Vol. 9 No. 306
SUMMARY OF THE TENTH MEETING OF THE SUBSIDIARY BODY ON SCIENTIFIC, TECHNICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVICE OF THE CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY:
7-11 FEBRUARY 2005
The tenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met from 7-11 February 2005, in Bangkok, Thailand. Approximately 400 participants attended the meeting, representing 133 Parties, as well as UN agencies, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, indigenous and local community groups, academia, and industry. Delegates to SBSTTA-10 adopted 13 recommendations on a range of substantive, strategic, and scientific and technical issues, which will be forwarded to the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD, to take place in the first half of 2006, in Brazil.
SBSTTA-10 developed a work programme on island biodiversity, and confirmed the suitability of various indicators for an assessment of progress towards the 2010 target to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global level. It also, inter alia:
SBSTTA-10 also transmitted its comments on the report of the AHTEG on genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs) to the Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge) Working Group, and recommended that the COP determine the scope of the mandate of the CBD’s bodies in relation to GURTs.
To a large extent, SBSTTA-10 made the concrete shift from policy formulation to implementation, with the consideration of the last thematic area included in the Convention’s Multi-Year Programme of Work up to 2010, and an agenda largely dominated by strategic, as well as scientific and technical, issues to promote and evaluate progress in implementation. The adoption of proposed elements for a work programme on island biodiversity, in parallel to the integration of outcome-oriented targets into the work programmes on marine and coastal biodiversity and on inland water ecosystems, provided an opportunity to assess the feasibility of the framework for practical action adopted by COP-7. While discussions, at times, proved difficult due to underlying political issues, including those related to GURTs and perverse incentives, many welcomed delegates’ focus on providing quality scientific and technical advice, stimulated by work on indicators to assess progress and input from such processes as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). The consideration of practical tools for assessment, and information exchange and technical cooperation, including indicators and the use of the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM), will also most certainly facilitate the necessary ground-level action.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CBD
The Convention on Biological Diversity, negotiated under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), was opened for signature on 5 June 1992, and entered into force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 188 Parties to the Convention, which aims to promote “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.”
The COP is the governing body of the Convention. It is assisted by the SBSTTA, which is mandated, under CBD Article 25 to provide the COP with advice relating to the Convention’s implementation. To date, the COP has held seven meetings, and convened one extraordinary meeting (ExCOP). Since its establishment, in 1994 by a COP-1 decision, the SBSTTA has held nine meetings.
COP 1-4: Prior to the ExCOP, the COP held four meetings (November – December 1994, Nassau, the Bahamas; November 1995, Jakarta, Indonesia; November 1996, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and May 1998, Bratislava, Slovakia), and adopted decisions on, inter alia: the establishment of the CHM; the designation of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as the interim financial mechanism; the designation of Montreal, Canada, as the permanent location for the Secretariat; and cooperation with other biodiversity-related conventions. The COP also established open-ended ad hoc working groups on biosafety and on CBD Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge), as well as an expert panel on access and benefit-sharing (ABS). Thematic programmes of work were adopted on: inland water ecosystems; marine and coastal biodiversity; agricultural biodiversity; and forest biodiversity.
ExCOP: The ExCOP (February 1999, Cartagena, Colombia) convened to adopt the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The meeting was suspended following disagreement on a compromise package that would have finalized the Protocol. Following three sets of informal consultations to resolve outstanding issues, the ExCOP resumed in January 2000, in Montreal, Canada, and adopted the Protocol. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety addresses the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms that may have an adverse effect on biodiversity, with a specific focus on transboundary movements. The Protocol entered into force on 11 September 2003, and, to date, has been ratified by 111 CBD Parties.
COP-5: At its fifth meeting (May 2000, Nairobi, Kenya), the COP adopted a programme of work on dry and sub-humid lands and decisions on: the ecosystem approach; access to genetic resources, including the establishment of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on ABS; alien species; sustainable use; biodiversity and tourism; incentive measures; the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC); agricultural biodiversity, including GURTs; the Convention’s operations; the GTI; the CHM; financial resources and mechanism; identification, monitoring and assessment, and indicators; CBD Article 8(j); education and public awareness; and impact assessment, liability and redress.
SBSTTA-7: The SBSTTA’s seventh meeting (November 2001, Montreal, Canada) reconsidered and expanded the programme of work on forest biodiversity, and adopted recommendations on: agricultural biodiversity, including the International Pollinators Initiative; the GSPC; incentive measures; indicators; sustainable tourism; and environmental impact assessments.
COP-6: The sixth meeting of the COP (April 2002, The Hague, the Netherlands) adopted the revised programme of work on forest biodiversity as well as guiding principles for alien species, the Bonn Guidelines on ABS, and the Strategic Plan for the CBD. Decisions were also adopted on: the GSPC; the GTI; the ecosystem approach; sustainable use; incentive measures; liability and redress; the CHM; financial resources and mechanism; cooperation with other conventions and international initiatives; a contribution to the ten-year review of Agenda 21; CBD Article 8(j); and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR). COP-6 also adopted a 2010 target to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss.
SBSTTA-8: On its major theme for discussion, mountain biodiversity, the SBSTTA’s eighth meeting (March 2003, Montreal, Canada) adopted the structure of a proposed programme of work. It also adopted recommendations on: inland water ecosystems; marine and coastal biodiversity; dry and sub-humid lands; biodiversity and tourism; and the SBSTTA’s operations.
SBSTTA-9: The ninth meeting of the SBSTTA (November 2003, Montreal, Canada) considered elements of work programmes on protected areas and on technology transfer and cooperation. Delegates also adopted recommendations on, inter alia, biodiversity and climate change, monitoring and indicators, and incentive measures.
COP-7: The seventh meeting of the COP (February 2004, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) adopted three work programmes on: mountain biodiversity; protected areas; and technology transfer and cooperation. Decisions were also adopted on: biodiversity and tourism; monitoring and indicators; the ecosystem approach; biodiversity and climate change; sustainable use; invasive alien species; the Strategic Plan; inland waters ecosystems; marine and coastal biodiversity; ABS; CBD Article 8(j), including the Akwé:Kon Guidelines on impact assessments; incentive measures; communication, education and public awareness; scientific and technical cooperation and the CHM; financial resources and mechanism; and national reporting.
COP/MOP-1: The first meeting of the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP-1) (23-27 February 2004, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) adopted decisions on, inter alia: decision making by Parties of import; capacity building and the roster of experts; handling, transport, packaging and identification of living modified organisms, information sharing and the Biosafety Clearing-house; liability and redress; compliance; and the medium-term programme of work for the COP/MOP.
Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana), Chair of the tenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), began the meeting on Monday, 7 February 2005, and invited the observance of a one-minute silence in memory of the victims of the December 2004 tsunami.
Petipong Pungbun Na Ayudha, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand, noted that Thailand’s rich biodiversity is at risk due to human activities, and emphasized the importance of public awareness for biodiversity conservation. The meeting was then officially opened with a traditional sounding of Thai drums and a Thai dance.
Chair Oteng-Yeboah reviewed intersessional activities and SBSTTA-10’s agenda. He stressed the challenges faced by islands, including unsustainable tourism, invasive alien species and climate change, and noted that island biodiversity, SBSTTA-10’s topic for in-depth discussion, would complete the list of thematic areas to be addressed by the CBD. He highlighted the role of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) as a basis for sound decision making and the need for ambitious, yet realistic, targets to achieve the 2010 target to significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss.
CBD Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan congratulated Thailand on its efforts regarding biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. Noting that the December 2004 tsunami reminded the world of people’s vulnerability to natural forces, he stressed the need to conserve and use biodiversity sustainably to prevent disasters and ensure the resilience of ecosystems. He highlighted COP-7’s main outcomes and, introducing SBSTTA-10’s agenda, noted that the development of the draft work programme on island biodiversity was guided by the CBD Strategic Plan, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He said the development of outcome-oriented targets should also be a priority for the SBSTTA. Noting the January 2005 International Conference on Biodiversity, Zedan highlighted the proposal by French President Jacques Chirac to establish an intergovernmental panel on changes to biodiversity.
Nehemiah Rotich, on behalf of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Klaus Töpfer, stressed UNEP’s support to the implementation of the CBD in a number of areas, including the development of indicators to assess progress towards the 2010 target, coherence between biodiversity-related conventions, and strengthening of regional implementation. Statements were also made by: the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment; France, organizer of the January 2005 International Conference on Biodiversity “Biodiversity: Science and Governance”; and regional representatives of the European Union, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Delegates elected by acclamation Bozena Haczek (Poland) as Rapporteur of the meeting, and Theresa Mundita Lim (Philippines) as Chair of Working Group I (WG-I) and Christian Prip (Denmark) as Chair of Working Group II (WG-II). The provisional agenda and organization of work (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/1, Add.1 and Add.1/Corr.1) were then adopted without amendment.
During the week, plenary convened on Monday afternoon to take note of progress in implementation, consider the draft reports of the MA, and hear a keynote presentation on island biodiversity. It reconvened on Friday afternoon to discuss dates and venue for SBSTTA-11, consider other matters, adopt SBSTTA-10’s report, including recommendations to COP-8, and hear closing statements. The working groups met from Tuesday to Friday morning. WG-I focused on a draft work programme on island biodiversity, and also considered: agricultural biodiversity, including options for a cross-cutting initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition, the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity, and the report of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs); the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI); and terms of reference for an AHTEG to develop advice on synergy between activities addressing biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, desertification, land degradation and climate change. WG-I established a contact group to refine the draft work programme on island biodiversity, and a Friends of the Chair group on GURTs.
WG-II discussed: goals and sub-targets to facilitate coherence among the programmes of work; indicators for assessing progress towards the 2010 target, including the second Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO); the role of the Clearing-House Mechanism in promoting technical cooperation to achieve the 2010 target; and ways and means to remove or mitigate perverse incentives. WG-II established a contact group on perverse incentives.
This report summarizes discussions and recommendations on each agenda item, according to their discussion in the plenary and working groups. Unless otherwise stated, the closing plenary adopted the recommendations with editorial or no amendments.
PROGRESS REPORTS: On Monday afternoon, delegates took note of progress reports on the implementation of the thematic programmes of work and cross-cutting issues (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/2 and 3).
SBSTTA’s OPERATIONAL PLAN: On Monday afternoon, Prip, on behalf of the SBSTTA Bureau, introduced a document on the SBSTTA’s Operational Plan (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/5). The Secretariat presented documents on pilot assessments and the review of methods and modalities for scientific assessments (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/7, and INF/4 and 5). Many delegates urged reinforcing the SBSTTA’s scientific role and enhancing participation of the scientific community in its work. Brazil favored strengthening the SBSTTA rather than creating a high-level panel of experts on changes in biodiversity. Several delegates suggested emphasizing the Convention’s Strategic Plan, the 2010 target and the MDGs, with Australia noting the need for the CBD to contribute to achieving the MDGs within the limits of its mandate.
Regarding strategic ways and means for improving the SBSTTA’s advice to the COP, many delegates opposed including specific activities in the Operational Plan. Some cautioned against the financial implications of specific activities, while others noted the need to avoid undermining the strategic vision with details. On the process for scientific assessments, delegates supported considering the expertise of other conventions and processes. Some suggested that one working group at each future SBSTTA meeting be dedicated to reviewing assessments of the status of, and trends in, biodiversity.
A report of these discussions is available online at: http://www.iisd.ca/vol09/enb09302e.html
On Friday, in plenary, Sweden proposed language strengthening the importance of a good scientific basis for implementation. Delegates adopted the draft recommendation with this amendment.
Recommendation: In the recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.2), the SBSTTA recognizes the importance of scientific assessments on the status of, and trends in, biodiversity components, and the need to strengthen the SBSTTA’s role in the implementation of the CBD, particularly at the national level.
It is recommended that the SBSTTA explore innovative approaches to its future operations, including: focusing one working group during its meetings on scientific assessments of biodiversity and identifying solutions; enhancing scientific participation; and experimenting with alternative approaches to conducting its meetings. Parties are invited to submit additional written views by 30 April 2005, and the Executive Secretary will prepare a revised Operational Plan for consideration by the Working Group on the Review of Implementation of the Convention and by COP-8.
MILLENNIUM ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT: Delegates considered the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) draft reports in plenary on Monday, and finished discussions in WG-II on Tuesday. The Secretariat introduced a synthesis report on the draft MA reports (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/6 and INF/5), noting that SBSTTA-11 will consider the final reports. Shahid Naeem, MA, highlighted the main findings of the reports, including that: human activities are changing biodiversity; the rate of change will continue and accelerate in the future; human well-being and the status of biodiversity are linked; the costs and risks of biodiversity loss exceed the benefits provided by ecosystem services; there are many drivers of biodiversity loss; actions regarding biodiversity conservation and sustainable use have been successful in limiting biodiversity loss; and achieving the 2010 target will require substantial efforts.
