Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 09 No. 258
Tuesday, 11 November 2003
MONDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2003
Delegates to the ninth meeting of the Subsidiary
Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-9) of
the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) convened in opening
Plenary and Working Group sessions. In the morning, Plenary heard
opening statements, addressed organizational matters, and considered
progress reports on: the implementation of the thematic programmes
of work (PoWs); cross-cutting issues; the Bureau’s intersessional
activities; and the meeting "2010 – The Global Biodiversity
Challenge." In the afternoon, Working Group I (WG-I) discussed the
draft PoW on mountain biodiversity, and Working Group II (WG-II)
considered the inter-linkages between climate change and
STATEMENTS: Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana), Chair
of SBSTTA-9, noted that protected areas are an important tool to
implement CBD Article 8 (In-situ conservation), and said the
draft PoW on protected areas should draw on other thematic and
cross-cutting issues. He stressed that technology transfer and
cooperation is central to achieving the CBD objectives. Chair
Oteng-Yeboah noted the need to develop targets and timeframes to
evaluate progress in implementing the CBD, and clearly identify
actions to achieve the 2010 target to significantly reduce
biodiversity loss and the goals set out in the CBD Strategic Plan.
Nehemiah Rotich, on behalf of UNEP Executive
Director Klaus Töpfer, emphasized the importance of knowledge
management, policy targets and assessment, and inter-agency
collaboration, outlining the work of UNEP and other processes on
Highlighting the entry into force of the Biosafety
Protocol on 11 September 2003, Hamdallah Zedan, CBD Executive
Secretary, urged all CBD Parties to ratify the Biosafety Protocol.
He stressed the need for capacity building for its effective
implementation, and urged Parties and non-Parties to contribute
information to the Biosafety Clearing-House Mechanism.
Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO), noted that the International Treaty on Plant
Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is expected to enter into
force in the first half of 2004, and proposed the establishment of
an international ecological agriculture initiative in protected
areas and buffer zones.
Rocio Lichte, UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC), presented the report of the Ad Hoc Technical
Expert Group (AHTEG) on Biodiversity and Climate Change (UNEP/ CBD/SBSTTA/9/11)
and the outcomes of the workshop on synergies between the UNFCCC,
the CBD and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/INF/12).
She recommended collaborating on cross-cutting issues and adopting
the ecosystem approach.
Susan Braatz, UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), welcomed
the CBD request to UNFF to share knowledge on sustainable forest
management and its involvement in the Collaborative Partnership on
Forests as a focal point for traditional knowledge and forest
Sam Johnston, United Nations University (UNU),
outlined the work of the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies regarding
protected areas and technology transfer, highlighting the importance
of non-monetary benefits arising from the use of genetic resources
and the challenge to develop mechanisms for sharing these benefits
and transferring soft technologies.
Nick Davidson, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands,
highlighted joint activities between the Ramsar Convention and the
CBD, stressing progress in the development of an integrated work
plan on mountain biodiversity and indicators to assess progress
towards the 2010 target.
The Philippines, for the ASIA AND PACIFIC REGION,
requested the Secretariat to organize regional preparatory meetings
for the seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-7).
Algeria, on behalf of the AFRICAN GROUP, called for strengthening
synergies between multilateral environmental agreements. Tebtebba
Foundation, on behalf of indigenous peoples and non-governmental
organizations, emphasized the importance of securing indigenous
peoples’ rights to their land in protected areas. She said targets
and monitoring systems should include indicators on human rights and
social equity, and called for prohibiting field testing of genetic
use restriction technologies (GURTs).
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: In addition to Chair
Oteng-Yeboah, delegates agreed that the following Bureau members
would continue their office: Boumediene Mahi (Algeria), Asghar
Mohammadi Fazel (Islamic Republic of Iran), Theresa Mundita Lim
(Philippines), Peter Straka (Slovakia), Yaroslav Movchan (Ukraine),
Joseph Ronald Toussaint (Haiti), Mitzi Gurgel Valente da Costa
(Brazil), and Robert Lamb (Switzerland). The election of regional
representatives was postponed pending further consultations in the
regional groups. Plenary elected Theresa Mundita Lim as Rapporteur
of the meeting.
Delegates then adopted the agenda and organization
of work (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/1 and 9/1/Add.1) without amendment, and
elected Robert Andren as Chair of WG-I and Asghar Mohammadi Fazel as
Chair of WG-II.
REPORTS: The Secretariat introduced reports on
progress in implementing the thematic PoW (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/2; UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/INF/6,
INF/14-15, and INF/31) and cross-cutting issues (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/3;
UNEP/CBD/ SBSTTA/9/INF/16-18, INF/20, and INF/37), intersessional
activities of the Bureau (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/4), and the meeting
"2010 – the Global Biodiversity Challenge" (UNEP/CBD/ SBSTTA/9/INF/9).
CANADA noted scientific inaccuracies in the report
of the AHTEG on GURTs (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/INF/6), and NEW ZEALAND
stressed that new biotechnologies are best managed through
case-by-case assessments, including field testing. ARGENTINA
suggested considering the report at SBSTTA-10, and BRAZIL objected
to adopting the report without in-depth discussion, but said SBSTTA
should review it before COP-7. The PHILIPPINES said SBSTTA and the
Working Group on Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge) should
consider the GURTS report, and stressed that Parties should decide
whether or not to prohibit the introduction of GURTs. The ET CETERA
GROUP warned that terminator seeds will become a commercial reality
before 2010 if the commercial approval of GURTs is not prohibited.
