystem Approach:
After some debate, delegates agreed to replace use of the
ecosystem approach "whenever possible" with "as
GP-4 State Responsibility:
Delegates debated: bracketing language on activities
constituting a risk for another State; retaining general
language on state responsibility; using language of CBD
Article 3 (Principle); and adding language on identification
of invasive species and making such information available.
Delegates recognized the political nature of the issue and
agreed to retain the GP’s original text for discussion at
GP-5 Research and
Monitoring: After debating use of
terms "alien species" and "invasive
species," the former was accepted with the qualifier of
monitoring alien species "as appropriate." Delegates
also discussed language on genetic impacts.
GP-6 Education and Public
Awareness: The GP was accepted
GP-7 Border Control and
Quarantine Measures: Regarding
language on risk assessments, delegates debated whether such
assessments should be "scientific," ultimately
agreeing to refer to scientific, social and economic
GP-8 Information Exchange:
SWEDEN suggested dissemination of information on the ecology
and genetics of IAS.
GP-9 Cooperation, including
Capacity Building: ARGENTINA
expressed concern over requiring States of Origin to provide
information on potential IAS. SWITZERLAND, with others,
suggested reference to information on the potential
invasiveness of IAS. Regarding capacity-building support,
BRAZIL proposed adding mitigation of risks of introductions.
The US proposed that research efforts include monitoring and
Introduction: Delegates debated, inter
alia: addition of genetic diversity to ecosystems,
habitats and species potentially harmed, and accommodation of
social and economic considerations in risk assessments. After
extensive discussion, delegates agreed to: remove the
"science-based" qualifier regarding risk assessment;
and link resolution of bracketed text on burden of proof on
safety and on the precautionary approach to COP-6
consideration of GP-4 and GP-1 respectively.
Introductions: This principle was
approved without major debate.
GP-12 Mitigation of Impacts:
Delegates debated language stating that individuals
responsible for an introduction should bear the cost of
control measures and biodiversity restoration in case of
non-compliance with national regulations. No agreement was
reached, and two formulations will be forwarded for
consideration by COP-6.
Delegates debated use of the term "cost-effective."
BRAZIL favored its use, while the SEYCHELLES opposed it.
Delegates agreed to delete language on the importance of
monitoring specifically outside control boundaries.
Following a suggestion by the SEYCHELLES, delegates debated
the necessity of detailed provisions on control measures and
eventually accepted the text with minor revisions.
WORKING GROUP II
In the morning session, Chair Raed Bani Hani (Jordan) asked
delegates to consider draft recommendations contained in a
conference room paper. The NETHERLANDS added reference to
focusing on the regional level. GERMANY highlighted the need
to follow standardized procedures. ECUADOR called for language
on education and public awareness. On ongoing and planned
assessments, the NETHERLANDS proposed reference to the state
of the world’s genetic resources. Delegates agreed to
inclusion of information from assessments in national reports.
On advancing assessments on priority issues, BELGIUM and
GERMANY requested that text remain bracketed due to the
unresolved relationship between the CBD and IPCC. On reference
to a technical paper on interlinkages between biodiversity and
climate change to be prepared by the IPCC, CHINA suggested
that the expert group also prepare a paper. ANTIGUA AND
BARBUDA noted that the specific role of the IPCC was not yet
The BAHAMAS proposed
sub-paragraphs highlighting ecosystem evaluation and
assessment, and further aspects of marine and coastal
biodiversity. GHANA, with KENYA, called for inclusion of the
IUCN Red List regarding project briefs for assessments.
GERMANY said that scientific assessments should be linked to a
core set of indicators. CANADA noted that the purpose of
indicators in this context was unclear. CHINA, with ANTIGUA
AND BARBUDA and TANZANIA, proposed language on strengthening
the capacity of developing countries.
On financial resources, the
NETHERLANDS preferred referring the issue to COP-6 and
proposed deleting the paragraph. ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, the
BAHAMAS and CHINA disagreed, arguing that the language simply
asks COP-6 to identify resources. Delegates agreed to
recommend that COP-6 examine the need for financial resources
to support the assessment process under the CBD including
through guidance to the financial mechanism as appropriate.
