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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 09 Number 664 | Monday, 9 May 2016


Summary of the Twentieth Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice and First Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation

25 April – 6 May 2016 | Headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Montreal, Canada


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The twentieth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) convened from 25-30 April 2016 in Montreal, Canada. The meeting adopted 15 recommendations related to: a scientific review of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020; marine and coastal biodiversity; invasive alien species; synthetic biology; review of the Assessment on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem (IPBES); biodiversity and climate change; sustainable wildlife management; protected areas and ecosystem restoration; fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, guidelines for the sixth national reports, and indicators for assessing progress towards the Aichi Targets; new and emerging issues; and biodiversity mainstreaming.

The first meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) convened from 2-6 May 2016 in Montreal, Canada. The meeting adopted 13 recommendations related to: review of progress in implementation, strategic actions to enhance implementation, strengthening support for implementation, and improving the efficiency of the structures and processes of the CBD and its protocols.

Around 500 participants attended SBSTTA and over 450 participants attended SBI, representing governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs), business, academia, and youth. SBSTTA 20 made progress on biodiversity mainstreaming, invasive alien species, the IPBES Assessment, an action plan on ecosystem restoration and guidance on marine debris. Although considerable work focused on synthetic biology, several questions remain to be considered by COP 13. SBI 1 piloted a voluntary peer-review mechanism of implementation and made progress on, inter alia, biodiversity mainstreaming and the SBI modus operandi.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CBD

The CBD was adopted on 22 May 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 196 parties to the Convention, which aims to promote the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the Convention. It is assisted by SBSTTA, which is mandated, under CBD Article 25, to provide the COP with advice relating to the Convention’s implementation. The SBI was established in 2014, to replace the Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention (WGRI), which had been established in 2004 to evaluate, report and review implementation of the Convention and its Strategic Plan.

COP 6: At its sixth meeting (April 2002, The Hague, the Netherlands), the COP adopted the Convention’s Strategic Plan, including the target to reduce significantly the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010; an expanded work programme on forest biodiversity; and guiding principles for invasive alien species (IAS).

COP 7: At its seventh meeting (February 2004, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), the COP adopted: the Akwé: Kon Guidelines for cultural, environmental and social impact assessments; the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for sustainable use; work programmes on mountain biodiversity, protected areas, and technology transfer and cooperation; and a decision to review implementation of the Convention, its Strategic Plan and progress towards achieving the 2010 target.

COP 8: At its eighth meeting (March 2006, Curitiba, Brazil), the COP adopted a work programme on island biodiversity and reaffirmed the COP 5 ban on the field-testing of genetic use restriction technologies.

COP 9: At its ninth meeting (May 2008, Bonn, Germany), the COP adopted the Resource Mobilization Strategy for the Convention and scientific criteria and guidance for marine areas in need of protection; and established an ad hoc technical expert group on biodiversity and climate change.

COP 10: At its tenth meeting (October 2010, Nagoya, Japan), the COP adopted as a package: the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization; the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including a mission, and strategic goals and targets aiming to inspire broad-based action by parties and stakeholders; and a decision on activities and indicators for the implementation of the Resource Mobilization Strategy.

COP 11: At its eleventh meeting (October 2012, Hyderabad, India), the COP adopted an interim target of doubling biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries by 2015, and at least maintaining this level until 2020, as well as a preliminary reporting framework for monitoring resource mobilization. The COP further requested IPBES to consider ways in which the activities of the platform could, as appropriate, contribute to assessments of the achievement of the Aichi Targets and provide information on policy options available to deliver the 2050 vision of the Strategic Plan.

COP 12: At its twelfth meeting (6-17 October 2014, Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea), the COP conducted a mid-term review of progress towards the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets, and agreed on the Pyeongchang Roadmap. In addition, the COP decided that SBSTTA will submit to COP, for its approval, any requests for the next programme of work of the IPBES.

SBSTTA 20 REPORT

On Monday, 25 April 2016, SBSTTA Chair Andrew Bignell (New Zealand) opened the meeting, highlighting the division of labor between SBSTTA and SBI. CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Dias underscored, inter alia: links with SBSTTA 19, including on mainstreaming biodiversity; consideration of key elements for a short-term action plan for ecosystem restoration; progress in implementing Aichi Targets 11 (protected areas) and 12 (threatened species); and the new structure of the Secretariat, following its functional review. He announced that he will not pursue renewal of his mandate at the end of his term in February 2017, and that David Cooper was appointed Deputy Executive Secretary.

Jiří Hlaváček, on behalf of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner, pointed to: potential inputs from SBSTTA into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators; IPBES’s work on pollinators, calling for an action plan to translate key messages into action; cooperation between biodiversity-related conventions and national implementation; and the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) to be convened in Nairobi, from 23-27 May 2016.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Delegates adopted the agenda (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/1/Rev.1) and the organization of work (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/1/Add.1/Rev.1) without amendment. Delegates elected Lourdes Coya de la Fuente (Cuba) as SBSTTA 20 rapporteur.

Delegates elected the following SBSTTA Bureau members, starting at SBSTTA 21: Samuel Dieme (Senegal), Yousef Al-Hafedh (Saudi Arabia), Sergiy Gubar (Ukraine), Hendrik Segers (Belgium), and Eugenia Argüedas Montezuma (Costa Rica).

Belgium expressed concern regarding overlap between the SBSTTA and SBI agendas. Costa Rica for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) urged parties to expedite progress in achieving the Aichi Targets and expressed support for mainstreaming biodiversity in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism as the main topic for COP 13. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for the African Group, called for redoubling efforts to reach the Aichi Targets and implement the Strategic Plan by 2020, noting developing countries’ need for greater financing. Egypt announced that his offer to host COP 14 was supported by the African Group and the Arab League.

The following report summarizes discussions according to the SBSTTA 20 agenda. All recommendations were adopted by the plenary on Saturday, 30 April. Australia requested adding to every reference to applying the precautionary approach “in line with the CBD preamble.”

SCIENTIFIC REVIEW OF IMPLEMENTATION

Delegates first considered the scientific review of the implementation of the Strategic Plan and related work programmes, and the achievement of the Aichi Targets (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/2) on Monday, 25 April. The Secretariat pointed out that the document focused mainly on Aichi Target 11 and has some preliminary points on Target 12, noting that the SBI will consider other issues related to the Aichi Targets. Plenary considered two draft recommendations on the scientific review and on Aichi Targets 11 and 12 on Thursday, 28 April.

SCIENTIFIC REVIEW: Australia noted that SBSTTA was expected to employ a more scientific approach to determining progress towards the Aichi Targets, urging, supported by many, identification of targets that are lagging behind in implementation. Norway queried focus on Target 11, noting that progress is positive and easy to measure, and suggesting, supported by the Russian Federation, focusing guidance on difficult aspects such as ensuring broad participation in protected area (PA) management. The Russian Federation suggested inviting parties to share information on examples of criteria for other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs). Yemen recommended cooperation with IPLCs. Morocco underscored capacity building for better management and governance to achieve Aichi Targets 11 and 12, and the need for guidance on OECMs. Timor Leste called for technical assistance for least developed countries.

On a draft recommendation on scientific assessment of progress towards selected Aichi Targets, the UK suggested including a request to the Secretariat to: develop proposals for the next scientific assessment of progress towards selected Aichi Targets for which the least progress has been made, taking into account information and priorities emerging from SBSTTA 19 and 20 and SBI 1; identify those targets for which a scientific assessment would have the greatest potential for reaching the set target; and submit a proposal to COP 13. Canada recommended referring to a “scientific assessment” by SBSTTA, rather than “a review of implementation.” Belgium proposed requesting the Secretariat to identify options to speed up implementation of targets identified as having least progress. 

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.2), SBSTTA requests the Secretariat to develop proposals for the next scientific assessment of progress towards selected Aichi Targets for which least progress has been made and to identify those targets for which a scientific assessment would have the greatest potential to help achieve the relevant targets, for COP 13 consideration. SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • acknowledge SBSTTA’s role in reviewing progress by parties in implementing the Strategic Plan, and in providing advice, recognizing the complementary mandates of SBSTTA and SBI;
  • request the Secretariat to prepare, in collaboration with members of the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership and other partners, updated scientific assessments of progress towards Aichi Targets, for SBSTTA consideration prior to COP 14, focusing in particular on those targets on which the least progress has been made; and to develop options to accelerate progress towards the achievement of those targets, which have been identified as the least advanced.

TARGET 11: The UK called for: a flexible approach for achieving Aichi Target 11, noting that the target is not limited to PAs, but also includes OECMs; and flexible priority-setting, reflecting local and regional contexts. The Russian Federation proposed an expert workshop to provide scientific and technical advice on the definition, management approaches and identification of OECMs, subject to funding. On information to be collected, Germany proposed referring consistently to “PAs and OECMs.”

Germany suggested inviting parties to undertake assessment of PA systems, recognizing different PA types, and effective and equitable management regimes. New Zealand queried reference to “understanding equity.” Argentina underscored the need for more clarity on equity and governance, and their link. The Philippines recommended taking into account local governments and indigenous knowledge systems to strengthen the link between governance and equity, especially in areas where administrative or legal frameworks are lacking. The Russian Federation suggested adding that national assessments also consider equity.

The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) highlighted: the importance of community protocols, the need for free prior informed consent (PIC) when establishing and expanding PAs; and recommended adding reference to CBD Article 8(j) in the context of equitable PA governance and management. Guatemala, supported by Bolivia, suggested including “IPLCs’ areas managed and collective action into the wider landscapes and seascapes, as appropriate.” Nepal suggested language on CBD Article 8(j), opposed by Brazil, and on areas that “have involved the full and effective participation and received the free PIC of IPLCs whose territories, areas, and resources overlap wholly or partially with the proposed areas.” The UK suggested bracketing “free,” as it is to be discussed at COP 13. France recommended deletion, and New Zealand adding “in accordance with national legislation.” With these suggestions, Nepal conceded to delete “free.”

The Netherlands stressed that: participation in the World Database of PAs should be voluntary, supported by Ethiopia; and more information on its effectiveness is needed, supported by Norway. The European Union (EU) urged more balance between terrestrial and marine PAs, welcoming digital assessments and more frequently updated information.

The UK, supported by Germany and New Zealand, noted that additional reporting requirements should be voluntary. Maldives highlighted challenges regarding monitoring and reporting, noting the importance of effective management plans. Colombia drew attention to challenges related to the consolidation of a global PA database and, with Canada, called for involving parties in developing additional guidance. Belgium stressed: the need to raise the level of ambition at the national level; links between Aichi Target 11 and Paris Agreement Article 5 (sinks); and adding connectivity as a priority criterion for establishing PAs. Brazil recommended substituting “roadmaps” for the achievement of Target 11 with national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs).

On the draft recommendation, the EU recommended referencing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Regarding concerted efforts by parties to implement national actions identified in NBSAPs, South Africa suggested inclusion of other relevant strategies. Canada proposed that regional workshops should address gaps identified.

On pursuing efforts in identifying areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, Canada proposed language on progress made in describing ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) under the CBD.

On inviting parties to give due consideration to particular areas when establishing new, or expanding existing, PAs or OECMs, Norway prioritized ecological representativeness.

On more systematic assessments of PA management effectiveness, Canada recommended to assess PAs’ biodiversity outcomes, and reference to governance diversity, with Brazil adding reference to efficiency. On assessments of the conservation status of taxonomic groups, Finland asked to assess habitats and habitat conservation plans.

Delegates debated at length a recommendation on working with partners and funders on a number of listed issues. The Russian Federation said the process should be driven by parties. Canada proposed that the CBD Secretariat play an active role in the process and develop guidance based on the information gathered. Colombia and Japan preferred focusing on gathering information. Australia noted that any guidance would have to be voluntary. Delegates agreed to refer to endemic and threatened species.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.3), SBSTTA requests the COP to:

  • recognize that achieving Aichi Target 11 will contribute to the implementation of other Aichi Targets, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, relevant SDG targets and Article 5 of the Paris Agreement, as well as mitigation and adaptation to climate change;
  • invite parties, taking into account national circumstances, to pursue efforts to: implement actions identified in NBSAPs and address gaps identified through regional capacity-building workshops on achieving Aichi Targets 11 and 12; and identify and explore options to protect areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, taking into account progress made in describing EBSAs, in establishing new and/or expanding existing PAs, or taking OECMs with the full and effective participation, and having received PIC of, IPLCs whose territories, areas and resources overlap wholly or partially with the proposed areas, in accordance with national legislation;
  • invite parties to: undertake more systematic assessments of management effectiveness and biodiversity outcomes of PAs, including, OECMs and to provide, on a voluntary basis, information on the results to the Global Database on PA Management Effectiveness; undertake or participate in national PA governance assessments to promote, recognize and improve governance diversity, efficiency and equity in PA systems; and to strengthen their efforts to complete conservation status assessments of all taxonomic groups and habitats and develop and implement species and habitat conservation plans, in particular for threatened and endemic species;
  • invite governments and others, in conjunction with the CBD Secretariat to: undertake a review of experiences on PAs and OECMs and their mainstreaming across sectors, and of additional measures to enhance integration of PAs and OECMs into the wider land- and seascapes, and of effective governance models for PA management; to explore the possibility of developing global or regional projects that could support national assessments of management effectiveness and equity in PAs; and facilitate the completion of conservation status assessments of species and enable their conservation and support networks at the regional and subregional level to build capacity, including through regional workshops to promote the preparation, use and sharing of technical guidance, best practices, tools, lessons learned, and monitoring efforts;
  • request the Secretariat to: develop voluntary guidance on the elements set out above; organize a technical expert workshop to provide scientific and technical advice on definition, management approaches, and identification of OECMs; and report on progress to SBSTTA prior to COP 14; and
  • invite the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to facilitate the alignment of the development and implementation of PA and OECM projects in its sixth and seventh replenishment cycles, with a view to facilitating the systematic monitoring and reporting of the results of the projects with regard to Aichi Targets 11 and 12.

BIODIVERSITY MAINSTREAMING

Delegates first considered biodiversity mainstreaming across sectors, including forestry, fisheries and agriculture (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/15) on Monday, 25 April. Plenary considered a draft recommendation on Friday, 29 April.

Calling for inclusive stakeholder participation, Mexico underscored challenges and opportunities for promoting biodiversity mainstreaming, derived from the international expert workshop, held in Mexico in November 2016. Bolivia stressed the need to support community farming, agroecology and community forestry to promote sustainable production, ensuring the ability to regenerate ecosystems’ components. The UK called for a more integrated approach, including decision-support tools and voluntary sectoral codes, rather than focusing on sector-specific outcomes.

Calling, with the UK, for a clear reference to the SDGs, Finland highlighted the value of legal instruments in all relevant sectors. Sweden emphasized links between the Strategic Plan and several SDGs, and recommended distinguishing legal instruments and certification schemes. Germany called attention to the link with the Paris Agreement as reflected in its Article 5; and the findings of the IPBES assessment on agriculture impacts on pollinators. Many called for exploring options regarding mainstreaming biodiversity in the broader SDG agenda. The EU underscored that only 13% of the world’s forests are included in PAs, and the need for stronger legal frameworks and tenure systems.

New Zealand recommended increasing awareness of the value of biodiversity. Canada suggested adding “as appropriate” before ecosystem services, noting preference for other tools such as tax incentives. France suggested developing a global plan of action on biodiversity mainstreaming and stakeholder involvement. Norway recommended strategic action to enhance implementation.

Brazil expressed skepticism about references to increasing wealth and shifts in consumption patterns in relation to the growing demand for agricultural, forests and fisheries commodities. Botswana stressed that valuation and stocktaking of natural capital help mainstreaming biodiversity at higher decision-making levels. Australia stressed the need to focus on cross-sectoral cooperation. Benin underscored the importance of tools to assess ecosystem services as well as the inclusion of IPLCs’ experiences and codes of conduct.

IIFB requested including IPLCs among the stakeholders contributing to the preparation of the 2017-2020 strategic plan of the International Arrangement on Forests. The Global Forest Coalition (GFC) stressed the need to examine the causes of the problem, namely production and consumption patterns and resource use, calling for strong political will, transparency and an appropriate regulatory framework.

On the draft recommendation, Guatemala suggested adding IPLCs in several paragraphs. On fisheries and aquaculture, Japan suggested the inclusion of SDG 4 (education), in addition to SDG 2 (food security), 6 (water and sanitation) and 14 (oceans and seas). New Zealand proposed providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets, “as appropriate.”

Bolivia proposed to consistently refer to ecosystem services and functions. Canada suggested language recognizing that the benefits of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries to biodiversity conservation can be significant beyond biodiversity for food and agriculture. Argentina, supported by Brazil, but opposed by the EU, Mexico and Colombia, recommended referring to ensuring sustainable production methods, rather than changes in consumption and production patterns, with delegates agreeing to keep both. Sweden favored a reference to SDG target 15.9 on integration of ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local development processes and poverty reduction strategies and accounts.

Belgium recommended reference to restoration of areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services and habitats of threatened species, in addition to reducing biodiversity loss. Sweden preferred to require governments to “encourage the development of,” rather than develop, certification schemes. Belgium, opposed by Argentina and Canada, opposed reference to “voluntary” certification schemes. Brazil asked to bracket the whole provision.

Delegates discussed language on developing clear legal and/or policy frameworks. Sweden suggested reference to their enforcement, and Guatemala to ensuring diversification of production. Argentina asked to bracket this language, as well as that on sustainable and ecological intensification. Belgium, opposed by Canada, proposed reference to the need to address food waste during processing, marketing, and consumption processes.

Delegates discussed a provision welcoming private-sector initiatives to eliminate deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities. Denmark, opposed by Japan, asked to invite parties to support the private sector to eliminate by 2020 deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities. Brazil rejected such a direct link between deforestation and agricultural production. On Saturday, Denmark offered compromise text welcoming private-sector initiatives to eliminate deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities and operations across their supply chain.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.15), SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • urge parties to strengthen their efforts to mainstream conservation and sustainable use within and across various sectors, including by involving relevant stakeholders, with bracketed reference to “taking into account relevant standards and best practice guidance related to biodiversity in these sectors”;
  • encourage parties to: reduce and reverse biodiversity loss; engage with the public and private sectors to promote sustainable consumption; create cross-sectoral coordination mechanisms; enhance monitoring of use of natural resources; use an appropriate mix of regulatory and incentive measures, reduce loss of food and waste at all stages of production and consumption; and strengthen stakeholder and IPLC participation, with bracketed references to: voluntary certification schemes for sustainably produced goods; development of clear legal frameworks for land use; policy frameworks for land use that reflect national biodiversity objectives; and sustainable and ecological intensification and diversification;
  • welcome private-sector initiatives to eliminate deforestation from the production of agricultural commodities and operations across their supply chain, encourages more companies to adopt and implement similar commitments, and invite parties, as appropriate, to support these companies to achieve their initiatives;
  • welcome the IPBES assessment on pollinators, pollination and food production; and
  • the Secretariat to prepare further guidance on the concept of “sustainability” in food and agriculture.

