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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 09 Number 749 | Monday, 2 December 2019


11th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions and 23rd Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity:

20-29 November 2019 | Montreal, Canada


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Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage from Montreal, Canada at: http://enb.iisd.org/biodiv/sbstta23-wg8j11/

The 11th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions and the 23rd Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 23) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met to address a range of issues on their agendas, with the main item under discussion being the contributions to the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The Working Group on Article 8(j) focused on the role of indigenous peoples and local communities and addressed links between nature and culture for the development of the post-2020 framework. The Working Group further conducted its thematic dialogue; addressed recommendations from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and discussed progress towards Aichi Target 18 (traditional knowledge).

SBSTTA 23 addressed the scientific and technical base of the post-2020 framework, collating ideas on the 2030 mission and relevant targets. It further focused on biodiversity and climate change, technical and scientific cooperation, and sustainable wildlife management, approving relevant recommendations to the Conference of the Parties (COP).

The 11th meeting of the Working Group on Article 8(j) took place from 20-22 November 2019, followed by SBSTTA 23 from 25-29 November, in Montreal, Canada. Approximately 600 participants attended the meetings, representing governments, international organizations, academia, and civil society.

On the weekend between the two meetings, two well-attended informal briefings focused on informing the evidence base for the post-2020 framework and providing an overview on the framework’s development.

A Brief History of the Convention on Biological Diversity

The CBD was adopted on 22 May 1992 and opened for signature on 5 June 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio “Earth Summit”). The CBD 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 COP is the governing body of the Convention, and there are currently four bodies meeting intersessionally: SBSTTA; the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions; the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI); and the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Key Turning Points

Three protocols have been adopted under the Convention. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (January 2000, Montreal, Canada) addresses the safe transfer, handling, and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) that may have adverse effects on biodiversity, taking into account human health, with a specific focus on transboundary movements. It entered into force on 11 September 2003 and currently has 171 parties. The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (October 2010, Nagoya, Japan) provides for international rules and procedures on liability and redress for damage to biodiversity resulting from LMOs. It entered into force on 5 March 2018 and currently has 44 parties.

The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (October 2010, Nagoya) sets out an international framework for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and technologies, and by appropriate funding, thereby contributing to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components. It entered into force on 12 October 2014 and currently has 120 parties.

Other major decisions have included:

  • the Jakarta Mandate on marine and coastal biodiversity (COP 2, November 1995, Jakarta, Indonesia);
  • work programmes on agricultural and forest biodiversity (COP 3, November 1996, Buenos Aires, Argentina);
  • the Global Taxonomy Initiative (COP 4, May 1998, Bratislava, Slovakia);
  • work programmes on Article 8(j), dry and sub-humid lands, and incentive measures (COP 5, May 2000, Nairobi, Kenya);
  • the Bonn Guidelines on Access and Benefit-sharing and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (COP 6, April 2002, The Hague, the Netherlands);
  • work programmes on mountain biodiversity, protected areas, and technology transfer, the Akwé: Kon Guidelines for cultural, environmental, and social impact assessments, and the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for sustainable use (COP 7, February 2004, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia);
  • a work programme on island biodiversity (COP 8, March 2006, Curitiba, Brazil);
  • a resource mobilization strategy, and scientific criteria and guidance for marine areas in need of protection (COP 9, May 2008, Bonn, Germany);
  • the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including the Aichi Targets, and a decision on activities and indicators for the implementation of the resource mobilization strategy (COP 10, October 2010, Nagoya, Japan);
  • an interim target of doubling biodiversity-related international financial resource flows to developing countries by 2015, and at least maintaining this level until 2020, coupled with targets aiming to improve the robustness of baseline information (COP 11, October 2012, Hyderabad, India); and
  • a plan of action on customary sustainable use of biodiversity as well as the “Pyeongchang Roadmap,” a package of decisions on resource mobilization, capacity building, and scientific and technical cooperation linking biodiversity and poverty eradication, and monitoring implementation of the Strategic Plan (COP 12, October 2014, Pyeongchang, South Korea).

COP 13 (December 2016, Cancún, Mexico) considered: issues related to operations of the Convention, including integration among the Convention and its Protocols; progress towards implementation of the Strategic Plan and the achievement of the Aichi Targets, and related means of implementation; strategic actions to enhance the implementation of the Strategic Plan and achievement of the Aichi Targets, including with respect to mainstreaming biodiversity within and across sectors, particularly in agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and forestry; and biodiversity and human health interlinkages. It also launched consideration of a series of items on emerging technologies, including synthetic biology, gene drives, and digital sequence information (DSI).

COP 14 (November 2018, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt) set up an intersessional OEWG on the post-2020 framework, and established an intersessional process, including an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) to continue work on DSI on genetic resources under the Convention and the Nagoya Protocol. COP14 further adopted the Rutzolijirisaxik voluntary guidelines for the repatriation of traditional knowledge relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity as well as voluntary guidelines and guidance: on the integration of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures into wider land- and seascapes; on effective governance models for management of protected areas, including equity; for the design and effective implementation of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction; for a sustainable wild meat sector; and for avoiding unintentional introductions of invasive alien species associated with trade in live organisms.

Working Group on Article 8(j) Report

On Wednesday, 20 November, Working Group Co-Chair Hamdallah Zedan (Egypt), for the COP Presidency, opened the meeting by highlighting the need to be ambitious, inclusive, and optimistic, and stressing that “the biggest risk is not taking any risks.” Sending greetings from the leaders of his nation, Mohawk elder Charlie Patton, Kahnawake, welcomed participants onto Mohawk territory and noted the need to “work of one mind to help heal our Mother Earth.”

Elizabeth Mrema, CBD Secretariat Officer-in-Charge, cited Pope Francis, reminding participants that we need to care for our common home and show respect for the “various cultural riches of different peoples, their art and poetry, their interior life, and spirituality.” She emphasized that no wisdom can be left out and that traditional knowledge transferred between generations is key to understanding nature, underscoring the need to ensure that indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) are valued partners against biodiversity loss and throughout the post-2020 process.

Inger Andersen, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, emphasized the need for more ambitious targets accompanied by the right solutions; further work on indicators; a focus on the quality of environmental protection; and ways to address buy-in from other sectors. She underscored that IPLCs have been deploying the solutions that “we need to rediscover to secure a sustainable future.” Recognizing that IPLCs’ territories are under threat, Andersen highlighted that environmental defenders who work to protect nature often pay for their efforts with their lives.

Stating that traditional knowledge needs to be properly recognized, valued, and respected, Egypt, for the African Group, stressed the need to “assess where we are now and where we are going in the future.”

Finland, for the European Union (EU), reaffirmed that full and effective participation of IPLCs that are holders of traditional knowledge is crucial for the work of the Convention and for the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

New Zealand, on behalf of Australia, Canada, Norway, and Switzerland, underscored the need to make significant changes to the way we live, highlighting work methods to facilitate cooperation with IPLCs.

Argentina, for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), highlighted the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystems services for the Americas, emphasizing that innovations, practices, and traditional knowledge of IPLCs are crucial for the success of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Kuwait, for Asia-Pacific, stressed that the post-2020 framework must be based on commitments to meet the challenges the world is facing regarding biodiversity.

Turkmenistan, for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), highlighted the region’s traditional and local knowledge on biodiversity as an asset in realizing the 2050 vision for biodiversity of living in harmony with nature, and noted, with GRULAC, the need for a joint work programme between the CBD and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) called on parties to enhance Article 8(j) and its provisions to achieve the objectives of the post-2020 framework, the Paris Agreement, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Highlighting multiple challenges affecting indigenous youth that also negatively impact biodiversity, the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) called for more efforts to enhance the role of indigenous youth, women, and girls. The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) stressed that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas should be the lenses through which the CBD is implemented.

Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Basile van Havre (Canada), Co-Chairs of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework, stressed that the framework should be “for all,” especially indigenous peoples, and noted that a zero draft of the framework will be available in January 2020.

Organizational Matters

Delegates adopted the provisional agenda (CBD/WG8J/11/1) without amendments and the organization of work (UNEP/WG8J/11/1/Add.1/Rev.1) with a minor amendment. Vinod Mathur (India) was elected rapporteur.

Seven IPLC representatives were designated as “Friends of the Bureau,” representing the geo-cultural regions recognized by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII): Lakpa Nuri Sherpa (Asia), Lucy Mulenkei (Africa), Polina Shulbaeva (CEE and the Caucasus), Aslak Holmberg (Arctic), Christine Grant (Pacific), Yolanda Teran (Latin America and the Caribbean), and Ken Paul (North America). Sherpa was designated as Working Group Co-Chair.

In-Depth Dialogue

The “in-depth dialogue on thematic areas and other cross-cutting issues” took place in plenary on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and aimed to contribute to the incorporation of Article 8(j) and related provisions as a cross-cutting issue throughout the work of the Convention, and originated with COP decision 10/43. According to decision 14/14, the topic for this year’s in-depth dialogue was the “Contribution of the traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices of IPLCs, and cultural diversity to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.”

On Wednesday, on the basis of a note by the Executive Secretary including a draft recommendation (CBD/WG8J/11/3), John Scott, CBD Secretariat, moderated the dialogue.

Alejandra Loría Martínez, Focal Point on Article 8(j) in Costa Rica, highlighted the importance of IPLCs’ inclusion in policy- and decision-making. Tim Badman, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), underlined the organization’s idea of an international alliance for nature and culture, and the role of the alliance. Eleanor Sterling, American Museum of Natural History, focused on nature-culture indicators for the level of IPLC identification, engagement, and collaboration with government. Josefa Cariño Tauli, the Philippines, spoke about the concept of “ili” (the place where one is born, including its natural, cultural, and spiritual identity) and emphasized the substantial personal and financial investment of IPLCs in biodiversity conservation.

In the subsequent general discussion, participants underlined the importance of traditional knowledge, biological and cultural diversity, and the role of IPLCs for the development and implementation of the post-2020 framework and the 2050 vision for biodiversity. There was general support for the topic for the next thematic dialogue on the role of language in the intergenerational transmission of traditional knowledge. Specific comments were made by the EU, Ethiopia, Jordan, South Africa, Mexico, the Philippines, IIFB, Finland, Syria, Argentina, Colombia, and IPC.

In plenary on Thursday, delegates addressed a draft recommendation (CBD/WG8J/11/CRP.1). A lengthy discussion took place on a provision calling for a holistic approach based on “bioculturally grounded planning,” with interventions by Brazil, Argentina, Malawi, the EU, China, Ethiopia, Switzerland, and Canada. Following informal consultations, delegates agreed to replace the debated expression with language “recognizing the importance of the three objectives of the Convention for biocultural diversity.”

Regarding a paragraph inviting parties to fully acknowledge and incorporate the contribution of IPLCs in the development and implementation of the post-2020 framework, a debate focused on the relationship between the framework’s development and its implementation. Following informal consultations, delegates agreed to remove language on the “development” of the post-2020 framework, and “fully” was deleted.

Delegates further agreed to amend a paragraph referring to considerations, voluntary guidelines, and principles on the links between cultural and biological diversity so as to remove language related to “mechanisms for the protection, development, and management of traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices.”

On Friday, the Working Group adopted the final recommendation.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/WG8J/11/L.2), the Working Group recommends that the COP:

  • invite parties to acknowledge, encourage and incorporate the contribution of IPLCs in the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework;
  • also invite parties to fully integrate considerations, guidelines, and principles regarding the links between cultural and biological diversity in their national implementation of the Convention, with the full and effective participation of IPLCs; and
  • hold an in-depth dialogue at the 12th Working Group meeting with the topic of “the role of languages in the intergenerational transmission of traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices.”

Progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Target 18

On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the relevant document (CBD/WG8J/11/2), noting that this is an interim progress report, while an updated document, taking into account information from additional national reports, will be considered during the third SBI meeting in May 2020.

Jocelyn Cariño-Nettleton, Tebtebba Foundation, provided an in-depth analysis of national reports on the implementation of Aichi Target 18. Stressing that this is an enabling target, contributing to other targets, she focused on types of actions that parties have reported on. She emphasized that, despite the number of actions mentioned in national reports, there is limited information from which progress on implementation can be assessed. She further underscored that very few national reports focus on adopted indicators such as land tenure, traditional occupations, and indigenous languages.

Several parties noted national efforts in working with IPLCs. Ecuador highlighted a voluntary repository of traditional knowledge. South Africa pointed out its sui generis legislation on indigenous knowledge and participation. Argentina noted its efforts to work with IPLCs in national strategies on the conservation of nature and culture. Costa Rica proposed a new paragraph reflecting its own specific measures and methodology to collaborate with IPLCs to preserve traditional knowledge.

