The first meeting of the SBI (SBI-1) took place from 31 August - 1 September 1995 in Geneva. The SBI addressed: communications from Annex I Parties; a progress report on in-depth review; institutional and budgetary matters; matters relating to the financial mechanism; and the elaboration and scheduling of the programme of work for 1996-1997. Delegates rapidly adopted the SBIs work programme and recommended that the COP adopt the draft Memorandum of Understanding with the GEF as the financial mechanism, and proposed a draft decision on this item to be adopted by COP-2.
At SBI-2, held in Geneva from 27 February through 4 March 1996, delegates considered in-depth reviews of national communications, matters related to the financial mechanism, financial and technical cooperation, transfer of technology, arrangements for the relocation of the Secretariat to Bonn and COP-2. SBI-2 delegates could claim some measurable progress, yet comments on the floor frequently highlighted what had not been done to implement the Convention. While delegates welcomed the GEF Councils adoption of its operational strategy, many noted the need to expedite the process of providing full agreed costs for non-Annex I communications or risk serious delays. Developing countries frequently noted that providing funds to the GEF and providing funds to countries were not the same thing. The SBIs review of in-depth reports revealed that many delegations found the national communications in need of comparability and consistency. The problem of membership distribution provoked several lengthy debates on the composition of the Bureau, a question pending since COP-1. Despite numerous consultations the issue remains outstanding.