MARINE AND COASTAL BIODIVERSITY

ECOLOGICALLY OR BIOLOGICALLY SIGNIFICANT MARINE AREAS: Delegates considered EBSAs (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/3 and Add.1) on Monday and Tuesday, 25-26 April in plenary and in a contact group, chaired by Mustafa Fouda (Egypt), on Tuesday and Wednesday, 26-27 April. A draft recommendation was considered by plenary on Friday, 29 April.

The Russian Federation proposed inviting governments to share information on experiences in undertaking scientific analysis of status and trends of biodiversity in areas meeting EBSA criteria. Morocco encouraged greater cooperation with other international organizations to describe EBSAs.

Mexico considered CBD parties’ efforts to describe EBSAs an important input for the negotiating process on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea reported that: the General Assembly has noted the work on EBSAs; and that the Preparatory Committee for developing a legally binding instrument on BBNJ will report to the General Assembly by the end of 2017.

The UK expressed reservations about setting up national EBSA information curators and an ad hoc technical expert group (AHTEG), noting that its proposed terms of reference are too broad. France favored establishing an advisory group instead of an AHTEG and, with New Zealand, tasking national focal points with the work foreseen for curators. Brazil opposed an information curator and the current terms of reference for an AHTEG, cautioning against work on BBNJ prior to the conclusion of the BBNJ negotiating process. Iceland questioned the timeliness of the proposed AHTEG and information curators in light of the BBNJ process. Norway supported an AHTEG for areas beyond national jurisdiction, whereas national areas should be left to countries. Canada suggested finding a way forward that respects national jurisdiction and the BBNJ negotiating process; and called for IPLCs’ involvement in developing practical options to determine socially and culturally significant areas. The GFC recommended recognizing indigenous peoples as rights holders and the need to obtain PIC for EBSAs that coincide with their territories.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), supported by Portugal, proposed establishing marine focal points, instead of national information curators. Birdlife International recommended including EBSAs in national reporting. WWF proposed requesting reports on all management measures adopted for EBSAs.

The contact group focused on: practical options for further enhancing scientific methodologies and approaches for the description of areas meeting EBSA criteria; the terms of reference of an informal advisory group to facilitate the implementation of these options; and the designation of CBD marine and coastal biodiversity national focal points. Debates focused on EBSAs within and beyond national jurisdiction and the composition of the advisory board.

On Friday, Chair Bignell suggested adopting the draft recommendation as a whole, given the considerable work conducted in the contact group. Brazil noted that despite efforts, further coordination with capital is needed before removing brackets around practical options for enhancing scientific methodologies and approaches for EBSA description, and the establishment of an informal advisory group on EBSAs.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.8), SBSTTA requests the Secretariat to develop options regarding procedures to modify the description of areas included in the EBSA repository, both within and beyond national jurisdiction, based on new information that has become available since the previous regional workshops, and to facilitate the process of description of new areas, for COP 13 consideration, after parties’ peer-review.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP, inter alia:

  • invite competent organizations to make use of the information on EBSAs in their relevant activities;
  • request the Secretariat to continue to facilitate the description of areas meeting EBSA criteria through additional workshops;
  • welcome the training manual on the use of traditional knowledge in the application of the EBSA criteria, and request the Secretariat, in collaboration with governments, organizations and IPLCs, to make use of it;
  • invite governments and competent organizations to share their experiences in undertaking scientific and technical analysis of the status of biodiversity in the described EBSAs, as appropriate;
  • recalling an EBSA-related paragraph in decision X/29 on marine and coastal biodiversity, encourage parties and invite organizations, within their respective jurisdiction and competence, to take measures to ensure conservation and sustainable use by implementing relevant tools, including area-based management tools such marine protected areas (MPAs), environmental impact assessments (EIAs), and to share their experiences; and
  • invite parties, as appropriate, to consider designating national focal points for the work programme on marine and coastal biodiversity in support of CBD national focal points, to facilitate effective and coordinated communication on the implementation of the work programme.

Brackets remain around language on: taking note of the practical options for enhancing scientific methodologies and approaches for the EBSA description contained in Annex I; and requesting the Secretariat to facilitate implementation of these options, including through the establishment of an EBSA informal advisory group, whose terms of reference are included in Annex II.

ACIDIFICATION IN COLD-WATER AREAS: The Secretariat introduced a specific workplan on biodiversity and acidification in cold-water areas (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/4), which was discussed in plenary on Tuesday, 26 April. Murray Roberts (Heriot Watt University) presented on cold-water areas and associated biodiversity, such as slow-growing and long-lived cold-water corals and sponges, and ocean acidification. A draft recommendation was discussed in plenary on Friday, 29 April.

The African Group called for avoidance, minimization and mitigation of multiple stressors. Belgium proposed conveying the existence of additional stressors, without neglecting acidification. Colombia, with Sweden and Belgium, underscored potential cumulative effects of many different stressors. Argentina called for technology transfer, opining that actions to protect climate change-resilient areas must be in accordance with international law. Bangladesh suggested referring to the goal of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

France, with Sweden and Finland, suggested that polar seas be included. Namibia proposed closer collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency on the issue of ocean acidification. Sweden called for complementarity with the Arctic Council and, supported by Italy, with regional seas conventions, and international cooperation and coordination.

Brazil suggested that work related to acidification only address areas within national jurisdiction and the workplan be voluntary. Brazil, opposed by France, suggested the title of the decision and the work plan specify “in areas within national jurisdiction,” as BBNJ is addressed under the UN General Assembly. Following informal consultations, Brazil accepted referring to “within the jurisdictional scope of the Convention.” On the voluntary specific workplan on biodiversity in cold-water areas contained in Annex II, Germany suggested avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating land-based and sea-based pollution.

On the key messages from the scientific compilation and synthesis on biodiversity and ocean acidification in cold-water areas contained in an annex, the UK suggested that “major” oil spill accidents “would have the potential to result in environmental impacts,” rather than “can create larger environmental impacts.” On a reference in the work plan on avoiding, minimizing or mitigating adverse impacts related to hydrocarbon extraction, the UK suggested referring to “significant” adverse impacts, opposed by Namibia, and deleting “including exclusion of oil and gas exploration and extraction in the vicinity of” cold-water coral and sponge reefs and other areas of sensitive cold-water biodiversity.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.5), SBSTTA recommends that the COP, inter alia:

  • note that cold-water areas sustain ecologically important and vulnerable habitats, some of which may be undergoing change due to the combined and cumulative effects of multiple stressors, including ocean acidification;
  • welcome the scientific compilation and synthesis on biodiversity and acidification in cold-water areas, and take note of its key findings, contained in Annex I;
  • adopt the voluntary specific workplan, contained in Annex II, for biodiversity in cold-water areas within the CBD jurisdictional scope;
  • encourage governments and organizations, where applicable, to implement the activities in the workplan and strengthen efforts to, inter alia: avoid, minimize and mitigate the impacts from stressors, especially combined and cumulative effects; maintain and enhance the resilience of cold-water ecosystems; and identify and protect refugia sites; and
  • request the Secretariat to facilitate the implementation of the workplan and capacity building, and to share information on lessons learned.

The annexed voluntary specific workplan includes context and scope, objectives, and a list of activities including: integrated policies and management; MPAs and marine special planning; monitoring; research and capacity building; and financing.

MARINE DEBRIS AND UNDERWATER NOISE: Delegates considered marine debris and anthropogenic underwater noise (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/5) on Tuesday, 26 April, in plenary. A draft recommendation was discussed in plenary on Friday, 29 April. Brazil said that work related to marine debris and underwater noise should only address areas within national jurisdiction and should be voluntary.

Marine debris: The African Group noted, with Mexico, land-based sources and called for reducing, recycling, reusing, recovering, and redesigning plastics. Norway called for cooperation with UNEA on marine litter. Sweden highlighted the need to change production and consumption patterns. Guatemala encouraged capacity building and, supported by the UK, exchange of information and best practices. Micronesia called for multi-stakeholder engagement. Stressing the need to reduce production of marine debris, France noted that it may originate also from land-locked countries, which was supported by Sweden, and added that impacts should be avoided. Belgium highlighted liability, compensation and extended producer responsibility. The UK favored inviting, rather than urging, parties to consider, “where appropriate,” extended producer responsibility to provide response measures.

IUCN recommended including information on marine debris in national reports. The Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) urged research on bioaccumulation of plastics. Norway called attention to UNEA’s work on marine debris. Brazil and Canada emphasized the “voluntary” nature of the practical guidance.

Underwater noise: Mexico noted that relevant organizations need to cooperate to solve the impacts of underwater noise. Sweden noted that underwater noise from commercial shipping should be addressed under the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Australia noted that any guidance on underwater noise must be voluntary. Belgium suggested considering underwater noise at a future SBSTTA meeting. Japan noted the need for more research and analysis before discussing practical guidance.

On the draft recommendation, Germany proposed developing practical guidance and toolkits on measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse impacts of underwater noise on biodiversity, for consideration by a future SBSTTA meeting, with Japan adding “based on scientifically identified needs.”

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.9), SBSTTA:

  • invites parties to make use of the updated report on the impacts of underwater noise, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements;
  • requests the Secretariat, based on scientifically identified needs, to develop practical guidance and toolkits on measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate underwater noise impacts for SBSTTA consideration prior to COP 14;
  • takes note of the annexed voluntary practical guidance on preventing and mitigating impacts of marine debris;
  • urges parties to take appropriate measures, in accordance with national and international law and within their competencies, to prevent and mitigate the potential adverse impacts of marine debris, taking into account the voluntary practical guidance, and to incorporate related issues in biodiversity mainstreaming into different sectors; and
  • invites governments to consider, where appropriate, extended producer responsibility for providing response measures where there is damage or sufficient likelihood of damage to marine and coastal biodiversity and habitats from marine debris.

The annexed voluntary practical guidance includes sections on marine debris and its impacts on biodiversity and habitats, and on approaches and priority actions for preventing and mitigating these impacts.

MARINE SPATIAL PLANNING: Delegates considered marine spatial planning (MSP) and training initiatives (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/6) on Tuesday, 26 April, in plenary. A draft recommendation was discussed on Friday, 29 April. Mexico noted the need to replicate and scale up successful national MSP experiences. Maldives called for sharing of best practices. Colombia highlighted initiatives in shared-border areas for cooperation among neighboring countries. Chile suggested inviting parties to apply MSP through stakeholder participation. Morocco, with France, Sweden and Belgium, highlighted the link between MSP and the ecosystem approach. France noted, with Brazil, that sharing experiences regarding MSP should not be limited to areas that meet the EBSA criteria; and stressed, with Sweden, the importance of the regional seas conventions. 

Finland noted that the outcomes of the 2014 Expert Workshop to Provide Consolidated Practical Guidance and a Toolkit for MSP provides guidance, but not a toolkit for MSP, calling for a reference to MSP work under the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), UNEP, and the regional seas conventions.

IIFB called for effective IPLC participation. The Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Areas and Territories (ICCA) Consortium recommended supporting IPLCs’ mapping first in MSP processes and seeking PIC before including ICCAs. Brazil suggested MSP “may benefit from a participatory approach.” On encouraging governments to apply MSP or enhance MSP initiatives, Guatemala proposed adding promoting full and effective IPLC participation in developing and implementing MSP, with New Zealand adding “in accordance with national legislation.” South Africa proposed including language regarding management of tourism and other economic activities in the context of integrated marine and coastal management.

Brazil recommended encouraging governments, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and regional fisheries bodies to “consider,” rather than “use,” the results of the Expert Meeting on Improving Progress Reporting and Working Towards Implementation of Aichi Target 6.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.6), SBSTTA recommends that the COP, inter alia:

  • welcome the report of the Expert Workshop to Provide Consolidated Practical Guidance and a Toolkit for MSP;
  • recognize that MSP may facilitate the application of the ecosystem approach, expedite the achievement of the marine-related Aichi Targets, and support biodiversity mainstreaming;
  • encourage governments to apply MSP, as appropriate, and to, inter alia: take into account the Expert Workshop report; promote full and effective IPLC participation in MSP, in accordance with national legislation; and share their MSP experiences through the CBD Clearinghouse Mechanism (CHM);
  • request the Secretariat, and invite relevant organizations, to support the national implementation of MSP;
  • request the Secretariat to: invite governments, relevant organizations, and IPLCs to submit MSP experiences and lessons learned; compile and synthesize the received information for future SBSTTA consideration; and organize an expert workshop on Aichi Target 11 with regard to MPAs and OECMs, considering SDG Target 14.5 on MPAs;
  • invite parties, IPLCs, relevant organizations and scientific groups to provide information and experiences on criteria for socially or culturally significant marine areas, particularly when they coincide with areas meeting the EBSA criteria, or similar criteria, and request the Secretariat to compile and share this information through the CHM; and
  • welcome the report of the Expert Meeting on Improving Progress Reporting and Working Towards Implementation of Aichi Biodiversity Target 6 and encourage governments, FAO and regional fishery bodies to consider the results.

INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES

This item (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/7) was first considered in plenary on Tuesday, 26 April, and a draft recommendation was discussed on Thursday and Friday, 28-29 April. Piero Genovese, Chair of the IUCN specialist group on IAS, reported on positive and negative examples of use of bio-control agents to combat IAS.

Mexico recommended: cooperation among parties; exchange of information about management, control and eradication of IAS; and awareness raising. Morocco and others requested a compilation of best practices. Canada suggested including language on the interaction between climate change and IAS. Sudan called for information sharing to enable developing counties to assess risks. South Africa recommended gathering information on movement of species hitchhiking in containers.

Finland recommended: requesting information from governments and organizations on best practices and lessons learned in fulfilling Aichi Target 9 (IAS), supported by Sweden and Estonia; encouraging cooperation with the private sector; and reviewing risks of biological invasion and associated risks posed by all forms of e-commerce.

Belgium favored extending the Guidance on IAS as Pets, Aquarium and Terrarium Species, and as Live Bait and Live Food to all live species, including those that can be transported inadvertently. The UK recommended employing existing voluntary guidance on trade in wildlife, before investing in further guidance. On the draft recommendation, Canada, Australia and Estonia suggested subjecting to funding a request to the Secretariat to draft guidance supplementing the Guidance to incorporate unintentional introductions. Norway, opposed by Sweden, Canada, France and Colombia, suggested addressing all live alien species in general, rather than only unintentional introductions of IAS, through hitchhikers or contaminants, and materials associated with the trade in live alien species.

Norway encouraged cooperation between the CBD and the World Customs Organization on e-commerce. Namibia supported developing technical guidance for cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis for IAS management. The UK, with New Zealand, recommended focusing on new areas like e-commerce and engaging in a gap analysis. Mexico suggested inviting members of the Global IAS Information Partnership that manage databases pertaining to trade in wild animals and plants to further develop mechanisms to exchange information on the identification and vectors of potential IAS in trade. The UK proposed to first examine the need for, and then to develop, guidance to enable national customs authorities to facilitate control of live IAS via e-commerce.

After some discussion, delegates agreed to request the Secretariat to continue to compile or develop and maintain decision-support tools, in a coordinated manner with IPBES on the basis of its scoping report of IAS to facilitate implementation and make those tools available through the CBD CHM. On considering the balance between the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits related to IAS and remedial actions, Brazil suggested including reference to the IPBES methodological assessment on models and scenarios.

Bio-controls: Brazil opposed reference to commodity-specific measures and called for a cost-benefit analysis of the use of bio-control agents. Cook Islands called for including EIA in feasibility assessments for bio-control agents. Colombia called for synergistic work between CBD and IPBES on IAS, and expanding work on Aichi Target 9 with regard to bio-control agents. Sweden and Norway recommended information exchange and consultation among neighbor countries before planning bio-control programmes.

France suggested taking into account: questions related to the nature of bio-control agents; socio-economic aspects; cost-benefit analysis; impacts on the target species being eradicated; and potential effects on other invasive species. Peru expressed concerns regarding bio-control, pointing to greater risks where alien species are used rather than indigenous ones. Sweden, supported by New Zealand, proposed “applying the precautionary approach” to direct and indirect risks to non-target organisms and ecosystems from bio-control agent use, with Norway adding also “comprehensive” risk analysis. Brazil queried the difference between risk assessment and risk analysis, with Sweden explaining that the latter includes assessment, management and communication of risk. Canada proposed referring only to “already established” IAS, not also to “widespread” ones. Sweden, supported by Estonia and Canada, proposed encouraging governments, when using classical bio-control to already established IAS, to apply the precautionary approach and appropriate risk analysis, including contingency plans. Norway, with Belarus, preferred reference to “countries in the region,” rather than “neighboring” ones. Delegates also agreed to engage subnational governments.

With regard to an annex containing a summary of technical considerations for using bio-control agents to manage IAS, Brazil proposed clarifying that the summary should be considered as a menu of options. Sweden, supported by Colombia, pointed to relevant legally binding international obligations. On procedures that should be considered to minimize risks to biodiversity and human health, Canada offered compromise language referencing international regulations “such as the Nagoya Protocol to the extent it applies” with regard to research and development on bio-control agents. Regarding information sharing, France proposed to refer to countries within the region, with delegates agreeing to refer both to these and neighboring countries. Australia requested bracketing language on potential for indirect non-target impacts and decisions regarding bio-control programmes, considering it inconsistent with obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.4), SBSTTA recommends that the COP encourage parties to:

  • review their national regulatory framework to implement measures to ensure the safe import and prevention of spread of wildlife species and associated materials that can be pathways of introduction for invasive species, making use of appropriate risk analysis processes, as well as tools such as horizon scanning, which could consider drivers of trade, future trade patterns and potentially IAS that may enter through trade;
  • consider the balance between the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits related to IAS and remedial actions;
  • apply, when using classical bio-control to manage already established IAS, the precautionary approach in line with the Convention’s preamble, and appropriate risk analysis, including the elaboration of contingency plans, taking into account the annexed summary of technical considerations, as appropriate;
  • engage subnational governments and consult and inform potentially impacted countries when planning and carrying out a classical bio-control programme targeting specific IAS;
  • adopt a participatory process by engaging IPLCs and stakeholders at an early stage;
  • submit information on experiences, best practices, and lessons learned, and on gaps in application of methods of pathway analysis and IAS prioritization;
  • endeavor, with a view to reducing the risk associated with trade in IAS sold via e-commerce, to develop guidance to minimize the risks of IAS introduction, consistent with international obligations; and collaborate with e-commerce traders in the development of new necessary measures to reduce the risk of potentially IAS arising from e-commerce; and
  • review risk of biological invasions.
  • SBSTTA also recommends that the COP request the Secretariat to:
  • draft supplemental guidance to incorporate unintentional introductions of IAS, through hitchhikers or contaminants, and materials associated with the trade in live alien species, such as packing material, substrate or food;
  • explore the need for tools or guidance for parties that may assist national customs authorities in facilitating the necessary control of live IAS via e-commerce;
  • identify options for supplementing risk assessment and management standards for the use of bio-control agents against IAS; and
  • develop technical guidance for conducting cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis for IAS management.

