Summary report, 14–29 March 2022
Geneva Biodiversity Conference
After two and a half years of virtual discussions, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was finally able to reconvene its Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) and Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (WG2020) for face-to-face discussions. While delegates bathed in the warm glow that comes with in-person collegiality, their task was significant: prepare the foundations for the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) to adopt the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF), when it convenes in in Kunming, China, later this year. Despite the difficulty of a triple meeting, however, work on the GBF progressed, albeit slowly, and the complex work of negotiations is well underway.
Highlights of the meeting include:
- the solution on the way forward on digital sequence information (DSI) and the related intersessional work;
- significant input on both the GBF targets and goals, and on relevant indicators, with the development of the framework becoming a party-led process;
- the spirit of collegiality that prevailed despite diverging opinions and varying national priorities; and
- the increasing media attention and the strengthened participation of rights-holders and stakeholders, necessary for a whole-of-society approach to biodiversity conservation.
SBSTTA-24 adopted 11 recommendations to be taken up by COP-15, providing scientific and technical advice to support the review of the draft framework and address, among others, the fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5), the programme of work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), synthetic biology, invasive alien species, and the monitoring framework for the GBF.
SBI-3 also focused on elements required for the GBF, and adopted 20 recommendations and decisions. These related to, among others, financial resources and means of implementation, including the financial mechanism; capacity building and development; review of effectiveness procedures; resource mobilization; the gender plan of action; communication; and the review mechanism. Delegates also considered matters related to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS), and the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions.
The WG2020 met in contact groups and reported progress in plenaries. Delegates advanced work on indicators for the GBF, laying out options for future discussions. The discussions on DSI on genetic resources—one of the most heated and controversial discussions in the CBD—reached some consensus, agreeing on a way forward and a schedule of intersessional work.
Delegates made progress in various sections of the GBF through contact group meetings, but acknowledged that much is needed in terms of intersessional work. All parties supported an agreement to hold a fourth meeting of the WG2020, which was scheduled for 21-26 June 2022, in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Geneva Biodiversity Conference convened from 14-29 March 2022 and attracted 2,000 onsite and online participants.
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; SBI; the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions; and the Open-ended Working Group 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) 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 173 parties. The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (October 2010) 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 49 parties. The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (October 2010) 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 133 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 DSI.
COP 14 (November 2018, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt) set up an intersessional working group on the GBF, 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 landscapes 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.
Virtual Meetings: The virtual informal meeting in the lead-up to SBSTTA-24 (February 2021) heard brief statements on most SBSTTA-24 agenda items. Discussions focused on the monitoring framework for the GBF, as well as synthetic biology, and marine and coastal biodiversity.
The virtual informal meeting in the lead-up to SBI-3 (March 2021) considered most of the SBI-3 agenda items through brief statements by parties and observers. Delegates addressed the need to ensure means of implementation for the GBF, with discussions focusing on resource mobilization and capacity development, scientific and technical cooperation, knowledge management, and communication.
SBSTTA-24 Part I (May – June 2021) convened virtually and addressed several scientific and technical matters related to the GBF, as well as items related to synthetic biology, risk assessment and risk management of LMOs, and marine and coastal biodiversity. Delegates agreed that adoption of final draft decision documents was deferred until SBSTTA-24 can resume in person.
SBI-3 Part I (May-June 2021) convened virtually and addressed sever matters related to the CBD Strategic Plan, the GBF, resource mobilization and the financial mechanism; capacity building, technical and scientific cooperation, technology transfer; knowledge management, and communication; cooperation with other conventions, international organizations, and initiatives; mechanisms for reporting, assessment, and review of implementation; review of the effectiveness of the processes under the Convention and its protocols; mainstreaming of biodiversity within and across sectors and other strategic actions to enhance implementation; and specialized international ABS instruments.
WG2020-3 Part I (23 August - 3 September 2021) convened virtually to negotiate the first draft of the GBF, and considered the outcomes of an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on ways to resolve divergent views on benefit-sharing from the use of DSI on genetic resources.
COP-15 Part I (11-15 October 2021, Kunming, China) convened virtually with a limited number of delegates physically present and adopted the Kunming Declaration calling for urgent and integrated action to reflect biodiversity considerations in all sectors of the global economy. It also approved the interim budget for 2022 for the CBD and its protocols, and received reports about ongoing intersessional work. A high-level segment showed a renewed sense of commitment and urgency from Heads of State and Government, environment ministers, and other leaders.
Geneva Biodiversity Conference Report
The Geneva Biodiversity Conference opened on Monday, 14 March. Zhou Guomei, Deputy Secretary General, China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), on behalf of COP President Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment, China, highlighted the importance of the meetings for advancing preparations for the second part of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15). She noted achievements in the first part of COP-15, including the Kunming Declaration; the establishment of the Kunming Biodiversity Fund; and commitments from governments and stakeholders.
Franz Perrez, Swiss Ambassador for Climate, on behalf of the host country, stressed that after two years, “we can gather again face-to-face to work, think, and be creative together.” He expressed concern over the situation in Ukraine, adding that problems must be solved by respecting international law and the UN Charter.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary, CBD, urged for a GBF that follows a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach, incorporating all economic sectors. She pointed out that there is no time to waste, adding that “we are working under the shadow of a global pandemic and military conflict threatening peace and human wellbeing.”
Regional Groups and Major Stakeholders’ Opening Statements: Senegal, for the AFRICAN GROUP, welcomed the continuation of face-to-face meetings and highlighted the need for realistic financing, technology transfer, capacity building, implementation mechanisms, and a viable agreement on benefit-sharing related to DSI.
Argentina, for the LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN GROUP (GRULAC), stressed the need to agree on the GBF’s structure, goals, and targets, underscoring means of implementation; mechanisms for monitoring and review; and ABS related to genetic resources, including DSI.
France, on behalf of the EU, condemned the invasion of Ukraine, calling on the Russian Federation to withdraw its forces with no preconditions. She called for an ambitious GBF related to the three objectives of the Convention and accompanied by objective indicators. She further highlighted the importance of intergenerational communication, and the need to promote the role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs) and women.
NEW ZEALAND, speaking also on behalf of AUSTRALIA, CANADA, ICELAND, ISRAEL, JAPAN, MONACO, NORWAY, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, SWITZERLAND, the UK, and the US (JUSSCANNZ GROUP), called for a clear and concise framework building on the Aichi Targets; a strengthened review mechanism; and ambitious and measurable targets to reverse biodiversity loss. She also noted deep concern over Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kuwait, for the ASIA-PACIFIC GROUP, welcomed the progress made during virtual meetings, but stressed the need to work with a spirit of cooperation and collaboration to build an ambitious GBF. She highlighted implementation issues, including capacity building and technology transfer.
UKRAINE condemned the Russian Federation’s invasion, stressing that “the attack on Ukraine is also an attack on the environment,” noting that it will take years to restore damages to biodiversity.
The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said that her country is “implementing its right to self-defense” according to Article 51 of the UN Charter, calling for a “depoliticized” process without “unjustifiable delays.”
The INTERNATIONAL INDIGENOUS FORUM ON BIODIVERSITY (IIFB) made a number of proposals, including the maintenance of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC); the recognition of community-based monitoring and implementation systems; and that the traditional practices of Indigenous Peoples be reflected in conservation planning.
The CBD WOMEN’S CAUCUS stressed that the GBF should be gender-responsive, including in its indicators, and finance and resource mechanisms; and called for a standalone target on gender equality.
The GLOBAL YOUTH BIODIVERSITY NETWORK (GYBN) said the GBF should be strengthened to include the rights of nature and that means of implementation need to be sufficient to achieve proposed targets, including funds for meaningful youth involvement.