FINLAND said references to climate change-related
issues should not be limited to the PoW on forest biodiversity, and
the UK noted the need to develop specific proposals related to the
2010 target. MOROCCO recommended prioritizing proposals for
incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental impact
assessments, and the Ramsar Convention requested that
recommendations be prepared on this issue.
WORKING GROUP I
The Secretariat introduced the proposed PoW on
mountain biodiversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/12). ITALY reported on the
AHTEG on mountain biodiversity meeting, held in July 2003 (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/INF/11).
Delegates noted the need to address more explicitly measures for
poverty alleviation in mountain areas, and the role of traditional
knowledge and practices of indigenous and local communities. GERMANY
and others called for national priority setting, outcome-oriented
targets and their linkages with criteria and indicators, and
specific timeframes. COLOMBIA and the UKRAINE said that timetables
and means for implementation must be integrated into the PoW.
SLOVENIA, supported by NEW ZEALAND and the UKRAINE, recommended
better integration with other PoWs.
JORDAN, FRANCE, PERU and POLAND called for increased
cooperation through the clearing-house mechanism, including
cooperation with regional conventions on mountains. SWITZERLAND
suggested that the International Partnership on Sustainable
Development in Mountains act as the coordinating platform for
implementing the PoW. ITALY, LIBERIA and PERU recommended addressing
watershed management and land-use planning.
ECUADOR, COLOMBIA and PERU proposed a more holistic
approach to mountain biodiversity management. SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND
and FINLAND proposed including an action item on the loss of
traditional agricultural practices that have positive impacts on
TUNISIA stressed population density in mountain
areas. MALAWI proposed benefit-sharing, and LEBANON suggested
compensation as incentives for mountain peoples to remain in
mountain areas. INDIA noted the impacts of activities in high
mountain areas on foothills and, supported by CAMBODIA, stressed
their importance as river catchments. JAPAN insisted on maintaining
the reference to "illegal logging" in the PoW, while BRAZIL proposed
to refer to "unsustainable harvesting." The EC suggested using
wording from the PoW on forests regarding law enforcement and trade.
UNESCO described how its activities on mountains
relate to the PoW. PERU requested eliminating reference to the Bonn
Guidelines on Access and Benefit-Sharing in relation to promoting
indigenous peoples’ access to genetic resources.
WORKING GROUP II
The Secretariat introduced the report of the AHTEG
on Biodiversity and Climate Change (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/11 and UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/INF/12).
Robert Watson, Co-Chair of the AHTEG, reviewed the main findings of
the report, outlining how climate change impacts biodiversity. He
said there is scope to harmonize afforestation and reforestation
projects with biodiversity conservation benefits, and suggested the
development of a set of common international environment and social
standards to avoid perverse outcomes.
FINLAND, IRELAND, GERMANY, NORWAY and SWITZERLAND,
opposed by AUSTRALIA, CANADA, JAPAN, NEW ZEALAND and the US,
recommended that SBSTTA adopt the Executive Summary of the report.
MEXICO proposed submitting the Executive Summary and the full report
to government review before forwarding it to COP-7 for adoption.
BRAZIL said SBSTTA should adopt the report and defer the suggested
recommendations on inter-linkages to the COP, and cautioned against
interpreting the report to imply that biodiversity-rich countries
have additional obligations to conserve biodiversity as a result of
climate change impacts. The NETHERLANDS suggested that SBSTTA
comment on the accuracy of the report if it decides not to consider
it for adoption.
MALAYSIA called on Parties to focus on synergies
between adaptation to climate change and biodiversity conservation.
IRELAND and the NETHERLANDS supported developing draft voluntary
guidelines to promote synergy between activities on climate change
mitigation and adaptation and biodiversity conservation and
sustainable use. NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA and CANADA said developing
such guidelines exceeds SBSTTAï¿½s mandate, noting that it is not
appropriate for SBSTTA to propose activities to the UNFCCC. The US
and ARGENTINA cautioned against making recommendations to other
conventions. GUINEA BISSAU requested advice on how to implement
synergies in practice.
The UNFCCC said UNFCCC COP-9 will consider the AHTEG
report. The GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY noted that the AHTEG report
will be incorporated into its focal area on sustainable land use,
and the WORLD BANK drew attention to its Biocarbon Fund, which
supports projects linking forestry with biodiversity. The GLOBAL
ENVIRONMENT CENTER noted the need to protect natural ecosystems for
carbon sequestration. DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE and FRIENDS OF THE EARTH
stressed the importance of a coordinated approach to issues common
to climate change and biodiversity.
IN THE CORRIDORS
With COP-7 drawing closer, delegates to SBSTTA-9 met
in good working spirits to tackle a heavy agenda, boosted by a busy
and productive intersessional period of over 20 AHTEG and liaison
While many delegates expressed optimism regarding
the draft programme of work on PAs, one delegate raised concern over
discussions on a legally binding instrument for PAs, noting that
this may distract from more pressing issues, including the need for
stronger measures regarding the development of a global system of
According to some, the integration of
outcome-oriented targets into the CBDï¿½s programmes of work may prove
more controversial than expected. While most agree on their
necessity to achieve the 2010 target, some questioned the benefits
of setting targets without a realistic perspective of achieving
Besides possible heated debates over proprietary
technologies, one delegate pointed at procedural issues regarding
technology transfer, noting that the mandate to develop a programme
of work is weak.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
WORKING GROUP I: WG-I will meet at 10:00 am in
Conference Hall I to start discussing protected areas.
WORKING GROUP II: WG-II will convene at 10:00 am
in Conference Hall II to start discussions on technology transfer