Jordan, with Sudan and Syria, stressed the importance of legislative frameworks to enable the utilization and sharing of genetic resources, and urged parties to ensure participation of IPLCs. Nepal deplored the slow progress towards Aichi Target 18 and the insufficient resources for capacity-building programmes.

The EU encouraged sharing of experience and practices on the implementation of traditional knowledge. Stressing that traditional knowledge cannot be commodified, Mexico recommended that the progress report on the sixth national reports contain in-depth content, including relevant trends.

Ethiopia pressed for the progress report to include a record of what was not achieved, why it was not achieved, and information on the way forward. Sudan, with Timor Leste, recommended including measurable indicators. South Africa noted the importance of capacity building for inclusive decision making. Malawi called for the development of indicators that capture “the quality of community involvement.”

Expressing disappointment at the “systematic failure and lack of political will” of parties to implement their reports, the IIFB called for parties to: submit national reports if they have not yet done so; take advantage of voluntary guidelines, including those developed for climate change; and recruit IPLCs as part of their delegation in future dialogues. The IPC lamented the “paternalistic and colonialistic” language in the document, and urged parties to further recognize the rights and institutions of IPLCs.

Co-Chair Zedan reminded participants that a completed and reviewed progress report, including recommendations to the COP, will be prepared for consideration by SBI 3.

IPLCs and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

This agenda item was addressed in plenary on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and in a contact group, co-chaired by Rosemary Paterson (New Zealand) and Lucy Mulenkei (IIFB), on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced document CBD/WG8J/11/4, which takes into account feedback from the online forum on the integration of Article 8(j) and provisions related to IPLCs in the work of the Convention and its Protocols.

Many advocated for the full and effective participation of IPLCs in the development and implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The Philippines, Jordan, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Canada, IIFB, IUCN, and others recommended that a permanent body on aspects relating to IPLCs be created under the CBD.

Mexico highlighted collaboration with other fora, mechanisms, and bodies as well as the relationship between biodiversity, culture, and other systems such as the “agri-food system.” South Africa suggested the promotion of programmes: aimed at valorization of genetic resources associated with traditional knowledge; aimed at ensuring the development of databases on the use of genetic resources associated with traditional knowledge; and encouraging collaboration between IPLCs and users of genetic resources associated with traditional knowledge.

Ethiopia noted that the present draft may restrict IPLC participation to the national and local levels through national focal points, and recommended ensuring that the draft promotes the full and effective participation of IPLCs. Syria supported measurable indicators to monitor progress, as well as training and capacity building to enhance IPLCs’ participation in all programmes.

The IIFB recommended the new permanent body be called the “subsidiary body for ongoing partnership with IPLCs,” suggesting that it could: provide expert advice on intergovernmental processes and other areas; be a clearinghouse on best practices; and mainstream IPLC contributions to lead to transformative change as a whole. IUCN said that a permanent body could provide high-level advice on policies and share lessons learned. The IPC argued that IPLCs must have a leading and self-determined role under the Convention.

Canada noted that the draft decision should ensure that the programme of work on Article 8(j) and the programme proposed in the post-2020 framework proceed in parallel. Colombia recognized the lessons learned from the Working Group on Article 8(j) over two decades, and stressed that the new programme of work needs to be flexible and adapted to the needs of the post-2020 agenda.

The EU opined that work elements must first be further defined by an AHTEG. The EU, with Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, China, and Japan, noted that institutional arrangements depend on the content of the new programme of work, and suggested delaying relevant decisions.

Australia noted the need to allow for domestic consultations with IPLCs as well as to address the contributions of IPLCs in the post-2020 framework. New Zealand noted lack of clarity on a number of provisions, including integration of future work on matters of relevance to IPLCs into the work of SBSTTA and SBI. Japan requested clarification regarding the implications of establishing a permanent subsidiary body, stressing the need for clear division of roles; and called for addressing the links between biodiversity loss and climate change, and for encouraging IPLCs to register their existing practices with appropriate international mechanisms and initiatives.

Switzerland noted that legal issues related to traditional knowledge should be addressed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Folklore, while the Article 8(j) work programme should focus on those matters specifically related to the CBD. Tulalip Tribes of Washington reminded participants that there are legal aspects relating to IPLCs that go beyond the mandate of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee.

Argentina proposed that the post-2020 framework be based on human rights and sustainable development, and include capacity building, technology transfer, and increased financing. He also recommended a number of changes to the draft decision to clarify, among others, that guidelines are optional.

The Secretariat pointed to information documents that include budgetary implications of the various institutional options.

On Thursday morning, Francis Ogwal and Basile van Havre, Co-Chairs of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework, gave a brief overview of the process for the development of the post-2020 framework. They described three phases to the process: a broad consultation across the UN regions, which was completed with the first OEWG meeting in August 2019; a deeper dive into thematic areas, including ecosystem restoration, marine and coastal biodiversity, capacity building, resource mobilization, and access and benefit-sharing; and text-based negotiations starting with the zero draft, to be published on 13 January 2020, until the draft’s approval, scheduled for the third Working Group meeting in July 2020.

Consultation feedback so far revealed that the key messages of the post-2020 framework must be easy to communicate and provide a clear link between a 2030 mission and the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature. Targets and indicators should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART), with a special focus on geographical scope, and on planning, reporting, and accountability. Synergies with other fora and processes, in particular relating to climate change, should be pursued. The targets should explicitly include aspects related to gender, IPLCs, youth, and the private sector.

The Co-Chairs reminded participants of the mandate of the Working Group on Article 8(j) to add potential recommendations relevant to the post-2020 framework and to develop its future programme of work.

In the afternoon, Rosemary Paterson (New Zealand) and Lucy Mulenkei (IIFB) co-chaired a contact group on the development of a fully integrated programme of work on Article 8(j) within the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. They clarified the two tasks of the contact group, which was mandated to: work through the draft recommendations to COP 15 in a non-paper; and consider what advice the Working Group on Article 8(j) might want to provide to the OEWG on the post-2020 framework on issues relating to Article 8(j).

On the first task, delegates and participants raised a number of issues. They strived to make sure that the draft recommendations clearly reflect that the COP stands at the transition between the 2011-2020 Aichi Targets and the corresponding elements within the post-2020 framework. They also addressed issues around the status of voluntary guidelines and standards related to Article 8(j) and related provisions. They further discussed institutional arrangements for IPLCs in the post-2020 framework.

On Friday, contact group Co-Chairs Paterson and Mulenkei reported on Thursday’s deliberations, underscoring the spirit of collegiality among participants. Introducing the draft recommendation (CBD/WG8J/11/CRP.3), they clarified that the group had worked through the draft recommendations to COP 15, and that the group referred to the Global Thematic Dialogue for IPLCs on the post-2020 framework regarding further advice to the OEWG on the post-2020 framework.

Working Group Co-Chair Zedan indicated that this item was discussed extensively in the Bureau, where it was acknowledged that parties and IPLCs generally agree that adoption of a new programme of work would only be possible after COP 15. After comments from New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Egypt, IIFB, Argentina, and the EU, it was agreed that the finalization of the new work programme would be deferred until after COP 15, with a proposal for SBI 3 to simply confirm this deferral, and for the AHTEG to review the draft elements of the future programme of work after COP 15.

Canada suggested amending the document title to “Development of the new programme of work and institutional arrangements on Article 8(j) and other provisions of the Convention related to IPLCs.”

Regarding a bracketed paragraph requesting the Secretariat to convene an AHTEG on IPLCs and the post-2020 framework, a lengthy discussion took place on future institutional arrangements for the Working Group on Article 8(j). The EU, Australia, and Switzerland suggested lifting the brackets around the entire paragraph. Brazil noted that it would be premature to lift the brackets, proposing, with Argentina, that the COP take the relevant decision.

The EU suggested referring to a “subsidiary body” on Article 8(j). Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and Mexico preferred keeping all options on the table, emphasizing that the AHTEG should provide advice to the Working Group on future institutional arrangements. Argentina suggested new language, noting that the AHTEG should “provide advice on the new programme of work and institutional arrangements on Article 8(j).” The EU, opposed by Argentina, suggested that the AHTEG’s advice relate to “permanent” institutional arrangements for the Working Group on Article 8(j).

South Africa, supported by Canada, noted that the AHTEG’s terms of reference, annexed to the document, will define its mandate. Argentina underscored the need for a clear mandate for the AHTEG.

Following informal consultations, parties discussed whether to remove brackets around language recalling decision 14/17 (integration of Article 8(j) in the work of the Convention). Brackets were retained around the entire paragraph, along with the original text of the draft recommendation. The EU, Australia, and Brazil noted their disappointment at lack of agreement and Brazil stressed the importance of including language on benefit-sharing.

Parties accepted annexes on draft objectives, general principles, and elements of work; and draft possible elements of the new programme of work on Article 8(j) related to IPLCs with minor amendments, retaining the brackets already included in the text.

In the afternoon, delegates addressed the final recommendation (CBD/WG8J/11/L.5), which contains bracketed text, and approved it with a minor amendment, noting that a decision on establishing an AHTEG has not been taken.

Final Recommendation:In its recommendation (CBD/WG8J/11/L.5), the Working Group recommends that the COP decide to:

  • develop a new programme of work on Article 8(j) and other provisions related to IPLCs aligned with the post-2020 global biodiversity framework;
  • keep under review the above programme of work and reprioritize elements and tasks, supportive of a human rights approach, consistent with the post-2020 framework, and taking into account developments in other fora;
  • encourage parties to increase efforts to facilitate the “full and effective participation” of IPLCs in implementing the convention;
  • request parties to report on the implementation of the new programme of work, including application of voluntary guidelines and standards;
  • invite parties to “consider designating” national focal points for Article 8(j) and related provisions; and
  • request the Secretariat to strengthen and support the network of national focal points on traditional knowledge and on the post-2020 framework, subject to the availability of resources.

Under institutional arrangements for IPLCs, text remains bracketed on a request to the Secretariat to convene an AHTEG on IPLCs and the post-2020 framework.

The Working Group also recommends that the COP decide to:

  • continue the Working Group until COP 16, with a provision to establish a permanent institutional arrangement on Article 8(j) remaining bracketed; and
  • request the Working Group to further elaborate the new programme of work on Article 8(j), taking into account the recommendations of the AHTEG.

Annex I contains the draft objectives, general principles, and elements of work for the new programme of work on Article 8(j).

Annex II includes draft possible elements of the new programme of work on Article 8(j) with sections on: sustainable use; conservation and restoration; sharing of benefits from genetic resources; knowledge and culture; protection of IPLCs and traditional knowledge and practices; and full and effective participation of IPLCs.

Annex III contains bracketed terms of reference for the AHTEG on the post-2020 new programme of work and institutional arrangements on Article 8(j).

Links between Nature and Culture in the Post-2020 Framework

In its decision 14/30, the COP requested the Secretariat to consult with the Secretariat of UNESCO and prepare options for possible elements of work on the links between nature and culture in the post-2020 framework, for consideration by this Working Group and other meetings.

On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the relevant document (CBD/WG8J/11/5). Participants generally supported the draft recommendation in order to foster links between nature and culture, cooperation between agencies, resource mobilization, sharing of knowledge and expertise, and monitoring and reporting based on indicators. The EU suggested facilitating efforts by IPLCs to record, document, and transmit traditional knowledge relevant to conservation of nature and culture, as well as promoting biocultural approaches. Other interventions included New Zealand emphasizing that the post-2020 framework is a party-led process, Mexico urging parties to collaborate with UNPFII, and Thailand strengthening existing initiatives under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Convention, including the Satoyama Initiative.

Plenary discussion continued on Thursday, with parties reiterating their support for the draft recommendation. Canada stressed that indigenous languages are an important part of indigenous and cultural identity. Colombia proposed to support the application of national and sub-national plans in line with national circumstances. Japan, with IUCN, drew attention to ongoing work on biocultural diversity by the UN University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). UNU-IAS drew attention to the expert thematic workshop on landscape approaches.

South Africa urged establishing a diverse set of policies to encourage collective work for the necessary transformational change. Ethiopia stressed the need to harmonize specific ways of implementation relevant to environmental conservation, while Cameroon drew attention to reconstituting oral traditions. Norway suggested reference to the Liaison Group of Biodiversity-related Conventions; and the Philippines to the free, prior and informed consent of IPLCs.

IUCN stressed that the connection between culture and nature provides an untapped potential for achieving the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature. He further highlighted the need to respect linguistic diversity and the suggestion for a global alliance for nature and culture. IIFB underscored the need for full and effective participation of IPLCs, including women and youth, in all aspects of work on the post-2020 framework, including the development of indicators.