The annex contains a summary of technical considerations for the use of bio-control agents for IAS management, including on: classical bio-control; precautionary approach and risk assessment and management; planning and implementation of bio-control programmes; post-release monitoring, emergency plan and rapid response; decisions on release of bio-control agents; and capacity development. The annex contains bracketed reference to risk assessments, addressing social factors, and decisions regarding bio-control programmes.

SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY

Delegates first discussed this item (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/8) on Tuesday, 26 April, in plenary, and in a contact group co-chaired by Anne Teller (EU) and Gemedo dalle Tussie (Ethiopia) from Tuesday to Friday, 26-29 April. A draft recommendation was considered by plenary on Saturday, 30 April. The Secretariat presented a report on the AHTEG’s work, highlighting, inter alia, the operational definition of synthetic biology as a further development and new dimension of modern biotechnology that combines science, technology and engineering to facilitate and accelerate the understanding, design, redesign, manufacture and/or modification of genetic materials, living organisms and biological systems. Many reaffirmed the importance of the precautionary approach.

Definition: Ethiopia. for the African Group: welcomed the operational definition as the basis for further discussion, with Mexico, Finland, Austria, Zambia, the Philippines and Malaysia; noted that current risk assessment approaches are not specifically designed for synthetic biology; and called for reviewing technological developments in the field. Germany welcomed the use of the operational definition without prejudice to future considerations. New Zealand accepted the definition, noting it will need to be revisited for future technological changes, and opposed commissioning of updated studies. Switzerland noted that not all products of synthetic biology fall within the scope of the Convention and that additional elements should be part of the operational definition.

Stressing that the proposed definition is ambiguous and may complicate discussions, Australia, with Japan and Canada, noted the lack of consensus on whether synthetic biology constitutes a new and emerging issue. Uruguay noted the definition is inappropriate and called for taking into account other fora and ethical benchmarks. Italy cautioned against considering the operational definition as a legal one. The UK supported the definition, but noted that the AHTEG should not reconvene. Brazil said synthetic biology has not been characterized as a new and emerging issue with potential risk to biodiversity, opposing national legislation review by the CBD.

In the contact group, delegates discussed whether synthetic biology is a “new dimension” of modern biotechnology; whether to refer to biological systems; and whether the operational definition is too wide. Delegates debated a paragraph stating that the AHTEG noted that components, living organisms, and products of synthetic biology fall within the scope of the Convention and its three objectives. The wording through which the operational definition would be forwarded to COP 13 proved particularly controversial.

Regulation: The IIFB underscored the absence of an instrument to regulate synthetic biology, and suggested adding reference to impacts on, and participation of, indigenous peoples. Raising concerns regarding functional gene drives, which can take one single trait and drive it through an entire population, the ETC Group called for the establishment of a process to monitor these developments. The Third World Network urged parties to consider the issue of genetic sequence data.

Ethiopia, for the African Group, noted that current risk assessment approaches are not specifically designed for synthetic biology, and called for reviewing relevant technological developments. Yemen called for a global framework covering all aspects of synthetic biology to strengthen national capabilities, while guaranteeing indigenous peoples’ rights. South Africa suggested requesting the CBD Secretariat to develop guidance on risk assessments. Mexico called for additional work, noting that components and products are not always non-living organisms and underscoring gaps under the Nagoya Protocol. Morocco called for field tests and appropriate scientific risk assessments, including ecological and economic effects, and implications for food security. China noted that the current framework to assess impacts from synthetic biology organisms, products and components is not sufficient. Indonesia requested the Secretariat to develop guidelines for food safety, risk management, and monitoring.  

Finland welcomed the AHTEG conclusions that: living organisms developed through current and near-future synthetic biology are similar to living modified organisms (LMOs) as defined under the Cartagena Protocol, while non-living ones do not fall under its scope, supported by Germany and Malaysia; risk assessment principles and methodology under the Cartagena Protocol provide a good basis for living organisms developed through synthetic biology, but may need to be updated and adapted in the light of future developments, supported by Norway, Malaysia and Austria; and, with Austria and Malaysia, coordination is needed, in particular with the AHTEG on Risk Assessment and Risk Management and the AHTEG on socio-economic considerations under the Cartagena Protocol. The UK proposed that the Cartagena Protocol consider whether living organisms developed by synthetic biology are covered by the Protocol, and whether risk assessment methodologies need to be reviewed.

Finland cautioned, with Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and others, that the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources is not specific to synthetic biology and should be dealt with under the Nagoya Protocol. Japan opined that digital sequence information falls beyond the CBD’s scope. Germany and the Philippines proposed addressing all access and benefit-sharing (ABS) issues under the Nagoya Protocol.

Canada, with Brazil and Argentina, supported a product-based precautionary approach to assess potential environmental and health effects, noting that national regulatory frameworks are better suited to this end.

In the contact group, points of contention included: a possible request for updated studies to assess the extent to which existing national, regional and/or international instruments adequately regulate the non-living components and products of synthetic biology; possible invitations to the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP to develop guidance on risk assessment of organisms developed through synthetic biology, and to the Nagoya Protocol’s COP/MOP to clarify if and how the use of digital sequence information relates to access and benefit-sharing.

Socio-economic impacts: The Federation of German Scientists expressed concern that gene editing techniques could be expanded to ecosystems and eradicate entire species, urging immediate steps also to assess socio-economic impacts. Friends of the Earth International pointed to risks for IPLCs and small-scale farmers and urged application of the precautionary principle when considering release of gene drives.

Ethiopia, for the African Group, emphasized the need to consider socio-economic impacts, with Namibia underscoring the need to strengthen socio-economic, cultural, and ethical considerations to address access to original sources of DNA and benefit-sharing with IPLCs. Norway, with Bolivia, noted that IPLCs should be included in future work. Austria, with the Republic of Korea and others, called for continuation of the AHTEG and the online forum to address socio-economic, cultural, and ethical considerations. Bolivia underscored: cultural, ethical, health, and socio-economic impacts; measures to reduce risks of transboundary movements; and liability and compensation. Saudi Arabia noted the need for risk evaluation and management, considering socio-economic effects.

Future work: In the contact group, delegates also discussed whether to renew the AHTEG’s mandate, with some opting for further work through an online forum. On the AHTEG’s possible terms of reference, deliberations addressed, inter alia: an assessment of synthetic biology against the criteria for new and emerging issues; the effects arising from unintentional introduction into the environment and unintentional transboundary movements; risk management measures; and identification and assessment of potential gaps in oversight under the Convention and its Protocols, as well as under other UN organizations with regard to components, living organisms, and products of synthetic biology.

On Saturday, 30 April, Chair Bignell proposed using the term “living organisms, and components and products,” to distinguish living organisms, by inserting a comma before components and products. Switzerland suggested, and delegates agreed, referring to “organisms” rather than “living organisms.” Chair Bignell proposed, and delegates agreed, to accept the document as a whole, with these amendments.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.16), SBSTTA notes the outcome of the deliberations of the AHTEG on synthetic biology on an operational definition, and that, inter alia:

  • the AHTEG arrived at a common understanding that the term “components” refers to parts used in a synthetic biology process (for example, a DNA molecule), and the term “products” refers to the resulting output of a synthetic biology process (for example, a chemical substance);
  • the AHTEG discussed that organisms, components and products of synthetic biology fall within the scope of the Convention and its three objectives; and
  • scientific and technological developments and information in the field of synthetic biology need to be reviewed regularly.

In addition, SBSTTA recommends that COP 13, inter alia:

  • reaffirm decision XII/24, urging parties to take a precautionary approach;
  • take note of the AHTEG conclusion that living organisms developed through current applications of synthetic biology are similar to LMOs as defined in the Cartagena Protocol, and note that the general principles and methodologies for risk assessment under the Cartagena Protocol and existing biosafety frameworks provide a good basis for risk assessment regarding living organisms developed through synthetic biology but may need to be updated and adapted;
  • note that given the current state of knowledge, it is unclear whether or not some organisms of synthetic biology, in the early stages of research and development, would fall under the definition of LMOs under the Cartagena Protocol, and that there are cases in which there may be no consensus on whether the result of a synthetic biology application is “living” or not;
  • invite parties to take into account, in accordance with their applicable domestic legislation or national circumstances and, as appropriate, socio-economic, cultural and ethical considerations when identifying potential benefits and adverse effects of organisms, components and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques;
  • encourage parties to, inter alia: conduct research on benefits and adverse effects; and cooperate in the development of guidance and capacity-building activities, and, if necessary, update and adapt current methodologies for risk assessment;
  • invite parties to submit information on research, evidence of benefits and adverse effects, experiences in conducting risk assessments, examples of risk management, and regulations, policies and guidelines in place or under development;
  • decide to extend the AHTEG mandate, and to contribute to the completion of the assessment against the criteria for a new and emerging issue; and
  • invite the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP to take into account relevant information.

The recommendation contains bracketed text on:

  • the outcome of the AHTEG on the operational definition, with options for the COP to acknowledge the definition, or deem it appropriate, for the purpose of facilitating scientific and technical deliberations under the Convention and its Protocols;
  • encouraging parties to take into account, as appropriate, socio-economic, cultural and ethical considerations;
  • welcoming the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP work on socio-economic considerations regarding risk assessment and management; and
  • inviting the Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP to clarify if and how the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources relates to ABS.

The recommendation includes in an annex the proposed AHTEG terms of reference, including to: review recent technological developments; identify any living organisms developed or under research through techniques of synthetic biology, which do not fall under the definition of LMOs under the Cartagena Protocol; further analyze benefits and adverse effects and gather information on risk management measures, safe use and best practices for safe handling; evaluate the availability of tools for detection and monitoring; and provide recommendations to facilitate future discussions and actions, and an analysis against the criteria for new and emerging issues. The terms of reference contain bracketed text on the AHTEG proposing elements to the Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP to facilitate the clarification of whether and how the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources relates to ABS.

REVIEW OF THE IPBES ASSESSMENT ON POLLINATORS, POLLINATION AND FOOD PRODUCTION

Delegates first considered this item (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/9) on Wednesday, 27 April, and discussed a draft recommendation on Thursday and Friday, 28-29 April. Adam Vanbergen, lead author of the IPBES Thematic Assessment of Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production, on behalf also of the Co-Chair of that assessment, Vera Imperatriz-Fonseca, presented on key messages for policy-makers on the values of pollinators, status and trends, drivers, and options for policy responses.

Mexico welcomed the summary, including management options. Brazil said that the COP should “take note” of the key messages of the assessment. Norway, France and Colombia preferred “endorsing” them. Denmark called for encouraging parties to develop national strategies and plans on pollinators, taking into account the recommendations, and report in their sixth national reports. Japan, with the Republic of Korea and Australia, called for implementing the recommendations according to national circumstances. Brazil suggested encouraging the use of the assessment, “as appropriate.” WWF urged a precautionary approach and full use of the findings.

France highlighted the request to review, with the FAO, the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Pollinators, and to prepare an updated plan of action. The UK suggested reference to a “streamlined” plan of action. Ethiopia, with Uganda, noted that the assessment did not take into account the entire African continent. Cameroon offered compromise language on requesting the Secretariat, with IPBES, to: prepare a regional report for Africa; promote, as a priority, efforts to address data gaps and capacity building for monitoring status and trends in developing countries, particularly Africa; and develop proposals for capacity building, in particular for Africa, to be integrated in an updated and streamlined plan of action. She also suggested inviting IPBES to give due attention to the theme of pollinators and pollination in ongoing regional and sub-regional assessments, the thematic assessment on land degradation and restoration, and the work of the task force on capacity building.

Peru stressed that the IPBES assessment would require updates, which was opposed by Canada, Colombia, Belgium, Turkey, Australia and others, given budgetary and time constraints. The UK proposed to request the CBD Secretariat to gather information from parties for SBSTTA consideration before COP 14. Germany noted the Secretariat should use the assessment findings in reviewing progress in the implementation of the Strategic Plan and in the preparation of its final report, update and revision beyond 2020.

Mexico recommended broadening the scope to include other regions and other pollinators, such as birds and bats, with Guatemala and Guinea calling for more research on tropical pollinators. Pakistan drew attention to indigenous pollinators, including native bees. Belarus called for a balanced approach, pointing to competition between honey and wild bees. Belgium, supported by Germany, Norway and Turkey, and opposed by Brazil, Ethiopia and Zambia, proposed deleting a request to undertake a brief scoping of issues related to pollinators beyond their role in agriculture and food production, and with France, supported by others, suggesting a summary of information.

Regarding promoting further research on pollinators to address gaps in the assessment, Canada proposed that “potential” impacts of LMOs and pesticides be addressed, and, with the Czech Republic, that systemic pesticides be grouped with neonicotinoids. Belgium, opposed by Brazil, called for taking into account possible cumulative effects of LMOs and pesticides. Belgium offered compromise language on promoting further research to address gaps in knowledge identified in the assessment on potential impacts “of pesticides, in particular neonicotinoids and other systemic pesticides, taking into account their cumulative effects, and of LMOs” on pollinator populations, under field conditions. On promoting further research to identify practical ways to integrate pollinator-friendly practices into farming systems, Ethiopia called for reference to “mainstreaming biodiversity into agricultural products and systems.”

Noting that pollinator decline serves as a reminder for the interconnectedness of mankind and nature, the IIFB pointed out that IPLCs’ knowledge enhances diversity and requested reference to IPLCs’ full participation. Colombia, supported by Bolivia, stressed the need to involve IPLCs in scoping issues related to pollinators, beyond their role in agriculture and food production. New Zealand suggested a supplementary indigenous pollinator assessment. Bhutan and Guatemala asked to specify that incentives should be for farmers and IPLCs, and Cameroon requested reference to benefit-sharing schemes. Argentina, supported by Brazil and opposed by Norway and Ethiopia, requested reference to compliance with WTO rules, which was bracketed. On protecting and promoting traditional knowledge, Brazil asked to include diverse farming systems. Bolivia, supported by Guatemala and opposed by Canada, requested reference to biocultural diversity. Delegates agreed to include a footnote stating that biocultural diversity was identified in the IPBES assessment.

Mexico proposed not only to minimize, but also to prevent, risks of introducing IAS harmful to wild and managed pollinators. On risk assessment procedures, Belgium recommended adding “managed bumblebees” to honeybees, and to taking into account climatic variations and cumulative effects. Brazil requested bracketing the provision.

Bolivia welcomed risk assessments of LMOs with regard to pollinators. Argentina suggested that any risk assessment conform to international trade law. Australia called for removing reference to LMOs since they fall under the Cartagena Protocol. Mexico proposed welcoming progress by the AHTEG on risk assessment and management in preparation of guidance on risk assessment of LMOs and monitoring in the context of risk assessment as a tool to evaluate potential adverse effects that agricultural LMOs could have on pollinators to be consistent with the Cartagena Protocol, with Brazil requesting brackets. Mexico, supported by Peru, suggested inviting Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP 8 to adopt and implement, as appropriate, guidance on risk assessment of LMOs and monitoring in the context of risk assessments, to evaluate the potential adverse effects that agricultural LMOs might have on pollinators, with the UK and Brazil requesting bracketing this.

Pesticides: France called for using the exact wording from the IPBES assessment regarding reducing risk from pesticides. Belgium stressed the need to avoid or minimize pesticide use and look at synergistic effects with other drivers. Canada pointed to bio-control to avoid inappropriate pesticide use and recognition of biocultural diversity, and suggested, with the UK, recognizing trade-offs between pollinators and other aspects of agricultural management. Norway suggested referring also to synergies.

The Russian Federation called for inviting the pesticide-producing private sector to take into account the assessment results, promote transparency in toxicology studies, and conduct full impact assessments. Yemen recommended requesting countries producing pesticides to monitor their movement and prevent smuggling. The UK recommended focusing on trade between countries, rather than movement within countries, of managed pollinator species, and referring to using existing risk assessment practices and consistent methods for monitoring. Australia suggested “monitoring and managing” these movements, rather than regulating them. Cameroon proposed to retain reference to movement within countries, “as appropriate.”

On developing and implementing, at national and regional levels, pesticide risk reduction strategies to reduce pesticide use, Brazil suggested, opposed by France and Sweden, including previously agreed language on “inappropriate” pesticide use, in light of the IPBES recommendation. Delegates eventually agreed to “avoid or reduce the use of pesticides harmful to pollinators.” WWF, supported by Palau, requested reference to full transparency in releasing results of all toxicity studies. The UK and Turkey proposed deleting language on minimizing pesticide use, opposed by France and Ethiopia, noting the specific reference to minimize the synergistic effects of pesticides with other drivers posing serious or irreversible harm to pollinators. IUCN lamented the limitations of the draft recommendation on pesticide use.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.7), SBSTTA:

  • acknowledges ongoing work of the AHTEG on Risk Assessment and Risk Management in preparing the guidance on risk assessment of LMOs as a tool for evaluating potential adverse effects on pollinators;
  • requests the Secretariat to bring SBSTTA 20 recommendations to the attention of the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP; and
  • requests the Secretariat, in cooperation with IPBES and FAO, to prepare a regional report for Africa, making the findings available for peer review before COP 13.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • express awareness of the trade-offs and synergies that exist between pollinator management options and other elements of agricultural systems;
  • welcome the summary for policymaking of the IPBES Thematic Assessment on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production, as well as the full assessment report;
  • endorse the key messages of the assessment;
  • encourage governments and others to use, as appropriate, the assessment to help guide efforts to improve conservation and management of pollinators, address drivers of pollinator declines, and work towards sustainable food production systems and agriculture; and
  • encourage businesses involved in pesticide development, manufacturing and sale, as appropriate, to take into account the assessment’s findings in their activities, including in developing and revising risk assessments of products, applying the precautionary approach in line with the Convention preamble and be fully transparent in releasing the results of all toxicity studies consistent with applicable international, regional and national standards.