The CBD ALLIANCE expressed concern that the GBF does not address current drivers of biodiversity loss. The group called for, among others, full respect of human rights; Indigenous-protected and conserved areas; rights of small-scale food producers; and removal of all harmful incentives.
WWF, speaking for a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), called for: a more ambitious 2030 mission; a global target on protecting and conserving at least 30% of land and marine areas by 2030; recognition of the need to close the biodiversity finance gap; and inclusion of all elements required to prevent future pandemics and epidemics of zoonotic origin.
SUBNATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS called for the adoption of decision at COP-15 for greater inclusion of subnational governments, cities, and local authorities.
BUSINESS FOR NATURE urged strengthening references in the GBF on the role of business and financial institutions. He urged eliminating and redirecting all harmful financial flows, and incentives to businesses to enhance avoiding negative impacts at operational level.
The UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE CONSERVATION ALUMNI NETWORK highlighted the need to acknowledge all drivers of biodiversity loss; act with utmost urgency to stop extinction; and implement accountability mechanisms to enhance transparency, communication; and agree on steppingstones for progress and impact.
The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), on behalf of the LIAISON GROUP OF BIODIVERSITY-RELATED CONVENTIONS, urged that the mandates, data, and monitoring indicators of respective conventions be woven into the GBF.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) highlighted the need to conserve at least 30% of oceans and lands by 2030, recognizing IPLC-conserved territories. He called for increasing financial resources and international conservation finance flows to fund biodiversity action, leverage private finance, and improve domestic resource mobilization.
Editor’s Note: This report summarizes the status of the outcomes and provides links to the relevant daily reports that provide the details of the discussions.
On Monday, 14 March, SBSTTA Chair Hesiquio Benítez Díaz opened the second part of SBSTTA-24, noting that it is the first in-person meeting of SBSTTA since November 2019. He outlined intersessional work consisting of more than 70 virtual sessions and highlighted the establishment of a Multi-Partner Trust Fund on Nature for Health. He urged delegates to focus on providing the best scientific, technical, and technological advice, in line with SBSTTA’s mandate.
Organization of work: Chair Benítez reminded delegates that the agenda of SBSTTA-24 was adopted during the first part of the meeting. He elaborated, by agenda item, on the organization of work for the resumed meeting. Delegates adopted it, as contained in Annex I of the joint scenario note (CBD/SBSTTA/24/1/Add.2/Rev.2).
Chair Benítez reminded delegates that Senka Barudanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) had been elected as SBSTTA-24 Rapporteur during the first part of the meeting.
On Sunday, 27 March, regional groups nominated, and plenary approved, new members for the SBSTTA Bureau: Jean Bruno Mikissa (Gabon) for the African Group; Bilal Qteshat (Jordan) for the Asia-Pacific Group; Jan Plesnik (Czech Republic) for the Central and Eastern Europe Group; Ana Teresa Lecaros Terry (Peru) for GRULAC; and Marina von Weissenberg (Finland) for the Western European and Others Group.
The RUSSIAN FEDERATION expressed disappointment with the election process. She noted that countries of Central Asia had been excluded from voting, “destroying prior tradition and practice.” She added that the balance in representation has been violated, noting that the EU essentially has two places in the Bureau. She called for reestablishing a fair process for the election of officers, and stressed that no future statement can be made in the name of the region without an agreement by the Russian Federation, including a written confirmation.
Post-2020 global biodiversity framework: GBO-5: This agenda item was addressed on Sunday, 27 March.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.2), SBSTTA recommends that the COP:
- take note of the lessons learned from the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 identified in the GBO as well as its general conclusions; and
- encourage parties and invites others to use the reports when implementing the GBF and to widely disseminate their findings.
Parties did not agree on whether to “welcome” or “take note of” GBO-5 and its summary for policymakers, the second edition of the Local Biodiversity Outlooks, and the 2020 Plant Conservation Report.
Scientific and technical information to support the review of goals, targets, and indicators: This agenda item was addressed on Sunday, 27 March. Chair Benítez introduced the draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.3), noting it contains draft terms of reference for an ad hoc technical expert group (AHTEG) on indicators for the GBF. Following discussions and amendments, parties approved the recommendation.
The whole document is bracketed and many additional brackets exist in various paragraphs.
Final Outcome: The final recommendation to the COP (CBD/COP/SBSTTA/24/L.3) is heavily bracketed, and includes that:
- the COP should adopt the GBF monitoring framework;
- the reference period for reporting and monitoring progress in GBF implementation should be 2011-2020;
- the baselines used to express the levels of ambition in goals and targets should also express different responsibilities and should take into account, in addition to the current status and future scenarios of biodiversity, historical trends, and historic loss;
- the headline indicators will be used to monitor progress towards the GBF goals and targets, complemented, as appropriate by the component and complementary indicators;
- the COP should encourage parties to use the headline indicators in national planning processes, including National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs); and
- the COP should request the Working Group on Article 8(j) to continue the development of and operationalization of indicators related to traditional knowledge and IPLCs.
Non-bracketed recommendations include:
- the COP should consider a review of the monitoring framework at COP-16; and
- requests to the Secretariat to convene moderated online discussions on the monitoring framework and facilitate the use of relevant tools on national reporting and information sharing between multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs).
Proposed monitoring framework for the GBF: This agenda item was discussed in a contact group, which met five times, and in plenary. The contact group was co-chaired by Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana) and Andrew Stott (UK).
The contact group initiated its work discussing Annex 2 of the non-paper on the proposed monitoring framework for the GBF on proposed headline, component, and complementary indicators. In the first meeting of the contact group on Thursday, 17 March, delegates addressed headline indicators related to GBF targets:
- 1.0.1 (percentage of land and seas covered by spatial plans that integrate biodiversity);
- 2.0.1 (percentage of degraded or converted ecosystems that are under restoration); and
- 3.0.1 (coverage of protected areas and other effective conservation measures by effectiveness).
- During the evening session on Thursday, 17 March, delegates resumed discussions, addressing headline indicators:
- 4.0.1 (proportion of species populations that are affected by human-wildlife conflict);
- 4.0.2 (number of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture secured in conservation facilities);
- 5.0.1 (wildlife that is harvested legally and sustainably);
- 5.0.2 (proportion of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels);
- 6.0.1 (invasive alien species (IAS) spread);
- 9.0.1 (national environmental-economic accounts of benefits from the use of wild species);
- 10.0.1 (proportion of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture);
- 10.0.2 (progress towards sustainable forest management);
- 11.0.1 (national environmental-economic accounts of regulation of air and water quality);
- 12.0.1 (share of the built-up area of cities that is green/blue space for public use);
- 13.0.1 (indicators of operational legislative, administrative, or policy frameworks ensuring fair and equitable sharing of benefits, including based on prior informed consent (PIC) and mutually agreed terms (MAT));
- 14.0.1 (extent to which national targets for integrating biodiversity values into policy development ensure that biodiversity values are mainstreamed across all sectors and integrated into environmental impact assessments); and
- 14.0.2 (integration of biodiversity into national accounting and reporting systems, defined as implementation of the SEEA EA.
On Friday, 18 March, delegates continued work, discussing indicators:
- 15.0.1 (dependencies and impacts of businesses on biodiversity);
- 16.0.1 (food waste index);
- 16.0.2 (material footprint per capita);
- 17.0.1 (on potential adverse impacts of biotechnology on biodiversity taking into account human health);
- 18.0.1 (value of subsidies and other incentives harmful to biodiversity, that are redirected, repurposed, or eliminated);
- 19.0.1 (official development assistance for biodiversity); and
- 19.0.2 (public and private expenditures on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity).
Co-Chair Stott said two non-papers would be prepared, including all the suggestions for new indicators.