On Friday morning, delegates addressed a draft recommendation (CBD/WG8J/11/CRP.4). The EU and Brazil suggested minor amendments on a provision renewing the COP’s commitment to the joint programme of work on the links between biological and cultural diversity. On a paragraph encouraging collaboration and coordination, Mexico suggested adding to the list of relevant bodies the WIPO, UNPFII, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Brazil proposed “considering” rather than “mainstreaming” biological and cultural diversity. The annex on elements and tasks related to the joint programme was also amended with a few minor clarifications.

On Friday afternoon, the Working Group adopted the final recommendation with a minor amendment. 

Final Recommendation:In the final recommendation (CBD/WG8J/11/L.4), the Working Group recommends that the COP decide to:

  • renew its commitment to the Joint Programme of Work on the Links between Biological and Cultural Diversity;
  • request the Secretariat and invite UNESCO, IUCN, and others to consider inter-agency mechanisms for complementary efforts towards the goal of the post-2020 joint programme;
  • encourage governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academia, IPLCs, the private sector, and civil society to support the joint programme;
  • welcome the elements and tasks related to the joint programme; and
  • request the Secretariat and invite UNESCO, IUCN, governments, and others to implement the elements and tasks of the annex, and to report on progress.

As elements and tasks for the joint programme, the annex lists developing a joint strategy, fostering a science and knowledge dialogue, strengthening the links between biological and cultural diversity, and developing new approaches to communication, education and public awareness.

Recommendations from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

On Thursday, the Secretariat introduced the relevant document (CBD/WG8J/11/6), which outlines recommendations to the CBD from UNPFII.

Jordan called on the CBD and IUCN to partner with relevant bodies and fora to take the necessary measures to guarantee the protection of biodiversity in the post-2020 framework. Ethiopia proposed including language on the “equitable sharing of benefits of natural resources and biodiversity” among IPLCs.

Timor Leste suggested stating that the recommendation should “promote and respect the full provisions of the UNDRIP”; that “protected areas” be added to language on the contributions of indigenous peoples to the management of ecosystems and the protection of biodiversity; and, with the Republic of Korea, that language in the draft recommendations refer to IPLCs, rather than “indigenous peoples” and “local communities” separately.

Australia, with Canada, recommended changes to ensure that decisions on the Article 8(j) work programme and the post-2020 framework take place in parallel without prejudging outcomes of the post-2020 framework. Canada, with Colombia, recommended that requests to the Secretariat take into account the availability of resources.

Responding to a question from Japan, the Secretariat clarified that, with regards to a recommended comparative legal study that analyzes the rights of indigenous peoples and the emerging rights of local communities, other relevant bodies such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and IPBES would take the lead. The Indigenous Women’s Network requested that the legal study be performed by indigenous experts. The Republic of Korea said that the study should be done under the scope of the Convention.

Australia highlighted national initiatives on incorporating IPLCs in decision making and implementation of protected areas. Highlighting the importance of land tenure, and the innovations and traditional practices of indigenous peoples, Mexico stressed that application of the Convention should be done at the community level. Cameroon emphasized the importance of including IPLCs in sharing the benefits derived by genetic resources and information, and said that the three objectives of the Convention should be treated equally.

IUCN reported on its activities, including in engaging with indigenous peoples to support their participation in the CBD and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COPs. IPC reminded parties that UNDRIP requires acknowledgement and respect.

On Friday, delegates adopted the final recommendation without amendment.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/WG8J/11/L.3), the Working Group recommends that the COP take note of the recommendations from the 17th and 18th sessions of the UNPFII. It further recommends welcoming the invitations to the Secretariat to contribute to a series of studies and actions on the contributions and rights of IPLCs and taking the results under consideration in the development of the new programme of work on Article 8(j) and the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The Working Group also recommends that the COP request the Secretariat to carry out commitments to indigenous peoples for ensuring a coherent approach to achieving the ends of UNDRIP.

Closing Plenary

On Friday, Rapporteur Vinod Mathur (India) introduced the meeting’s report (CBD/WG8J/11/L.1). Delegates approved it with a minor amendment.

Elizabeth Mrema, CBD Secretariat Officer-In-Charge, thanked participants for their “participation, engagement, and commitment.” She highlighted that, during the meeting, contributions of the traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices of IPLCs in addressing biodiversity loss were recognized as fundamental; the traditional knowledge and languages are essential to social and ecological resilience; and parties created an “ambitious outline of work” in developing a fully integrated work programme. Reminding delegates that Haudenosaunee Confederacy, on whose land the meeting took place, holds the philosophy that deliberations must consider the impacts of their decisions “on the next seven generations,” she upheld the need to “continually question ourselves in this process,” and for parties to “think deeply” on the values with which they move forward.

Antigua and Barbuda, for GRULAC, encouraged parties to “significantly increase” their activities to protect biodiversity. New Zealand, also on behalf of Australia, Canada, Norway, and Switzerland, expressed pleasure at the meeting’s progress, but emphasized the “need to strive” for IPLCs to be fully integrated into the work of the Convention. Egypt, for Africa, requested that the Secretariat conduct a study on the contributions of IPLCs to the Convention’s principles. Finland, for the EU, stressed the importance of the post-2020 framework for IPLCs. Kuwait, for Asia-Pacific, reminded participants that “this is a crucial moment for biodiversity,” and underlined the need to take stock of progress on objectives, including Aichi Target 18 (traditional knowledge) and the implementation of Article 8(j). Belarus, for CEE, underlined the significant issues to resolve in order to prevent the further depletion of biological and cultural diversity, including traditional knowledge.

IIFB reminded delegates and participants that the full and effective participation of IPLCs is crucial for a strong post-2020 framework. GYBN stressed that the post-2020 framework must be “for all,” including women, youth, and future generations, and that IPLCs’ voices and stories must be heard in order to understand, respect, and value biodiversity.

IPC showed grave concern that the Convention could move away from environmental and human rights standards as recognized by UNDRIP, and about ongoing cases of abuse, violence, murder, and suicide indigenous peoples still face. The CBD Alliance and CBD Women’s Caucus underlined the important stewardship of IPLCs for biodiversity, and deplored the “inacceptable” number of brackets remaining in the approved recommendations.

Co-Chair Sherpa underscored that collaboration is key in fighting biodiversity loss and climate change. He highlighted IPLCs’ contributions during the meeting, stressing that “they are the guardians of most of the remaining biodiversity.” He further emphasized the need to use the post-2020 framework to promote IPLCs’ actions to achieve the Convention’s objectives.

Co-Chair Zedan highlighted the meeting’s achievements, noting that the completion of the work programme for Article 8(j) “may take longer than we hoped.” He emphasized the fruitful relationship with IPLCs and their increasing relevance to the post-2020 framework in order to achieve the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature. He gaveled the meeting to a close at 4:58 pm.

SBSTTA 23 Report

On Monday 25 November, SBSTTA Chair Hesiquio Benítez Díaz (Mexico) opened the meeting by reminding participants that “biodiversity is not only an environmental problem, but also a question of social, economic, and moral development.” Highlighting the “crucial stage” of the process in building the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, he urged participants to work together, focus on building recommendations, and “set aside political decisions” for the upcoming COP. Chair Díaz invited participants to visit the poster exhibition, noting that prizes would be awarded during the closing session.

Underscoring the importance of SBSTTA’s discussions, Elizabeth Mrema, Officer-in-Charge, CBD Secretariat, declared that the challenges facing the world “are urgent, but the solutions are available.” She cited that assessments from IPBES and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that biodiversity, climate change, and land degradation are interlinked. Mrema stressed that humans have the evidence, knowledge, and ability to address the challenges “on a scale unimaginable a few years ago.”

Organizational Matters

On Monday, delegates adopted the provisional agenda (CBD/SBSTTA/23/1) and the organization of work (CBD/SBSTTA/23/1/Add.1/Rev.1). Larbi Sbaï (Morocco) was elected rapporteur.

Chair Díaz announced that Bureau members would assist him by chairing selected sessions of the meeting: Marina von Weissenberg (Finland) on informing the scientific and technical evidence base for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework; Sigurdur Thrainsson (Iceland) on biodiversity and climate change, and on possible elements of work on the links between nature and culture in the post-2020 framework; Ilham Atho Mohamed (Maldives) on sustainable wildlife management; Adams Toussaint (Saint Lucia) on technical and scientific cooperation; and Senka Barudanović (Bosnia and Herzegovina) on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) in the North-East Atlantic Ocean, and on new and emerging issues.

On Friday, SBSTTA 23 elected five new Bureau members: Marie-May Muzungaile (Seychelles), Gwen Sisior (Palau), Senka Barudanović (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Adams Toussaint (Saint Lucia), Tia Stevens, (Australia); and Gaute Voigt-Hanssen (Norway) as alternate.

Informing the Scientific and Technical Base for the Post-2020 Framework

This item was addressed in plenary on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and in a contact group, co-chaired by Anne Teller (EU) and Jorge Murillo (Colombia), from Tuesday to Thursday.

Thematic presentations: On Monday, Eduardo Brondizio, Co-Chair of the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, described the direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity decline. He explained that regional improvements did not prevent aggregated global biodiversity from deteriorating. Brondizio made clear that transformative change “of our norms and values” is needed for a meaningful post-2020 framework.

Andreas Schei, Norwegian Environment Agency, emphasized the need to better understand direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, including their interlinkages. He underscored the need to consider biodiversity as part of the solution rather than solely focusing on biodiversity loss.

Tim Hirsch, science writer for the fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5), stressed that while the extent to which the Aichi Targets have been achieved provides a bleak picture, impressive examples of success also exist, including eradication programmes for invasive alien species.

Maïté Delmas, Global Partnership for Plant Conservation, showcased progress towards the targets of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 2020 at the global and national levels.

Wadzanayi Goredema-Mandivenyi, South Africa, reported on a workshop that took place on 23 November 2019, affirming that the draft GBO-5 is “a good example” of the need to draw on the best available evidence and science to build the post-2020 framework.

Scientific and Technical Base: On Monday, the Secretariat introduced the relevant documents (CBD/SBSTTA/23/2 and Add.1-3).

Many noted that the documents constitute a good basis for discussions; outlined national efforts to address biodiversity loss; highlighted synergies among the Rio Conventions and the need to involve relevant bodies in the development of the post-2020 framework; and encouraged taking the IPBES Global Assessment into account in the development of the post-2020 framework.

Trinidad and Tobago, for small island developing states (SIDS), stressed that the countries most affected are often without the resources to reverse biodiversity loss, and highlighted limitations of the IPBES assessment reports regarding oceans and marine ecosystems.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, for CEE, emphasized the delay of financial support and, with the UK, urged for better use of the information found in national reports in the development of GBO-5. Malaysia, for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), underscored the importance of regional and subregional assessments.

Brazil and Argentina stressed that using 1970 as baseline to measure biodiversity decline is “an unfair choice,” as many developing countries had only recently gained independence. Mexico suggested strengthening the mainstreaming of biodiversity and including the five levers for transformative change identified by the IPBES Global Assessment into the post-2020 framework, while Colombia suggested the same for the five drivers of biodiversity loss.

Cambodia and Japan advocated for an integrated landscape approach to address biodiversity loss and implement transformative change. Thailand highlighted marine debris, noting the need to scale up action. Jordan, with Syria and the Philippines, pleaded to address the effect of both climate change and infrastructure expansion on biodiversity. Japan urged for further analysis of information from national reports, cautioning against duplication of work. Timor Leste proposed linking the Aichi Targets on pollution and on mobilizing financial resources to the SDGs.

Canada highlighted the need to: clearly mention elements within the IPBES assessment that could guide the OEWG; focus on identifying specific goals, targets, and baselines; and work on determining the key drivers of biodiversity loss. Switzerland called for urgent action to address biodiversity loss, climate change, and land degradation; and for making the implementation of the new framework a priority. New Zealand noted that recommendations should stay within SBSTTA’s mandate.

Sweden, Egypt, Sudan, and others underlined that an inclusive approach, including IPLCs, is needed for post-2020 actions. Germany noted that “never before we were as informed on biodiversity and ecosystem services as we are today.” The Netherlands recommended that SBSTTA focus on science and review.

South Africa highlighted mainstreaming of biodiversity concerns into economic sectors, with Germany and others, and the need for inclusive, fair, and equitable benefit-sharing. Malawi stressed the need to assess the effectiveness of measures taken to identify future pathways and support implementation at the national level. Turkey stressed that the link of the post-2020 process to the SDGs must be strengthened, with Morocco explicitly including the SDG voluntary national reports.