Most delegates welcomed the MA reports as an important tool for decision makers, including as a means to identify duplication of work and gaps between various relevant international processes. Several delegates expressed concern regarding possible misinterpretations of the report’s findings, including those on subsidies, intensification of agriculture and trade-offs between achieving the MDGs and reducing the rate of biodiversity loss. The European Communities (EC) urged recognizing that some subsidies promote environment-friendly activities. Some delegates said that the reports fail to properly address the ecosystem approach and sustainable use of biodiversity, and others suggested more emphasis on the value of ecosystem goods and services. A report of these discussions is available online at: http://www.iisd.ca/vol09/enb09302e.html and http://www.iisd.ca/vol09/enb09303e.html
Recommendation: In the final document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.3), the SBSTTA requests the Executive Secretary to transmit its comments to the Secretariat of the MA, and notes that SBSTTA-11 will consider the final reports of the MA in order to prepare recommendations to the COP concerning the implications of the findings for the future work of the CBD. It is emphasized that there is a need for follow-up communication and public-awareness activities to ensure that the MA’s findings are widely and effectively disseminated and used by decision makers.
KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Randolph Thalman, University of the South Pacific (Fiji), gave a keynote presentation on island biodiversity, entitled “Sinking Island Arks – Island Biodiversity and Island Living under Threat.” He pointed to the dependence of island peoples on the self-contained and unique biodiversity of islands, and stressed the vulnerability of islands, noting the impacts of rising sea levels, exploitation of natural resources, invasive alien species, natural and human-induced disasters, and the loss of traditional knowledge. A report of this keynote presentation is available online at: http://www.iisd.ca/vol09/enb09302e.html
WORKING GROUP I
ISLAND BIODIVERSITY: WG-I considered island biodiversity on Tuesday and Thursday. A Contact Group met on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced a draft programme of work on island biodiversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/4, and INF/1 and 26). Spain reported on the outcomes of the AHTEG on Island Biodiversity, held from 13-17 December 2004, in the Canary Islands, Spain.
Asia and the Pacific, supported by many, requested that the document produced by the Liaison Group on Island Biodiversity, which met immediately prior to SBSTTA-10, be considered as the basis for discussions, while Norway and Tuvalu favored the AHTEG’s document. Mexico proposed deleting recommendations on access and benefit-sharing. The Philippines requested references to the rights and participation of indigenous and local communities. Delegates recognized linkages with other thematic work programmes, cross-cutting issues and conventions, noting the need to avoid duplicating existing targets. Some delegates opposed putting emphasis on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), stressing that large islands face similar problems. The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) called for references to prior informed consent of indigenous peoples and sui generis systems for the protection of indigenous intellectual property. Delegates established a contact group to address the timeframe and targets of the work programme.
The Contact Group, chaired by Horst Korn (Germany), met on Tuesday. Following lengthy discussions on the structure of the work programme, delegates agreed to revert to the framework for global goals and targets set out in decision VII/30 (Strategic Plan), and to align the global goals with specific island-focused priority actions. The Contact Group resumed discussions on Wednesday. Delegates agreed not to consider details of supporting activities, but to request that the Secretariat review and make them consistent and island-focused. Focusing on island-specific priority actions by Parties, delegates agreed on wording and adding appropriate concepts and rationales to respective actions.
On Thursday, WG-I considered a conference room paper (CRP) (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/WG.I/CRP.6) prepared by the Contact Group. On the recommendations, France, supported by Canada and Australia, opposed references to specific activities, noting the Contact Group had not considered them. Canada opposed reopening discussions on bracketed text on GEF funding, official development assistance, and guidelines for implementation. Delegates agreed to delete a paragraph on ABS, and bracket sections containing an introduction, the overall purpose, scope, and working definitions. Regarding a section on global targets and island-specific priority actions, Canada opposed references to indigenous rights in the target on protection of traditional knowledge. Jamaica and Australia opposed rewording the global targets, noting that they had been adopted by COP-7, with Australia proposing to reflect such requests in an introductory paragraph. Reports of these discussions are available online at: http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/vol09/enb09303e.html, http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/vol09/enb09304e.html and http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/vol09/enb09305e.html
On Friday, WG-I delegates added a priority action on regional cooperation, particularly between SIDS and developed countries, and agreed to subject a target on legislation to protect traditional knowledge to national legislation and international obligations. Delegates also added ABS as a separate priority action.
Regarding the wording of the global targets, Colombia suggested recommending that COP-8, in accordance with decision VII/30 (Strategic Plan), review and clarify the goals for 2010, and requested changing the term “transfer” to “access” with respect to genetic resources. The EC proposed using language from the decision VII/30 regarding the review of targets, in order to achieve consistency between work programmes and the overall framework.
Regarding the bracketed sections of the work programme, Liberia requested a reference to the need for cross-cultural exchange. France requested the deletion of a paragraph placing emphasis on SIDS. Canada said the work programme should be implemented in accordance with national laws and relevant international obligations.
Delegates recognized the correlation of the work programme on island biodiversity with other CBD work programmes and cross-cutting issues. The US suggested deleting references to the “full recognition” of the rights of indigenous and local communities. The IIFB pointed to wording of decision VII/19 (ABS). The CRP was adopted without these proposals but with other amendments.
In Friday’s plenary, delegates agreed on using the IUCN Red List categories and criteria for assessing the status of threatened species on islands. On the recognition of indigenous rights, delegates reached a compromise on using “shall,” rather than “must.” Delegates adopted the recommendation as amended.
Recommendation: In the final text (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.14), the SBSTTA recommends that the COP:
The following remains bracketed: requests to the GEF and other financial institutions; calls for increased official development assistance; and a request to the Executive Secretary to develop guidelines for implementation.
The annex contains proposed elements for a work programme, divided into four sections on: introduction; overall purpose and scope; working definitions; and goals, targets, timeframe and island-specific priority actions. It is stated that the overall purpose and scope of the work programme is the significant reduction of island biodiversity loss by 2010 and beyond, in particular, as a contribution to poverty alleviation and the sustainable development of SIDS. The section on goals, targets, timeframes and island-specific priority actions contains five goals on: conservation; sustainable use; threats to island biodiversity; ABS; and increasing capacities and financing for implementation. The goals are subdivided into 18 global targets, and include island-specific priority actions and an outline of the rationales for each action.
AGRICULTURAL BIODIVERSITY: Biodiversity for food and nutrition: WG-I considered biodiversity for food and nutrition on Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced a document on options for a cross-cutting initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/13). Many delegates highlighted the potential of the proposed initiative to showcase biodiversity’s contribution to the MDGs. Some countries said it should also address trade-related issues, while others underscored technology transfer and fair and equitable benefit-sharing with countries of origin. New Zealand said the initiative duplicates existing activities.