Delegates based discussion on a conference room paper.
Regarding language on provision of financial resources,
delegates agreed to request that COP-6 examine their need.
BRAZIL noted that funding should be in accordance with the
proposed joint work programme. On a paragraph regarding the
joint work programme, delegates agreed to request close
collaboration between the CBD and CMS Secretariats. As
proposed by BELGIUM, the EC, GERMANY and the CMS, reference to
possible elements for the joint work programme in
UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/12/Add.1 was included. ECUADOR and others
requested reference to capacity building. BELGIUM preferred
inclusion of collaboration with other organizations, while
CANADA, supported by COLOMBIA, stressed focus on collaboration
between the CMS and the CBD.
GLOBAL TAXONOMY INITIATIVE:
Delegates considered a conference room paper including draft
recommendations and a work programme. Discussion centered on
planned activities under the work programme. On public
awareness and education, UNESCO emphasized its Global
Initiative on Biodiversity Education. On access and
benefit-sharing, as proposed by COLOMBIA, delegates agreed to
delete a paragraph concerning the GTIï¿½s involvement in
commercialization of biodiversity. On developing a coordinated
global taxonomy information system, GERMANY recommended the
CHM as the leading actor. NEW ZEALAND noted indigenous peopleï¿½s
knowledge in taxonomy. On global and regional capacity
building to support access to taxonomic information, MEXICO
stressed the need for infrastructure to collate and curate the
biological specimens, and generation of taxonomic information.
The UK underscored contributions by expert institutions.
recommendations, delegates agreed to: amend language on
provision of financial resources for the GTI to maintain
consistency with other recommendations; refer to capacity
building through regional workshops; and encourage the CBD
Executive Secretary to invite governments and other relevant
organizations to contribute to the work programme.
BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE
CHANGE: Discussion was based on a
conference room paper containing recommendations. Several
delegates stressed that the document had been carefully
negotiated, and supported its present form. BRAZIL proposed,
and delegates accepted, new language recognizing reliable
scientific data demonstrating that climate change is already
impacting coral reefs and recommending immediate actions
within the CBD and the UNFCCC to reduce and mitigate effects
on coral reef biodiversity and associated socio-economic
impacts. GHANA proposed, and delegates supported, reference to
the ecosystem approach in crosscutting issues. FINLAND
specified reference to the ad hoc technical expert
group and to the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF). ANTIGUA AND
BARBUDA proposed reference to the GEFï¿½s Scientific and
Technical Advisory Panel. NORWAY suggested, with ARGENTINA,
replacing language on the IPCC participating in the pilot
assessment with text on contributing to this assessment
process by preparing a technical paper and identifying
experts. ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA proposed, and the NETHERLANDS
opposed, reference to climate variability.
On the expert groupï¿½s
analyzing effects of climate change, many opposed NORWAYï¿½s
suggestion to delete reference to "adverse" effects,
and the language was retained. ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, with
JAPAN, noted that although many have ratified the Kyoto
Protocol, it would be difficult to analyze "any"
measures under it before it comes into force. MEXICO proposed,
while ARGENTINA opposed, analyzing measures related to carbon
sinks and reforestation. BELGIUM, with BOLIVIA, suggested
alternate language on identifying factors, deleting reference
to "adapting to" climate change. On identifying
further work, CANADA, with JAPAN, proposed specifying options
for the participation of the IPCC and UNFCCC. COLOMBIA called
for flexibility in timelines for progress reports, while the
BAHAMAS supported a sense of urgency.
IN THE CORRIDORS
As SBSTTA-6 comes to a
close, some delegates were looking forward to SBSTTA-7ï¿½s
in-depth discussions on forests. Noting past criticisms of the
forest work programme and the reams of information already
produced under the CBD, UNFCCC and IPF/IFF/UNFF, some
expressed hope that discussions would truly abide by COP-5ï¿½s
guidance to move from research to practical action.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
will convene at 10:00 am to review the Working Groupsï¿½
recommendations and to discuss SBSTTA-7ï¿½s agenda, dates and