On Monday, 21 March, discussions focused on indicators:
- 20.0.1 (biodiversity information and monitoring, including traditional knowledge, for management);
- 21.0.1 (degree of IPLCs, women and girls, and youth participation in decision making);
- 21.0.2 (land tenure in the traditional territories of IPLCs);
- 7.0.1 (index of coastal eutrophication potential; excess nitrogen and phosphate loading, exported from national boundaries);
- 7.0.2. (plastic debris density);
- 7.0.3 (pesticide use per area of cropland); and
- 8.0.1 (national greenhouse gas inventories from land use and land use change).
Delegates further discussed headline indicators related to GBF Goal A (integrity and connectivity of natural ecosystems, and species extinction):
- A.0.1 (extent of selected natural and modified ecosystems by type);
- A.0.2 (Species Habitat Index);
- A.0.3 (Red List Index); and
- A.0.4 (proportion of populations within species with a genetically effective population size greater than 500).
On Wednesday, 23 March, the contact group addressed headline indicators related to GBF Goals B, C, and D:
- B.0.1 (national environmental economic accounts of ecosystem services);
- C.0.1 (monetary benefits received);
- C.0.2 (non-monetary benefits);
- D.0.1 (funding for GBF implementation); and
- D.0.2 (aligned with Target 19 (financial resources for biodiversity conservation).
On Friday, 25 March, in plenary, Chair Benítez introduced the relevant conference room paper (CRP) (CBD/SBSTTA/24/CRP.11). Contact group Co-Chair Stott noted good progress, but persistent bracketed text on definitions and criteria for indicators.
Chair Benítez noted that the plenary would not consider the last two appendices in the CRP, which are compilations of views on suggested indicators to be used in further intersessional work.
Following discussions, the CRP was approved with amendments and brackets on new text. An L document was developed.
On Sunday, 27 March, Chair Benítez introduced the document (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.10), noting it contains a request to the Secretariat to facilitate a scientific and technical review of the proposed indicators of the GBF for consideration by WG2020 and COP-15.
Noting that he would not block consensus, BRAZIL expressed concern regarding a subsidiary body tasking the Secretariat with actions that have budgetary implications, stressing that this should not become common practice.
Parties adopted the SBSTTA decision.
Final Outcome: In the final decision (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.10), SBSTTA:
takes note of the appendices containing the summary and proposed list of indicators for consideration in developing the GBF monitoring framework and the list of proposed indicators for potential inclusion as headline indicators;
requests the Secretariat, with the Bureau, to compile comments from parties and others on the appendices, and to facilitate a scientific and technical review ensuring consultation with parties; and to make the outcome available for consideration by WG2020-4 and COP-15; and to consider the concerns of parties related to the headline indicators to be developed.
The decision contains two appendices: one on the possible COP decision wording on the monitoring framework, and one on the proposed list of indicators for consideration in developing the framework.
Synthetic biology: This agenda item was addressed in plenary on Sunday, 27 March. Chair Benítez introduced the recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.5), noting numerous brackets. BRAZIL requested bracketing the entire document, arguing that it prejudges the outcomes of ongoing negotiations. CANADA, supported by many, pressed to adopt the document with existing brackets. Following deliberation, the document was adopted with existing brackets.
Final Outcome: In its recommendation to the COP (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.5), SBSTTA recommends that the COP:
- note that, although the AHTEG on synthetic biology experienced challenges in analyzing criteria for new and emerging issues, and current decisions on synthetic biology in the convention have been inconclusive as to whether synthetic biology is a new and emerging issue, this should not set a precedent for future processes on new and emerging issues;
- establish a process for broad and regular horizon scanning, monitoring, and assessments of technological developments in synthetic biology;
- decide that trends in synthetic biology identified by the AHTEG will inform horizon scanning, monitoring, and assessment, and invite parties, other governments, IPLCs, and relevant organizations to submit relevant information to the Secretariat;
- call on parties and other stakeholders to facilitate international cooperation, technology transfer, and knowledge sharing on LMOs, and capacity building on synthetic biology;
- request the Secretariat to, among others, convene online discussions of the Open-Ended Online Forum on Synthetic biology; synthesize the information submitted on synthetic biology to inform the AHTEG’s deliberations; prepare reports on the outcomes of the horizon scanning process, and submit them to the SBSTTA for review; and continue to ensure the full and effective participation of IPLCs in the work on synthetic biology under the Convention;
- request that the SBTTA consider the outcomes of the horizon scanning process, as well as interim and final reports on the effectiveness of the horizon scanning process, to make recommendations on both to the COP and, for the former, to the Meetings of the Parties (MOPs) to the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols, as appropriate; and
- request that the Secretariat continue cooperation with other organizations, conventions, and research institutions on issues related to synthetic biology.
The recommendation contains several brackets. Disagreements remain on, among other issues:
- whether to continue requesting analysis on synthetic biology;
- the timing and frequency of the horizon scanning, monitoring, and assessment process;
- whether to establish a multidisciplinary AHTEG on synthetic biology to support the horizon scanning, monitoring, and assessment process;
- whether to convene at least one meeting of the multidisciplinary AHTEG; and
- the timing of reports on the outcomes and operation of the horizon scanning process.
The document also contains a heavily bracketed annex on broad and regular horizon scanning, monitoring, and assessment of the most recent technological developments in synthetic biology, including a proposed process for horizon scanning, monitoring, and assessment; and ToR for the multidisciplinary AHTEG on synthetic biology.
Risk assessment and risk management of living modified organisms: This agenda item was addressed in plenary on Sunday, 27 March. Chair Benítez noted that the document (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.6) was discussed in plenary during the first part of SBSTTA-24. The recommendation was adopted with brackets.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.6), SBSTTA recommends that the COP/MOP of the Cartagena Protocol:
- welcome the outcomes of the discussions of the AHTEG on Risk Assessment and its analysis on the topics of LMOs containing engineered gene drives and living modified fish;
- does not to proceed, at this stage, with the development of additional voluntary guidance materials on risk assessment regarding living modified fish, while encouraging parties and others to promote international cooperation, information sharing, and capacity building on risk assessment of living modified fish;
- endorse the AHTEG recommendation that additional voluntary guidance materials to support case-by-case risk assessment of LMOs containing engineered gene drives should be developed;
- establish an AHTEG on Risk Assessment that will work according to the annexed terms of reference;
- request the Secretariat to convene online discussions of the Online Forum on Risk Assessment and Risk Management to review an outline and a first draft of the additional voluntary guidance materials, and to support the work of the AHTEG; and
- request SBSTTA to consider the outcomes of the AHTEG and make a recommendation for consideration by the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP-11.
The request for a panel of experts to develop additional guidance materials on risk assessment of LMOs containing engineered gene drives remains bracketed.
The annex contains the ToR for the AHTEG on Risk Assessment, which contains a few bracketed references and paragraphs.
Marine and coastal biodiversity: Conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity: This agenda item was addressed in plenary. On Wednesday, 23 March, SBSTTA Chair Benítez introduced the draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/CRP.2), noting that EBSAs are covered in a separate CRP.
On Friday, 25 March, parties discussed the draft recommendation on conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity. Due to lack of time, Chair Benítez invited written submissions to the Secretariat until midnight. It was agreed that the Secretariat would compile the comments and include them in the L document, which will remain bracketed and will be forwarded to COP-15.
On Sunday, 27 March, delegates adopted the final recommendation.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.12), SBSTTA transmits two annexes to COP-15, with a view to adopting a decision on this matter. The two annexes comprise: outcomes of the discussions at SBSTTA-24 on the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity; and proposals submitted by parties and observers on this issue.
As noted in a footnote in the final recommendation, the annex with parties’ proposals is a collated compilation of submissions, emphasizing that “it is understood that this practice will not set a precedent for the future, but was a response to the extraordinary circumstances resulting from the limitations on in-person meeting caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to urgently negotiate the GBF, and the need to schedule a meeting in consideration of delegates who participated in the recent fourth session of the Intergovernmental Conference on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ ICG4).”
Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs): This agenda item was addressed in a contact group, co-chaired by Marie-May Muzungaile (Seychelles) and Adam van Opzeeland (New Zealand), on Tuesday, 22 March, and in plenary, on Sunday, 27 March.
On Tuesday, the contact group considered document CBD/SBSTTA/24/CRP.4, including changes made during the first part of SBSTTA-24.Discussions focused on the six annexes of the document.
Annex I contains general considerations in the modification of description of EBSAs and the description of new areas; Annex II addresses the repository and information-sharing mechanism for EBSAs; Annex III discusses reasons for modification of the description of EBSAs; Annex IV addresses the proponents of the modifications of EBSAs; Annex V deals with modifications of descriptions of EBSAs for editorial reasons; and Annex VI focuses on modification of description of EBSAs.
On Friday, 25 March, Chair Benítez introduced the draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/CRP.4/Rev.1). The document was not discussed due to lack of time. Parties sent written submissions, which were included in the final recommendation in brackets.
On Sunday, 27 March, delegates addressed the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.11).
Final Outcome: In the final document (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.11), SBSTTA included an annex that compiles the views exchanged by parties; points to an information document containing proposals submitted on the item (CBD/SBSTTA/24/INF/41); and transmits both to the COP. The compilation of views is organized around various considerations of modification of descriptions of EBSAs, as well as related information mechanisms.
The collated compilation of views is explained due to the extraordinary circumstances, similarly to the other topic discussed under this agenda item on the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity.
Biodiversity and agriculture: This agenda item was discussed in a contact group on Wednesday, 16 March, and in plenary.
The contact group was co-chaired by Norbert Baerlocher (Switzerland) and Adams Toussaint (Saint Lucia). Delegates addressed a draft recommendation to the COP on the review of the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity and its updated plan of action (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.7). As the draft recommendation to SBSTTA had already been considered in the first part of SBSTTA-24, discussions on Wednesday, 16 March focused on its annex, containing the draft plan of action 2020-2030 for the Initiative.
On Saturday, 19 March, in plenary, SBSTTA Chair Benitez Díaz invited delegates to discuss the draft plan of action 2020-2030 for the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity, as included in CBD/SBSTTA/24/CRP.10.
On Sunday, 27 March, Chair Benítez noted that document (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.7/Rev.1) contains both a recommendation, considered in the first part of SBSTTA-24, and an annexed draft plan of action 2020-2030 for the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity. ARGENTINA requested brackets around a subparagraph of the draft recommendation related to preparing a global assessment of soil biodiversity.
In the draft plan of action, AUSTRALIA requested using the tripartite definition of FPIC. On a subparagraph concerning challenges, BRAZIL requested bracketing a reference to food safety. He also requested bracketing a sub-element around the linkages between soil biodiversity, and human health and well-being. The document was adopted with brackets.
Final Outcome: In the recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.7/Rev.1), SBSTTA recommends that the COP, inter alia:
- adopt the plan of action 2020-2030 for the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity, and consider it an instrument for supporting GBF implementation;
- encourage parties and others to support the implementation of, and capacity building and development for, the plan of action 2020-2030 for the Initiative;
- urge parties to address direct and indirect drivers of soil biodiversity loss and land degradation;
- encourage parties to integrate the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of soil biodiversity into agricultural systems, and other sectors;
- urge parties and others to provide technical and financial support, to enable developing country parties and parties with economies in transition to promote the research, technology transfer, monitoring, and assessment of soil biodiversity;
- invite the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other donors, funding agencies and the private sector to provide financial assistance, including capacity building and development activities, for national, subnational, and regional projects;
- invite parties to provide, on a voluntary basis, information on their activities and results from the implementation of the plan of action, in alignment with the GBF; and
- request the Secretariat to bring the present decision to the attention of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the biodiversity-related conventions, and the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030).
Views diverged on whether the COP should “take note” or “welcome” the report entitled State of Knowledge on Soil Biodiversity - Status, Challenges and Potentialities. They also did not agree on whether to include land-use change, and to identify, phase out, and eliminate incentives, taxes and subsidies harmful to soil biodiversity. Parties also did not agree on whether integrating the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of soil biodiversity should also include managed ecosystems and other sectors identified by previous COP decisions.
IPBES programme of work: This agenda item was addressed in plenary on Sunday, 27 March. Chair Benítez-Díaz introduced the draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.4), noting that this item had been considered in plenary during the first part of SBSTTA-24.
The IPBES SECRETARIAT outlined the body’s upcoming programme of work, in which IPBES-9 will take place in Bonn, Germany, on 3-9 July 2022, and IPBES-10 in Madison, Wisconsin, US, in April-May 2023. She noted that, considering that COP-15 would take place after IPBES-9, IPBES may consider the request for a second global assessment and an assessment on connectivity at IPBES-10.
The document was adopted with brackets.
Final Outcome: In the recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.4), SBSTTA recommends, inter alia, that the COP welcome the IPBES rolling work programme up to 2030, noting with appreciation that the COP decision 14/36 has been met, and that work under the six objectives, including the three initial assessments set out in the work programme, are expected to contribute to and be essential for the GBF.
SBSTTA further recommends the COP request the Secretariat to:
- explore options for further strengthening cooperation, to identify deliverables for the work under the CBD and elements to be included in a second global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services;
- regularly and systematically assess and report to the SBSTTA advice on how to consider deliverables from all functions and processes of the IPBES for the implementation of the Convention; and
- identify views from parties on how IPBES could, within its defined functions on producing further assessments, building capacity, strengthening knowledge, and supporting policy, contribute to the review and monitoring of the GBF.
Biodiversity and health: This agenda item was discussed in a contact group, co-chaired by Helena Brown (Antigua and Barbuda) and Marina von Weissenberg (Finland). Contact group deliberation was based on non-papers issued by the Co-Chairs and focused on the draft action plan for biodiversity and health 2020-2030.
On Tuesday evening, 15 March, discussions in the contact group focused on sections on: overview, background, introduction, strategic objectives and rationale, principles, and key elements of the draft action plan on biodiversity and health.
On Wednesday evening, 16 March, parties resumed discussions. The contact group Co-Chairs produced a non-paper based on Tuesday’s discussions. Parties resumed deliberation of specific elements of the draft action plan, focusing on: education and awareness of biodiversity and health linkages, research on biodiversity and health linkages, and monitoring the action plan’s progress.
On Saturday, 19 March, delegates addressed another version of the non-paper, discussing sections of the draft action plan on, inter alia: fair and equitable access to vaccinations, therapies, and treatments; emerging infectious diseases; the One Health approach and achieving a biodiversity-inclusive One Health transition; and the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, 25 March, in plenary, Chair Benítez noted that the contact group established a Friends of the Co-Chairs group to address procedural matters and future steps.
Von Weissenberg reported on the informal group’s work, noting that it resolved many outstanding items. She said that few brackets remain in the document, including on paragraphs related to genetic resources, which are linked to the DSI discussions.
Following a discussion on the draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/CRP.12), delegates approved it. All the new suggestions were bracketed.
On Sunday, 27 March, delegates addressed the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.9).
Final Outcome: In the recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.9), SBSTTA recommends that the COP encourage parties, and invite others to:
- take actions for a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and to minimizing the risk of future diseases of zoonotic origin to further integrate those in their NBSAPs and national health plans, as appropriate, to support GBF implementation;
- further support capacity-building development for mainstreaming biodiversity and health linkages into GBF implementation; and
- strengthen compliance with international and national provisions on ABS.