Regarding indicators, Finland and South Africa stressed that the knowledge base provided by IPBES and other global assessments needs to lead to SMART targets and indicators. Norway, with Australia, Costa Rica, and Colombia, pointed to the importance of indicators that underpin a robust and transformative post-2020 framework, adapted to regions and sectors. France called for specific and “inspiring” objectives to be implemented at a strategic level, as well as for realistic, assessable, and compatible indicators. Costa Rica stressed the importance of guidance for parties to design and implement national and local indicators.

Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Ethiopia also stressed the importance of having clear indicators in the post-2020 framework, with China suggesting that the framework must be “targeted, inclusive, feasible, and effective.” Sudan argued for the need to develop environmental incentives for the post-2020 framework. Uganda suggested that poverty should be included as an indirect driver of biodiversity loss. Cuba and Ethiopia called for further evidence to inform deliberations towards the post-2020 framework.

IPBES outlined its work programme up to 2030 and FAO called for a holistic approach to address food security in sustainably managed landscapes and seascapes. IIFB reminded participants of the important contributions of IPLCs to biodiversity conservation benefitting society as a whole. World Agroforestry referred to the importance of incorporating trees into sustainable agriculture, while Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture asked for a review of the Aichi Targets so that “food security and nutrition are ensured for all.”

UN Women and the CBD Women’s Caucus deplored gender equality gaps in the Aichi Targets and urged that gender issues must better inform the post-2020 framework. GYBN reiterated that “bending the biodiversity curve means bending the inequality curve,” asking for human rights considerations to be addressed in the post-2020 process. The CBD Alliance and IPC called for change in unsustainable economic sectors and a recognition of the role of small-scale food producers.

Potential elements for the post-2020 framework: On Monday, Francis Ogwal and Basile van Havre, Co-Chairs of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework, outlined their expectations concerning SBSTTA’s input to the OEWG, particularly on: the organization of the key structural elements of the post-2020 framework; options for an inspirational 2030 mission; and thematic areas for goals and targets.

The Secretariat introduced the relevant document (CBD/SBSTTA/23/2/Add.4).

Seychelles for SIDS, Mexico, and Maldives pressed for further consideration of oceans, marine, and coastal biodiversity. France called for a consideration of indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, genetic diversity, and soil biodiversity. Norway and Finland recommended a strong review mechanism and for the post-2020 framework to be “future-proof.” Finland supported a small number of overarching objectives and action-oriented targets promoting transformational change. Regarding global warming, SIDS argued that 1.5°C is the tipping point for biodiversity loss. Botswana, with Argentina, stressed the need to address the developmental needs of countries.

On goals, France stated that global goals must be “concrete and implementational,” while Colombia pressed to consider consumption and production trends driving biodiversity loss. Mexico, Belgium, New Zealand, and Colombia stressed the need for simplicity. Belgium called for goals to include broader land and ocean use rather than only protected areas. The Republic of Korea recalled the importance of wetland and wildlife habitats. Brazil expressed concerns regarding potential establishment of non-tariff barriers and setting a target on climate change, noting that the CBD is not the right forum. New Zealand supported setting 2030 goals. Belgium pointed to gaps concerning reducing consumption, soil and health, and urban areas.

On indicators, France, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Norway, Belgium, New Zealand, and Maldives supported Canada’s proposal that indicators be developed alongside a monitoring framework. Canada highlighted the role of IPLCs, the need for gender responsive efforts, and the need for synergies to mobilize resources for implementation. Indonesia suggested potential targets and indicators, including the proportion and state of critical habitats in conservation areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.

On means of implementation, SIDS said that enabling conditions should be linked with implementation, while Maldives called for such conditions to be identified and committed to in parallel with the post-2020 framework.

On Tuesday, Sweden and Malawi supported long-term, outcome-oriented goals for 2050, and short-term goals for 2030, with Austria requesting a reference to vulnerable ecosystems. Iceland and the UK favored long-term goals.

On targets, Sweden suggested an overarching goal of “living within the planetary boundaries for the benefit of all people and nature.” Switzerland and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) pleaded to address ecological connectivity as a stand-alone target. Austria supported sector-oriented targets.

The UK, with Jordan, called for targets to be accountable, measurable, time-bound, and implementable. The United Arab Emirates, with Egypt, reiterated that the targets need to be practical and easy to communicate. Iceland opposed the inclusion of “benefits,” suggesting “ecosystem services,” while Malawi stressed the need for the equitable sharing of benefits.

South Africa and India stressed that access to finance and technology must be addressed by specific targets. Peru highlighted the importance of centers of genetic origin of important species for food and agriculture. Japan and others urged for an ecosystem-based approach and for making use of the list of global indicators. Turkey suggested clarifying the concept of transformational change.

On the mission of the post-2020 framework, Austria suggested that the mission should be short, compelling, and address transformational change. The UK said that it should provide milestones towards 2050 using outcome-based indicators.

On indicators, Iceland, with Jordan, the UK, Spain, Malawi, Austria, Australia, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and others, supported developing indicators early in the process alongside other elements. The EU and others underlined that targets and indicators have to be clear, coherent, and logical, and must also address implementation, transparency, and party-to-party review.

The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) highlighted the use of quantitative and qualitative indicators, including land cover and land productivity. The World Health Organization suggested targets and indicators that support ecosystem and human health outcomes holistically. The World Bank suggested developing a definition of targets that focuses on actions.

FAO suggested that the post-2020 framework address sustainable agriculture and focus on soil biodiversity, and marine and freshwater ecosystems. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture highlighted targets on food security and sustainable agriculture.

IUCN and GYBN pressed for collective but differentiated action in implementing the post-2020 framework. IIFB underscored equity and requested “traditional knowledge” to be modified to “indigenous and traditional knowledge, innovations, practices, and technologies” in future documents. The CBD Alliance argued that the post-2020 framework should anticipate future technology disruptions.

UNU highlighted the importance of landscape approaches. UN Women stressed the need for a dedicated target on gender equality and women’s empowerment. CBD Women’s Caucus, supported by Canada, presented a proposal on gender. The Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) underlined that indicators require high-quality biodiversity data. The Advisory Committee on Subnational Governments called parties to engage with subnational and local governments.

The Global Forest Coalition (GFC) and Friends of the Earth International pleaded to remove all perverse incentives and harmful subsidies. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), with Birdlife International, also speaking for other environmental organizations, offered specific language under the concept of ecological integrity.

On Thursday, contact group Co-Chair Murillo reported on the group’s discussions held the previous day, noting that they had developed a number of key messages regarding elements for the mission and targets of the post-2020 framework to be submitted to the OEWG on the post-2020 framework.

On Friday, delegates addressed a draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/CRP.2).

Contact group Co-Chair Teller reported from Thursday’s session, thanking participants for their engagement, constructiveness, and discipline. She stressed that the group managed to work through the entire table of possible target themes and elements. Co-Chair Teller and SBSTTA Chair Díaz emphasized that the note annexed to the conference room paper (CRP) merely reflects the discussions of the contact group as further guidance for the process, and will therefore not be negotiated.

On lessons learned, Belgium suggested to also include the links with the SDGs and other conventions into the analysis of progress under the Aichi Targets. Suggesting a “whole-of-government” approach, Switzerland proposed that SBSTTA call on governments to make the implementation of the post-2020 framework “a matter of high priority.” Argentina suggested, and delegates agreed to, refer to the development of the post-2020 framework, rather than its implementation.

On the proposed consideration by SBSTTA to stress the need for urgent action, Brazil, opposed by the EU, Malawi, and others, suggested deleting references to the “direct and indirect drivers” of biodiversity loss, and the “initiation of transformative changes.” After a lengthy discussion considering various compromise options, a drafting group was established in an attempt to find a solution.

Regarding changes in global financial and economic systems, parties agreed to add a reference to the three objectives of the Convention. Argentina proposed deleting “steering away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth.” Malawi and the UK, in the spirit of compromise, agreed to the suggested deletion.

Argentina asked for the Co-Chairs of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework to take into account comments by parties at SBSTTA 23.

Following proposals by Canada and the EU, delegates agreed to a request to the Secretariat to “invite written submissions from parties and others seeking views on the possible targets, indicators, and baselines related to drivers of biodiversity loss as well as on species conservation and the mainstreaming of biodiversity across sectors, compile the views, and make them available for the OEWG on the post-2020 framework at its upcoming meetings and SBSTTA at its 24th meeting.”

Belgium, supported by Finland, suggested requesting the Co-Chairs of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework “to consult” biodiversity-related conventions and other relevant international agreements and processes, in order to take into account scientific and technical information for the development of the post-2020 framework.

On a request to the Secretariat to submit for peer review the document on indicators (CBD/SBSTTA/23/INF/4), Finland suggested the peer review be conducted by parties and stakeholders. Finland further suggested requesting the Secretariat to “prepare a document on a monitoring framework that identifies the range or relevant existing indicators, baselines, including option for baseline dates for monitoring changes in biodiversity, indicator gaps and, where relevant, options for filling such gaps in the post-2020 framework, taking into account the outcomes of OEWG 2 and to issue the document no later than six weeks in advance for consideration by SBSTTA 24.” Australia requested retaining the original formulation.

Following informal consultations, Chair Díazproposed, and parties agreed, to revert to the paragraph’s original text, including references to “baseline dates” and to a “monitoring framework” in the elements reviewed for the post-2020 framework.

Mexico and Canada, opposed by Brazil and Israel, proposed deleting a paragraph requesting the Secretariat to commission a study on options for baseline dates for monitoring changes in biodiversity. Following discussions, parties agreed to delete the paragraph but to retain a reference to baseline dates in the previous paragraph.

Argentina, supported by Brazil and opposed by Finland, Norway, Israel, and others, suggested deleting a sub-paragraph recommending to the COP to urge parties to “take urgent action to address the direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss, as well as those of climate change and land degradation.” Chair Díaz proposed appending language suggesting that transformative changes would be in line with national obligations and removing reference to “direct and indirect” drivers of biodiversity loss.

Argentina suggested taking into account means of implementation as referred to in Article 20 of the Convention. The paragraph remained bracketed.

Switzerland, opposed by Finland, proposed an additional sub-paragraph calling on governments to make the implementation of the framework “a matter of high priority with clear assessment of the necessary actions.”

On the note annexed to the CRP, which reflects the discussions of the contact group, and was not negotiated, Brazil stated that they would have strongly preferred that their proposals made during the contact group’s meetings be reflected more specifically among the elements collated.

On Friday evening, delegates addressed a final recommendation.

Belgium proposed an amendment to a paragraph stressing the need for “urgent action” to include a reference to climate change and land degradation, and to remove references to implementation and scaling up of measures, and transformational change. The recommendation remained bracketed, with additional brackets around language calling for the provision of resources to developing countries.

The final recommendation was adopted with these amendments.

Final Recommendation:In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/L.8), SBSTTA, among other things:

  • welcomes the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and the IPCC special reports on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C; on climate change and land; and on the ocean and the cryosphere;
  • stresses “the need for urgent action to address the drivers of biodiversity loss, as well as those of climate change and land degradation, in an integrated manner, in line with findings of the IPBES Global Assessment, to achieve the 2050 vision”;
  • calls on governments to make the development of the post-2020 framework a matter of high priority, with “clear assignment of necessary actions”;
  • requests the Co-Chairs of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework to consult the biodiversity-related conventions and other relevant fora for relevant scientific and technical information for the development of the framework;
  • requests the Secretariat to seek views on possible targets, indicators, and baselines on biodiversity loss, species conservation, and biodiversity mainstreaming, and provide a compilation of views for consideration by the OEWG on the post-2020 framework and SBSTTA 24;
  • urges parties to submit any outstanding sixth national reports;
  • requests the Secretariat to complete GBO-5, including information provided in the sixth national reports; and
  • takes note of information documents provided on indicators; requests the Co-Chairs of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework to include information on the availability of indicators in the zero draft of the framework; and requests the Secretariat to provide an analysis on the use of indicators in the sixth national reports, and to prepare a document identifying the range of relevant existing indicators and other monitoring methods.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP welcome:

  • the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the related regional and thematic assessments; and
  • the IPCC special reports on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C; on climate change and land; and on the ocean and the cryosphere.

A paragraph recommending that the COP urge parties to take “urgent action” to address the drivers of biodiversity loss, climate change, and land degradation through both existing proven measures remains bracketed.

The annex contains elements of scientific and technical guidance for the post-2020 framework with sections on the 2030 mission and targets.

On targets, the annex addresses: general issues on the formulation of targets; habitats; species; land-use change; overexploitation; invasive alien species; climate change; pollution; use and value of nature; tools, solutions, and leverage points; enabling conditions; and cross-cutting elements.