SBSTTA further recommends that the COP encourage governments to, inter alia:

  • integrate consideration of pollinators’ conservation and sustainable use in relevant national policies, plans and programmes, taking into account the values of pollinators and pollination, to improve the management of pollinators, to address drivers of pollinator declines and to reduce the crop yield gaps due to pollination deficit;
  • monitor and manage the movement of managed pollinator species, subspecies and breeds, where appropriate, among countries and, as appropriate, within countries;
  • prevent or minimize the risk of introducing IAS harmful to wild and managed pollinators and the plant resources on which they depend;
  • develop and implement national and, as appropriate, regional pesticide risk reduction strategies, and avoid or reduce the use of pesticides harmful for pollinators;
  • avoid or minimize the synergistic effects of pesticides with other drivers that have been proven to pose serious or irreversible harm to pollinators;
  • develop and implement incentives for farmers and IPLCs to protect pollinators and pollinator habitats, for example through benefit-sharing schemes, including payments for pollinator services schemes, and remove or reduce perverse incentives, with bracketed reference to consistency with international obligations and compliance with WTO rules;
  • protect and promote traditional knowledge and established land rights and tenure, as appropriate, and to promote biological and cultural diversity and the links between them (with a footnote indicating that this is identified in the IPBES assessment as “biocultural diversity”), for the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators, including diverse farming systems; and
  • promote and share further research to address gaps in knowledge identified in the assessment, including the effects of the partial loss of pollinators on crop production, and potential impacts of pesticides, in particular neonicotinoids and other systemic pesticides, taking into account their possible cumulative effects, and of LMOs, on pollinator populations, under field conditions, including differential impacts on managed and wild pollinators, and on social versus solitary pollinators, and the impacts on pollination of both crop and non-crop plants over both the short and long term, and under different climatic conditions.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP request the Secretariat, for SBSTTA consideration before COP 14, to: review the implementation of the International Initiative and prepare a draft updated and streamlined plan of action, including capacity building, based on the assessment and including the most recent knowledge; and compile and summarize information on pollinators and pollination relevant to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in all ecosystems, beyond their role in agriculture and food production.

The recommendation contains bracketed language on encouraging parties to improve risk assessment procedures for pesticides and LMOs, applying the precautionary approach in line with the Convention preamble, consistent with international obligations, and taking into account climate variations and cumulative effects.

BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Delegates first considered this item (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/10 and Add.1) on Wednesday, 27 April. A draft recommendation was discussed on Friday, 29 April.  

Bolivia cautioned against commercialization of biodiversity benefits and called for recognizing IPLCs, and a knowledge exchange platform under the Paris Agreement. Tonga called for exploring synergies between the CBD and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and building capacity in ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation and monitoring. The Republic of Korea called for disseminating knowledge on ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation and disaster risk reduction through the CBD CHM. Belgium called for referring to mitigation in conjunction to adaptation and DRR. Namibia highlighted, with the DRC, synergies among the Rio Conventions, calling for inclusion of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

On area-based approaches for adaptation and DRR, Zambia suggested language on mitigation, cautioning against purely national efforts. Noting that ecosystem-based approaches are a crucial component of the UNFCCC, Malaysia cautioned against duplication and reporting burdens on adaptation and mitigation. The EU emphasized ecosystem-based approaches and nature-based solutions. Mexico called for redoubling efforts to achieve Aichi Targets 5 (natural habitats) and 15 (ecosystem resilience). Brazil said the recommendations should address both urban and rural areas; and include consideration of impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services for a scenario of global warming of 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Italy called for: coordination between IPBES and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); consideration of impacts on biodiversity of bioenergy and geoengineering; and investigation of new approaches to conservation.

Guidelines: South Africa supported the request to prepare guidelines for the effective implementation of ecosystem-based approaches, calling for consideration of environmental and socio-economic impacts related to climate change and DRR. Switzerland proposed subjecting requests to the Secretariat regarding guidelines to the availability of funds. New Zealand proposed taking into account post-Paris work under the UNFCCC in guidelines for the design and implementation of ecosystem-based approaches. Highlighting solutions that combine local knowledge with Western science, Australia noted that guidelines should accommodate national circumstances. The Philippines suggested: including “cost of insurance,” in addition to cost of inaction; adding loss and damage in the proposed guidelines, supported by Timor Leste; and creating an AHTEG to guide implementation.

On the draft recommendation, Bolivia suggested taking note, instead of welcoming, reports and summary information provided in the note by the Secretariat on biodiversity and climate change, and deleting reference to a note by the Secretariat on information on the potential contribution of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+) to the Strategic Plan, which was opposed by Colombia and Belgium and bracketed. On encouraging information-sharing on REDD+ actions, Bolivia suggested including “alternative policy approaches such as joint adaptation and mitigation approaches for forests.”

On recognizing the importance of joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for sustainable forest management, Canada, supported by Brazil and Switzerland, suggested expanding approaches to all ecosystems. Delegates agreed to take note of the potential synergies between mitigation, adaptation and DRR in all ecosystems.

Canada, Malaysia and France proposed deleting reference to “the costs of risk transfer instruments.” Germany recommended including OECMs, in addition to PAs, as cost-effective instruments for adaptation, mitigation and DRR. Zambia, Morocco, Malaysia and the Republic of Korea, opposed by Bolivia and Cuba, proposed deleting the term “non-market approaches” to be integrated into ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation and disaster risk reduction. After consultations, delegates agreed to replace the term with “alternative policy approaches.”

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.12), SBSTTA encourages parties to increase and share knowledge on ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation, mitigation and DRR, as well as contributions to, and impacts on, biodiversity of actions aimed at REDD+. SBSTTA further invites the IPCC, when elaborating its special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, to include consideration of the impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, and of the contribution of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and of ecosystem restoration, to efforts to keep global warming within a limit of 1.5°C.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP, inter alia:

  • welcome the Paris Agreement, in particular the articles related to biodiversity;
  • encourage parties to: fully take into account the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems and integrate ecosystem-based approaches when developing their Nationally Determined Contributions; integrate ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation into their strategic planning across sectors; address the loss of, and impacts on, biodiversity associated with climate change and disasters, considering the costs of inaction; consider multiple benefits and trade-offs in the development of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation; develop, implement and promote the wide use of ecosystem-based approaches based on reliable, available science and better taking into account indigenous, local and traditional knowledge and practices; and promote platforms for the exchange of experiences and sharing of best practices, including those of IPLCs on ecosystem-based approaches in a holistic and integrated manner;
  • recognize that ecosystem-based approaches can be technically feasible, politically desirable, socially acceptable, economically viable, and beneficial; and
  • request the Secretariat to, inter alia: prepare voluntary guidelines for the design and implementation of ecosystem-based approaches for SBSTTA consideration prior to COP 14; ensure that the voluntary guidance consider existing guidance and include information on the design and implementation of ecosystem-based approaches, tools for assessing their effectiveness, trade-offs and limits, tools and indicators for monitoring their effectiveness, the integration of IPLCs’ knowledge and efforts, and methods making use of ecosystem-based approaches in combination with hard infrastructure; and further promote synergies with the UNFCCC and the UNCCD.

SUSTAINABLE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT

Plenary considered bushmeat in the context of sustainable wildlife management (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/11) on Wednesday, 27 April. A draft recommendation was discussed on Friday, 29 April. The DRC and the UK supported the proposed wildlife forum. FAO favored holding a workshop instead. Australia proposed a scoping exercise first. Mexico, supported by the UK, suggested requesting that the Secretariat scope, in addition to organize, a wildlife forum event, to consider and define priorities for work.

Mexico called for development of alternatives, IPLC participation, cooperation with other conventions and emphasis on sustainable use. The IIFB suggested that policies ensure: devolving authority to manage wildlife to communities; sharing benefits with IPLCs who are wildlife custodians; and creating and strengthening legal frameworks for ICCAs. On the draft recommendation, South Africa suggested including “IPLCs’ custodianship and historical rights to access wildlife.” France, supported by the UK, added “in accordance to national legislation.” Guatemala suggested inviting parties to work with IPLCs to provide training and capacity building in wildlife management.

Australia welcomed the Collaborative Partnership on Wildlife Management. Noting that illegal trade will also be addressed by UNEA and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Kenya called for a harmonized approach. Brazil suggested referring to General Assembly resolution 69/314 on illegal wildlife trafficking. South Africa recommended also considering sustainable use. Namibia requested to exclude food obtained through authorized hunt and harvest.

Myanmar, for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), recommended collaboration between enforcement agencies. France proposed reference to the importance of bushmeat for IPLCs’ identity, spirituality and culture. The DRC raised ethical issues with burning or disposing of wildlife carcasses, in light of starvation.

GFC, supported by the Russian Federation, drew attention to: drivers of habitat loss; the need to differentiate between subsistence users and others; and mainstreaming traditional knowledge and sustainable use. GYBN cautioned against strict enforcement against subsistence users, while urging action against commercial extraction.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.11), SBSTTA recommends that COP:

  • invite parties to include in their sixth national reports information on the use of rights-based management systems, and to work with IPLCs to provide training and capacity building in sustainable wildlife management; and
  • request the Secretariat to: further elaborate technical guidance for better governance towards a more sustainable bushmeat sector; jointly scope and organize a wildlife forum event, facilitating the involvement of governments, stakeholders and IPLCs to consider and define the priorities for work on sustainable wildlife use and management; support parties’ efforts to combat illicit trafficking in wildlife; and report on progress to SBSTTA and the Article 8(j) Working Group.

PROTECTED AREAS AND ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION

Plenary discussed this item (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/12) on Wednesday, 27 April. A draft recommendation was discussed on Friday, 29 April.

Finland called for: restoration efforts outside PAs; and, with Germany and the Republic of Korea, involvement of stakeholders, including land owners. New Zealand called for cost-effective and achievable projects, while simultaneously researching new methodologies. Belgium, with France and Norway, stressed that restoration is not a substitute for conservation. The EU and DRC highlighted benefits of restoration, including for achieving the 2°C target, livelihoods and poverty alleviation. Germany stressed: coherence with activities under IUCN, the UNFCCC, the UN Forum on Forests, and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda; and innovative financing, including payment for ecosystem services. Mexico called for a flexible framework, supported by Cambodia, and adequate financial mechanisms. Senegal stressed the urgency of ecosystem restoration, which, for some West African countries, is a matter of survival.

Stressing the importance of an action plan for communication and resource mobilization, the DRC, on behalf of the African Group, proposed recommending that COP 13 adopt an “action plan,” rather than key elements, and prioritize actions until 2020.

France recommended deleting reference to free PIC, with the UK proposing bracketing it for COP 13 consideration. The ICCA Consortium and GFC urged governing restoration actions by ecological principles, and seeking free PIC for activities that may affect IPLCs or their territories. Yemen supported involving IPLCs in restoration to achieve Aichi Targets 5 (habitat loss), 11 (protected areas) and 14 (ecosystem services). The IIFB urged taking into account ICCAs; ensuring IPLCs’ participation in all CBD initiatives, and supporting IPLCs’ customary conservation and restoration initiatives. Local Communities recommended requesting parties to strengthen mechanisms to support IPLCs’ rights over lands and community-based restoration initiatives.

GYBN emphasized: the need to develop long-term actions under the action plan, and to prioritize PAs over restoration. China noted that the key elements can also be applied to long-term action plans. The Society for Ecological Restoration emphasized the role of traditional ecological knowledge in the short-term action plan, and opportunities to develop national initiatives for biodiversity, climate and development simultaneously.

On the draft recommendation, on adopting the short-term action plan on ecosystem restoration, as a flexible framework, Belgium suggested adding it should be “adaptable to national circumstances and legislation.” On a request to parties to provide information on their activities and results from the implementation of the action plan, the UK suggested inviting parties on a voluntary basis.

On the overall objective of the action plan, Guatemala requested reference to connectivity. Regarding the scope and scale, Finland suggested that degradation be characterized by a decline or loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functions, rather than by a loss or reduction in ecosystem health, ecological integrity and/or productivity. Colombia suggested reference to the provision of ecosystem services.

Regarding an indicative timeline for short-term actions on ecosystem restoration, the EU suggested that planning and implementation of ecosystem restoration activities also include enhancing existing restoration activities. On a potential inventory of significantly degraded ecosystems, the UK opted for identifying significant degraded ecosystems, cautioning against setting specific dates.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.14), SBSTTA recommends that the COP, inter alia:

  • adopt the short-term action plan on ecosystem restoration as a flexible framework and adaptable to national circumstances and legislation for immediate action;
  • urge parties to promote, support and take actions on ecosystem restoration;
  • invite parties and donors to provide support for ecosystem restoration activities; and
  • invite parties to give due consideration to community-based initiatives, and to provide, on a voluntary basis, information on their activities and results from the implementation of the action plan.

The annexed short-term action plan contains: objectives and purpose; scope and scale; principles; relevant supporting guidance, tools, related organizations and initiatives; actors; and key activities, including assessment of opportunities for ecosystem restoration, ways to improve the institutional enabling environment, planning and implementation, and monitoring, evaluation, feedback and dissemination of results. Appendix I contains guidance for integrating biodiversity consideration into ecosystem restoration. Appendix II contains an indicative timeline for short-term actions on ecosystem restoration. The action plan contains references to IPLCs’ PIC and full and effective participation.

GBO-5, GUIDELINES FOR SIXTH NATIONAL REPORTS AND INDICATORS

On Thursday, 28 April, Anne Larigauderie, IPBES Executive Secretary, presented on the thematic, methodological, regional and global assessments conducted or discussed under IPBES, and their contribution to the fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5) and the Strategic Plan. The Secretariat introduced documents on GBO-5, national reporting, guidelines for the sixth national reports, and indicators for assessing progress towards the Aichi Targets (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/13 and 13/ADD.1). Plenary considered a draft recommendation on Friday, 29 April.

Indicators: Cautioning, with the UK, against duplicating or overlapping with IPBES work, Mexico welcomed the synchronization of the indicators with related SDG indicators, with the UK underscoring that further work is needed. The Republic of Korea recommended quantitative indicators, case studies and standardized criteria. Costa Rica asked for scientifically robust indicators and clearer linkage between global and national indicators. Switzerland recommended keeping under review the common list of global indicators as the main tool to implement the Aichi Targets.

On the draft recommendation, Canada, opposed by the EU, proposed deleting language emphasizing the advantages of aligning the indicators for the Strategic Plan with the SDG indicators. Canada then suggested adding that “shared indicators must be reviewed to determine the degree to which they are suitable for each use.”

GBO-5: Germany, Sweden and others recognized collaboration between IPBES and the CBD. Colombia underscored the close link between GBO-5 and the national reports, with Cameroon calling for a clear link between global and regional assessments.

IIFB underscored: how multiple sources of information including from IPLCs can be useful to GBO-5, supported by the EU; Aichi Target 18 (traditional knowledge) as a cross-cutting issue for the achievement of other targets; and the need for an additional indicator in line with the SDG indicator on tenure rights, supported by Ethiopia. GFC and the ICCA Consortium urged: considering traditional knowledge systems part of, or a necessary complement to, scientific assessments; and mainstreaming CBD Articles 8(j) (traditional knowledge) and 10(c) (customary use), and Aichi Target 18 across all elements of the Convention, including GBO-5.

National reports: The EU proposed to use a matrix to map multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and reuse information reported under one MEA for others. Belgium recommended distinguishing between mandatory and voluntary reporting requirements. Germany called for: more modeling on ecosystem services and biodiversity; and, supported by Finland and Sweden, providing the draft reporting guidelines to other biodiversity-related conventions for feedback. Bolivia requested IPLC participation. The EU called for full open access on biodiversity data and indicators. On the draft recommendation, Canada suggested “recognizing the importance of the scientific quality, completeness and transparency of national reporting to enable a credible global assessment of progress.”

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.13) on GBO 5, SBSTTA requests the Secretariat to update the list of indicators for the Strategic Plan and make it available through the CHM prior to COP 13.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • welcome the IPBES decision to undertake a global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services, recognizing the high relevance for GBO-5;
  • emphasize the advantages of aligning the Strategic Plan indicators and those of the SDGs and other relevant processes;
  • endorse the updated list of indicators for the Strategic Plan, emphasizing that it provides a flexible framework for parties to adapt, as appropriate, to their national priorities and circumstances, deciding that the list should be kept under review; and
  • encourage parties to use a variety of approaches, according to national circumstances, in assessing progress towards national implementation of the Strategic Plan.

NEW AND EMERGING ISSUES

Plenary considered this issue (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/14) on Thursday, 28 April, and a draft recommendation on Friday, 29 April. The Secretariat reported that only two submissions were received: one suggesting the theme of “jurisdiction shopping” for bioprospecting of transboundary genetic resources in a non-party as an emerging issue, which was supported by the African Group; and another one from Australia suggesting no new and emerging issues should be considered, which was supported by Mexico, Colombia, Canada, Japan and others, as the proposed theme does not meet the criteria for new and emerging issues. Delegates agreed to a draft recommendation that the COP decide not to add a new and emerging issue to the SBSTTA agenda.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.10), SBSTTA recommends that the COP decide not to add a new and emerging issue to the SBSTTA agenda.

CLOSING PLENARY

On Saturday, 30 April, the SBSTTA plenary adopted the meeting report (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/20/L.1) with minor amendments. Costa Rica, for GRULAC, underscored: the recommendations on synthetic biology and IAS; overlapping issues with the SBI; and biodiversity mainstreaming with stakeholder participation as key for sustainable development. Indonesia, for Asia-Pacific, stressed the importance of implementing the CBD guidelines, capacity building and adequate funding, especially for developing countries, least developed countries, and small island developing states. DRC, for the African Group, called on parties to redouble their efforts to achieve those Aichi Targets that show the least progress, and emphasized the recommendations on ecosystem restoration, mainstreaming biodiversity and IAS, noting more work is needed on synthetic biology.

Turkmenistan, for Central and Eastern Europe, highlighted the need to increase efforts to achieve the Aichi Targets and to mainstream biodiversity targets into the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The EU expressed its appreciation for a successful meeting and for the hard work on synthetic biology. IIFB called for a rights-based approach to ensure the successful implementation of the Strategic Plan.

CBD Executive Secretary Dias welcomed SBSTTA 20’s outcomes ensuring: progress towards achieving the Aichi Targets; a strong relationship with IPBES; and mainstreaming biodiversity across sectors, also with regard to pollinators. He also praised SBSTTA’s recommendations on the action plan on ecosystem restoration, guidance on marine debris, and the next steps on EBSAs.

SBSTTA Chair Bignell thanked delegates for their spirit of good will and passion for the CBD objectives, which allowed them to move through a heavy agenda and adopt 15 significant recommendations. He reminded delegates that as of 30 April 2016 there are 1340 days left for achieving the Aichi Targets and urged them to “go home and implement.” He gaveled the meeting to a close at 12:23 pm.

SBI 1 REPORT

On Monday, 2 May, SBI 1 Chair Jae Choe (Republic of Korea) opened the meeting emphasizing the SBI’s role in reviewing progress in implementation of the Convention and its protocols, identifying obstacles, and means of implementation in achieving the Strategic Plan and the Aichi Targets. CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Dias highlighted the historic nature of SBI 1 within the CBD process, as well as the CBD Secretariat celebrating 20 years in Montreal. He identified key objectives of SBI 1 including: biodiversity mainstreaming, capacity building, resource mobilization, and the definition of the SBI modus operandi, including mechanisms to support review of implementation, and national reporting. Elizabeth Mrema (UNEP), on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, noted the need to: redouble efforts to achieve crosscutting Aichi Targets; consolidate experiences on achieving targets and mainstreaming; and re-work delivery mechanisms through cooperation and synergies among biodiversity-related conventions.