On Thursday, delegates considered UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/WG.I/CRP.1. They agreed to add references to: sustainable use; the MDG on environmental sustainability; and the ecosystem approach in the annex. Delegates adopted the CRP with these and other amendments.
On Friday, during the closing plenary, delegates agreed to add a reference acknowledging that the FAO, the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and other organizations are undertaking work in this field and, following Canada’s intervention, requested that the initiative be developed with FAO and IPGRI. Plenary adopted the recommendation as amended.
Recommendation: In the final document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.9), the SBSTTA establishes the Cross-cutting International Initiative on Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition, within CBD’s work programme on agricultural biodiversity. It also requests the Executive Secretary to: continue developing the initiative with the FAO and IPGRI; compile relevant case studies; liaise with the Office of the UN Secretary-General and the Millennium Project to highlight the role of biodiversity in achieving the MDGs; and report to SBSTTA-11.
The recommendation includes an annex, containing the proposed objective and scope of the Initiative, as well as its elements. These include:
Soil biodiversity: WG-I considered soil biodiversity on Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, the Secretariat presented a document on the further development of the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/14). Many called for broadening the Initiative’s scope to include other terrestrial ecosystems, and strengthening synergies with international processes. Several delegates proposed a reference to sustainable consumption and indigenous land-use practices. Better soil-related policy making and research partnerships with farmers were also called for.
On Thursday, delegates considered UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/WG.I/CRP.2, and agreed on: including references to sustainable use, the ecosystem approach and other relevant land-use activities; and adding a goal on mainstreaming soil biodiversity conservation into agricultural programmes and practices. The need for economic and cultural perspectives in addressing soil conservation was also highlighted. The CRP was adopted as amended.
In Friday afternoon’s plenary session, Colombia requested reinserting the reference to cooperation with the CCD. The recommendation was adopted as amended.
Recommendation: In the final document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.8), the SBSTTA endorses the framework for action contained in the annex as a basis to implement the International Soil Biodiversity Initiative. It also invites the Executive Secretary, Parties, other governments and interested stakeholders to support, implement the Initiative, and supply case studies.
The annex contains a framework for action, including the goals, strategic principles, and ways for implementation of the Initiative. The goals of the Initiative are to promote:
Strategic principles include, inter alia: focusing on improvement of farmers’ livelihoods in relation to food security, soil biodiversity, and relevant land-use activities; promoting information sharing and/or exchange of data taking into account CBD Articles 8(j) (traditional knowledge) and 8(h) (alien species); and promoting entrepreneurship and marketing strategies for agro-production.
The Initiative is to be implemented as a cross-cutting initiative within the CBD work programme on agricultural biodiversity, through coordination and with technical support from the FAO, with appropriate links to other thematic programmes.
Genetic use restriction technologies: WG-I considered the report of the AHTEG on GURTs on Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced a document containing advice on the AHTEG’s report (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/15). Bangladesh proposed that it be considered by COP-8. Peru requested maintaining the AHTEG’s recommendations in their entirety. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and an industry representative said the report should not be presented as a consensus document, noting that it was prepared by the AHTEG’s Co-Chairs only, without subsequent review by its members. Many delegates supported transmitting the report to the Article 8(j) Working Group because of the socioeconomic impacts of GURTs on indigenous and local communities and smallholder farmers. Some delegates supported conducting further research. Some delegates called for a SBSTTA recommendation restating decision V/5 (Agricultural Biodiversity). The uncertainty regarding the impacts of GURTs was noted, and some delegates stressed the need for strict risk assessments, on a case-by-case basis. NGO representatives called for recommendations in the protection of the livelihoods of local and indigenous peoples, including the recognition of farmers’ rights to seeds, and a ban on GURTs.
On Wednesday, a Friends of the Chair group was established and met throughout the day. On Thursday, WG-I Chair Lim introduced a CRP containing draft recommendations prepared by the Friends of the Chair (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/WG.I/CRP.4). Delegates agreed to note that the SBSTTA could not reach consensus on the AHTEG report. They deleted the preambular paragraph on the potential impacts of GURTs. Delegates agreed to retain a call for new comments to be considered at a later stage and to reaffirm decision V/5 Section III (GURTs). A recommendation on protecting traditional knowledge and farmers’ right to the preservation of seeds was added. Delegates supported focusing capacity-building initiatives on social, cultural and environmental aspects. Colombia said the COP should determine which CBD bodies should address GURTs’ various aspects. Delegates adopted the CRP with these amendments.
During Friday afternoon’s plenary, Norway requested reinstating a reference to the precautionary approach. The plenary adopted the recommendation with this amendment.
Recommendation: In the final document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.6), the SBSTTA transmits its comments to the Article 8(j) Working Group and to COP-8, including that: it could not reach consensus on the AHTEG’s report; and decision V/5 (Agricultural Biodiversity) already includes a relatively comprehensive approach to the use of GURTs, including the precautionary approach.
The Executive Secretary is requested to notify Parties, other governments, indigenous and local communities, small holder farmers’ organizations and other relevant stakeholders to present new comments on the potential impacts of GURTs to the next meeting of the Article 8(j) Working Group. The SBSTTA recommends that the COP:
CLIMATE CHANGE AND BIODIVERSITY: WG-I considered biodiversity and climate change on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced proposed terms of reference for an AHTEG on synergies among activities related to biodiversity, desertification and climate change (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/18). While many delegates supported establishing the AHTEG, some opposed, on the ground that it is premature. Others emphasized that it should not have a political mandate. Many stressed the need to avoid duplication when implementing the three Rio Conventions, and said the AHTEG should benefit both from existing scientific assessments and indigenous expertise. Several delegates called for including island biodiversity in the AHTEG’s terms of reference. Delegates debated whether the AHTEG should assess the role of biodiversity in mitigating climate change, and highlighted social, economic and health impacts of climate change.
On Thursday, the Secretariat presented UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/WG.I/CRP.3. Delegates agreed to: limit the AHTEG’s mandate to adaptation; use case studies for supplementary assessments; and prepare a vision concerning priority measures, field actions and possible collaboration with the UNFCCC. Colombia requested a reference to indigenous and local knowledge, innovations and practices when preparing advice and guidance. Delegates adopted the CRP with these amendments.
In Friday afternoon’s plenary session, Colombia requested an explicit reference to indigenous and local communities in the section on relevant tools and technologies in climate change projects. Reiterating its concern that some elements of the work programme are premature and overlapping, Australia requested that the CBD’s adaptation and mitigation activities feed into UNFCCC’s work in these areas and a report to this effect be presented at a future SBSTTA meeting. The plenary adopted the recommendation with these amendments.