The recommendation invites the Quadripartite for One Health, the One Health High-level Expert Panel, and other relevant expert groups and initiatives to:
- take into account in their work, the linkages between health and biodiversity, and the need for the One Health approach, among other holistic approaches;
- contribute with guidance, interdisciplinary education, and training to the implementation of health-related elements and the application of the One Health approach, among other holistic approaches, in GBF implementation;
- contribute to the development of, and reporting on, health-related indicators of GBF monitoring framework; and
- collaborate with the Secretariat to provide parties with capacity building, technology transfer, and resource mobilization opportunities for mainstreaming biodiversity and health linkages.
The recommendation also invites parties, other governments, and all relevant donors and funding organizations in a position to do so, to consider providing technical support and mobilizing resources for mainstreaming biodiversity and health linkages.
The following references remain bracketed in full and in part, including an invitation to the GEF to consider providing technical and financial support for mainstreaming biodiversity and health linkages; and requests to the Secretariat to complete the work on targeted messages and a draft global action plan, drawing on the SBSTTA-24 deliberations to produce an updated version of the draft global action plan and targeted messages based on the inputs received from parties and others.
Invasive alien species: This agenda item was addressed in plenary.
On Wednesday, 23 March, SBSTTA Chair Benítez reported that a Friends of the Chair Group, facilitated by Senka Barudanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina), suggested a peer-review process, as well as an online forum, for the annexes of the CRP, containing comments from parties on different aspects of IAS management.
Parties reviewed the draft recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/CRP.7) paragraph by paragraph.
On Sunday, 27 March, delegates addressed the final recommendation.
ISRAEL suggested, and delegates agreed, to remove brackets around “changes of pathways” in the paragraph on monitoring effects of large-scale releases of alien populations. AUSTRALIA called for including the tripartite definition of FPIC in relevant text on IPLCs.
Delegates adopted the recommendation with minor amendments.
Final Outcome: In the recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/24/L.8), SBSTTA recommends that the COP, among others:
- request the Secretariat to organize a peer review process to solicit advice on the annexes taking into account earlier COP decisions, to convene a moderated open-ended online forum on the results of the peer-review process, and to make the outcomes available to SBSTTA with a view to making recommendations to COP-16; and
- encourage parties and others to develop open access portals or other websites directed to the general public to raise cooperation, awareness and understanding of threats of IAS to biodiversity and ecosystems.
The following references remain bracketed in full and in part: An invitation to parties and others include, to more explicitly, diverse social and cultural values of biodiversity across communities at the national and/or subnational levels. A reaffirmation that, when considering methods, such as engineered gene drives, to manage IAS, the precautionary approach described in the preamble of the Convention and the Cartagena Protocol should be applied.
The draft recommendation also contains the following annexes, with a number of bracketed provisions, on:
- draft methods for cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis that best apply to IAS management;
- draft methods for identification and minimization of additional risks associated with cross-border e-commerce in live organisms and the impacts thereof;
- draft methods for the management of IAS as related to prevention of potential risks arising from climate change and associated natural disasters and land use changes;
- draft risk analysis on the potential consequences of the introduction of IAS on social, economic and cultural values;
- draft use of existing databases on IAS and their impacts, to support risk communication; and
- draft additional advice on technical guidance on IAS management.
Adoption of the report: On Sunday, 27 March, Rapporteur Senka Barudanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) introduced the draft report of the meeting (CBD/SBSTTA/24/Part2/L.1), noting that it is largely procedural. She further said that the report of the first part of SBSTTA-24 will be incorporated into the final version.
On organizational matters, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION requested inclusion of its statement on the election of officers in the final report.
On the GBF, COLOMBIA noted its deep concern that the item had been left in brackets.
On marine and coastal biodiversity, CHILE and COLOMBIA requested to be added as supporters of DENMARK’s statement of their reluctance to agree to not addressing the issue further at SBSTTA-24, noting that “it was unfortunate that the agenda item was not being discussed.” CHILE proposed an additional paragraph acknowledging the severe time constraints, but that their support for the proposed way forward rests on the understanding that sufficient time would be allowed for discussion at COP-15.
On biodiversity and health, BELGIUM noted disappointment on the outcome of negotiations, and that the relevant action plan will be discussed at COP-16 rather than COP-15.
Delegates adopted the report.
Closure of the meeting: On Sunday, 27 March, bridging the end of work at SBSTTA-24 and the beginning of work for COP-15, CBD Executive Secretary Elizabeth Mrema quoted T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets”: “To make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” She noted SBSTTA’s ambitious agenda during an “unprecedented period in its history,” and highlighted progress on a proposed monitoring framework, and on biodiversity and agriculture, among others.
SBSTTA Chair Benítez highlighted the difficult virtual intersessional work prior to this meeting, and expressed his joy at being able to discuss, argue, and even disagree in person after a two-year pause. Visibly moved, he thanked his team at the SBSTTA bureau, the Secretariat, the logistics teams, and the co-leads of the contact groups and informal groups for their efforts. He closed the meeting at 5:06 pm.
SBI Chair Charlotta Sörqvist (Sweden), via video, opened the meeting on Monday, 14 March, noting that the SBI agenda includes key inputs for the GBF. She explained that she was self-quarantining following a positive COVID-19 test and that Gabriele Obermayr (Austria) would chair the meeting during her absence.
Organization of work: Chair Sörqvist reminded delegates that Erik Okoree (Ghana) was elected as Rapporteur during the first part of the meeting. She provided an overview of the work ahead by agenda item, noting that 5 L documents, 11 CRP documents, and new elements on some agenda items were posted on the meeting’s website. She underscored that the four contact groups established during the first part of the meeting would continue their work during this meeting, and described their modus operandi.
BRAZIL expressed concern about the limited time devoted to resource mobilization, noting he will be submitting two non-papers during the contact group discussions. Delegates approved the organization of work with no further comments.
Review of progress in implementation: On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced the recommendation, which was adopted.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.4), the SBI recommends that the COP:
- welcome the updated analysis of NBSAPs and of the national reports and the review of progress towards the implementation of the Convention;
- welcome the efforts by parties to: reflect the Aichi Targets in their NBSAPs and implement them, reflecting IPLCs, traditional knowledge, the customary sustainable use of biodiversity, and gender issues; enhance the participation of IPLCs and stakeholders in the development and implementation of NBSAPs;
- note with deep concern that the 2015-2020 Gender Plan of Action has not been fully implemented and that the full and effective participation of IPLCs, and consideration of traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use have not been adequately reflected in the Convention’s implementation or in many NBSAPs;
- encourage parties to support national dialogues with IPLCs and relevant stakeholders on the GBF implementation; and
- request the Secretariat to organize such national dialogues subject to the availability of funds.
A number of bracketed paragraphs remain, recommending the COP to, inter alia:
- note with deep concern that: national targets through the NBSAPs are not commensurate with the collective global efforts needed to reach the Aichi Targets and the lack and adequate means of implementation; and
- consider implementing lessons from the review of progress towards the Convention’s implementation.
Annexed to the recommendation are the lessons from the review of progress towards the implementation of the Convention and its Strategic Plan 2011-2020, which remain bracketed.
Assessment and review of effectiveness of the Cartagena Protocol: On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced the final recommendation, which was adopted.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.2), the SBI recommends that the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP:
- recognize the usefulness of the Strategic Plan for the Cartagena Protocol 2011-2020 in supporting national implementation, and that the GBF must contribute to the implementation of and compliance with the Cartagena Protocol, acknowledging its relevance in achieving the three objectives of the Convention; and
- welcome the contribution of the Liaison Group on the Cartagena Protocol and the Compliance Committee to the fourth assessment and review of the Protocol and the evaluation of its Strategic Plan 2011-2020, requesting them to continue providing input, as appropriate.
On national biosafety frameworks, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP urge parties to: allocate the necessary resources and mobilize resources from all sources to support biosafety institutions; and put in place legal, administrative, and other measures to implement their obligations. The section contains a bracketed reference on urging parties to reaffirm the precautionary approach.