Basile van Havre, Environment and Climate Change, Canada, reflected on the accomplishments under the Convention, such as EBSAs and understanding of the ecosystem approach; and emphasized IPLCs’ participation, civil society engagement, and the interlinkages of biodiversity and climate change adaptation and mitigation. Christine St-Pierre, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, Québec, Canada, reported on initiatives to protect: 50% of the Northern Québec territories, 20% of which are strictly protected; and the Gulf of St. Lawrence and estuary, to achieve the 10% target.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Chair Choe noted that the Convention’s rules of procedure apply, mutatis mutandis, to the SBI with the exception of Rule 18 (credentials). Delegates adopted the agenda and the organization of work (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/1/Rev.1 and 1/Add.1) without amendments. Natalya Minchenko (Belarus) was elected rapporteur.

OPENING STATEMENTS: Canada announced its commitment to a renewed “nation to nation” approach for recognition, respect, cooperation and partnership with indigenous peoples, emphasizing the time needed for this process and that further engagement will be made at COP 13. Japan, for Asia-Pacific, prioritized capacity building and technology transfer to achieve the Aichi Targets. The DRC, for the African Group, called for: concerted efforts and increased commitment to mobilize resources; additional capacity-building efforts; and mainstreaming biodiversity, noting NBSAPs’ contributions.

Egypt reiterated his offer to host COP 14, recalling support by the African Group and the Arab League. Turkey also expressed willingness to host COP 14, querying the Arab League and African Group’s official support for Egypt’s offer.

The EU underscored that SBI 1’s recommendations will provide an opportunity to raise the level of ambitions and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda as an opportunity for mainstreaming biodiversity. Saint Kitts and Nevis, for GRULAC, stated that good implementation requires collaboration across sectors, noting that three bodies meeting in two weeks during COP 13 will promote integration but also require financial support for effective participation. Bosnia, for Central and Eastern Europe, called for a clear and simple SBI modus operandi, noting that biodiversity mainstreaming is key for economies in transition. Mexico called for a holistic, cross-cutting approach, fostering synergies with the private sector and civil society.

The IIFB requested that IPLCs be allowed to read their statements in full to obtain parties’ support. The CBD Alliance emphasized the need for a robust compliance mechanism based on strong political will, rather than reliance on market-based approaches and the commodification of nature. GYBN urged the CBD to ensure implementation of its objectives, calling on remaining parties to submit their NBSAPs and on developed countries to support developing countries in NBSAP preparation.

The following report summarizes discussions according to the SBI 1 agenda. All recommendations were adopted by plenary on Friday, 6 May.

REVIEW OF PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTATION

REVIEW OF PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION AND STRATEGIC PLAN: This item was discussed in plenary on Monday, 2 May (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/2 and Add.1-3), and a draft recommendation was considered on Wednesday, 4 May.

Alejandro del Mazo Maza, Mexico National Commissioner for Natural Protected Areas, presented on achieving Aichi Target 11 (protected areas) by 2018, stressing that PAs mainstream biodiversity and ensure wellbeing, social cohesion, natural capital and poverty eradication. Alan John Boyd, Environmental Affairs, South Africa, presented on progress towards Aichi Target 11, noting the importance of scientific information provided in the EBSA workshops for their MPA planning processes and providing more certainty to business. Juha Uitto, GEF, presented on impact evaluation of GEF support to PAs and PA systems, including 618 projects in 137 countries and their contributions to building capacities to address key factors for PA management, enhancing biodiversity governance and catalyzing large-scale change.

On Aichi Target 20 (resource mobilization), Mike Ipanga Mwaku (DRC) shared national experiences regarding: including biodiversity in national priorities and plans; domestic expenditures for biodiversity; funding needs, gaps and priorities; national financing plans; and ways to bridge the gap between available and necessary funds. Laure Ledoux (European Commission) focused on: the EU biodiversity mid-term review; financing for biodiversity in the EU budget; the EU business and biodiversity platform; the Natural Capital Financing Facility for private investors; and support for global biodiversity, including qualitative and quantitative mainstreaming.

Consideration of a draft recommendation: The EU proposed: intensifying efforts to mainstream biodiversity; emphasizing sectoral strategies as equally important as NBSAPs; supported by Canada, allowing flexibility for different approaches in NBSAPs according to parties’ circumstances; and underscoring the importance of using indicators to evaluate the distance to targets, identify gaps and raise ambitions. Switzerland, supported by New Zealand, requested updating priorities in reviewing implementation based on national reports and the list of indicators emerging from SBSTTA 20’s recommendations, emphasizing that quality is to be prioritized over speed. Turkey, opposed by Peru, suggested deleting language on urging parties to update their NBSAPs by a specific deadline. New Zealand, supported by Australia and Canada, emphasized that there is “no one size fits all solution,” underscoring the need for the SBI to prioritize targets that are not on track. Japan supported urging parties to ensure that NBSAPs are adopted as policy instruments, to promote biodiversity mainstreaming at the national level across sectors of government, the economy and society.

Mexico highlighted: monitoring and financial resources for enhancing implementation; identifying indicators that also reflect global strategies, such as the SDGs; promoting synergy between the CBD and other fora, such as CITES; integrating the intended nationally determined contributions of the UNFCCC with Aichi Target 5 (habitat degradation); and increasing IPLCs’ active contribution. Bosnia and Herzegovina noted delays in the availability of funds for NBSAP revisions. Uganda, Maldives and others called for increased capacity building at regional and national levels. Belarus noted that additional support is needed by many parties for implementing the Nagoya Protocol. Ethiopia and Timor Leste called for effective resource mobilization for developing, implementing and monitoring NBSAPs. Tunisia emphasized securing financial support from donors and new financial mechanisms, especially the Green Climate Fund. Barbados preferred requesting, rather than inviting, financial mechanisms and donors to continue funding NBSAPs, including through participatory approaches. Kenya underscored the challenge of effective stakeholder participation, especially outside the environmental sector, in revising and updating NBSAPs. Botswana emphasized financial mechanisms and capacity building for intergovernmental collaboration across transboundary ecosystems.

Cameroon highlighted: synergy between the Convention and its protocols towards the Convention’s objectives; innovative institutional arrangements for monitoring implementation of NBSAPs; work with IPLCs; agreements with the private sector; and strengthening of legislation on ABS and biosafety.

Peru called on biodiversity-related treaties, in addition to governments, IPLCs and organizations, to submit updated information on progress towards the Aichi Targets. Guatemala, supported by Norway, suggested strengthening the work programme on Article 8(j). Canada highlighted that the aggregate effect of national targets is not sufficient to attain the corresponding Aichi Targets and requested adding that both Target 10 (ecosystems vulnerable to ocean acidification and climate change) and Target 17 (NBSAPs) have not been met by 2015 as planned. The Republic of Korea underscored the need for quantitative indicators.

IUCN observed that despite progress, much more needs to be done, and that achieving the SDGs depends on achieving the Aichi Targets. Birdlife International, Conservation International, Rare, and WWF called for seizing the opportunity presented by the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, ensuring additional resource mobilization, and eliminating harmful subsidies; and expressed hope that this week would focus on bold and new solutions to deliver concrete conservation outcomes, rather than debating the use of brackets “where appropriate.” GFC lamented that only 30% of national reports mention IPLCs, and only two parties have reported on IPLC women. IIFB thanked countries that reported on actions undertaken on Aichi Target 18 (traditional knowledge) and on the challenges in fully including IPLCs, and suggested: including reference to limited progress on Target 14 (ecosystem services and IPLCs’ needs) and to IPLCs’ collective action. Local Communities in South-East Zimbabwe recommended: submitting information on progress towards Aichi Target 18 to the Article 8(j) Working Group, in addition to the SBI; and requesting parties to ensure that IPLCs’ interests are taken into account and they are involved in developing, revising, implementing and reporting NBSAPs. 

The EU noted with concern that for most of the Aichi Targets, the aggregate effect of national targets is not sufficient to attain the corresponding Aichi Target, stressing it is not clear whether this is due to lack of ambition or insufficient implementation. The EU proposed to note that not only Aichi Target 17 (national strategies), but also Target 10 and, opposed by Brazil, Target 16 (Nagoya Protocol), were not met by 2015. Delegates agreed with the EU proposal to urge parties and organizations to pursue efforts to achieve Targets 10 and 17 as soon as possible. 

Mexico, supported by Switzerland, suggested recommending that parties consider the global indicators of the Strategic Plan and the SDG indicators as soon as they are available. The EU suggested: encouraging, rather than urging, parties that have updated their NBSAPs to review them, together with the targets, to increase the level of ambition and/or scope; reviewing plans and targets periodically; and increasing the level of ambition of the national targets to integrate targets across different sectors, including SDG implementation.

The Republic of Korea proposed encouraging parties to facilitate subnational governments, cities and other local authorities in developing subnational strategies and action plans to contribute to NBSAP implementation. Indonesia, supported by Ethiopia, proposed encouraging, rather than urging, parties to undertake activities with IPLCs’ participation, with China adding “in accordance with national circumstances.”

On encouraging parties when establishing or reviewing their national targets under the Convention to take into account relevant national targets under other processes, Switzerland, supported by Morocco, suggested that international targets should also be taken into account, with Brazil adding “as appropriate.” The EU suggested also taking these targets into account when implementing NBSAPs. Timor Leste favored encouraging, rather than urging, parties to ensure that NBSAPs are adopted as national policy instruments, with a view to enabling biodiversity mainstreaming at national and local levels.

Switzerland suggested requesting the financial mechanism and inviting others to continue to provide support for the development and implementation, but not for the monitoring, of NBSAPs. Uganda suggested eliminating reference to the strategy and targets for resource mobilization. Canada recommended reviewing this in light of the discussion on resource mobilization and the financial mechanism.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.5), the SBI requests the Secretariat to continue to update the analysis of progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan based on information contained in additional NBSAPs and fifth national reports, and taking into account comments by parties on the Secretariat’s analysis received by 30 June 2016, and to make the updated analysis available for COP 13 consideration.

The SBI recommends the COP to, inter alia:

  • take note of the analysis of progress towards implementation of the Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets;
  • note that only a minority of the parties have established NBSAPs commensurate with the level of ambition of the Aichi Targets;
  • note with concern that Aichi Target 17 was not achieved, reiterate its great concern that Target 10 was not achieved by its 2015 target date, and urge governments to pursue efforts to achieve them as soon as possible;
  • note with concern the limited progress made towards Aichi Targets 18 and 14 and in mainstreaming Article 8(j) including IPLCs’ capacity development and participation in the work of the Convention;
  • urge parties to update their NBSAPs, with a participatory approach and to use the Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets as a flexible framework, in accordance with national priorities and capacities and taking into account elements of the global targets and the status and trends of biodiversity;
  • recommend that parties, when updating their NBSAPs, consider, as appropriate, the indicators for the Strategic Plan, and, once available, the SDG indicators;
  • request the financial mechanism, and invite other donors to continue to provide support, based on the expressed needs of parties, especially for developing countries, for NBSAPs development and implementation, in line with the strategy and targets for resource mobilization agreed at COP 12; and
  • invite governments, IPLCs, and relevant organizations to submit updated information on progress towards Aichi Target 18.

The SBI also recommends that the COP encourage parties to:

  • review NBSAPs periodically, as appropriate, and in accordance with national circumstances, priorities and capacities, to consider increasing the level of ambition and/or the scope of their targets and integrate them across sectors, including in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the SDGs;
  • undertake activities with IPLCs’ full and effective participation, in accordance with national circumstances, recognizing the contribution of IPLCs’ collective actions, and the role of their holistic systems for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use;
  • take into account, when establishing or reviewing their national targets, and when implementing their NBSAPs, relevant national and international targets under other processes, as appropriate, including targets of other relevant conventions and the SDGs;
  • ensure that NBSAPs are adopted as policy instruments, as appropriate, with a view to enabling biodiversity mainstreaming at all relevant levels across political, economic and social sectors; and
  • reinforce and strengthen efforts to mainstream Article 8(j) and Article 10(c) in NBSAP development, updating and implementation.

The recommendation contains two annexes, one on the list of national reports received by the Secretariat by 3 March 2016, and another on the list of NBSAPs received between October 2010 and 3 March 2016.

REVIEW OF PROGRESS TOWARDS AICHI TARGET 16 ON THE NAGOYA PROTOCOL: This item was discussed in plenary on Monday and Tuesday, 2-3 May (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/3). A draft recommendation was considered on Thursday, 5 May.

Guatemala, for the Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries, highlighted the need for sufficient and predictable financial resources, capacity building and technology transfer. The DRC and Uganda underscored the need for raising public awareness. Uganda emphasized institutional capacity development and regional capacity-building initiatives. Many pointed to enhancing technical, administrative, financial and operational resources. Uruguay drew attention to confidence-building across all sectors. Indonesia called for discussion on Nagoya Protocol Articles 10 (global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism) and 11 (transboundary cooperation). Turkey opposed inviting parties to submit their instrument of accession to the Nagoya Protocol “as soon as possible.”

The EU stressed: support for capacity development; the EU ABS Regulation; and the need for mutually supportive implementation of the Nagoya Protocol and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR). Switzerland noted that the effectiveness of national measures requires extended ratification of the Protocol, and encouraged both parties and non-parties to use the ABS Clearinghouse to promote transparency and legal certainty.

IUCN underscored the importance of a country-by-country analysis to identify entry points for a stepwise action plan to implement the Protocol. IIFB highlighted: translating the Nagoya Protocol into local languages; training and e-learning; and enhancing work on community protocols. FAO, supported by Mexico, suggested inviting parties to take into account the Elements to Facilitate Domestic Implementation of ABS for Different Subsectors of Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GRFA Elements).

On a revised draft recommendation, India proposed that the COP note with appreciation efforts by parties and non-parties in achieving Aichi Target 16 and making the Nagoya Protocol operational. Brazil suggested that the COP invite governments to apply “as appropriate” the GRFA Elements. The EU proposed inviting governments to implement the ITPGR and the Nagoya Protocol in a mutually supportive manner, as appropriate, with China suggesting that this should be a recommendation to Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP 2. Indonesia requested specifying that Nagoya Protocol implementation should be in accordance with relevant national legislation. On reiterating the need for capacity building, Ethiopia also proposed adding reference to technical training and support.

Switzerland opposed reference to “in accordance with national legislation” with regard to making information available to the ABS Clearinghouse, with Brazil, supported by Ethiopia, noting that different countries may protect confidential information to different degrees. Switzerland, supported by Ethiopia and Norway, proposed to rather refer to “without prejudice to the protection of confidential information.” China opposed inviting governments “to apply” the GRFA Elements. Norway emphasized that this is a matter for parties to the Nagoya Protocol. China withdrew his proposal.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.8), the SBI recommends that the COP:

  • invite CBD parties to deposit their instrument of accession to the Nagoya Protocol as soon as possible and urge Nagoya Protocol parties to take further steps towards the Protocol’s effective implementation, including by establishing institutional structures and legislative, administrative or policy measures and, without prejudice to the protection of confidential information, make information available to the ABS Clearinghouse;
  • reiterate the need for capacity-building and development activities, including technical training and support as well as financial resources to support the Nagoya Protocol’s implementation;
  • invite governments to implement the ITPGR and the Nagoya Protocol in a mutually supportive manner, as appropriate;
  • request the Secretariat to continue providing technical assistance to CBD parties, subject to resource availability, with a view to supporting ratification and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol; and
  • invite governments to take note of and to apply, as appropriate, the GRFA Elements.

ASSESSMENT AND REVIEW OF EFFECTIVENESS OF THE CARTAGENA PROTOCOL AND MID-TERM EVALUATION OF ITS STRATEGIC PLAN: This item was discussed in plenary on Tuesday, 3 May (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/4 and Add.1). A draft recommendation was discussed on Thursday, 5 May.

Mexico called for the ratification of the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress, since six more ratifications are needed for its entry into force. The EU, with Norway, expressed concern about the low level of national report submissions and supported streamlining the reporting processes. Norway, supported by Brazil, stressed that the absence of clear linkages between outcomes and indicators in the current Strategic Plan of the Cartagena Protocol may be true only for some indicators. New Zealand suggested: better linking outcomes and indicators; and, with Tunisia, urging parties to make use of the Biosafety CHM. Malaysia called for analysis of correlations among the indicators.

Morocco noted the need for legal assistance on LMOs, including in relation to bilateral trade agreements and socio-economic considerations. Bangladesh stressed regional harmonization of regulations and capacity building for LMOs’ identification. Saudi Arabia highlighted the need to strengthen capacities for risk assessment and management. The DRC and South Africa expressed concern for the reduction of resources for capacity building, with Uganda also noting the low level of financial support to prepare national reports and limited awareness of biosafety. Bolivia stressed the need to build productive systems, guaranteeing the earth’s regenerative abilities; and liability and redress, taking into account socio-economic considerations and impacts on IPLCs. Uruguay recommended including biosafety issues in NBSAPs.

On a revised draft recommendation, on noting slow progress in developing modalities for cooperation and guidance in identifying LMOs or specific traits that may have adverse effects on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, Indonesia suggested also taking into account risks to human health.

Mexico suggested urging, rather than inviting, parties to consider prioritizing the operational objectives relating to developing biosafety legislation, risk assessment, detection and identification of LMOs, as well as to undertake targeted capacity-building activities.

Indonesia proposed encouraging, rather than urging, governments to become parties to the Nagoya–Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol as soon as possible.

On encouraging parties to integrate public awareness on biosafety into similar initiatives for the SDGs, climate change adaptation, and other environmental initiatives, the EU suggested adding reference to training and to climate change mitigation. Brazil queried the link between the safe transfer and handling of LMOs with climate change mitigation, asking to bracket reference to the latter.

The EU, supported by Switzerland and opposed by Ghana and the DRC, objected to inviting the GEF to make targeted funding available to assist eligible parties to put in place national biosafety frameworks. Switzerland proposed removing “targeted,” which, following informal deliberations, was agreed. Bolivia proposed requesting the Secretariat to carry out capacity-building activities not only on socio-economic considerations, but also to cultural and related health considerations.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.4), the SBI requests the Secretariat to, as appropriate, prepare and make available a more in-depth analysis examining potential correlations, if any, between indicators, such as a correlation between countries that have operational regulatory frameworks in place and those that have taken decisions on LMOs.