Recommendation: In the final document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.4), the SBSTTA establishes the AHTEG on Biodiversity and Climate Change with the mandate to:
It is specified that supplementary assessments include: major biological factors that contribute to ecosystem resilience to climate change; adaptation options and their potential consequences for biodiversity; and the role of biodiversity as an adaptation element in itself.
GLOBAL TAXONOMY INITIATIVE: WG-I considered the GTI on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced documents on the process and guidelines for the in-depth review of the GTI work programme (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/16), and the outline of the GTI guide (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/17). Delegates discussed the use of conventional and modern approaches to taxonomy, the GTI Coordination Mechanism, and information sharing. They highlighted the need for mechanisms to measure efficiency of the GTI work programme and for capacity building. Many delegates proposed developing a summary for broader dissemination of the GTI guide.
On Thursday, delegates discussed UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/WG.I/CRP.5. Delegates agreed to extend the list of GTI information sources and initiatives, with which synergies may be developed. The CRP was adopted as amended.
In Friday’s afternoon plenary session, Mexico requested extending the list of relevant taxonomic projects. The recommendation was adopted as amended.
Recommendation: In the final document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.7), which includes two annexes, the SBSTTA welcomes the proposed process and guidelines to review implementation of the GTI work programme. It invites Parties, other governments and relevant organizations to contribute necessary information, and endorses the outline of the GTI guide.
The SBSTTA also requests the Executive Secretary to carry out the review and report to SBSTTA-11, as well as to develop an internet-based portal dedicated to the GTI, in collaboration with the GTI Coordination Mechanism under the CHM.
Annex I on the process and guidelines for the in-depth review of the GTI work programme elaborates on: assessment of implementation and effectiveness of the work programme; ways and means for updating it; provision of practical support for national and regional implementation; and process, guidelines and mechanisms for monitoring progress in implementation. Annex II contains an outline of the GTI guide.
WORKING GROUP II
GOALS AND SUB-TARGETS: WG-II considered the further development of goals and sub-targets to facilitate coherence among the Convention’s work programmes on Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced documents on the refinement of goals and sub-targets and their integration into the work programmes, including draft global outcome-oriented targets for the work programmes on marine and coastal biodiversity and on inland water ecosystems (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/8, and 8/Add.1 and 2). Clive Wilkinson, Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, delivered an introductory presentation on coral reef ecosystems.
Delegates expressed views on the need to avoid the proliferation of targets, define ambitious goals and sub-targets, and support developing countries and countries with economies in transition in achieving the targets. Several delegates said targets should be developed taking into account national, subregional and regional priorities.
Comments on the list of goals and targets focused on:
On Thursday, the Secretariat introduced a CRP on global outcome-oriented targets for the work programmes on inland water ecosystems and on marine and coastal biodiversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/WG.II/CRP.4). On sustainable use and consumption, Iceland proposed strengthening a target relating to products derived from sustainably-managed biodiversity, and stressed that the target should apply to all exploited fisheries products.
On the 10% target for the conservation of the world’s ecological regions, Iceland reiterated its opposition to setting a specific percentage of area to be conserved. Japan requested deleting a reference to marine and coastal areas beyond national jurisdiction, while several delegates drew attention to COP decision VII/30 (Strategic Plan) and UN General Assembly resolution 59/24 (Oceans and the Law of the Sea) underlining the urgent need to conserve marine areas beyond national jurisdiction. Following informal consultations, Iceland agreed to the original wording of the 10% target, provided other Parties withdraw their proposals. Delegates agreed to delete annexes containing the technical rationales for the application of outcome-oriented targets to the work programmes. Regarding the targets related to the protection of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices, and fair and equitable benefit-sharing, delegates decided to reflect wording from CBD Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge) and CBD Articles 16-20, respectively.
WG-II adopted the CRP with these amendments, with the understanding that agreement by Iceland to the 10% target still remained to be confirmed.
On Friday, during the final plenary, noting that bottom trawling is one of the most destructive fishing practices, New Zealand expressed its disappointment with the SBSTTA’s inability to agree on the technical rationales for the targets, and said this represented a drawback to UN General Assembly resolution 59/24.
Stressing its dependency on fisheries, which he claimed may be more sustainable than many other fisheries in the world even though it does not use MPAs extensively, Iceland requested a footnote to the 10% target as applied to marine biodiversity, which would reflect its strong concern that a flat rate percentage may be in conflict with the strong scientifically-based approach of decisions VII/5 (Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity) and VII/28 (Protected Areas). Australia and Brazil noted their understanding that the recommendation allows sufficient flexibility to apply the targets according to national priorities and frameworks, with Brazil and Fiji requesting re-instating references to marine areas beyond national jurisdiction and no-take MPAs failing agreement. Following further discussions, Iceland agreed to include a reference to its opposition to the target in the meeting’s report, and the plenary adopted the recommendation.
Recommendation: In the final document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.11), the SBSTTA welcomes the report of the AHTEG on Outcome-Oriented Targets (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/INF/6), and recommends that the COP:
endorse the integration of outcome-oriented targets into the work programmes on marine and coastal biodiversity and on inland water ecosystems, as contained in the annex;
The SBSTTA also requests that the Executive Secretary prepare for SBSTTA-11: an overview of the goals and targets contained in various instruments under the Convention; a matrix relating the goals and targets of the work programmes on marine and coastal biodiversity and on inland water ecosystems to the activities; and a glossary of terms.
The annex to the recommendations contains a matrix of 11 goals and associated targets, as per the framework contained in decision VII/30 Annex II, and their application to the work programmes on marine and coastal biodiversity and on inland water ecosystems. It is noted that the application of the targets related to maintaining the sociocultural diversity of indigenous and local communities, will be further reviewed following consideration by the Article 8(j) Working Group. It is also noted that the application of the targets related to ensuring the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources will be further reviewed following consideration by the ABS Working Group.
INDICATORS: Indicators for assessing progress: WG-II considered indicators for assessing progress towards the 2010 target on Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, the Secretariat presented documents on indicators for assessing progress towards, and communicating, the 2010 target (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/9). Spyros Kouvelis, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, gave an introductory presentation on the Ramsar indicators, noting their suitability to assess progress in implementation in the CBD context.
Many delegates supported the indicators contained in the document, including five additional ones proposed by the AHTEG on Indicators, and their alignment with the 2010 target, while stressing the need to clearly define terms and measurements. Several raised concerns about difficulties in measuring and linking national data sources to global indicators, while others cautioned against the proliferation of indicators and assessment tools.
Delegates proposed including, inter alia, socioeconomic indicators, indicators on threats posed by climate change, and the ecological footprint. They also debated the appropriateness of several indicators to assess targets, with many opposing only using certification systems as indicators of sustainable use, and Norway suggesting to refine an indicator of ODA designated to CBD-related activities. Delegates noted the need for further work on several indicators, including those related to biodiversity for food and medicine, communities’ well-being, and numbers and cost of alien invasions. Developing country delegates called for capacity building and financial assistance to use indicators.