On coordination and support, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP, inter alia:
- welcome the support for capacity building in furtherance of the Cartagena Protocol Strategic Plan;
- underline the ongoing need for strengthening the capacities of parties to implement the protocol, with bracketed reference to the ongoing rapid development of modern biotechnologies relevant to the Protocol;
- invite or request the GEF to establish a funding window for the Protocol; and
- urge parties and invite others to support efforts to strengthen capacities and enhance the Protocol’s implementation.
On risk assessment and risk management, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP recognize the need for further support in risk assessment and risk management.
On LMOs, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP commend the large number of parties that have established the capacities to identify, assess, and monitor LMOs that may have adverse effects on biodiversity, with a bracketed reference to detecting such LMOs, and recognize that further support is needed for strengthening relevant human resource and institutional capacities.
On liability and redress, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP welcome the progress by parties to the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress in introducing implementation measures, while recognizing that support is needed; and note the limited number of parties to the Cartagena Protocol that have ratified the Supplementary Protocol.
On handling, transport, packaging, and identification, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP note that most parties have reliable access to laboratory facilities and trained some laboratory personnel in the detection of LMOs, and note with concern that more support is needed.
On socio-economic considerations, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP encourage parties to promote the involvement of IPLCs and women when undertaking research on socio-economic considerations, with bracketed reference to promoting the involvement of youth, cultures, and the relation between nature and culture.
On transit, contained use, unintentional transboundary movements, and emergency measures, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP encourage those that have not yet done so to adopt the necessary measures, recognizing the need for support.
On information sharing, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP urge parties that have not yet done so to make all required information available and keep their records up to date, and request the Secretariat to ensure that adequate support is provided to the Biosafety Clearing-House.
On compliance and review, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP recognize the need for parties to have in place monitoring and enforcement implementation systems, and request the Secretariat to continue following up with parties that have not yet fully complied with their obligations.
On public awareness and participation, education, and training, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP note progress in the development of mechanisms for public participation in decision making on LMOs.
On outreach and cooperation, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP stress the importance of cooperation among parties as well as with IPLCs and other relevant stakeholders. A bracketed recommendation encourages parties to provide support for effective participation in biotechnological and biosafety research activities.
Post-2020 global biodiversity framework: Post-2020 implementation plan and capacity-building action plan for the Cartagena Protocol: This agenda item was discussed in a contact group co-chaired by Rita Andorkó (Hungary) and Rigobert Ntep (Cameroon).
On Thursday, 24 March, contact group Co-Chair Ntep reminded delegates that the group had met three times during the first part of SBI-3. He pointed delegates to document CBD/SBI/3/CRP.14, which is the result of those deliberations and, as requested by parties, splits the implementation and capacity-building plan into two separate plans. The document contains a draft recommendation to COP-15; the draft implementation plan, including a table structured around goals, objectives, indicators, and outcomes; and the draft capacity-building action plan, including sections on goals, key areas for capacity building, capacity-building activities, indicators, outcome, and actors. Delegates discussed the indicators for the capacity-building action plan and a column on actors in the capacity-building plan.
On Saturday, 26 March, in plenary Chair Sörqvist introduced the document (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.14/Rev.1). Contact group Co-Chair Andorkó reported that the group held one meeting to address outstanding issues. She noted that parties agreed to keep a column on indicators on the capacity-building action plan, and made amendments. Many delegates requested deletion of a column on actors, but a regional group preferred retaining it. She added that parties agreed to develop two separate decisions on the implementation plan and the capacity-building action plan.
The EU noted that some paragraphs were missing at the end of the draft recommendation, addressing the mid-term assessment with regard to the Cartagena Protocol. The Secretariat explained that the draft recommendation was streamlined following instructions by the contact group, pointing to a relevant operative paragraph.
Parties approved the CRP. An L document was developed for further consideration.
On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist presented the recommendation to the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP on the implementation plan and capacity-building action plan for the Cartagena Protocol (CBD/SBI/3/L.11). MALAWI proposed brackets on paragraphs with ongoing discussions on: the adoption of the implementation plan contained in Annex I; adoption of the capacity-building action plan, as contained in Annex II; welcoming the adoption of the GBF; and welcoming the long-term strategic framework for capacity development.
The recommendation was adopted with these changes.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.11), the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP of the Cartagena Protocol adopt the implementation plan as contained in Annex I; welcome the GBF; and recognize the complementarity with GBF implementation and its contribution to the achievement of the biosafety target in the GBF.
The SBI further recommends that the COP/MOP urge parties and other governments: to review and align their national action plans and programmes, including their NBSAPs, with the implementation plan.
The SBI recommends that the COP/MOP decide that the baseline for the implementation plan shall comprise information gathered in the fourth reporting cycle; and to conduct a mid-term evaluation of the implementation plan in conjunction with the fifth assessment and review of the Protocol.
The SBI further recommends that the COP/MOP request:
- the Secretariat to include in the reporting format for the fifth national report on the implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety questions designed to elicit information on the indicators of the implementation plan; and to analyze and synthesize that information to facilitate the midterm evaluation in conjunction with the fifth assessment and review of the Cartagena Protocol;
- the Liaison Group on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Compliance Committee to contribute to the mid-term evaluation of the implementation plan, and to submit its conclusions for consideration by the SBI; and
- SBI-5 to consider the information and conclusions by the Liaison Group and the Compliance Committee, and to submit its findings and recommendations to a future COP/MOP to the Cartagena Protocol with a view to facilitating the mid-term evaluation of the implementation plan.
On the capacity-building action plan for the Cartagena Protocol and the Nagoya Protocol, the SBI recommends that the COP/MOP:
- adopt the capacity-building action plan;
- welcome the long-term strategic framework for capacity development; and
- recognize the complementarity of the capacity-building action plan with the long-term strategic framework for capacity development.
The SBI further recommends that the COP/MOP urge parties:
- to review and align, as appropriate, their national action plans and programmes relevant to the implementation of the Protocol, including NBSAPs, with the capacity-building action plan;
- with donors, to allocate adequate resources necessary to expedite the implementation of the capacity-building action plan; and
- mobilize resources from all sources, including through international cooperation and the private sector.
The SBI also recommends that the COP/MOP decide that the baseline for the capacity-building action plan shall comprise information gathered in the fourth reporting cycle; and to conduct a mid-term evaluation of the capacity-building action plan in conjunction with the mid-term evaluation of the implementation plan.
Parties disagreed on whether to recognize the role of the GEF in funding implementation of the Plan and operating the financial mechanism. They also differed on whether the COP should encourage national biosafety authorities to support the implementation of the capacity-building action or should encourage parties, through the national competent authorities, to identify relevant actors to support the implementation of the plan.
Gender plan of action for the GBF: This agenda item was discussed in plenary and in a single contact group session, co-chaired by Melissa Laverde (Colombia) and Scott Wilson (Canada).
On Friday, 18 March, the Secretariat introduced the relevant document (SBI/3/4/Add.2/Rev.2) and described the consultation process, comprised of virtual discussions and written submissions, which took place in June-July 2021. She noted that the document includes elements of a draft recommendation and contains, as an annex, the draft gender plan of action, with sections on: purpose, modalities, expected outcomes and objectives, and associated elements of the plan.
In the discussion, many parties emphasized the importance of mainstreaming gender equality and responsiveness as overarching concepts for the GBF. They further underscored the need to recognize women’s role in biodiversity conservation and ensure their equal participation in all activities, including benefit-sharing and decision making.
On Saturday evening, 19 March, in the contact group, parties discussed a non-paper on the draft gender plan of action, focusing on, inter alia: modalities, objectives, indicative actions, possible deliverables, proposed timelines, and responsible actors.