The SBI recommends that COP 13 note:

  • with concern the lower rate of submission of the third national reports in comparison with the previous reporting cycle, urging parties to submit their reports as soon as possible;
  • the absence of clear linkages between some of the outcomes and indicators in the current Strategic Plan, and agree to reflect such linkages in the follow-up to the present Strategic Plan;
  • that, in the follow-up to the current Strategic Plan, indicators should be simplified, streamlined and made easily measurable;
  • the slow progress in: the development of modalities for cooperation and guidance in identifying LMOs or specific traits that may have adverse effects on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, also taking into account risks to human health; capacity building for risk assessment and risk management; and to take appropriate measures in cases of unintentional release and socio-economic considerations; and
  • with concern that, only approximately half of the parties have fully put in place legal, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the Protocol, urging parties to put in place their national biosafety frameworks, in particular biosafety legislation, as a matter of priority.
  • In addition, the SBI recommends that the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP:
  • urge parties, for the remaining period of the Strategic Plan, to consider prioritizing the operational objectives relating to the development of biosafety legislation, risk assessment, detection and identification of LMOs, and public awareness, education and training;
  • encourage parties to become party to the Nagoya–Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress as soon as possible;
  • invite the GEF to continue to assist eligible parties to put in place national biosafety frameworks; and
  • request the Secretariat to, inter alia: undertake regional and subregional workshops and other relevant activities, to enhance parties’ capacity to promote the integration of biosafety considerations into NBSAPs, national development plans and national strategies to achieve the SDGs.

In a paragraph encouraging parties to integrate training, public awareness, education and participation into national initiatives for communication, education and public awareness, initiatives for the SDGs, initiatives for climate change adaptation, and other environmental initiatives, reference to “mitigation” remains bracketed.

BIODIVERSITY MAINSTREAMING

This item was discussed in plenary on Tuesday, 3 May (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/5 and Add.1-3), and in a Friends of the Chair group facilitated by Mette Gervin Damsgaard (Denmark) on Wednesday, 4 May, and by Tia Stevens (Australia) on Thursday, 5 May. A draft recommendation was discussed on Friday, 6 May. The Secretariat proposed integrating recommendations from SBSTTA 20 and SBI 1 for COP 13 consideration.

The EU emphasized: sharing best practices on business reporting on actions related to biodiversity; the importance of existing frameworks on biodiversity accounting for resource mobilization; and concrete indicators for achieving the Aichi Targets related to the SDGs. He suggested considering recommendations on monitoring and reviewing biodiversity mainstreaming within the SBI modus operandi. The Republic of Korea, with Switzerland, supported modification of the guidance for sixth national reports on how to further incorporate mainstreaming.

Japan pointed to involving the business sector within subnational biodiversity action plans. Niger suggested reinforcing synergies between biodiversity-related and other international processes to implement commitments coherently. Cameroon, supported by Ghana and South Africa, emphasized the need for more information on how mainstreaming can take place, particularly in ensuring financial allocations at the national level. Ghana suggested reference to biodiversity off-setting schemes.

Peru and Senegal highlighted successful cases of mainstreaming with IPLCs’ full participation, with Guatemala emphasizing inclusion of their worldviews and collective actions for biodiversity conservation. Mexico highlighted mainstreaming’s cross-cutting nature, relationship with the SDGs, policy coherence, and IPLCs’ involvement. South Africa, supported by Uganda and Colombia, called for including other sectors such as extractive, manufacturing, and residential building development, for consideration at the next SBI meeting. Morocco suggested including other sectors, such as tourism, and cross-cutting issues like sustainable development. Turkey proposed extending mainstreaming to natural resource management.

Ethiopia, supported by Zambia, favored an intersessional process to support implementation, with New Zealand suggesting that the Secretariat prepare options, in consultation with parties and stakeholders. Canada encouraged efforts to identify obstacles and best practices, and avoidance of onerous reporting requirements. Botswana stressed that economic valuation tools can enhance mainstreaming across sectors. Bolivia cautioned against commodifying biodiversity or transferring responsibility from the public to the private sector.

Australia supported encouraging other fora to undertake mainstreaming activities, noting the facilitative role of the Secretariat vis-à-vis national implementation. The Philippines focused on promoting biodiversity-friendly agriculture and enterprises, including eco-tourism, taking into account IPLCs’ practices, gender issues, and subnational and business concerns.

IIFB stressed the need to fund capacity building, including for women and youth. GFC, the ICCA Consortium and the Community Conservation Resilience Initiative (CCRI) highlighted mainstreaming dimensions in existing CBD decisions, including on gender, traditional knowledge and customary use. BirdLife International urged scaling up positive initiatives at the local and subnational levels. GYBN called for addressing sectors beyond agriculture in a holistic manner, taking into account the consumption side and reforming or eliminating perverse subsidies.

On a revised draft recommendation, Bolivia, opposed by the EU, Mexico, Ethiopia and Colombia, suggested taking note, instead of recognizing, that extractive, manufacturing and other sectors have the potential to adversely impact biodiversity. Brazil proposed calling on parties to reinforce synergies between biodiversity-related and other international processes, to implement commitments and “goals.” Ethiopia, opposed by Switzerland, objected to ensuring linkages between efforts to implement NBSAPs and SDG strategies and plans. Ghana suggested promoting, rather than ensuring, these linkages.  

On calling on parties to implement the Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism adopted by COP 7 and the manual updated by COP 12, Canada suggested adding “on a voluntary basis.” Canada also suggested inviting, instead of calling upon, parties to adopt actions for mainstreaming biodiversity in the tourism sector, with Brazil adding “as appropriate and in accordance with national legislation.” Switzerland preferred calling on parties to undertake, rather than adopt, these actions.

Canada suggested inviting, rather than calling upon, parties to undertake measures regarding cross-sectoral mainstreaming. Bolivia recommended adding “as appropriate and in accordance with national legislation,” and deleting references to accounting and valuation of ecosystems. Canada, supported by Turkey, proposed keeping these references as examples. Norway favored inviting, rather than requesting, the GEF and others to provide financial assistance for country-driven projects addressing cross-sectoral mainstreaming on developing country parties’ request.

Canada suggested inviting, instead of calling upon, parties to take measures to promote biodiversity mainstreaming in business-related decision-making and to enhance transparency and public awareness of such actions by businesses. Brazil, supported by the EU and Australia, opposed calling on parties to review the relationship between national, subnational and local governments with regard to decisions that impact biodiversity.

On requesting the Secretariat to undertake a study of the potential impacts of extractive industries, energy, tourism development, urban and other sectors on biodiversity and IPLCs’ ways of life, the EU suggested undertaking several studies and referring to IPLCs’ customary use, rather than their ways of life. Brazil expressed concern about biodiversity mainstreaming becoming a discussion about impacts. The paragraph was bracketed pending consideration in the Friends of the Chair group. 

Australia suggested compromise language on requesting the Secretariat to develop proposals for the next scientific assessment of progress towards selected Aichi Targets, to consider potential effects from the productive, extractive and business sectors on biodiversity and ecosystem services and on IPLCs’ sustainable customary use of biological resources, and taking into account IPBES’s work. Canada proposed, and delegates agreed, that specific sectors be “taken into consideration,” rather than considered.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.12), the SBI requests the Secretariat to take into consideration the potential effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and on IPLCs’ customary sustainable use of biological resources, from the productive, extractive and business sectors, taking into account IPBES’s work. The SBI recommends that COP 13, inter alia:

  • consider addressing, at a subsequent meeting, the mainstreaming of biodiversity into extractive industries such as oil and gas and mining, energy, urban and regional planning, infrastructure, manufacturing, and commercial and residential construction;
  • urge parties to strengthen their efforts to mainstream biodiversity within and across sectors at all levels and scales;
  • urge parties to use, as appropriate, existing guidance relating to the FAO Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems Guidelines and the Policy Support Guidelines for the Promotion of Sustainable Production Intensification and Ecosystem Services, and encourage parties to apply the voluntary guidance on Building a Common Vision for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, as appropriate;
  • encourage parties to make use of the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, as appropriate, to promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests;
  • urge parties, when implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, to mainstream biodiversity in the implementation of all relevant SDGs; and
  • encourage parties to implement, as appropriate, cross-sectoral strategies and integrated landscape and seascape management.

The document also contains recommendations on sector-specific mainstreaming in relation to agriculture, forests, fisheries and aquaculture, tourism, engagement of key actors to enhance mainstreaming, and further work.

A subparagraph encouraging parties to make use of voluntary certification schemes remains in brackets. On agriculture, paragraphs encouraging parties to develop and/or enforce, as appropriate, clear legal frameworks for land use that secure biodiversity conservation and sustainable use remain bracketed, as well as two others on diversification of production, and on ecological intensification and agro-ecological approaches. On business engagement, reference to the Natural Capital Protocols also remains bracketed.

STRENGTHENING SUPPORT FOR IMPLEMENTATION

CAPACITY BUILDING, TECHNICAL AND SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION, AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER: This item (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/6 and Add.1-2) was first discussed in plenary on Tuesday, 3 May; and in a Friends of the Chair group, facilitated by Tia Stevens (Australia) and Skumsa Mancotywa (South Africa), on Wednesday, 4 May. A draft recommendation was discussed on Thursday, 5 May.

Peru lamented lack of implementation of CBD Articles 13 (public education and awareness), 17 (exchange of information) and 18 (technical and scientific cooperation). Mexico suggested: supported by Switzerland, concentrating capacity-building activities on implementing Aichi Targets not yet or superficially achieved; and, supported by Peru, forging alliances between the Secretariat and international organizations, including FAO, to promote capacity building. The Philippines emphasized strengthening youth and IPLCs’ capacities for improving monitoring and implementation of NBSAPs.

On the short-term action plan, the EU called for: clarifying the Secretariat’s role to facilitate, rather than directly implement, capacity building; and, supported by New Zealand, prioritizing activities and avoiding duplication with IPBES and other biodiversity-related conventions. Canada considered the plan innovative and ambitious, but unfunded; and suggested discussing the Secretariat’s role in capacity building. Switzerland recommended that: the Secretariat focus on coordinating capacity-building activities; realizing synergies with other biodiversity-related conventions; and discussing the terms of reference for the review of the CHM at the next SBI.

Ghana, for the African Group, considered the short-term action plan insufficient, calling for addressing key needs and providing a budget for implementation based on GEF funding and substantive voluntary support from developed country parties. Cameroon argued that the short-term action plan should include short, medium, and long-term dimensions.

IIFB, supported by Ethiopia, underscored: the importance of culturally appropriate training-of-trainers and online-training tools; the need for greater IPLC engagement for a holistic understanding of technology transfer and capacity building; and IPLCs’ free PIC for data exchange and knowledge sharing. GYBN suggested including social media in the new web strategy.

On Friday, facilitator Stevens reported to plenary that a revised version of the short-term plan will be peer-reviewed prior to COP 13, with brackets remaining around references to the plan. Mexico suggested that the Secretariat, in revising the short-term plan, take into account the Aichi Targets that have been least achieved. On integration and coordinated approaches to capacity building, and technical and scientific cooperation, through partnerships with biodiversity-related conventions, Mexico recommended reference also to other relevant conventions.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.10), the SBI requests the Secretariat to:

  • further streamline for COP 13 consideration the draft short-term action plan (2017-2020) to enhance and support capacity building for the implementation of the Strategic Plan and its Aichi Targets, with a particular focus on priority capacity-building needs submitted by parties and identified in their NBSAPs, and on activities linked to the facilitation of collaboration and coordination among them and international organizations to avoid duplication; and
  • include, in the process of revision, inter alia: taking into account the evaluation of the effectiveness and analysis of gaps in capacity-building activities supported and facilitated by the Secretariat; Aichi Targets with less progress towards their achievement; and identifying capacity-building activities based on inputs from parties, especially developing country parties.

The SBI recommends that COP 13 either endorse, adopt or take note of the short-term action plan, which will be decided once the plan is revised.

The SBI further recommends that the COP:

  • urge parties, in particular from developed countries, and invite international financial institutions to support the establishment and maintenance of programmes for scientific and technical education and training in measures for the identification, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and support such education and training to address developing countries’ specific needs; and
  • request the Secretariat to, inter alia: continue work to promote a more integrated and coordinated approach to capacity building and technical and scientific cooperation, through multiple partnerships, including with biodiversity-related and other relevant conventions; further develop the CHM, in line with the web strategy and with the CHM work programme in support of the Strategic Plan; and report back to SBI 2, taking into account information from national reports, the CHM, and the traditional knowledge portal.

RESOURCE MOBILIZATION: This item (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/7 and Add.1-2) was first discussed in plenary on Tuesday, 3 May. A draft recommendation was discussed on Thursday, 5 May.

Morocco mentioned that biodiversity financing should not only target institutional cooperation across sectors, but also public policy instruments. The EU reiterated commitment to doubling total financial flows for biodiversity conservation to developing countries, using annual biodiversity funding from 2006-2010 as a baseline, and at least maintaining this level until 2020. Mexico, supported by Guatemala and Indonesia, highlighted the importance of a second phase for the international technical workshop on identifying, accessing, compiling and aggregating domestic and international biodiversity-related investments and impacts in developing biodiversity financing plans to improve NBSAPs’ implementation. The EU emphasized, supported by Australia, the need for any new workshop on resource mobilization strategies to provide added value by delivering concrete results.

Opposing the creation of parallel reporting, Switzerland highlighted: national agricultural subsidies reform, which has generated CHF1 billion; doubling investment commitments until 2020; and concerns that many parties have not completed the report financing framework. The Republic of Korea noted the need for: greater elaboration of the classification of biodiversity-associated expenditures; quantification of public sector financial contributions; and guidance on how to achieve Aichi Target 3 (eliminating harmful subsidies to biodiversity).

Guatemala added the importance of integrating IPLCs in mobilizing resources, emphasizing, with Bolivia, the importance of IPLCs’ collective action at local, national, regional and global levels. IIFB recommended reporting on IPLCs’ collective action with their full participation and free PIC. GFC and the ICCA Consortium emphasized the specific context of IPLCs’ collective action that cannot be globalized and monetized. 

China stressed that finance plans should not be a precondition for financial support, and that, given the North-South gap, as well as historical responsibilities, finance from developed to developing countries is the most important source of resource mobilization. Norway called for standards, transparency, and synergies in financing for sustainable development. Cuba noted major methodological difficulties and costs associated with NBSAP implementation, expressing hope that more detailed information on financial flows and streams can be obtained for COP 13. 

On a revised recommendation, Canada favored urging, rather than inviting, parties to use the financial reporting framework where feasible by 31 August 2016, in time for COP 13 preparations. The EU suggested including other sources of information on methodologies and definitions, beyond those submitted by parties through the financial reporting framework, to better inform the Secretariat on options to advance further work towards indicative methodological guidance. Ethiopia requested reference to other “relevant” sources.  

The EU proposed urging, rather than inviting, governments and donors to provide financial support to such capacity building and technical support. In encouraging the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD’s) Development Assistance Committee to intensify work on the Rio marker methodology with a focus on the biodiversity marker, the EU proposed cooperation with the OECD Environmental Policy Committee, and also focus on private flows.

On inviting parties to include information on design and implementation of positive incentive measures, Guatemala proposed adding reference to appropriate recognition and support for IPLCs that conserve territories and areas and other effective community conservation initiatives. On fiscal reform, including on harmful subsidies, the EU proposed including reference to how implementation of Aichi Target 3 also contributes to the implementation of Aichi Target 20.

On requesting SBI 2 to consider the analysis of the voluntary guidelines on safeguards in biodiversity financing mechanisms, and recommendations from the Article 8(j) Working Group, the EU proposed also adding reference to potential impacts of biodiversity financing mechanisms on different elements of biodiversity and potential effects on IPLCs’ rights and livelihoods. Indonesia requested reference to IPLCs’ “social and economic” rights.

On the annexed guiding principles on assessing the contribution of IPLCs’ collective action, Canada suggested referring to the importance, rather than the need, to recognize ways and means of holding and transmitting traditional knowledge. On methodological pluralism and complementarity, the EU suggested launching pilot projects to develop different methodologies.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.3), the SBI recommends that COP 13, inter alia:

  • urge parties to provide the necessary baseline information and report progress against the targets for resource mobilization by 1 July 2017, using the financial reporting framework;
  • urge parties that have finalized the revision and update of their NBSAPs to identify their funding needs, gaps, and priorities, and to develop their national finance plans for effective NBSAP implementation;
  • invite parties and others to consider establishing pilot projects on the contribution of IPLCs’ collective action, by making use of existing work processes such as the work on indicators relevant to traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use, and submit related information through the financial reporting framework; and
  • urge parties and others to implement measures for the full implementation of Aichi Target 3, taking into account, as a flexible framework, the milestones adopted by COP12, as well as national socio-economic conditions.

The SBI requests the Secretariat to, among others:

  • make the financial reporting framework for the second round of reporting available online by 1 July 2017;
  • update, as appropriate, the guidance provided in the report of the Mexico workshop with any new methodological information received, with a view to providing parties with up-to-date voluntary guidance;
  • compile and analyze the information on collective action received by parties through the financial reporting framework and other relevant sources, and, develop elements of methodological guidance for identifying, monitoring, and assessing the contribution of IPLCs to the achievement of the Strategic Plan and the Aichi Targets;
  • compile and analyze relevant information, including an analysis of how the implementation of Aichi Target 3 also contributes to the implementation of Target 20, for SBI 2 consideration; and
  • compile and analyze information, on how, parties and others take the voluntary guidelines on safeguards in biodiversity financing mechanisms into account when selecting, designing and implementing biodiversity financing mechanisms, and when developing instrument-specific safeguards for them, for consideration by the Article 8(j) Working Group, with a view to developing recommendations, for SBI 2 consideration, on how the application of safeguards can ensure that the potential effects of biodiversity financing mechanisms on IPLCs’ social and economic rights and livelihoods are addressed effectively.

Annexed to the decision are the guiding principles on assessing the contribution of IPLCs’ collective action, including an appendix with an indicative, non-exhaustive list of methodologies for assessing such contributions.

FINANCIAL MECHANISM: This item (UNEP/SBI/1/8 and Add.1-2) was first discussed in plenary on Tuesday, 3 May. A draft recommendation was discussed on Thursday, 5 May. Mark Zimsky, GEF, introduced a preliminary draft report to COP 13, focusing on GEF responses to previous guidance from the CBD COP. Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Costa Rica, and Günter Mitlacher, GEF-CSO Network, presented a report from the expert team on a full assessment of the funds needed for the implementation of the Convention and its protocols for the GEF seventh replenishment (GEF 7).

The EU, supported by Switzerland, Senegal, Canada and Australia, opposed establishing a standing panel on funding needs assessment, noting parties’ responsibility to determine their own financing needs within their NBSAPs. Japan queried the cost-effectiveness of the proposed standing panel.

Uruguay recognized value in periodic joint workshops between the CBD and the GEF in promoting national and regional implementation of the Convention and its Protocols.

Morocco supported additional guidance to the financial mechanism and programme priorities for GEF 7. Switzerland, supported by Canada and Australia, stated that a sufficiently robust database to assess the funding needs for GEF 7 is lacking, noting that funding priorities should build on synergies between biodiversity-related conventions and current GEF financing strategies to ensure coherence.

Guatemala suggested that the COP provide recommendations to the GEF Council for differentiated funding quotas to support ABS and technology transfer. The Philippines urged national funding priorities to be focused on integrated marine and coastal management, agro-biodiversity conservation, and control and management of IAS.