On Thursday, WG-II considered UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/WG.II/CRP.1. Delegates proposed to add: measures for connectivity and fragmentation; existing data for measuring sustainable management, including certification data; and the IUCN Red List Index to extend the application of selected ecological and functional groups.
After resolving disagreement over the SBSTTA’s mandate to make additions to the annexed lists of indicators, delegates decided to add the ecological footprint as an indicator of sustainable consumption to the annexed list of indicators that are suitable for immediate use and testing. They also agreed to recommend that the Executive Secretary explore options for reporting on the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.
Delegates considered whether a Canadian proposal to amend the wording of the overall targets related to indigenous and local communities’ sociocultural diversity for consistency with the Convention would fall within the SBSTTA’s mandate. Delegates agreed to recommend that COP-8 review the targets of the overall framework set out in decision VII/30 (Strategic Plan), with a view to achieving consistency between the targets integrated in the work programmes and the overall framework. Delegates adopted the CRP with these amendments.
Recommendation: The final text (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.12) includes recommendations and three annexes. The SBSTTA confirms that the indicators considered by COP decision VII/30 (Strategic Plan) are suitable for immediate testing and use. The SBSTTA further considers additional indicators for immediate testing, while recognizing that data availability and/or methodology may require further improvement. With regard to additional indicators, the SBSTTA recommends that various sources of data, listed in the recommendation, could be used. The SBSTTA also:
The Executive Secretary is requested to:
Annex I contains a list of 22 headline indicators with information on potential measures, sources of data, methodology, and organizations for delivery of the indicators. An additional column distinguishes between indicators considered as ready for immediate testing and use, and those requiring further work.
Annex II associates the headline indicators with the focal areas, goals and targets of the overall framework for assessing progress towards the 2010 target.
Annex III contains a list of acronyms and abbreviations.
Global Biodiversity Outlook: WG-II discussed the GBO on Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced a document containing a draft outline for the second GBO (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/10). Delegates expressed support for using the GBO as a tool for communicating indicators and assessing progress towards the 2010 target, stressing that it should be concise, not too technical, and target policy makers, the media and the public. Delegates suggested, inter alia, strengthening a section on limitations, uncertainties and methodological difficulties in monitoring progress towards the 2010 target, and adding a section on the status of capacity building, and access to, and transfer of, technology.
On Thursday, delegates considered UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/WG.II/CRP.2. Noting that the recommendations are included the GBO’s structure, delegates agreed to delete the annexed draft outline, and that the GBO should include a section on raising the profile of headline indicators. The CRP was adopted with these amendments.
Recommendation: In the final text (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.5), the SBSTTA welcomes the draft outline of the second GBO (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/10) and additional advice provided by the AHTEG on Indicators. It is agreed that: the GBO should be short, focused, and contain clear and concise messages covering all the focal areas of the framework for assessing progress towards the 2010 target; and the messages should target a non-technical audience including non-technical decision makers, the public and the media.
The SBSTTA also agrees that the GBO should:
The SBSTTA further agrees that the report should:
The Executive Secretary is requested to: ensure that the first draft is available for review by SBSTTA-11 and that the final report is available by COP-8, taking into account the above points and a peer review process; and develop an effective communication and outreach strategy for wider dissemination of the GBO.
CLEARING-HOUSE MECHANISM: WG-II considered the role of the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) in relation to the 2010 target on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced a document on the role of the CHM in promoting technical cooperation to achieve the 2010 target and facilitating information exchange on progress made (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/11). Many delegates called for capacity building, technology transfer, and financial resources to establish and maintain the necessary CHM infrastructure, and supported convening national and regional workshops to facilitate the use of the CHM by developing countries. Several delegates highlighted that infrastructure development is a prerequisite for interoperability. Delegates highlighted: the role of political commitment in ensuring long-term sustainability of national CHM focal points; the importance of biodiversity inventories to feed the information exchange; alternatives to the electronic format; and the need to address language barriers for communication with local scientific communities. The need to maintain regularly updated lists of data sources was also noted. Delegates stressed the need for cooperation with organizations that have already developed biodiversity-related information technologies, given the high cost of such technologies.
Many delegates highlighted the role of the CHM in facilitating capacity building and in making relevant indicator-related information accessible. The need for regional-level information exchange and to identify priorities regarding relevant indicators to be communicated to national focal points was noted. Norway said work under the CHM should be linked to work undertaken by the AHTEG on Technology Transfer. Developing long-term scientific partnerships between Parties was supported by many delegates.
Noting lack of indigenous involvement in the Conservation Commons initiative, the Indigenous Biodiversity Information Network said the initiative should not be formally endorsed.
On Thursday, delegates considered UNEP/CBS/SBSTTA/10/WG.II/CRP.3. Germany said the Executive Secretary should explore means to enhance the CHM’s role as a mechanism for cooperation on technology transfer and technical cooperation and, with Colombia, proposed reports on how long-term partnerships can be established. Delegates adopted the CRP with these amendments.
During Friday’s plenary session, Turkey proposed a reference to providing training programmes on new tools related to geographic information systems (GIS) data. The plenary adopted the recommendations as amended.
Recommendation: In the final document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.10), the SBSTTA recommends that the COP request Parties to:
The SBSTTA also recommends that the Executive Secretary, in consultation with the CHM Informal Advisory Committee, to:
INCENTIVE MEASURES: WG-II considered ways and means to remove or mitigate perverse incentives on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. A Contact Group convened on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, the Secretariat presented a document on the further refinement and consideration of the proposals for the application of ways and means to remove or mitigate perverse incentives (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/12). Argentina and New Zealand said they would put forward several amendments and, supported by several delegates, requested establishing a contact group. Others opposed contact group discussions, stressing that proposals were only voluntary guidelines. Australia noted that their acceptance of the proposals contained in the document was subject to consistency with existing international obligations. Some delegates suggested that Parties further develop the proposals according to national priorities. WG-II Chair Prip established a contact group.
The Contact Group, chaired by Sem Taukondjo Shikongo (Namibia), met on Wednesday and Thursday. Delegates considered definition of terms and identification of policies or practices, which generate perverse incentives. They could not reach agreement regarding the term “practice.” Some delegates suggested using terminology used in relevant international processes. Following informal consultations, delegates agreed to bracket these terms throughout the document, and requested the Secretariat to prepare a draft definition of terms to be considered by COP-8.