On Saturday, 26 March, in plenary, Chair Sörqvist introduced the draft gender plan of action for the GBF (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.18). She noted that the document had been thoroughly negotiated in both the relevant contact group and an informal Friends of the Co-Chairs Group.
The DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO and ALGERIA reiterated that all CRPs directly linked to the GBF should remain bracketed.
The CRP was approved with these amendments.
On Monday, 28 March, CANADA requested lifting the brackets around the draft recommendation to the COP and the draft gender plan of action, annexed to document CBD/SBI/3/L.12. ALGERIA requested retaining brackets around references to “sexual orientation and gender identity.” Delegates agreed to bracket the section on intersecting ways in which gender inequalities may be amplified.
The recommendation was adopted.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.12), the SBI recommends that the COP, inter alia:
- adopt the gender plan of action; and
- urge parties, and invite others, to implement the gender plan of action to support and advance gender mainstreaming and gender responsive implementation of the GBF.
The SBI also recommends that the COP request the Secretariat in collaboration with IPLCs, women, youth, and others to facilitate outreach and capacity-building and development activities to support the implementation of the gender plan of action; and to undertake a mid-term review of implementation of the gender plan of action, identifying progress, lessons learned, and further work to be undertaken for consideration at SBI-5.
Communication for the GBF: On Friday, 18 March, in plenary, the Secretariat presented the relevant document (CBD/SBI/3/4/Add.1/Rev.1), which sets out the framework for developing the communication strategy. He reported that the document has been reviewed by the Informal Advisory Committee on Communication, Education and Public Awareness, and other communications experts.
Following the discussion, Chair Sörqvist noted that a CRP would be prepared for further consideration.
On Saturday, 26 March Chair Sörqvist introduced the relevant document (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.17). Following the discussion, delegates approved the CRP with amendments. An L document was produced.
On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist presented the recommendation on the GBF communications strategy (CBD/SBI/3/L.14).
AUSTRALIA asked for the tripartite definition of FPIC to be captured in full on a paragraph regarding the role of IPLCs. The recommendation was adopted.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.14), the SBI recommends that the COP welcome the framework for a communications strategy to support the implementation of the GBF, as annexed to the present recommendation.
The annex contains the framework for a communications strategy to support GBF implementation and contains sections on: background, communication, access to information and awareness, scope and purpose of the strategy, goals, audiences, branding, open-source coordination mechanism, and channels and multipliers, key messaging, measuring progress and resources.
Other matters related to the GBF: On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist presented the draft recommendation on other matters related to the GBF (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.9). She noted that the first two paragraphs, recommending that the COP adopt the post-2020 gender plan of action, and welcoming the framework for a communications strategy, are now redundant as they had both been adopted by the SBI. Delegates agreed to their deletion.
On the recommendation that, following COP-15, meetings of the COP be held every two years unless otherwise decided by the COP, the EU suggested bracketing until a final decision on the periodicity of meetings is taken.
The draft recommendation was adopted as amended.
In the evening, Chair Sörqvist introduced the final recommendation that addresses the periodicity of meetings (CBD/SBI/3/L.20), which was adopted with no further comments.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.20), the SBI recommends that COP-15 adopt a decision along the following lines: decides that, following the COP-15, meetings of the COP will be held every two years unless otherwise decided by the COP.
Resource mobilization and the financial mechanism: Resource mobilization: This agenda item was addressed in a contact group, co-chaired by Ines Verleye (Belgium) and Shonisani Munzhedzi (South Africa), and in plenary.
In the contact group’s first meeting on Thursday, 17 March, parties addressed the draft recommendation on resource mobilization (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.15). They focused on national finance plans and on, inter alia:
- developed country funding support as a source for implementation of the Convention;
- the eligibility of all developing countries for biodiversity financial support; and
- the process to amend the list of developed country parties to the Convention.
On Monday evening, 21 March, the contact group focused on a non-paper produced by the Co-Chairs, addressing: the preparation of national finance plans in the context of NBSAPs; and work of relevant international organizations.
On Saturday, 26 March, in plenary, Chair Sörqvist drew attention to the conference room paper (CRP) on resource mobilization (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.15/Rev.1). She said that the relevant contact group had advanced work related to resource mobilization but could not finalize discussions due to lack of time. She explained that paragraphs 26-40 as well as Annex 1 (resource mobilization component of the GBF) had not been considered by the contact group. She highlighted additional elements on resource mobilization for the GBF, as suggested by parties, were contained in a distinct section of the document. She explained that they should be considered as placeholders to allow further discussion in preparation for and during COP-15.
The CRP was approved with additional brackets as requested by ARGENTINA and the EU. The AFRICAN GROUP called for a formal meeting of the SBI prior to COP-15 to continue discussions on resource mobilization and the financial mechanism. An L document was produced for further consideration.
On Monday, 28 March, the Secretariat presented two additional paragraphs on intersessional work negotiated in a small group to the draft recommendation on resource mobilization (CBD/SBI/3/L.9):
- inviting the Co-Chairs of the SBI contact group on resource mobilization, with guidance from the SBI Chair, in consultation with the Bureau, and the Co-Chairs of WG2020 to facilitate an informal consultative process on resource mobilization, based on the concepts reflected in the section entitled “Additional elements on resource mobilization,” and reflected in the proposed resource mobilization component provided in Annex 1, with a view to enhance mutual understanding of the issues at hand and of the expectations by the parties, and to explore opportunities for convergence; and
- recommending that the outcomes of deliberations on resource mobilization and the informal consultative process on resource mobilization be made available to the WG2020 for its consideration when it continues its deliberations in future meetings and at COP-15, as appropriate.
JAPAN and SWITZERLAND asked for clarification about the intersessional process, in terms of the number of meetings, and whether they will be held virtually.
Following deliberations, SBI Chair Sörqvist suggested specifying that there be no more than two meetings before the next meeting of WG2020. The additional language now foresees to: facilitate, subject to availability of financial resources, an informal consultative process on resource mobilization, in a virtual format, with no more than two meetings before the next meeting of the WG2020, and open to all parties.
With this addition, the recommendation was adopted.
Final Outcome: The final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.9), is heavily bracketed throughout. It contains sections on the GEF, financial reporting, the process to update annexes for decisions I/2 and VIII/18, synergies among conventions, supportive action on scaling and aligning incentive measures as per CBD Article 11, financial reporting, strengthening partnerships, supportive activities of the Secretariat, and additional elements on resource mobilization. The sections on the successor to the current strategy for resource mobilization, and national finance plans further contain bracketed paragraphs under options A and B, respectively. Option A contains decisions inviting parties to take the strategy for resource mobilization into consideration as a flexible framework to guide implementation, and for donors, including the GEF, to provide technical and financial support for implementation of the strategy. Option B contains requests to SBI-4 to provide recommendations for revision of the current strategy at COP-16 to facilitate timely GBF implementation.
The annexed draft resource mobilization component of the GBF, draft elements for a possible successor to the current strategy for resource mobilization, and the terms of reference for a global biodiversity fund, are also heavily bracketed throughout and as a whole.
Financial mechanism: This agenda item was addressed in plenary and in a contact group, co-chaired by Verleye and Munzhedzi.
On Monday, 14 March, Acting Chair Obermayr opened the session. The Secretariat introduced two documents related to the eighth replenishment of the GEF (GEF-8): the executive summary of the report of the full assessments of funds (CBD/SBI/3/6/Add.2/Rev.1) and draft proposals for a four-year, outcome-oriented framework of programme priorities during the replenishment period (CBD/SBI/3/6/Add.4). They also introduced two information documents, on additional submissions received from biodiversity-related conventions (CBD/SBI/3/INF/43) and on aligning guidance to the GEF with the post-2020 GBF (CBD/SBI/3/INF/45).
Regional groups and parties shared introductory comments on the introduced documents and their implications for the financial mechanism, including: the role of nature-based solutions in the financial mechanism; synergies between the GEF and other biodiversity-related agreements; and resource mobilization.