Canada reiterated that funding priorities should be based on the GEF’s operational guidelines on the incremental cost principles. Timor Leste recommended flexibility of GEF policies according to developing countries’ socio-economic conditions, particularly in determining co-financing ratios. GFC and the ICCA Consortium emphasized that bottom-up submissions on needs assessment should include IPLCs’ and women’s organizations’ views. IIFB recommended including IPLCs’ views into the identification of needs and priorities for GEF 7.

Final Recommendation: In the recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.2), the SBI requests, for COP 13 consideration, the Secretariat to:

  • prepare, in collaboration with the GEF, a draft four-year framework of programme priorities for GEF 7, taking into account, inter alia: potential synergies across biodiversity-related conventions and the conventions for which the GEF serves as a financial mechanism, as well as between achievement of the Aichi Targets and the SDGs; the global assessment of progress and the need to prioritize activities to fill gaps, and responses to the questionnaire from the expert team, and the expert team’s report; and
  • to prepare, in consultation with GEF Independent Evaluation Office draft terms of reference for the fifth review of the effectiveness of the financial mechanism.

The SBI also:

  • notes the progress made by the expert team in preparing the report on assessment of funds needed for the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols for GEF 7;
  • encourages the expert team to take into account SBI 1’s comments and further submissions from parties, IPLCs and women’s organizations, and to finalize the assessment report for COP 13’s consideration; and
  • recommends that COP 13 adopt a decision addressing consolidated draft guidance to the financial mechanism, among others.

SYNERGIES AMONG BIODIVERSITY-RELATED CONVENTIONS: Plenary addressed this item on Wednesday, 4 May (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/9 and Add.1), and in a Friends of the Chair group, facilitated by Yousef Al-Hafedh (Saudi Arabia), on Thursday, 5 May. A draft recommendation was also discussed on Thursday.

Vinod Mathur (India) and Marina von Weissenberg (Finland) reported on the workshop on synergies among the biodiversity-related conventions, held in Geneva in February 2016. Australia, supported by Brazil, called for further analysis of the workshop outcomes, with Canada calling for work by SBI 2 for COP 14 consideration. Japan requested prioritizing options according to necessity, cost effectiveness, and resource availability.

Switzerland, supported by Azerbaijan and others, lamented lack of guidance on how to advance synergies between biodiversity-related conventions, suggesting a work plan be prepared for the period beyond 2020, with Ghana recommending complementarity with UNEA’s work. UNEP noted a paper on options to enhance cooperation and synergies among biodiversity-related conventions for UNEA-2’s consideration. Mexico recommended identifying areas in other processes that can support mainstreaming, such as FAO.

Barbados suggested including biodiversity mainstreaming in the Biodiversity Liaison Group’s terms of reference. Brazil urged holding discussions on synergies in the Biodiversity Liaison Group. Norway and New Zealand proposed tasking the Biodiversity Liaison Group with prioritizing actions for collaboration on specific problems.

Turkey favored synergies at the national level, through national focal points. Morocco highlighted NBSAPs for harmonizing the biodiversity-related conventions’ strategic objectives, with Cameroon suggesting also examining how local-level synergies can contribute to national-level synergies. The US emphasized national-level actions and inclusive processes respecting the distinct mandates, and views of different parties and of different conventions. India said synergies require engagement by national focal points, the CBD Secretariat, and the standing committees of the biodiversity-related conventions. Indonesia identified resource mobilization, national reporting and capacity building as key areas for integrating biodiversity into the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, inviting biodiversity-related conventions to share best practices. Peru called for: establishing an international alliance for biodiversity at COP 13; developing voluntary guidelines for enhancing synergies among the biodiversity-related conventions; and promoting coordination between national focal points including the UNFCCC focal points. IIFB, supported by Ghana and Guatemala, called on the SBI to propose using the term “IPLCs” consistently under the Convention and its protocols.

On Friday, facilitator Al-Hafedh reported that bracketed text referred to options for action at the national and international level that will be further developed intersessionally. Peru, supported by Switzerland and opposed by Brazil and Canada, reiterated the proposal for an international alliance for biodiversity bringing together all biodiversity-related conventions, parties and secretariats, eventually agreeing to include this proposal in the meeting’s report.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.13), the SBI requests the Secretariat to further analyze the outcomes of, and actions identified by, the workshop on synergies among biodiversity-related conventions, including options for actions by parties, which may include voluntary guidelines for synergies at the national level, and options for action at the international level that includes a road map for the period 2017-2020. The SBI recommends that COP 13, inter alia:

  • recognize, in the context of the ongoing work on synergies, the importance of the strategic plans of the conventions, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the SDGs;
  • call on the Biodiversity Liaison Group, in close collaboration with UNEP, FAO and IUCN, to continue and strengthen its work to enhance coherence and cooperation among biodiversity-related conventions, with information on progress for SBI 2 and COP 14 consideration; and
  • invite the biodiversity-related conventions’ secretariats and governing bodies, international organizations, IPLCs, and NGOs to implement, where appropriate, a road map for the period 2017-2020 that prioritizes and sequences actions and identifies actors and potential mechanisms for enhancing synergies.

References to options for actions by parties, including taking note of the expected resolution of UNEA-2 and endorsement of the roadmap for the period 2017-2020 remain bracketed.

IMPROVING EFFICIENCY OF THE CONVENTION AND ITS PROTOCOLS’ STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES

SBI MODUS OPERANDI AND MECHANISMS TO SUPPORT REVIEW OF IMPLEMENTATION: This item was first discussed in plenary on Wednesday, 4 May 2016 (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/10 and Add.1-3). The Secretariat proposed that SBI 1 deliberate on further mechanisms to support review of implementation and identify a proposed SBI Chair, accountable to the COP Bureau, for COP 13 consideration. A draft recommendation was discussed on Friday, 6 May.

Xuehong Wang, UNFCCC, presented on measurement, reporting and verification under the UNFCCC, emphasizing: increased transparency, accountability and trust; improved reporting and sharing best practices; and challenges concerning cost-efficiency, institutional mechanisms to support measurement and compliance tracking at country level, and capacity building.

Katia Karousakis, OECD, presented on OECD’s environmental performance review process, to help countries: assess progress in meeting national and international commitments; improve individual and collective environmental performance, through independent assessments, emphasizing positive achievements, lessons learned and recommendations for further progress; and focus on biodiversity and ecosystems status and trends; institutional and legal frameworks; and biodiversity mainstreaming.

Plenary then heard two presentations regarding the testing of a voluntary peer-review methodology in Ethiopia and India. Misikire Tessema Lemma (Ethiopia) and Andreas Obrecht (Switzerland) focused, inter alia, on the in-country visit and general lessons, including the need for methodology. Maja Stade Aarønæs (Norway) presented on India, focusing on lessons learned, including the need for a robust review team, sufficient time to understand the system and processes in the target country, and identification of interviewees. Sujata Arora (India) focused on challenges such as: allowing experts to familiarize themselves with the country’s governance system, considering the country’s special circumstances, sharing of observations for factual verification, and avoiding out-of-context observations.

Mechanisms for review of implementation: The EU, Australia and Norway considered the establishment of a mechanism for review of implementation premature. Indonesia called for additional time for in-depth discussions on the peer-review process. Canada considered voluntary self-evaluation sufficient. New Zealand opined that a mechanism for review of implementation would distract efforts towards implementing the Strategic Plan, urging that an additional mechanism be considered at a later date, bearing in mind continued work on a voluntary peer-review mechanism. Switzerland welcomed the voluntary peer-review mechanism, but, with Brazil, highlighted that the process requires further piloting to improve methodologies.

GFC, CCRI and the ICCA Consortium recommended including an explicit mechanism for IPLCs, civil society and women to provide comments and reports on the voluntary peer-review process of NBSAPs and national reports, and establishing mechanisms to ensure compliance and enforcement, following the UNFCCC example. IIFB, supported by Ghana, Guatemala, the Philippines and Peru, called attention to the interlinkages among the Article 8(j) Working Group, SBSTTA and SBI, and suggested including independent reports from civil society, following the practice of the UN Human Rights Committee.

On the draft recommendation, Mexico, opposed by Switzerland, suggested taking note, instead of welcoming, progress in developing a voluntary peer-review mechanism. Canada suggested the Secretariat facilitate, rather than initiate, a pilot phase to apply the draft methodology for the review. Compromise language was agreed on welcoming progress and requesting the Secretariat to facilitate further testing and development of the peer-review methodology, including through a pilot phase, for SBI 2 consideration.

Australia recommended requesting the Secretariat to prepare, in consultation with parties and relevant stakeholders, information on obstacles to the implementation of the Convention and related strategic plans with a focus to identify effective practices related to implementation of national and global targets. Mexico opposed, noting that mechanisms for reviewing the implementation of the Convention should not be confined to obstacles, and stressed that a mechanism for assessing the effectiveness of the implementation is needed. Australia agreed, suggesting language to reflect this addition. The paragraph remained bracketed for further deliberations the following day.

On Friday morning, Australia proposed requesting the Secretariat to prepare, in consultation with parties and stakeholders, information on identified obstacles, as well as the identification of effective practices related to implementation of national and global targets, taking into account views of parties, observers and IPLCs for SBI 2 consideration; with Canada proposing reference to doing so on the basis of national reports. Mexico noted that the submission of national reports is the official mechanism to support implementation, whereas the voluntary peer-review is not yet a mechanism, as its methodology is still under development and only two countries have piloted it. Following informal consultations, Australia proposed adding reference to “including consideration of possible elements of a mechanism for review of implementation,” with Switzerland adding “such as the voluntary peer-review.”

Aligning with SBSTTA: The African Group and Brazil opposed aligning with SBSTTA’s modus operandi. The EU cautioned against the SBI making changes to SBSTTA’s modus operandi without the latter’s agreement, and duplicating work in SBSTTA and SBI. Norway suggested revisiting SBSTTA’s modus operandi to ensure complementarity with the SBI.

On a revised draft recommendation, Canada suggested taking into account assessments, recommendations and advice provided by SBSTTA, with South Africa adding that advice should be scientific, technical and technological. The EU requested deleting that the aggregate effect of national targets is insufficient to attain the corresponding Aichi Targets. 

The EU opposed changing SBSTTA’s rules and aligning them with SBI rules. The EU also opposed requesting the Secretariat to identify options to strengthen processes for integrating IPLC-related matters into SBSTTA’s work.

Norway suggested, opposed by Brazil and the EU, including proposals for adjusting SBSTTA’s modus operandi and the criteria for new and emerging issues. Following informal consultations, Norway proposed reflecting in the meeting report the need for scientific review of the criteria for new and emerging issues, based on experience, for COP 13, emphasizing the need to keep the scientific and technical role of SBSTTA separate from the SBI’s role.

SBI Chair: Ethiopia, for the African Group, suggested the SBI Chair be elected among the COP Bureau members. Mexico suggested that criteria for the SBI Chair include participation in the Convention and its two protocols. Morocco favored having the same Chair for the SBI and SBSTTA. Ghana recommended that COP should develop criteria for the SBI Chair, with clear timeframes, and favored, with Maldives, that the SBI Chair should be filled on a rotational basis to alternate with the SBSTTA Chair, so that the two Chairs are not selected for the same period. Canada and Brazil favored opening the SBI Chair to all CBD parties. Japan supported distinguishing the role of a proposed SBI Chair from the COP President in overseeing the COP Bureau, and addressing biodiversity mainstreaming in SBSTTA.

On a draft recommendation, a lengthy discussion ensured regarding the election of the SBI Chair. Mexico requested reflecting in the report of the meeting her proposal that the Chair should be from a country that is party to both protocols. Ethiopia requested clarification on the conditions for the election and the Chair’s mandate, reiterating his suggestion to elect the Chair from the COP Bureau members. The EU requested deleting reference to the Chair’s competence in matters related to the implementation of policies and programmes on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, suggesting competence in matters related to the Convention. Norway favored electing someone from the Bureau, noting that the Chair should represent the Convention and its protocols. The EU cautioned against additional restrictions, allowing for election of Chairs outside the Bureau, supported by Japan, or from members that are not parties to both protocols.

Following a Friends of the Chair group meeting, delegates agreed that the COP Bureau will serve as SBI Bureau and the SBI Chair will be elected by the COP, taking into account experience in CBD processes and time availability for the work of the SBI.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.14), the SBI recommends that the COP:

  • adopt the annexed SBI modus operandi;
  • welcome progress in the development of a voluntary peer-review mechanism, especially the development of a draft methodology for the review, and request the Secretariat to facilitate the further testing and development of the methodology, including applying it through a pilot phase for SBI 2 consideration;
  • invite parties to develop, enhance and make use of national processes to review measures taken to implement the Convention, including, as appropriate, participatory approaches and engagement of IPLCs, civil society, women and youth, to identify existing obstacles and to share this information through the CHM;
  • request the Secretariat to prepare, in consultation with parties and stakeholders, information on the obstacles identified, as well as to identify effective practices related to the implementation of national and global targets, based on national reports, including consideration of possible elements of mechanisms for review of implementation, such as the voluntary peer-review mechanism for NBSAPs, and taking into account the views expressed by parties and observers at SBI 1, and additional views provided by parties and observers, including IPLCs, for SBI 2 consideration;
  • request the Secretariat to further develop the decision-tracking tool, to continue reviewing COP decisions, and to provide SBI 2 with an update; and
  • request the Secretariat to identify options to strengthen processes for integrating IPLC-related matters into the SBI’s work.

The annexed modus operandi includes sections on: functions; areas of work, including review of progress in implementation, strategic actions to enhance implementation, strengthening means of implementation, and improving effectiveness of processes and activities; procedural matters; focal points; and documentation. According to the modus operandi, the COP Bureau will serve as the SBI Bureau; the SBI Chair will be elected by the COP and will ensure active participation in the preparatory process, as well as facilitation of the meeting, based on experience in the CBD processes and competence in CBD-related matters, as well as availability of time for SBI work; in the event that the Chair is from a country that is not a party to one or both protocols, a substitute will be assigned from among members of the Bureau representing a party to the protocol to chair items related to one or the other protocol; and the SBI Chair will serve as an ex officio member of the COP Bureau.

NATIONAL REPORTING: This item was first discussed in plenary on Wednesday, 4 May (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/11 and Add.1). A draft recommendation was discussed on Thursday.

Switzerland, supported by South Africa, proposed advancing the submissions deadline to December 2018 to enable consideration by the next GBO. The EU highlighted: taking into account lessons learned; addressing GEF considerations at the COP; synchronizing reporting cycles; and reducing reporting burdens. Moldova, Morocco, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia pointed to capacity-building needs. Norway suggested that the CBD Secretariat follow a stepwise process of engaging in dialogue with other secretariats in the Biodiversity Liaison Group on the draft guidelines for national reporting.

Canada proposed emphasizing that parties describe how their national targets support the Aichi Targets rather than to the extent they can be achieved. Australia stressed the need for flexibility in national reporting to collect and analyze national and subnational data. Mexico underscored the need for technically and scientifically robust data collection. Bolivia urged including IPLCs’ role in biodiversity conservation in national reports. South Africa proposed encouraging, rather than requesting, stakeholder involvement in preparing and reviewing sixth national reports. GFC, CCRI and the ICCA Consortium urged involving IPLCs and women’s organizations in preparing national reports.

On a revised recommendation, Switzerland, supported by the EU, Japan and Turkey, requested more time for parties to examine the resource manual and draft reporting guidelines and seek input from other biodiversity-related conventions. Norway recommended making the draft reporting templates available to the Biodiversity Liaison Group when requesting their input on potential synergies in reporting.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.7), which contains the draft guidelines, including reporting templates, for the sixth national report in an annex, the SBI requests the Secretariat to, inter alia:

  • arrange for peer-review by parties of the draft reporting guidelines, and revise them in light of comments received and suggestions from biodiversity-related conventions;
  • invite input on potential synergies in reporting from the Biodiversity Liaison Group;
  • organize capacity-building activities; and
  • develop proposals for the alignment of national reporting under the Convention and its protocols, including synchronized reporting cycles with common deadlines for submission of reports for COP 15, Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP 10 and Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP 4.

The SBI also recommends that COP 13, inter alia:

  • finalize the resource manual for the sixth national report, taking into account other relevant elements such as common data sources and indicators;
  • facilitate IPLCs’ full and effective participation, as well as that of focal points for other biodiversity-related conventions, in the preparation of sixth national reports;
  • encourage parties to submit their sixth national reports by 31 December 2018, taking into account preparations for GBO-5; and
  • request the GEF to provide adequate funding for the preparation of sixth national reports in a timely manner.

OPTIONS FOR ENHANCING INTEGRATION AMONG THE CONVENTION AND ITS PROTOCOLS AND THE ORGANIZATION OF MEETINGS: This item was first discussed in plenary on Wednesday, 4 May (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/12/Rev1 and Add.1-2). A draft recommendation was discussed on Thursday, 5 May.

Mexico said hosting jointly COP 13, Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP 8 and Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP 2 poses logistical challenges but offers opportunities for synergies. Suggesting limiting the two Protocols’ COP/MOPs to one week, the EU welcomed integration among the Convention and its protocols. Canada supported efforts to reduce costs and streamline procedures, stressing the need to respect the legal autonomy of each treaty. She suggested that the SBI Chair should not be restricted to countries who are parties to both protocols.

Morocco supported synchronized timing for the Nagoya and Cartagena Protocols with common reporting deadlines, noting disadvantages for developing countries with small delegations. The EU requested that the Secretariat finalize the organization of work for the concurrent meetings in consultation with the Bureau and Mexico.

Turkey reiterated his offer to host COP 14, and China to host COP 15, with Peru noting that her offer to host COP 15 will be confirmed after general elections. Ethiopia, on behalf of the African Group, noted that further consultation is needed to reach consensus regarding the bids to host COP 14 by Turkey and Egypt. The Secretariat suggested bracketing references to Turkey and Egypt with regard to COP 14, and to China and Peru for COP 15. GYBN urged minimizing CBD meetings’ environmental impacts and facilitating broad participation.