Delegates also debated whether the removal of perverse incentives is a crucial, rather than an important, element in promoting the conservation of biodiversity. Some delegates noted that identifying perverse incentives resulting from specific policies and practices could be difficult, as the loss of biodiversity may be caused by an interaction of several factors. Delegates agreed to delete the reference to interaction between policies and practices, and with other root causes. Delegates could not reach agreement on differentiating policy objectives and on evaluating costs and benefits from removal or mitigation of perverse incentives.
Regarding the design, implementation and evaluation of appropriate reforms, some delegates stressed that preference should be given to removal of policies, rather than removal of practices. Delegates agreed that the removal of policies should be a priority, when analyses reveal that the policy objectives are no longer valid. Delegates bracketed references to re-instrumentation, legal issues, compensatory policies relating to entrenched interests, international competitiveness, and positive incentive measures.
Regarding evaluation of reforms, delegates agreed that the evaluation of the effectiveness of the reforms should use sound criteria that incorporate the objectives of the CBD. Delegates also agreed that providing financial resources and the building of institutional and administrative capacity is important for implementation.
On Friday, WG-II considered draft proposals developed by the Contact Group (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/WG.II/GRP.5). Contact Group Chair Shikongo explained that the draft proposals contained in the annex were not a consensus document, and that some issues still needed to be considered by COP-8. Argentina suggested a reference to relevant organizations in the recommendation relating to development of definitions of terms. Delegates adopted the CRP, as bracketed and amended.
Recommendation: In the final document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.13), the SBSTTA notes that the draft proposals contained in the annex are of a voluntary nature and contain a number of unresolved issues. It is recommended that COP-8 consider the proposals with a view to finalizing them and develop definitions on the basis of suggestions put forward by Parties and relevant organizations.
The annex contains draft proposals for the application of ways and means to remove or mitigate perverse incentives. References to definitions, legal issues, compensatory policies, and positive incentives are bracketed throughout the document. The proposals consist of: general considerations; identification of policies or practices that generate perverse incentives; design and implementation of appropriate reforms; and monitoring, enforcement and evaluation of reforms.
SBSTTA-10 Chair Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana) opened the closing plenary on Friday afternoon, reviewing the week’s proceedings. Delegates elected the following new Bureau members for SBSTTA-11: Claudine Ramiarison (Madagascar) for Africa; Chaweewan Hutacharern (Thailand) for Asia and the Pacific; Shirin Karryeva (Turkmenistan) for Central and Eastern Europe; Jorge Ernesto Quezada Diaz (El Salvador) for Latin America and the Caribbean; and Annemarie Watt (Australia) for the Western Europe and Others Group. He also welcomed Christian Prip (Denmark) as SBSTTA-11 and 12 Chair. Prip paid tribute to Oteng-Yeboah, and stressed his commitment, as SBSTTA-11 Chair, to strengthening the SBSTTA’s role in advising on necessary ground-level action to achieve agreed-upon goals and targets, with an emphasis on assessing trends in, and the status of, biodiversity.
WG-I Chair Theresa Mundita Lim (Philippines) and WG-II Chair Prip reported on the work of their respective working groups. Delegates adopted WG-I’s report (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.1/Add.1) and WG-II’s report (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.1/Add.2), with editorial amendments.
Delegates approved holding SBSTTA-11 from 5-9 December 2005, in Montreal, Canada, and adopted its provisional agenda (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.14).
On other matters, delegates agreed to establish an AHTEG on Gaps and Inconsistencies in the International Regulatory Framework on Invasive Alien Species, as requested by COP decision VII/13. New Zealand noted that preparations were well advanced for the meeting of the AHTEG to be held in May 2005, in Auckland.
Brazil highlighted publication of its second national report and national biodiversity strategies of South American countries, in view of COP-8, to be held in Brazil in 2006. Jamaica, on behalf of SIDS, requested the preparation of an interactive display at COP-8 on the ways in which island States implement the Convention. The GEF recorded its concern regarding the recent trend in the SBSTTA to include, in its recommendations, language that goes beyond the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between the GEF and the CBD.
Rapporteur Bozena Haczek (Poland) introduced, and delegates adopted, SBSTTA-10’s report (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/10/L.1).
CBD Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan stressed that island biodiversity is the last thematic work programme to be developed by the CBD, marking the end of a phase in CBD’s life. He further noted that the 2010 target calls for a shift in CBD’s work and said it is essential to ensure that progress is scientifically measurable.
Liberia, on behalf of Africa, said the region requires financial resources and capacity building to implement the CBD work programmes, and cautioned against the potential misuse of GURTs. Statements of appreciation were made by Ukraine, on behalf of Central and Eastern Europe, and Iran, on behalf of Asia and the Pacific. France and Spain stressed the need for reflecting the concept of diversity by broadly using all CBD’s working languages. India, for the Megadiverse Countries, reminded delegates of the tsunami disaster, noting that it had underscored the need to conserve biodiversity.
SBSTTA-10 Chair Oteng-Yeboah said the target on halting biodiversity loss had gained momentum since the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and commended the CBD’s ability to focus and adopt ambitious work programmes, noting that one of the immediate challenges lies in meeting the 2010 target. He thanked the Government and people of Thailand, as well as participants, and gaveled the meeting to a close at 5:30 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF SBSTTA-10
The Subsidiary Body on Scientific Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) did more than just traveling from the icy shores of the Ile de Montreal, its usual venue, to the tropical shores of Thailand: it also embarked on a new strategic journey, starting with the completion of the last thematic work programme to be considered under the CBD – island biodiversity. Convening in the very region marked by the devastating human and environmental impacts of the 2004 tsunami, delegates felt the urgency to take concrete steps to protect the environment and biodiversity, as their importance to human well-being has been made clear by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). This further added to the urgency, recognized by all, for substantial concrete actions if the 2010 target to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss is to be met. In this regard, SBSTTA-10, mandated to tackle the very issues needed to bolster implementation, including the integration of targets into the Convention’s work programmes and indicators to measure progress, showed a sense of focus (some would say re-focus) on its technical work. This renewed focus was, to some degree, compromised by the body’s inability to escape political maneuvering and provide technical advice on the long-standing item of genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs) and make notable progress on perverse incentives, including agricultural subsidies. This analysis will embark on its own short journey to revisit SBSTTA-10’s main themes from islands to agricultural lands, passing through targets, indicators and incentives.