Biodiversity and Climate Change

On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the relevant document (CBD/SBSTTA/23/3).

Via video link, Paul Watkinson, Chair of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) of the UNFCCC, emphasized the importance of strengthening the ties between the Convention and the UNFCCC. He underscored the need to be well-informed on the links between the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, nature-based solutions, and potential conflicts.

Many outlined national efforts to address climate change and biodiversity loss, and emphasized the need to: address biodiversity and climate change in an integrated manner; strengthen synergies across the Rio Conventions and biodiversity-related conventions; and apply nature-based solutions to disaster risk reduction, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

ASEAN highlighted the need to take into account best practices at the regional and subregional levels. The African Group drew attention to the African Ministerial Declaration on Biodiversity, suggesting guidelines for the implementation of ecosystem-based solutions. SIDS stressed the need to invest in ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation.

Finland suggested integrating ecosystem-based approaches on climate policies. Norway noted that impacts of climate change on biodiversity are expected to surpass the impact of all other drivers of biodiversity loss. Switzerland emphasized that climate change considerations must be integrated in the design and management of area-based conservation measures.

Sweden and Japan noted that certain climate change mitigation measures could degrade biodiversity, with Japan adding that ecosystem-based approaches minimize potential trade-offs between biodiversity and climate priorities. Brazil and Argentina expressed concerns regarding references to food consumption and production patterns, and bioenergy.

Argentina stressed that investment in sustainable infrastructure is more important than investment in nature-based solutions. Mexico called for the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land and the Special Report on Oceans and the Cryosphere to be taken into account. Cuba highlighted the importance of considering marine and coastal ecosystems.

Canada requested additional work on climate change-specific goals, targets, and indicators for the post-2020 framework. Indonesia underscored that any global standard for the design and verification of nature-based solutions should be generic and voluntary. Seychelles underscored the use of area-based conservation measures.

Colombia, Cuba, India, Botswana, Spain, and others addressed the need to coordinate funding mechanisms between climate and biodiversity fora. Peru highlighted that, despite significant benefits, land-based sequestration efforts only receive 3% of climate financing. Seychelles and Antigua and Barbuda emphasized that global warming of 2°C would lead to devastating impacts.

Cameroon underscored the need to further study economic and social vulnerabilities, and the cost of adaptation to climate change. South Africa urged developing concrete tools for implementation of nature-based solutions.

Nepal suggested including mountain biodiversity and ecosystems. Malawi stressed that ecosystem-based approaches should be gender sensitive. The Philippines emphasized the full and effective participation of IPLCs. Saint Lucia highlighted biodiversity conservation in hotspots, food security, and agro-ecological practices.

Morocco, Germany, Malawi, and others underscored the CBD voluntary guidelines for ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Germany noted that the guidelines could be broadly used in the context of nature-based solutions. The UK suggested inviting the UNFCCC to consider the Convention’s guidelines on ecosystem-based approaches.

IIFB proposed, supported by Australia and IUCN, that IPLCs are able to fully and effectively participate in the post-2020 process. GYBN, with the CBD Women’s Caucus, reminded participants of the significant effects of climate change on children, the elderly, women, and IPLCs. IPC stated that the small producer and peasant culture is key to addressing the biodiversity crisis. GFC and Friends of the Earth International suggested using an “ecosystem-based approach” rather than “nature-based solutions,” while Birdlife International, supported by Egypt, cautioned against the negative impacts of the transition to renewable energy on species and habitats.

On Thursday, delegates addressed a draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/CRP.3).

Turkey reiterated its reservation regarding the IPBES Global Assessment Report “for scientific, technical, and political reasons.” Argentina expressed disagreement with the baseline proposed in the IPBES Report. Canada requested removing references to information documents.

On a paragraph taking note of important relevant initiatives, South Africa suggested including the Pan-African Action Agenda on Ecosystem Restoration for Increased Resilience. Israel proposed “welcoming” rather than “taking note of” the reports.

A lengthy discussion took place on the use of the term “ecosystem-based approaches” vis-à-vis “nature-based solutions.” The EU noted that “in most cases, in the implementation space, the two notions are nearly identical.” Israel and Norway stressed that the two terms “don’t always mean the same thing.” Norway, supported by Israel, proposed that “nature-based solutions are an essential component of ecosystem-based approaches.” Belgium, with Austria, suggested referring to nature-based solutions with biodiversity safeguards. Delegates agreed to the proposal by Norway with the addition by Belgium.

On a paragraph highlighting the need for urgent climate action, Israel suggested, and delegates agreed to, strengthening the language by “stressing” the aforementioned need. Jamaica, supported by Argentina, proposed recognizing that “global strategies adopted to address biodiversity and climate change must take into account national circumstances and capabilities, as well as principles such as common but differentiated responsibilities.” The EU, Norway, Belgium, the UK, Austria, Japan, and others noted that Jamaica’s proposal goes beyond SBSTTA’s mandate. Brazil and Colombia suggested retaining the original language. The proposal remained bracketed. 

On a paragraph inviting the OEWG on the post-2020 framework to consider the interlinkages between biodiversity, climate change, desertification, and land degradation, parties added reference to “considering different views discussed at SBSTTA 23 and scientific source material” and removed a reference to “a transformational effect.”

Parties discussed Canada’s proposed addendum to a paragraph requesting the Secretariat to invite written submissions on possible post-2020 targets and indicators related to biodiversity and climate change for the consideration of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework. Brazil, supported by Italy and opposed by the UK and others, proposed replacing “biodiversity and climate change” with “biodiversity loss and climate change.”

On recommendations to the COP, regarding the interlinkages of biodiversity and the UNCCD, Argentina, supported by Brazil, proposed to more specifically refer to “national voluntary targets” under the UNCCD.

The EU proposed an additional recommendation expressing “deep concern about the increasing impact of climate change, exacerbating biodiversity loss and weakening the delivery of crucial ecosystem services and functions,” which remained bracketed.

Argentina, opposed by the EU, suggested removing language referring to required “socio-economic, cultural, and political changes.” Brazil, with Jamaica, suggested bracketing the reference.

Participants agreed to replace language on “ecosystem-based approaches” with “nature-based solutions.” On globally agreed goals, Finland suggested a specific reference to the goals of the Paris Agreement.

On language regarding anthropogenic emissions and their causes, Brazil, opposed by the EU, proposed to add language on the industry and energy sectors and to remove reference to the “destruction of natural ecosystems.” Argentina suggested, and delegates agreed to, not mention sectors at all and preserve language on reducing anthropogenic emissions.

On a recommendation to note certain practices harmful to biodiversity, Japan proposed to mention intensive bioenergy plantations as “one example of unfavorable trade-offs.” Brazil, with Argentina, suggested to delete the entire recommendation, or, supported by New Zealand, to at least add the “large-scale deployment of subsidies to agriculture” as another harmful example. The EU stated that the recommendation used language from the IPBES Global Assessment Report, and should not be amended. The recommendation and the amendment were bracketed.

Regarding promoting and upscaling the use of ecosystem-based approaches, Costa Rica proposed adding “ecosystem protection.” The EU, supported by Mexico, suggested mentioning the multiple benefits of synergies for addressing biodiversity loss and climate change. Canada, with New Zealand, proposed using a broader term rather than referring to “agroecosystems,” while Japan suggested adding the avoidance of “unfavorable trade-offs” as a benefit. Mexico proposed adding the “productive sector” as an addressee of this paragraph of the COP’s decision.

On a recommendation regarding strengthening the efforts to integrate biodiversity conservation into climate change adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction, Switzerland, opposed by Norway, the EU, and Peru, suggested deleting reference to nationally determined contributions. The reference was bracketed.

Regarding encouraging parties and others to maximize potential synergies and avoid potential risks for biodiversity, including those from the renewable energy transition, particularly for vulnerable ecosystems and communities, Costa Rica, with Mexico and Brazil, suggested also referring to “irreplaceable ecosystems.” Mexico proposed reference to “vulnerable communities.” The UK suggested “communities that particularly depend on biodiversity.” Argentina and Brazil, opposed by Spain and Belgium, suggested deleting the reference to the renewable energy transition. The reference was bracketed. Brazil further suggested using the language from decision X/37 (biofuels and biodiversity).

Indonesia suggested adopting voluntary and generic standards when developing a global standard for the design and verification of nature-based solutions. The EU, Brazil, and others requested clarifications on the proposal.

Delegates bracketed a sub-paragraph on stakeholder investments for ecosystem-based approaches, with Brazil, opposed by the EU, suggesting specifying that these investments are targeted especially to developing country parties; and a sub-paragraph on including ecosystem-based approaches in sectoral policies and budgets, with Argentina proposing that this be done “according to national priorities.” Delegates also bracketed a paragraph encouraging stakeholders to “consider the potential risks to businesses and other sectors.”

On a recommendation to the COP about guidance to address threats to vulnerable ecosystems, Morocco suggested that the Secretariat should be requested “to develop” such guidance. Germany proposed “to develop and provide,” which was agreed. Belgium suggested clarifying the paragraph by adding a reference to “the ways and means to address threats.” With regard to “communities that directly depend on ecosystem functions and services,” Argentina, opposed by Jamaica, suggested reducing the scope to IPLCs. Brazil requested for the entire amended paragraph to be put in brackets.

Regarding a request to the Secretariat to provide capacity building to increase awareness and understanding of ecosystem-based approaches, the UK, supported by Japan and opposed by Burkina Faso, Argentina, and Brazil, suggested framing this under the long-term capacity-building strategy of the post-2020 framework. Burkina Faso suggested highlighting capacity building for developing countries. Belgium noted that reference to the Joint Liaison Group of the Rio Conventions should be retained. Following discussions, Brazil proposed, and delegates agreed, to keep the original language “as a complement to the capacity-building initiative under the post-2020 framework.”

Delegates decided to bracket two further requests to the Secretariat to continue collaboration among IPLC-relevant bodies and to support initiatives of IPLCs on community-based monitoring and information systems for climate change.

The CRP was approved with these amendments and brackets.

On Friday, delegates considered a final recommendation. Regarding SBSTTA “recognizing that global strategies adopted to address biodiversity and climate change must take into account national circumstances and capabilities as well as such principles as common but differentiated responsibilities,” the provision was forwarded to the COP in the form of a bracketed recommendation.

In preambular paragraph recognizing the goals of other relevant agreements and frameworks, France asked for bracketed text to refer to “voluntary land degradation targets under the UNCCD.”

In a preambular paragraph referring to the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature, Brazil, supported by Argentina, insisted on retaining brackets around a reference to the requirement for transformative change.

Norway, supported by Canada and Finland, and opposed by Switzerland, requested removing brackets around a reference to nationally determined contributions. The reference remained bracketed.

Spain, supported by Belgium, suggested compromise language to remove brackets around reference to renewable energy. The reference remained bracketed at Argentina’s request.

Mexico suggested a redrafted recommendation encouraging parties and inviting others, to “consider the potential opportunities to reduce vulnerability to climate change, including through the use of ecosystem-based approaches, with a view to reducing risk to these sectors and to facilitating coordinated actions to promote sustainable resource management.” The suggestion remained bracketed at Brazil’s request.

Following an intervention by Belgium, delegates agreed to recommend that the COP appreciate the “continued collaboration between the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform within the UNFCCC and the Working Group on Article 8(j) or its successor and other relevant bodies within the CBD.”

Delegates further agreed to lift the brackets around a request to the Secretariat to support the initiatives of IPLCs, in accordance with national legislation, on community-based monitoring and information systems for climate change, taking into account customary sustainable use of biodiversity and traditional knowledge.

The final recommendation was approved with these amendments.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/L.4), SBSTTA welcomes the scientific evidence provided by IPBES, IPCC, and other institutions, and stresses the need for urgent climate action at all levels and across all sectors, and the need to address biodiversity loss and climate change in an integrated manner. SBSTTA invites the OEWG on the post-2020 framework to consider the interlinkages and interdependence between biodiversity, climate change, desertification, and land degradation in its work, and to consider opportunities from climate finance sources for ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction. SBSTTA further notes that nature-based solutions with biodiversity safeguards are an essential component of ecosystem-based approaches.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • welcome the scientific evidence provided by IPBES, IPCC, and other institutions;
  • urge for the promotion and upscaling of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change;
  • encourage the integration of and synergies between biodiversity and climate change action;
  • promote a closer cooperation between the multiple multilateral agreements related to biodiversity and climate change;
  • and request the continued support of IPLCs.