Japan expressed concern about the situation of the Voluntary Trust Fund for the participation of developing countries, and announced his recent contribution. Cameroon, supported by Namibia, requested reference to the need for full and effective participation of parties from developing countries.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.11), the SBI recommends that the COP, inter alia:

  • request the Secretariat to achieve synergies in the consideration of issues and efficiency in processes related to common cross-cutting areas under the Convention and its protocols, by continuing to use integrated approaches in the organization of work, preparation of documents, and implementation of intersessional activities;
  • request the Secretariat to prepare a note on possible ways and means to promote integrated approaches to issues at the interface between biosafety-related provisions of the Convention and the provisions of the Cartagena Protocol;
  • decide to use a list of criteria for reviewing the experience of organizing concurrent meetings at COP 14 and 15, and call on developed country parties to increase their contribution to the relevant voluntary trust fund to ensure the full and effective participation of representatives from developing countries in concurrent meetings; and
  • decide that COP 14, Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP 9, and Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP 3 will be held in either Egypt or Turkey, with the options bracketed, and COP 15, Cartagena COP/MOP 10, and Nagoya COP/MOP 4 be held in either Peru or China, also bracketed.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE CONVENTION, INCLUDING FUNCTIONAL REVIEW OF THE SECRETARIAT: This item and a draft recommendation were discussed in plenary on Wednesday, 4 May (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/13 and Add.1). Japan recommended, supported by Australia and others, that the Secretariat consult the Bureau and notify parties about completion of the remaining steps on the functional review of the Secretariat, with Switzerland proposing that the Secretariat’s main functions remain at the core of the completion of the functional review and reflected in the Secretariat’s structure. The EU underscored resource mobilization, cooperation and mainstreaming, noting the problem of voluntary contributions. Canada called for realistic, achievable and budget-feasible plans, supporting the apportionment of funds between the Convention and its protocols. Australia noted that the allocation of funds should be proportionate to the number of parties to each agreement and their respective contributions.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.6), the SBI requests the Secretariat to, inter alia:

  • ensure the main functions of the Secretariat remain firmly at the core of the completion of the functional review and reflected in the Secretariat’s structure; and
  • improve the flow of information on the Secretariat’s activities through the COP Bureau.

The SBI further requests parties to ensure that they meet their operational commitments, including the designation of required focal points and timely delivery of their assessed contributions.

The SBI calls upon parties in a position to do so and on a voluntary basis to:

  • prepare for consideration by COP 13 and the concurrent COP/MOPs a proposal for the review and updating of guidelines for the apportionment of funds for the participation of developing countries; and
  • provide financial support for the participation of representatives of developing countries at COP 13 as well as to review and update the guidelines for the apportionment of funds for this purpose.

 USE OF TERMINOLOGY: During discussions of the assessment and review of effectiveness of the Cartagena Protocol on Thursday, 5 May, a lengthy debate took place on whether to use the term “IPLCs” instead of “indigenous and local communities.” The Secretariat noted that COP decision XII/12 F on the use of the term “IPLCs” is not automatically applicable to the protocols unless their COP/MOPs take a similar decision. The EU, supported by Norway, Bolivia and others, favored using the term IPLCs. The Secretariat, supported by Switzerland, Guatemala and Ethiopia, suggested adding a paragraph inviting the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP to consider taking a decision to apply mutatis mutandis CBD decision XII/12 F.

On Friday, 6 May, delegates considered a draft recommendation for the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP to consider the use of the terminology “IPLCs.” Indonesia opposed the recommendation, arguing that a change in terminology would require following the procedure for treaty amendment, which was opposed by Brazil, the EU, Bolivia, New Zealand, Ethiopia and others. The EU noted that the Nagoya COP/MOP had already recommended using the “IPLC” terminology.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.9.Rev.1), the SBI recommends that the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP consider the possibility of applying, mutatis mutandis, CBD Decision XII/12 F on the use of the terminology “IPLCs.”

CLOSING PLENARY

On Friday, 6 May, the plenary adopted the meeting report (UNEP/CBD/SBI/1/L.1) with minor amendments. CBD Executive Secretary Dias highlighted recommendations on biodiversity mainstreaming, the SBI modus operandi, synergies with biodiversity-related conventions, guidelines for national reports, and resource mobilization. He also pointed to the voluntary peer-review process and that COP 13 is to be held for the first time concurrently with the protocols’ COP/MOPs.

The EU drew attention to the need to scale up efforts to achieve the Aichi Targets, and to link efforts on biodiversity mainstreaming with the SDGs. India, for Asia-Pacific, considered that the SBI was off to a good start and welcomed the identification of means to overcome obstacles in achieving targets, such as capacity building and resource mobilization. Saint Kitts and Nevis, for GRULAC, urged efforts to realize the Aichi Targets and maximize interrelationships with the SDGs, underscoring the need to review progress and provide support for implementation. He welcomed recommendations on integration across the Convention and its protocols, biodiversity mainstreaming, and the SBI modus operandi.

The CBD Alliance appreciated the hard work done at SBI 1, noting: the need to look into implementation in more detail in the future; the need to involve IPLCs, women and civil society in the peer-review of NBSAPs and national reports; and concern about the emphasis on the business sector and natural capital in relation to biodiversity mainstreaming. IIFB urged the full and effective participation of IPLCs, including women and youth, in the review of implementation, work on integration of the Convention and its Protocols, and capacity building.

The Asia-Pacific, Ghana for the African Group, GRULAC and IIFB underscored the need for funding to ensure effective participation in the concurrent COP and COP/MOPs. Mexico, as COP 13 host, encouraged parties to invite ministries of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism to the COP 13 high-level segment, and to involve international organizations, such as FAO and the World Tourism Organization, NGOs, IPLCs, youth and the private sector in realizing the Aichi Targets. SBI 1 Chair Choe congratulated delegates on their tireless work and drew the meeting to a close at 4:57 pm.

A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE MEETINGS

A HISTORIC MOMENT IN THE CONVENTION?

“SBSTTA is neither a mini-COP, nor a drafting group.” This statement, delivered by SBSTTA Chair Peter Johan Schei (Norway) 18 SBSTTA sessions ago in 1996, remains as timely as ever. The recurring debate on the need to focus on scientific aspects of the CBD’s work at SBSTTA resurfaced at its 20th session, on the occasion of what was considered a historic moment in the life of the Convention―the first meeting of a new permanent Subsidiary Body on Implementation.

It was not clear to many, however, what the SBI would look like, since little guidance had been provided by COP 12 when establishing it. Furthermore, overlap between the SBSTTA and SBI agendas (for instance, on biodiversity mainstreaming and review of implementation) did not help to clarify matters. The conclusion of the back-to-back meetings provided only a partial response: it confirmed, once again, the need for SBSTTA to focus on the science, whereas the identity of the SBI remains a work-in-progress, to be further developed at its second session.

This brief analysis will thus focus on selected items that illustrate the actual and potential roles of SBSTTA and SBI―namely synthetic biology and pollinators for SBSTTA, and the SBI modus operandi, particularly the voluntary peer review of implementation. In doing so, the following sections also highlight the increasing need for integration across the CBD processes in the lead up to COP 13, which will for the first time meet concurrently with the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols’ COP/MOPs.

UNTANGLING SCIENCE AND POLICY?

Synthetic biology was clearly the most controversial issue at SBSTTA 20―a scientifically complex, but also politically charged, topic that has been discussed under the Convention for more than six years. SBSTTA 14 in 2010 focused on the need to apply the precautionary approach. SBSTTA 16 in 2012 and SBSTTA 18 in 2014 saw polarized discussions as to whether synthetic biology should be included in the Convention’s agenda as a new and emerging issue, on the basis of the criteria in decision IX/29. And even when COP 12 adopted what many considered a landmark decision (decision XII/24), urging parties to take a precautionary approach and establish effective risk assessment and management procedures and/or regulatory systems regarding organisms, components and products resulting from synthetic biology techniques, it was concluded that there was still insufficient information available to decide whether this is a new and emerging issue related to biodiversity. At SBSTTA 20, a contact group met several times, often into the night, with some still questioning whether synthetic biology is a new and emerging issue under the Convention. Others, however, emphasized that it may already be quite late to tackle some of its risks, as syn-bio products can be easily and cheaply bought online (“glowing grass” being an example) or in stores.

An AHTEG provided an operational definition of synthetic biology, which proved particularly controversial as it brought into the spotlight complex questions: should living organisms developed through synthetic biology applications be considered similar to LMOs as defined in the Cartagena Protocol? And if so, could the Cartagena Protocol’s general principles and methodology be a good basis for assessing the risks associated with synthetic biology, even if updates and adaptations may be needed? As a result of this discussion, the need for coordination between the Convention and the Cartagena Protocol’s AHTEGs on risk assessment and risk management, and on socio-economic considerations came to the fore. In addition, a connection with the Nagoya Protocol became apparent, with regard to the use of digital sequence information. Some argued that bio-informatics fall outside the scope of the Nagoya Protocol, which had been conceived with physical access to genetic resources in mind. Others, however, argued that the use of digital sequence information should be subject to benefit-sharing rules. The reference was eventually bracketed and it remains to be seen whether the concurrent meetings of COP 13 and the Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP will help address this potential inter-relationship.

Science and policy were thus difficult to untangle, boiling down to a recurring question under the CBD: are new and emerging issues already regulated elsewhere (nationally or internationally) or do they even need to be regulated? And should the Convention and its Protocols serve as a “regulatory safety net” providing default rules whenever potential new risks to biodiversity arise and the regulatory landscape is unclear? The contact group discussed at length whether to commission an assessment of extant regulation, and eventually SBSTTA requested parties to provide information on regulations, policies and guidelines, be they in place or under development. In the corridors, a number of delegates―especially those who participated in the AHTEG―expressed concern that political rather than scientific concerns eventually dominated the discussions. According to them, SBSTTA barely entered into the scientific merits of the definition of synthetic biology provided by the AHTEG, but mostly focused on its potential use and its regulatory implications. As a result, SBSTTA left it to the highest policy body, the COP, to decide whether to acknowledge the definition or deem it appropriate for the purposes of facilitating scientific deliberations.

SCIENCE/POLICY INTERFACE REVISITED

Another item on the SBSTTA 20 agenda that was clearly at the interface of science and policy was the much-awaited first IPBES assessment, which focused on pollinators, pollination and food production. In this case, the discussion was largely seen as a good balance of assessing scientific advice and translating it into policy recommendations, showing promise in the emerging synergistic role of SBSTTA and IPBES. SBSTTA focused on the IPBES key messages for policy-makers and options for policy responses, which were generally welcomed by CBD delegates. IPBES inputs served to back up the SBSTTA recommendations to enhance efforts to conserve and manage pollinators, both through work on agricultural biodiversity, as well as in relation to pesticide production, including through product risk assessments and transparent release of the results of toxicity studies.

In turn, SBSTTA added value to the IPBES report by calling for a review of the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Pollinators and the updating and streamlining of its plan of action, including capacity building, based on the IPBES Assessment. SBSTTA also identified that the most recent studies on pollinators could not be included in the IPBES Assessment, and called upon the CBD Secretariat, with FAO, to include new research in the review of the International Initiative. In addition, SBSTTA placed on its post-COP 13 agenda the need to extend the analysis related to pollinators beyond their role in agriculture and food production. Furthermore, SBSTTA provided an additional opportunity for the African region to voice concerns about perceived data gaps in the IPBES Assessment with regard to monitoring status and trends of pollinators and pollination in Africa. SBSTTA asked the CBD Secretariat, in cooperation with IPBES and FAO, to address these concerns by preparing a regional report in time for consideration at COP 13.

Similarly to synthetic biology, the consideration of the IPBES Assessment also highlighted the need for further integration between the Convention and the Cartagena Protocol. As opposed to synthetic biology, however, SBSTTA focused on identifying the potential impacts of LMOs and pesticides, as well as their cumulative effects, as an area for further scientific research. On the other hand, the policy question of encouraging parties to improve risk assessment procedures for pesticides and LMOs was left bracketed for the COP to consider. In this case, therefore, SBSTTA appeared to many to have engaged in a balanced discussion of scientific and policy issues.

NEW APPROACHES TO IMPLEMENTATION?

Information from updated and revised NBSAPs and fifth national reports confirmed the conclusion of the midterm review of progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020: encouraging progress will not be sufficient to achieve the Aichi Targets unless further urgent and effective action is taken. SBSTTA’s contribution to review of implementation, however, did not fully meet expectations, as parties requested the Secretariat to develop proposals for the next scientific assessment of progress and to identify when a scientific assessment has the greatest potential to help achieve Aichi Targets, for COP 13 consideration.

The SBI, in turn, provided an opportunity to consider something new to “give an extra push” to implementation, namely a voluntary, pilot peer review of NBSAPs. Two case studies were presented during SBI 1, on Ethiopia and India, which involved in-country visits, and developed and developing country reviewers. In addition, the examples of monitoring, review and verification under the climate regime and the peer-learning and peer-review process under the OECD were presented as sources of inspiration for CBD parties on how to identify implementation challenges, share best practices, and build trust and momentum.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many parties did not seem enthusiastic about the idea of being subject to peer review and possibly being put on the spot for any weaknesses in their implementation efforts. On the other hand, civil society and IPLCs, supported by a few national delegations, called for bolder approaches to complement global overviews of progress with a mechanism to examine compliance by individual parties. Eventually, the SBI recommended further testing and refinement of the peer-review methodology for consideration at its second meeting. Thus, it remains to be seen whether a refined peer-review mechanism could be a defining feature of this new CBD body. According to some observers, the sheer number of areas under the Convention and the lack of a standardized unit of assessment of progress simultaneously make implementation and potential review of compliance a complicated and demanding process, and, as a consequence, devising an effective and acceptable methodology, that is also sensitive to national and local specificities, will be a challenge.

What also appears from the lengthy discussion on the SBI modus operandi is that CBD parties are quite keen to take more ownership of the SBI, as exemplified in the recommendation to identify an SBI Chair that will not only have the right expertise, but also the time to work on the preparations for future SBI meetings. The opportunities to integrate implementation of the Convention and its protocols in the work of the SBI also brought to the surface concerns about whether the SBI Chair could be from a CBD party that is not (yet?) party to one or both protocols, and more generally about how to balance the role of non-Protocol-parties when items cut across the Convention and its protocols, including at the upcoming concurrent meetings of the COP and COP/MOPs.

INTEGRATING AND MAINSTREAMING IN CANCUN

COP 13 in Cancun will be, according to seasoned delegates, a key test for integration. The new format of holding concurrent meetings will present logistic and diplomatic challenges in terms of managing different treaty memberships. At the same time, COP 13’s focus on biodiversity mainstreaming in other sectors (agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism), which was considered by both SBSTTA and SBI, may allow further integration. Both bodies focused on the opportunities to link biodiversity mainstreaming with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, with a view to reflecting on the interaction of all the Aichi Targets with several SDGs, not only those directly related to biodiversity.

The discussion on mainstreaming, though, did not help distinguish the respective value added of SBSTTA and SBI. In this connection, some considered the decision not to revisit SBSTTA modus operandi when discussing the SBI modus operandi a missed opportunity for addressing more squarely ways to sharpen SBSTTA’s scientific edge. According to IPLCs, this also prevented the request to identify options to integrate IPLC-related matters into the SBI work from being extended to SBSTTA, which could also benefit from IPLCs’ contributions to its scientific review of implementation. Overall, in the eyes of many CBD veterans, more work is needed for the Convention bodies, old and new, to develop together an integrated and inclusive approach to tackle effectively the interconnected challenges of our times that are linked to biodiversity.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

UNPFII 15: The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) will hold its 15th session in May 2016 to discuss: implementation of its six mandated areas with reference to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP); conflict, peace and resolution; and coordination among the three UN mechanisms on indigenous affairs. A dialogue will take place with the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The session will also consider the future work of the Forum, and emerging issues. dates: 9-20 May 2016 location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: PFII Secretariat  phone: +1-917-367-5100  email: indigenous_un@un.org www: http://bit.ly/UNPFII15

44th Sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies: The forty-fourth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 44) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice as well as the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement will convene. dates: 16-26 May 2016   location: Bonn, Germany  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228 815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email: secretariat@unfccc.int www: http://www.unfccc.int

Resumed Review Conference on the UN Fish Stocks Agreement: The third Resumed Review Conference on the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) relating to the UN Fish Stocks Agreement is mandated to assess the effectiveness of the agreement and the adequacy of its provisions and, if necessary, to propose means of strengthening the substance and methods of implementation.  dates: 23-27 May 2016  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea  phone: +1-212-963-3962  email: doalos@un.org www: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/review_conf_fish_stocks.htm

Second Meeting of the UN Environment Assembly: The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) will convene for its second meeting. The UNEA represents the highest level of governance of international environmental affairs in the UN system. dates: 23-27 May 2016  location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: Jorge Laguna-Celis, Secretary of Governing Bodies  phone: +254-20-7623431 email: unep.sgb@unep.org www: http://web.unep.org/unea/

Eighth Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity: The eighth Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity will focus on “Food systems for a sustainable future: Interlinkages between biodiversity and agriculture,” with a view to identifying approaches for the achievement of mutually beneficial and sustainable outcomes, in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. dates: 31 May - 3 June 2016  location: Trondheim, Norway  contact: Norwegian Environment Agency   phone: +47-73580500  email: trondheimconference@miljodir.no www: http://www.trondheimconference.org/

HLPF 2016: The United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will meet to consider the follow-up and review of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The forum is expected to: provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on the Agenda’s implementation and follow-up; keep track of progress; and facilitate coherent policies informed by evidence, science and country experiences. dates: 11-20 July 2016  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development  email:  dsd@un.org www: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf/2016

CITES CoP17: The 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP17) will review progress made since CoP16 in Bangkok in 2013, the future direction of the Convention, and proposals to include new species under CITES regulatory controls. dates: 24 September - 5 October 2016   location: Johannesburg, South Africa   contact: CITES Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40  fax: +41-22-797-34-17  email: info@cites.org www: https://cites.org/cop17

BBNJ PrepCom 2: The second meeting of the Preparatory Committee for an international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) will address marine genetic resources, area-based management tools, environmental impact assessments, capacity building, transfer of marine technology and crosscutting issues. dates: 26 August - 9 September 2016  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea Secretariat  phone: +1-212-963-3962  email: doalos@un.org www: http://www.un.org/depts/los/biodiversity/prepcom.htm

IUCN World Conservation Congress: Held every four years, the Congress is the world’s largest conservation event, bringing together leaders from governments, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies, and indigenous and grassroots organizations. dates: 1-10 September 2016  location: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA  contact: IUCN Secretariat  phone: +41-22-999-0368  fax: +41- 22-999-0002  email: congress@iucn.org www: http://www.iucnworldconservationcongress.org

UNFCCC COP 22: During COP 22, parties will meet to, inter alia, begin preparations for entry into force of the Paris Agreement. dates: 7-18 November 2016  location: Marrakesh, Morocco  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228 815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email: secretariat@unfccc.int www: http://unfccc.int/

CMS StC45: The 45th meeting of the Standing Committee  of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) will take place in November 2016. It will be preceded by a meeting of the CMS Budget and Finance Sub-Committee on the afternoon of Tuesday, 8 November 2016. dates: 9-10 November 2016  location: Bonn, Germany  contact: CMS Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-2401  fax: +49-228-815-2449  email: cms.secretariat@cms.int www: http://www.cms.int/en/news/2015028-dates-45th-meeting-cms-standing-committee

CBD COP 13, COP-MOP 8 to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and COP-MOP 2 to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing: The thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 13), the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP 8), and the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (COP/MOP 2) will be held concurrently. dates:  4-17 December 2016  location: Cancun, Mexico   contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288-6588  email: secretariat@cbd.int www: https://www.cbd.int/