ISLAND BIODIVERSITY REACHES SAFE HAVEN
The Keynote presentation “Sinking Island Arks – Island Biodiversity and Island Living under Threat” highlighted the threats to island biodiversity, the last realm that could certainly benefit from the special attention generated by the programmes of work of the CBD. Addressing island biodiversity was the culmination of the lobbying efforts of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), determined to ensure that island biodiversity remained on everybody’s radar screen and did not sink into oblivion amidst the CBD's ever-increasing workload. In order to achieve full acceptance of the work programme, some negotiators had to bridge the gap in knowledge and understanding between those who had attended the meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Island Biodiversity (13-17 December 2004, Canary Islands, Spain) and the vast majority of delegates who had not. Instead of coming to SBSTTA-10 as a negotiating group, SIDS negotiators focused their efforts on working within their respective regional groups to garner support from other island nations and the broader international community. This resulted in broad participation in the discussions on the work programme. Reconciling the interests of remote atolls with those of large industrialized isles emerged as a key challenge. However, the outcome of constructive and inclusive discussions is a set of island-specific priority actions that are applicable to all islands, large and small, and are to be achieved within the framework of global goals and targets.
The work programme on island biodiversity was the first one to be developed on the basis of the provisional framework for the integration of goals and targets into the work programmes of the Convention adopted at COP-7 (decision VII/30). While the framework was a welcome structure to start from, and clearly came as a saving grace during contact group sessions to help focus on priority actions, subsequent discussions on operationalizing the targets unveiled a number of concerns. These ranged from the need to avoid the pitfalls of standardization, which could result in neglecting the specificities of various ecosystems, to the general problem of achieving consistency between the global goals and targets and wording from the Convention. In the spirit of compromise, Parties agreed to retain the original wording of the global targets, deferring their overall review to the COP, and succeeded in adopting the much needed work programme on island biodiversity.
TARGETS AND INDICATORS – SETTING SAIL FOR 2010
The question of consistency of the proposed framework for goals and targets also complicated discussions on sub-targets for the work programmes on marine and coastal biodiversity and inland water ecosystems, as well as regarding indicators for assessing progress towards the 2010 target. Echoing debates on the island work programme, a small number of Parties sought to amend the provisional framework by requesting the reformulation of the targets related to the protection of traditional knowledge and benefit-sharing. The SBSTTA recommendation that COP-8 review the targets included in decision VII/30, with a view to achieving consistency between the CBD programmes of work and the provisional framework, could mark the beginning of a perpetual cycle of reviewing. This brings to light a potential problem that the SBSTTA, even more so the COP, will increasingly face as a complex maze of guidelines, recommendations and decisions is produced by a growing number of expert groups and ad hoc working groups. This added to some delegates’ concerns that some targets and indicators, besides requiring better guidance and resources for implementation and use, are of a political nature rather than scientifically grounded. Regardless, general satisfaction was expressed with the outcomes of discussions on these items, as a starting point for practical implementation and assessment of progress towards the 2010 target. As SBSTTA-10’s recommendations for further development and refinement of the sub-targets reveal, work on targets and indicators is an ongoing progress that will most certainly benefit from strengthened scientific input.
WELCOMING THE MILLENNIUM ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT ON BOARD
The results of the MA will be both a welcome scientific input into the CBD’s work and a positive challenge for the SBSTTA. It is clear that political momentum regarding biodiversity and achieving the 2010 target is increasing. Echoing the January 2005 International Biodiversity Conference “Biodiversity: Science and Governance,” SBSTTA-10 saw broad agreement on the fact that the design of tools for implementation and assessment now requires a strong scientific basis and input, as evidenced by the barriers posed to the development of sound indicators and targets in the absence of reliable methodology and data sources.
The MA may be coming just in time to assist the SBSTTA in this task. It will also stimulate the SBSTTA in focusing on its role as a body tasked with providing scientific and technical guidance, since its role may soon be rivaled by the establishment of an intergovernmental expert panel on changes to biodiversity, a proposal made at the International Conference on Biodiversity.
As a result of some delegatesï¿½ fear of far-reaching implications of some issues for trade negotiations, the SBSTTA is still struggling to detach itself from the political aspects of issues such as GURTS and incentives that repeatedly blocked negotiations in the past. As a result, without really providing the technological advice it was requested to give, the SBSTTA simply transmitted the controversial report of the AHTEG on GURTs to the Article 8(j) Working Group. Similarly, on incentives, two days and nights of contact group discussions did not help delegates come to grip with a ï¿½number of unresolved issues,ï¿½ as noted in the SBSTTA recommendation. Concerns were expressed that, sidetracked by the trade-related aspects of incentives, notably agricultural subsidies currently discussed under the World Trade Organization, delegates lost sight of their original task to assist countries, on a voluntary basis, to remove perverse incentives.
To some extent, the SBSTTA will be put to test at its eleventh meeting, as it will have to advise the COP on how the CBD process can best respond to the findings of the MA, thereby showing that, in spite of the political aspects of many of the issues it is requested to address, it can provide the necessary scientific and technical advice.
2010 ï¿½ FRESH WIND IN CBDï¿½s SAILS
With only five years to go until the crucial 2010 target, the CBD and particularly its main subsidiary body, the SBSTTA, are under pressure to produce results. Now that it is free from the development of work programmes, a difficult task that it has efficiently tackled, the SBSTTA can concentrate on the technical and strategic aspects of the CBDï¿½s implementation. At this stage, many recognize that achieving the 2010 target will be, if not entirely impossible, only partial with huge discrepancies among the worldï¿½s regions and ecosystems. Nevertheless, broad participation and the quality of contributions to SBSTTA-10ï¿½s discussions by Parties from all regional groups, even on technical discussions, was noted as evidence of their commitment to making sure that the 2010 target does materialize. One already visible impact of the 2010 target is the revived focus on tools for assessment and implementation. Although political in nature, this target has certainly helped raise the level of scientific input and enhance technical focus that the CBD and its SBSTTA need to deliver.
THIRD MEETING OF THE CBD AD HOC WORKING GROUP ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT-SHARING: The third meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS-WG3) will convene from 14-18 February 2005, in Bangkok, Thailand. ABS-WG3 will initiate negotiations on an international regime on ABS. It will also consider agenda items on: use of terms not defined in the Convention; additional approaches to complement the Bonn Guidelines on ABS, such as an international certificate of origin/source/legal provenance; measures to ensure compliance with prior informed consent of Parties providing genetic resources and of indigenous and local communities providing associated traditional knowledge, and with mutually agreed terms on which access was granted; and options for indicators for ABS, in the framework of evaluation of progress in the implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan. For more information, contact: the CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Internet: http://www.biodiv.org/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=ABSWG-03
Daily coverage of ABS-WG3 by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin will be available online at: http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/abs-wg3/
Editorï¿½s Note: A full list of upcoming meetings will be included in the Earth Negotiations Bulletinï¿½s summary of ABS-WG3, which will be published on Monday, 21 February 2005.