The SBSTTA recommendation contains multiple brackets around references to “common but differentiated responsibilities;” a requirement for “transformative change;” harmful impacts from bioenergy plantations, agricultural subsidies, and renewable energies; nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement; and investments especially to developing country parties for ecosystem-based approaches.

Possible Elements of Work on the Links between Nature and Culture

On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the relevant document (CBD/SBSTTA/23/4), noting that the Working Group on Article 8(j) had already made draft recommendations (CBD/SBSTTA/23/4/Add.1).

Hamdallah Zedan (Egypt), Co-Chair of the Working Group on Article 8(j), presented the outcomes of the 11th meeting, noting the Global Thematic Dialogue for IPLCs.

Many supported the draft recommendations and the joint programme of work on the links between cultural and biological diversity between the Secretariat and UNESCO, highlighting that nature and culture are deeply integrated; and that indigenous knowledge and cultural management are an essential component of conserving biodiversity.

ASEAN, Ethiopia, and others appreciated new approaches to communication, education, and public awareness on the interlinkages between biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity. ASEAN drew attention to its heritage parks programme. Mexico, Finland, France, and others stressed the full and effective participation of IPLCs.

CEE emphasized the importance of special indicators for cultural and biological diversity in the post-2020 framework. Cambodia and Japan highlighted landscape approaches. Ghana suggested reference to the IPBES indigenous and local knowledge programme.

Brazil and Argentina cautioned against anything within the post-2020 work programme creating non-tariff barriers to trade. Argentina further recommended developing a strategy for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.

UNESCO stressed that traditional and indigenous knowledge is essential for transformation and societal resilience. IUCN underscored that the links between nature and culture provide untapped potential for achieving the 2050 vision for biodiversity. IIFB stressed the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Working Group on Article 8(j) recommendation. IPC highlighted the need to recognize collective rights.

On Thursday, SBSTTA 23 Chair Díaz introduced document CBD/SBSTTA/23/CRP.1.

Brazil, supported by Argentina and opposed by many, reiterated support for a paragraph noting that “nothing in the work programme on the links between nature and culture should be interpreted or used to support non-tariff barriers to trade.” Brazil, Argentina, Morocco, and others also suggested retaining a recommendation on adding tasks for the programme of work on developing strategies for benefit-sharing with traditional knowledge holders and discussing the integration of cultural values attached to biodiversity into a supportive framework.

Australia, supported by Mexico, Finland, and others, suggested deleting both recommendations. Finland and others emphasized that the Working Group on Article 8(j) is the appropriate forum for discussing such items.

Norway, with others, suggested that trade-related discussions fall outside SBSTTA’s scope. Japan suggested that discussions on genetic resources fall under the Nagoya Protocol.

An informal group was mandated to address the unresolved issues of non-tariff barriers to trade, benefit-sharing, and integration of cultural values in a supportive framework. Following consultations, the paragraph referring to non-tariff trade barriers was bracketed, as was the paragraph referring to benefit-sharing with traditional knowledge holders. Language around discussing the integration of cultural values attached to biodiversity into a supportive framework was deleted.

The CRP was approved with these amendments.

On Friday, parties considered a final recommendation. New Zealand, supported by Iceland, Australia, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, and opposed by Brazil, proposed removing bracketed paragraphs regarding non-tariff barriers and the strategy on fair and equitable benefit-sharing. The final recommendation was approved without further amendment.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/L.2), SBSTTA takes note of the recommendation of the Working Group on Article 8(j) on options for the possible elements of work on the links between nature and culture in the post-2020.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP extend the Working Group on Article 8(j) recommendation, which requests the Secretariat and invites UNESCO, IUCN, and others, to consider inter-agency mechanisms towards the goals of the post-2020 joint programme, to include IPBES and relevant processes.

Bracketed recommendations note that:

  • nothing in the programme of work on the links between nature and culture should be interpreted or used to support non-tariff barriers to trade; and
  • the COP task the Secretariat, together with UNESCO, IUCN, and other relevant bodies, with developing an effective strategy to ensure that the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources are shared fairly and equitably with the holders of traditional knowledge in order to preserve their culture, health, and well-being.

Sustainable Wildlife Management

On Wednesday, Kristina Rodina, FAO, Secretary of the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management (CPW), and Carolina Behe-Harris, Inuit Circumpolar Council, delivered opening presentations.

Rodina highlighted findings of the IPBES Global Assessment, including the importance of direct exploitation of wildlife as a driver for biodiversity loss. She urged parties to address the root causes of over-exploitation of wildlife and to recognize the contribution of sustainable wildlife management to sustainable livelihoods.

Behe-Harris highlighted the practices of Inuit peoples in sustainably and holistically caring for and harvesting wildlife, comparing it to a dynamic puzzle with cultural and spiritual components. She pleaded for the rights, values, and traditions of IPLCs to be accurately reflected in the post-2020 process.

The Secretariat then introduced the relevant document (CBD/SBSTTA/23/5).

Many welcomed the Secretariat’s report, noting, inter alia: the importance of the sustainable use of biodiversity in wildlife management; the need to tackle illegal wildlife trade; the importance of subnational, national, regional, and international cooperation; and national efforts to promote sustainable wildlife management.

The African Group, with many African countries, pressed the need to valorize biodiversity in considering sustainable wildlife management through sustainable ecotourism and by ensuring benefits for local communities. ASEAN noted its ministerial meeting on illegal wildlife trade and the need for “legal literacy” for local communities.

CEE proposed that the Secretariat extend initiatives with regard to wildlife management in regions not previously studied and prepare additional guidelines. New Zealand stressed that complementary guidelines should take into account national circumstances. The Democratic Republic of the Congo emphasized the need to address wildlife management at the subregional level.

Finland, supported by Norway, France, and Ecuador, requested the Secretariat to: analyze the first draft of the IPBES thematic assessment of the sustainable use of wild species; and collaborate with all relevant stakeholders. The UK recommended that the Convention take a “considered, longer-term” view of the sustainable use of biodiversity after COP 15. France underscored taking into account wild species in sectoral policies.

Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Israel, and others called for balance between sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. Colombia suggested consideration of species not covered by the relevant CBD decision.

Israel suggested including non-consumptive uses. Argentina called for fully assessing negative and positive impacts of hunting. Botswana stressed that when wildlife is in abundance, “the bushmeat industry must be supported and managed sustainably.” Namibia emphasized that alternatives should focus on demand management rather than demand reduction. India distinguished subsistence consumption from luxury consumption.

Egypt, Ecuador, and others suggested strengthening the draft recommendations. Malaysia, Sudan, Guinea, and others emphasized the need for financial assistance and capacity building focusing on implementation. Chad emphasized the need to address illegal trade by strengthening cross-border cooperation. Guinea drew attention to public-private partnerships and the need to further involve IPLCs.

IPBES reminded participants of its future thematic assessment of the sustainable use of wild species. IIFB highlighted that collaboration between all actors, including IPLCs, is crucial. The CBD Women’s Caucus called for addressing current gaps regarding the role of women and IPLCs for a sustainable wild meat sector. IPC called for ecosystems used for small-scale wildlife gathering and harvesting to be protected against commercial exploitation and pollution. TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and WWF suggested that legal and illegal wildlife use be the subject of a post-2020 target.

On Friday, the Secretariat introduced a draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/CRP.5).

On a paragraph inviting the Co-Chairs of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework to consider the report of the consultative workshop on sustainable wildlife management beyond 2020, parties accepted Belgium’s suggestion to remove a reference to “potential targets related to legal and sustainable use and trade of wildlife, and human-wildlife conflicts,” as it may prejudge the targets to be agreed upon.

Parties agreed to a paragraph on providing support to developing countries to implement decision 14/7 (sustainable wildlife management) with minor amendments. Canada and Israel pressed to use the term “sustainable wildlife management” consistently across the document.

On a paragraph requesting the Secretariat to “continue promoting the voluntary guidance for a sustainable wild meat sector and collating additional examples of practical applications from different contexts,” Belgium raised potential issues of duplicating efforts across fora and going beyond SBSTTA’s mandate. Israel opposed the inclusion of text on “supporting wildlife-based economies,” and recommended including “consumptive and non-consumptive uses.”

Chair Díaz proposed, and parties accepted, inviting the CPW rather than requesting the Secretariat to continue promoting the voluntary guidelines for a sustainable wildmeat sector; adding language including “consumptive and non-consumptive uses” to the examples of practical applications of voluntary guidance; and including a reference to the CMS.

Mexico suggested noting that reduction strategies to wildlife use are more likely to be necessary when the latter is illegal or unsustainable. Brazil requested bracketing the suggestion.

On SBSTTA’s recommendations to the COP, Israel suggested, and delegates agreed to add “recognizing that unsustainable wildlife management hinders progress towards several of the Aichi Targets and SDGs.”

On a recommendation for the COP on the “progress made on the consideration of the voluntary guidance for a sustainable wild meat sector in the tropics and the sub-tropics,” delegates agreed to delete text on a “need to replicate this progress beyond the wild meat sector, geographical areas, species, and uses,” after Canada, Germany, and Australia advocated for a step-wise approach.

Regarding collaboration, Brazil proposed the Secretariat “promote,” rather than “ensure,” mainstreaming.

On a paragraph regarding reporting on progress, the UK, supported by Mexico, Belgium, and Israel, asked for the Secretariat to also formulate recommendations on the future work of the Convention related to the issue of sustainable wildlife management.

The CRP was approved with these amendments and brackets.

On Friday evening, delegates approved a final recommendation removing brackets around a paragraph noting that demand reduction strategies and alternative livelihood approaches to wild meat consumption are more likely to be necessary when the latter is illegal and/or unsustainable, as sustainable wildlife management can significantly contribute to biodiversity conservation.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/L.6), SBSTTA invites the Co-Chairs of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework to consider the report of the consultative workshop on sustainable wildlife management beyond 2020, the results of the survey on sustainable wildlife management, and the comments made during SBSTTA 23, with a view to integrating issues related to sustainable wildlife management in the development of the framework.

SBSTTA invites parties and encourages others to provide financial assistance and support capacity-building and monitoring initiatives in developing countries for the implementation of decision 14/7. It further invites the CPW to continue promoting the voluntary guidance for a sustainable wild meat sector.

SBSTTA requests the Secretariat to: invite IPBES to make information available to the OEWG on the post-2020 framework and COP 15 regarding the progress of the thematic assessment of the sustainable use of wild species; and identify actions to fully reflect, address, and integrate the findings of the gender gap analysis in the implementation of the voluntary guidance for a sustainable wild meat sector.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP request the Secretariat, in consultation with parties and others, to:

  • complete the work mandated in decision 14/7, including identifying other areas beyond the wild meat sector that may require complementary guidance;
  • continue collaboration with the IPBES on the thematic assessment of the sustainable use of wild species and its implications for the implementation of the post-2020 framework;
  • collaborate with all relevant stakeholders to promote the mainstreaming of the sustainable use of biodiversity, in particular of wild species, into all relevant sectors;
  • enhance synergies in the field of sustainable use of wildlife with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), FAO, CMS, and other relevant agreements; and
  • report on progress at the meeting of the SBSTTA before COP 16.

Technical and Scientific Cooperation

On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced document CBD/SBSTTA/23/6.

Many parties welcomed the document, highlighting the importance of scientific and technical cooperation for the implementation of the post-2020 framework.

Canada, Belgium, the Republic of Korea, and others noted that the document goes beyond the mandate of decision 14/24, requesting the Secretariat to review it so that parties can first discuss the process before considering options for the review of cooperation initiatives. CEE, the EU, Japan, Norway, the UK, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand, and others requested further information on the budgetary and operational consequences of the options for institutional mechanisms and modalities. New Zealand stressed the need for efficient, effective, and non-duplicative mechanisms. Jamaica suggested noting “with concern” the constraints and challenges regarding technical and scientific cooperation, calling for a focused programme tailored to regional needs. Switzerland cautioned against further stretching the limited resources of the Secretariat.

The UK and Norway noted that the scope should be broadened, and that research should address all fields relevant to direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss. Australia proposed recalling decision 14/24 on capacity building, and technical and scientific cooperation.

The African Group highlighted the importance of many cooperation and training initiatives in Africa. ASEAN emphasized the value of setting up regional and subregional technical cooperation centers. ASEAN, Argentina, Morocco, and Thailand underlined the importance of South-South cooperation. Jordan pressed for common research programmes across fora. Timor Leste emphasized capacity building, and financial support for developing countries. Peru suggested the creation of an assistance unit to improve cooperation, technology transfer, and financing.

Germany, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Uganda, Argentina, and others suggested taking into account existing arrangements and partnerships. France suggested formalizing the links between technical bodies such as IPCC and IPBES.

CEE, Thailand, and others recommended enhancing capacity building. ASEAN pressed for the process to include all stakeholders. Morocco called for the development of networks and partnerships for biodiversity-related research. Colombia suggested a focus on transformative change, taking into account the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Egypt suggested that the notion of “technology transfer” be expanded to “technology access.”

South Africa suggested supporting parties in the development of essential foundational science to implement the post-2020 framework, and noted the need to ensure traceability of shared data for benefit-sharing from commercial use of DSI. Cameroon, Uganda, Ghana, and Malawi also stressed the need to address DSI. Saint Lucia urged building capacities for biodiversity research at the genetic level. Brazil stressed that biotechnology transfer should be explicitly addressed. The Philippines noted that technological cooperation should be subject to appropriate safeguards, such as legal requirements.

The UK proposed amendments to the terms of reference (TOR) of the informal advisory committee. Belgium suggested discussing the TOR during the third meeting of SBI. 

IIFB underscored the importance of access to information. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility shared experiences from supporting data access in all regions. GEO BON highlighted remote sensing observation methods. IPC criticized current arrangements, highlighting the importance of traditional knowledge. The CBD Alliance, supported by Ethiopia and the Philippines, proposed inviting parties to submit proposals to enable technology horizon-scanning, assessment, and monitoring.

On Friday, delegates addressed a draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/CRP.7).

In the preamble, Mexico, supported by many, proposed referring, in general, to “drivers of biodiversity loss.”

Brazil, supported by Argentina and opposed by many proposed the removal of ‘transformational change.’ The reference was bracketed.

Brazil and Finland, opposed by Uganda and South Africa, requested deleting paragraphs noting “the need for technical and scientific cooperation involving exchanges of DSI on genetic resources to take into account national access and benefit-sharing measures for the use of such information,” and that discussions under this agenda item would not prejudice the ongoing discussions on DSI. These paragraphs were bracketed.

Canada, supported by Mexico, Australia, and the Republic of Korea, suggested restructuring the recommendation, stressing the need for establishing a process for reviewing cooperation programmes prior to, or along with, considering actual proposals.

The Republic of Korea, opposed by the UK, suggested deleting a request to the Secretariat to develop proposals for an inclusive process to review and renew technical and scientific cooperation programmes in order to support the post-2020 framework and to submit a report on progress to SBI 3. Australia and the UK suggested SBI 3 consider the progress report.

On an invitation to parties and others to submit to the Secretariat additional views and suggestions on proposals for various issues relevant to technical and scientific cooperation, Brazil suggested adding “enabling technology transfer” and removing “horizon scanning, assessment, and monitoring,” noting it is under discussion at the AHTEG on synthetic biology. Ethiopia, supported by the EU, opposed removing reference to horizon scanning. Belgium, supported by Austria, Italy, and Ethiopia, argued that technology transfer refers to a separate article of the Convention. The paragraph was bracketed.

The annexes were agreed with a minor amendment.

An informal group was established to attempt removing the remaining brackets.

On Friday evening, delegates addressed a final recommendation. Belgium reported on the results of the deliberations of the informal group, noting agreement on a preambular paragraph recalling decision 14/20 (DSI) and noting the ongoing discussions on DSI on genetic resources. Reference to transformational change was bracketed on a provision recognizing that cooperation will need to extend across a wide range of fields and disciplines.

Delegates agreed on a recommendation to invite parties and others to submit additional elements and suggestions regarding the proposals, including elements for technical and scientific cooperation for enabling technology horizon scanning, assessment, and monitoring, avoiding duplication of related technologies considered by the AHTEG on synthetic biology. Delegates also agreed on a recommendation to invite submissions of examples of effective institutional mechanisms, partnerships, networks, and regional and subregional institutional arrangements.

The final recommendation was approved with these amendments.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/L.7), SBSTTA invites parties and others to submit: additional views and suggestions regarding the proposals, including elements for technical and scientific cooperation for enabling technology horizon scanning, assessment, and monitoring, avoiding duplication of related technologies considered by the AHTEG on synthetic biology; and examples of effective institutional mechanisms, partnerships, networks, and regional and subregional institutional arrangements.

SBSTTA welcomes the draft terms of reference of the informal advisory group on technical and scientific cooperation annexed to the document and invites SBI 3 to make a recommendation to the COP.

SBSTTA requests the Secretariat to:

  • develop proposals for an inclusive process to review and renew technical and scientific cooperation programmes to support the post-2020 framework, and submit these proposals for consideration by SBI 3;
  • further develop the submitted proposals and submit them for consideration by SBI 3 and the third meeting of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework; and
  • provide information on the advantages, disadvantages, and costs of the three options for institutional arrangements, and an initial compilation of information on relevant institutional arrangements at the global, regional, and subregional levels.

Annex I contains draft proposals to strengthen technical and scientific cooperation in support of the post-2020 framework, including sections on objectives and guiding principles, priority focal areas, options for activities and pathways, and options for institutional arrangements.

Annex II contains the draft terms of reference for the informal advisory group on technical and scientific cooperation.

Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas in the North-East Atlantic Ocean

On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced document CBD/SBSTTA/23/7.

Many noted their appreciation for the workshop on EBSAs in the North-East Atlantic Ocean. Finland, with Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland, supported the draft recommendation with minor amendments.

Portugal called on parties in the region to submit the results of their national EBSA processes. Morocco noted that the workshop had included the Azores and the Canary Islands. Ghana commented on the need for financial outlays and South Africa noted the need for an enhanced process including areas beyond national jurisdiction.

IIFB underlined that knowledge holders, including IPLCs, hold vital knowledge and should be included in such processes. IPC stated that small-scale fishing communities must be included, respected, and protected when identifying EBSAs.

On Friday, delegates addressed a draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/CRP.6), which was approved with a minor amendment.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/L.5), SBSTTA acknowledges the collaboration of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic and the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission and invites the OEWG on the post-2020 framework to use scientific information on EBSAs in the development of the framework.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP acknowledge that the Secretariat has successfully completed the series of regional workshops, and express its appreciation to all that have contributed and its gratitude to hosts and donors. SBSTTA further recommends that the COP welcome the summary reports prepared by SBSTTA 23 and request the Secretariat to include them in the EBSA repository and submit them to the UN General Assembly, parties, and others.

Annexed to the recommendation is the summary report on the description of areas meeting the scientific criteria for EBSAs in the North-East Atlantic Ocean and adjacent areas.

New and Emerging Issues

On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced document CBD/SBSTTA/23/8.

Many welcomed the document and supported the suggested recommendations in principle, highlighting the criteria of decision IX/29 to be applied in evaluating proposals for new and emerging issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Canada, with Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, New Zealand, Switzerland, the Republic of Korea, and Australia, requested deleting a recommendation on “open environmental transformation technologies,” stating that the necessary information is lacking, and that it should be considered neither under synthetic biology nor as a new and emerging issue. 

Belgium, the UK, and others agreed with the proposed recommendations stating that the long list of SBSTTA topics should not be expanded. Morocco opined that synthetic biology should be considered as a new and emerging issue if it presents a risk of negative consequences for biodiversity. The Republic of Korea, South Africa, and others agreed to postpone the relevant discussion to SBSTTA 24.

Norway emphasized that synthetic biology has already gained momentum within the Convention, urging not to underestimate the potential negative and positive effects on biodiversity. Ethiopia and Turkey supported the proposals for new and emerging issues on synthetic biology, and on the open-air use of nucleic acids and proteins to alter traits, genes, or other kinds of genetic material.

IPC described biopiracy and cultural piracy as “new forms of plunder upon IPLCs.” The Action Group on Erosion, Technology, and Concentration (ETC Group) stressed that open environmental transformation technologies are part of synthetic biology, emphasizing the need for mechanisms on horizon scanning and monitoring in the post-2020 framework.

On Thursday, delegates addressed a draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/CRP.4) and on Friday, SBSTTA approved it without amendments.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/23/L.3), SBSTTA takes note of the proposals for new and emerging issues and decides to defer consideration of the submission that synthetic biology should be classified as a new and emerging issue to SBSTTA 24, considering the advice provided by the AHTEG on Synthetic Biology. SBSTTA recommends that the COP, pending the outcome on synthetic biology, decide not to add a new and emerging issue to the agenda of SBSTTA in the coming biennium.

Closing Plenary

On Friday evening, following lengthy negotiations, the final recommendations were finalized for all agenda items, and the closing plenary started at 8:15 pm.

Rapporteur Larbi Sbaï introduced the meeting’s draft report (CBD/SBSTTA/23/L.1).

Brazil delivered a statement noting that Annex 1 of document CBD/SBSTTA/23/L.8 on the scientific and technical base of the post-2020 framework “lacks balance on capturing the positions submitted by parties,” opining there was an “attempt to alter the meaning of benefit-sharing.”

The report was adopted with this and minor amendments.

The Chair announced the winner of the poster competition: participants from Costa Rica, Mexico, and Cameroon received the awards.

Delegates honored the passing of Romana Alejandra Barrios Pérez, former Access and Benefit-sharing Focal Point for Mexico, with a moment of silence.

In closing remarks, Elizabeth Mrema, Officer-in-Charge, CBD Secretariat, thanked all participants for their collaboration, flexibility, and perseverance. She pointed out that the scientific and technical evidence base has been further strengthened to provide essential guidance for the development of the post-2020 framework. She expressed confidence that in cooperation with partner conventions, institutions, and stakeholders, renewed biodiversity goals and targets can be agreed on in time.

Suriname, for SIDS, stressed the importance of healthy ecosystems for poverty eradication, food security, and essential ecosystem services, emphasizing they represent an important element of identity and culture. She called for necessary capacity building, scientific and technical assistance, and technology transfer to support SIDS. She highlighted the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) as an opportunity to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health, and underscored the negative effects of climate change.

The EU noted the recent alarming scientific reports on biodiversity loss, stressing that SBSTTA 23’s results will support the OEWG on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework to craft a robust and ambitious post-2020 framework, and acknowledging that deliberations often entail political dimensions that challenge SBSTTA’s capacity and mandate.

Lao People’s Democratic Republic, for Asia-Pacific, emphasized the importance of benefit-sharing from the utilization of genetic resources, and stressed the need to scale up action on pollution and marine debris. She further underscored the need for capacity building, technology transfer, and resource mobilization to implement the post-2020 framework.

Noting that the science “shows that the threat is serious,” Iceland, also for Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, and Switzerland, regretted that the document on biodiversity and climate change retains some brackets, but concluded that the recommendation under this item signifies “significant progress.”

Belarus, for CEE, appreciated participants’ “active” presence in the process and noted the importance of concluding the first cycle of EBSAs.

Bahamas, for GRULAC, expressed their concern with the progress in the negotiations, and hoped for a more “planned and structured dialogue” on the “most relevant” parts of the framework in the future. Noting that biodiversity and its loss must be recognized as a global priority, she recalled the importance of synergizing work on biodiversity and climate change.

Cameroon, for the African Group, emphasized the deliberations on technical and scientific cooperation in support of the post-2020 framework, and highlighted advice to the Co-Chairs of the OEWG on the post-2020 framework on direct and indirect drivers and on the need to give equal attention to all three objectives of the Convention. She highlighted means of implementation for the post-2020 framework, the development of indicators alongside goals, and the need for an inclusive process. 

GYBN made an urgent appeal to delegations that we need to “break the big wheel called inertia” to leave a healthier and biodiversity rich planet to the next generation, joined by the CBD Women’s Caucus, who stressed the need to engage with IPLCs, women and youth when addressing biodiversity loss.

Civil society organizations collectively expressed concern with the lack of urgency and ambition in discussions. They stressed that the “science is clear on what must be done,” noting that “the longer we wait, the higher the damage.” He highlighted the need for strong mechanisms for implementation for the post-2020 framework and an open and inclusive process for its development.

 IIFB emphasized that traditional knowledge should be given the same respect as other forms of knowledge, and the collective actions of IPLCs should be recognized, respected, and supported.

SBSTTA 23 Chair Díaz thanked delegates and participants for a successful meeting, and closed the meeting at 10:28 pm.

A Brief Analysis of the Meetings

Sometimes I picture this moment in history, a moment with which my own lifetime chances to coincide, as a gate that we have been closing for some time. On the other side of the gate, deep landscape falls farther and farther away, always at the point of loss. The spellbound threshold between humanity and the rest of nature is very nearly pulled shut to the latching point. Soon we shall turn our backs and walk away entirely, place-blind and terribly lonely.

Ellen Meloy, Eating Stone: Imagination and the loss of the wild

“We ask for your eyes to be cleared of trauma so that you can help heal our Mother Earth,” Mohawk elder Charlie Patton told delegates as he welcomed them onto Mohawk territory. The weight of such a request wasn’t lost on the delegates who gathered for the 11th meeting of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and the 23rd meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), but who could deny the trauma to which they were witness?

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services makes clear that the presence and activity of humans “threatens more species with global extinction now than ever before.” Nearly a quarter of all species are threatened; a million species face extinction, some within years. At this rate, the science tells us, species will die out faster and in greater number than they have in the past ten million years. The draft of the fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook is as dire as it is firm: none of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which aimed to reverse this catastrophic trend between 2011 and 2020, will be fully met by 2020, which also threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What comes next when the previous strategic plan fails? The Aichi targets were already meant to compensate for the failure of the 2010 Biodiversity Target. Whether a new set of targets for the same goal will succeed is an open question. The meetings of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and SBSTTA, following the path of the Convention, attempt to give the same answer: the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, which will dictate efforts to halt the decline and root the restoration of biodiversity after the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP). 

Parties at both meetings were tasked with informing the Co-Chairs of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on the post-2020 framework, which meant learning from the lessons of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan, including what some observers called the “disappointment” of the Aichi Targets and the 2010 Biodiversity Target before it. They had to resolve the question of how indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs), and the knowledge that they hold, can interact with the rest of the Convention. And they needed to face the problematic issues, such as digital sequence information (DSI) and trade, which, although absent from the agendas, have divided parties since their inception. “We have our work cut out for us if we want to help inform a strong framework,” a seasoned observer remarked as the SBSTTA meeting opened.

This brief analysis will address the issues that were explored at the two meetings and provide some insight into their potential resolution.

Old Targets, New Goals

Despite the variety of items on the agenda, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework was clearly—and rightly so—the central topic.

If a new framework is to be successful, it must weigh the lessons of the past with the needs of the future, requiring a careful balancing act. On the one hand, by the previous Strategic Plan’s own standards, 12 out of 16 indicators show significantly worsening trends. And despite the already broad scope of the Aichi Targets, SBSTTA documents identify no less than 12 areas of gaps or limitations, a sign that future targets will need to cover an even greater number of factors and drivers. On the other hand, both meetings were rife with participants stressing the need to simplify the targets for the post-2020 framework so they are “more concise, and easier to communicate to people.” Thus there is a paradox: even as it is clear that targets must be straightforward and simple to communicate, the insufficiencies of the past prove that the post-2020 biodiversity framework may need to think more broadly, and more complexly, than ever before.

How, then, can parties marry the need for additional, more detailed targets with the desire for a limited number of snappy, practical targets that are easy to communicate? It was clear from these two meetings that an answer remains elusive. It may simply be too early to tell: participants were still collating possible target themes and elements, building up a hoard of possible material to consider without pre-emptive judgement. If gathering options widens the map for future discussion, it also leaves it without straight paths or key waypoints. Parties will need to agree on basic structure and content if they want to avoid an indigestible potpourri of elements at COP 15.

Fenced in: Systemic Issues

Listening to the warnings of science and indigenous knowledge, it is clear that biodiversity action must address the underlying societal values and behaviors, and must call for the transformation of our very way of life. Yet some participants confessed a sense of helplessness as they faced the task of addressing the direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss through “transformative change.”

Formal and informal deliberations made it evident that, for all that SBSTTA restricts its mandate to scientific and technological advice, other aspects, in particular the impactsand opportunities—of trade will need to come into the discussion at some point. As the IPBES Global Assessment Report indicates “in the past 50 years global trade has grown tenfold driving up the demand for energy and materials.” Delegates were well aware of this. At this meeting, certain parties dodged the issue by arguing that matters such as trade need to be dealt with within the appropriate fora such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), not under the CBD. Others, though, countered that striving to live in harmony with nature cannot stop at institutional borders; to them, the redirection of discussions to other fora merely creates a bigger problem.

Taking a step back and looking at the local, small-scale level could ease the helplessness. Again and again, guest speakers and other participants highlighted best practice examples of IPLCs sustainably managing the ecosystems they live in. Indigenous models show that humans do have most of the knowledge and tools at hand to live in harmony with nature. “Biodiversity is, after all, locally and culturally situated,” one seasoned observer reasoned. “We cannot forget this.”

This insight was notable in its absence across deliberations at SBSTTA-23, which—in the opinion of many—did not respect the decisions of the Working Group on Article 8(j). The SBSTTA decision on possible elements of work on the links between nature and culture in the post-2020 framework contains bracketed text suggesting “that nothing in the programme of work on the links between nature and culture should be interpreted or used to support non-tariff barriers to trade,” which, as some delegates noted “diminishes the value of” the decision by the Working Group on Article 8(j) on the same item. From a broader perspective, a participant stressed that such language may fall behind existing international trade regulations allowing for the adoption and enforcement of measures necessary to protect human, animal, or plant life or health, or relating to the conservation of exhaustible natural resources.

Sidelining indigenous views is questionable, considering that IPLCs are often most exposed and vulnerable to the impacts of biodiversity loss and climate change. It remains to be seen how issues relating to IPLCs will be dealt with under the CBD and its Protocols in the future. The future of the Working Group on Article 8(j) remains drawn between the three possibilities as language in its decision remains bracketed: whether to create a separate subsidiary body, to integrate the working group into an existing subsidiary body, or to keep the current working group setting, with further uncertainty about whether or not an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) might inform the process. For one participant, the dilemma raised a question that has often reared its head in previous years: “Is the Working Group on Article 8(j) there to lend strength to the voices of IPLCs, or just to box them in?”

The Other Side of the Gate: Future Issues

Several contentious issues resurfaced during the meetings. Although they remain unresolved, their presence places uncomfortable pressure on the post-2020 framework, and foreshadows discussions to come. 

In accordance with the outcome of COP 14, access to digital sequence information (DSI) and the sharing of benefits arising from its utilization remains a core aspect of many parties’ positions. On numerous occasions, delegates stressed that all three objectives of the Convention must be equally addressed within the post-2020 framework, and that an equitable, technically viable solution must be found to address DSI. Yet others pushed the issue to future meetings, hoping that further guidance will come from the AHTEG on DSI, which will convene in March 2020. Yet the outcome of the recent eighth session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture demonstrated that DSI can be a deal breaker for certain parties, after years of skirting the issue in the hopes that a high-level solution might solve the problem. Although there wasn’t much discussion on DSI at SBSTTA 23, lessons from other fora make it clear: this issue is not to be underestimated.

In the same context, benefit-sharing from the utilization of genetic resources emerging from traditional knowledge holders, and more generally “from ecosystem services,” has proven to be an equally contentious topic in the post-2020 framework negotiations. Possible target themes and elements put forward by both delegations and stakeholders included specific benchmarks for an increase of transfers of genetic resources and of benefit-sharing, including with holders of traditional knowledge. The lack of benefit flows from users to providers of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge has been of concern for many years, and the entry into force of the Nagoya Protocol has not significantly changed the situation thus far. The fact that the Protocol leaves room for specialized international access and benefit-sharing instruments or a global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism might help when addressing both DSI and benefit-sharing in general. To do so, however, will require the kind of cooperation beyond the borders of the CBD that remains challenging.

Re-opening the Gate

While some participants deplored the meeting as “not the most productive SBSTTA” they have attended, others emerged from the negotiations with a renewed sense of passion and clarity. This was evidenced by the strong attendance at weekend events bridging the two meetings, where participants informally discussed how to inform the post-2020 framework, and a productive dialogue prevailed. “This meeting, if anything, is a crystallizing point,” an observer reported. “If we can keep out procedural distractions, then we can do it—we have the passion, the knowledge, and the dialogue.”

Focus will be essential. The coming months bring a slew of meetings all working towards the same objective—the post-2020 framework. If each can remain focused on the goal, one representative suggested, “We’ve at least got a fighting chance.” Each meeting will bring a crucial building block to the table. The Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 framework will meet twice more in Kunming, China, and Cali, Colombia, to negotiate successive drafts of the framework; the SBSTTA and SBI will, among their other work, react to and inform these drafts. The AHTEGs, meanwhile, will be able to provide the results of their studies, especially on DSI.

If the process is to yield robust decisions, many participants stressed that parties will need to focus on content rather than process and to bridge fundamental disagreements. The challenge may be procedural as much as substantive: for example, many deplored the time that parties spend making introductory statements for each agenda item. “It’s not worth spending valuable plenary time making speeches that no one cares about a few hours later. We know where we stand,” a seasoned observer opined.

In that respect, the need for firm guidance for parties to discuss issues in the spirit of productive work and compromise was further emphasized by participants. As many participants noted, the change at the helm of the Convention certainly did not have a negative impact on the meetings and the post-2020 process.

The “clear eyes” of which Charlie Patton spoke in his welcome seem to be slowly dawning on the process; this recent pair of meetings made it clear that the knowledge required to reverse biodiversity loss, whether through academic science or indigenous wisdom, is clearly available to those who wish to learn from its lessons. Whether parties will choose to do so, and to collaborate so as to implement its teachings, will reveal itself as parties come to the fifteenth meeting of the COP in China. Meanwhile, the “spellbound threshold” which Ellen Meloy wrote of draws ever closer; the task of delegates, for now, is to work to keep it open, lest humanity hears the closing of the latch.

Upcoming Meetings

CBD thematic workshop on area-based conservation measures: This meeting will consider concrete proposals for the further development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. dates: 1-3 December 2019 location: Montreal, Canada www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/POST2020-WS-2019-09  

Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Invasive Alien Species: This expert group will consider, invasive species management and elements of technical guidance thereof. dates: 2-4 December 2019 location: Montreal, Canada www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/IAS-AHTEG-2019-01

UN Climate Change Conference: The conference is designed to take the next crucial steps for the full operationalization of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. dates: 2-13 December 2019  location: Madrid, Spain www: https://unfccc.int/cop25  

Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Socio-economic Considerations (Article 26 Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety): This expert group will consider socio-economic considerations arising from the impact of living modified organisms on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, especially with regard to the value of biological diversity to indigenous and local communities. dates: 10-13 January 2020  location: Vienna, Austria  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/CP-SEC-AHTEG-2019-01  

Thematic Workshop on Resource Mobilization for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: This workshop will inform the post-2020 global biodiversity framework on resource mobilization. dates: 14-16 January 2020  location: Berlin, Germany www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/POST2020-WS-2020-03

Convention on Migratory Species COP 13: COP 13 of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals will convene to review implementation of the Convention. dates: 15-22 February 2020  location: Gandhinagar, India www: http://www.cms.int  

Thematic Consultation on Transparent Implementation, Monitoring, Reporting, and Review for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: This consultation will inform the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.  dates: 21-22 February 2020  location: Kunming, China  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/POST2020-WS-2020-01

Second meeting of the CBD Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: This meeting will discuss a “zero draft” of the global biodiversity framework document, which will be available by mid-January 2020.  dates: 24-28 February 2020  location: Kunming, China  www: https://www.cbd.int/conferences/post2020  

CBD thematic consultation on capacity-building: The report of this thematic consultation will be made available to SBI-3 and the third meeting of the post-2020 Working Group. date: 1 March 2020  location: Kunming, China  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/POST2020-WS-2020-02

Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Digital Sequence Information: This expert group will make recommendations on how to address digital sequence information on genetic resources in the context of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. dates: 17-20 March 2020  location: Montreal, Canada  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings  

BBNJ IGC-4: This session will continue to negotiate a new agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea related to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, in particular, marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits, marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments, and capacity building and the transfer of marine technology. dates: 23 March - 3 April 2020  location: UN Headquarters, New York  www: https://www.un.org/bbnj  

Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Risk Assessment: This meeting will consider risk assessment and management under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. dates: 31 March - 3 April 2020 (tentative)  location: Montreal, Canada  www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/  

CBD SBSTTA 24: The 24th meeting of the SBSTTA will focus on scientific and technical matters in preparation for CBD COP 15 and the post-2020 biodiversity framework. dates: 18-23 May 2020 location: Montreal, Canada www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/  

Third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation: The third meeting of the SBI will focus on implementation in preparation for CBD COP 15. dates: 25-30 May 2020 location: Montreal, Canada www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/SBI-03  

Third meeting of the CBD Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: This meeting will develop a text of the post-2020 framework for consideration at CBD COP 15. dates: 27-31 July 2020  location: Cali, Colombia www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/  

Fifteenth meeting of the COP to the CBD (COP 15/CP 10/NP 4): This conference is designed to adopt the next 10-year strategic plan for the CBD and its Protocols, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. dates: October 2020  location: Kunming, China www: https://www.cbd.int/meetings/

For additional meetings, see http://sdg.iisd.org

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