Delegates highlighted the GEF’s role as the financial mechanism for the GBF, calling for support of all countries in implementation, particularly developing and vulnerable ones. Some urged recognition of national sovereignty on financial plans and project decisions in future funding.
Many parties stressed the need to learn from past mistakes and proposed setting up a global biodiversity fund to support implementation. Some called for a 1% levy on retail sales in developed countries of all products derived from biodiversity, while others suggested devoting 1% of the global GDP, namely USD 800 billion, for biodiversity conservation. Some called for an enhanced framework to support developing countries meeting the incremental costs of implementation of the Convention and the GBF, stressing the need for capacity building and technology transfer.
On Wednesday evening, 23 March, discussions in the contact group focused on a non-paper on a draft recommendation regarding a draft four-year outcome-oriented framework of programme priorities for GEF-8.
On Saturday, 26 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced document CBD/SBI/3/CRP.20 on the financial mechanism, noting it contains elements of guidance to the GEF. She said that the fourth operative paragraph of the draft recommendation has bracketed text, as does the annex, which contains the four-year framework of programme priorities of the Convention for GEF-8.
The CRP was approved with no further comments. An L document was produced.
On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced the recommendation on the financial mechanism (CBD/SBI/3/L.3).
The RUSSIAN FEDERATION requested adding preambular language “reaffirming the utmost importance of Article 21 (financial mechanism) for the full implementation of the Convention.” The addition was bracketed.
The recommendation was adopted.
Final Outcome: All the operative provisions remain bracketed in the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.3), where the SBI recommends that the COP, inter alia:
- adopt: the four-year outcome-oriented framework of programme priorities of the CBD for GEF-8, aligned with the GBF; the annexed additional guidance to the financial mechanism; and the terms of reference for the sixth quadrennial review of the effectiveness of the financial mechanism; and
- request the Secretariat to ensure the report on the sixth quadrennial review of the effectiveness of the financial mechanism to be prepared three months in advance for consideration by COP-16.
The annex contains the terms of reference for the sixth review of the effectiveness of the financial mechanism with brackets throughout.
Elements of guidance to the GEF: This item was discussed in a contact group, co-chaired by Verleye and Munzhedzi.
On Thursday evening, 17 March, delegates addressed a non-paper on a draft recommendation concerning a draft four-year outcome-oriented framework of programme priorities for GEF-8.
On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced the recommendation on elements of guidance to the GEF, which was adopted.
Final Outcome: In the final decision (CBD/SBI/3/L.10), the SBI: recommends for the consideration of COP-15 the annexed four-year outcome-oriented framework of programme priorities of the CBD for GEF-8; and requests the Secretariat to prepare the draft consolidated guidance to the GEF for consideration by COP-15.
The paragraphs of the draft recommendation to the COP remain bracketed in part or in full, where SBI recommends that COP-15 request the GEF to include in its report to the COP and the COP/MOPs an explanation of how GEF-8 is contributing to the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols and to each 2030 target, milestone, and the 2050 goal of the GBF.
The annexed four-year outcome-oriented framework of the programme of priorities of the CBD for GEF-8 remains heavily bracketed.
Capacity building, cooperation, technology transfer, knowledge management, and communication: Communication: On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced the recommendation on communication, noting it has been discussed during the first part of SBI-3. The recommendation was adopted without comments.
Final Outcome: The final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.5) remains bracketed as a whole and heavily throughout, including in provisions recommending that the COP: renew the mandate of the Informal Advisory Committee on Communication, Education and Public Awareness; decide it hold at least one in-person meeting; and request the Secretariat to develop additional communication activities, update the programme of work on communication, and report on progress.
Evaluation of the strategic framework for capacity building for the Nagoya Protocol: This item was discussed in plenary on Tuesday, 22 March. Chair Sörqvist introduced a draft recommendation on the evaluation of the strategic framework for capacity building and development to support the effective implementation of the Nagoya Protocol (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.6).
Following the discussion, the CRP was approved with brackets. The Secretariat produced an L document for further consideration.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.7), the SBI recommends that the Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP:
- urge parties and encourage others in a position to do so to: expand their efforts to build and develop the capacities of developing country parties, in particular least developed countries, small island developing states (SIDS), and countries with economies in transition, to implement the Nagoya Protocol, and continue to make available information on capacity-building and development needs, initiatives, and resources, and share best practices and lessons learned on the ABS Clearing-House; and
- request the Secretariat to prepare, in consultation with parties, a revised strategic framework for capacity building and development to support effective Nagoya Protocol implementation, in line with the GBF, the long-term strategic framework for capacity building and development to support GBF implementation.
The annex contains specific recommendations for continued capacity building to support the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol with a number of brackets.
Capacity building and development, technical and scientific cooperation, and technology transfer: This agenda item was discussed in a contact group chaired by Laura Bermúdez (Colombia) and Haike Jan Haanstra (Netherlands), a Friends of the Co-Chair Group, which discussed options of institutional mechanisms, and modalities to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation, and in plenary.
On Wednesday, 16 March, contact group discussions focused on Section B (technical and scientific cooperation) of the draft recommendation on capacity building and development, technical and scientific cooperation, and technology transfer (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.13).
On Friday, 18 March, the contact group discussed a non-paper introduced by Co-Chair Bermudez, based on the previous discussion.
On Saturday, 26 March, in plenary, Chair Sörqvist introduced CBD/SBI/3/CRP.13/Rev.1, inviting the contact group Co-Chairs to report back. Co-Chair Haanstra reported that consensus was reached regarding “taking note of” rather than “welcoming” the proposals to strengthen technical and scientific cooperation in support of the GBF, as contained in Annex II.
Co-Chair Bermúdez reported that parties agreed to: add a preambular paragraph noting that the GBF and related decisions are to be implemented in accordance with national priorities and capabilities; and delete references to “according to their capabilities” in the operative paragraphs of the draft recommendation.
Parties approved the CRP with these changes. An L document was developed.
On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist presented the final recommendation on capacity building and development, technical and scientific cooperation, and technology transfer (CBD/SBI/3/L.13). Following discussions, the recommendation was adopted.
Final Outcome: The final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.13) is heavily bracketed throughout and contains sections on capacity building and development, and technical and scientific cooperation. The annexes contain many brackets related to: the long-term strategic framework for capacity building and development; proposals to strengthen technical and scientific cooperation in support of the GBF; the draft terms of reference of the informal advisory group on technical and scientific cooperation; and the inclusive process to review and renew technical and scientific cooperation programmes.
Knowledge management and the clearing-house mechanism: On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced the draft recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.4). She suggested, due to lack of time, bracketing the whole recommendation, developing an L document, and forwarding it fully bracketed to COP-15.
The EU opposed, noting that the document had not been discussed and stressing that knowledge management is an important element of the monitoring framework.
In the evening, following a number of interventions, delegates approved the document as both a CRP and an L document.
Final Outcome: The final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.21) is heavily bracketed. Some of the operative paragraphs include references to:
- the annexed knowledge management component of the GBF;
- invitations to implement the actions outlined therein;
- requests for support thereof;
- related initiatives;
- global and regional initiatives for knowledge generation and sharing; and
- requests to the Secretariat to support this work.
The annexed knowledge management component of the GBF is bracketed as a whole and includes appendices on strategic actions to enhance knowledge management for effective GBF implementation; and strategic actions to facilitate the implementation of the knowledge management component.
Cooperation with other conventions and initiatives: On Friday, 18 March, SBI Chair Sörqvist noted that SBI would resume the first reading of this item, which began during the first part of SBI-3. She introduced the relevant document (CBD/SBI/3/10), as well as a number of information documents, including a report of activities on cooperation with other conventions during the intersessional period (CBD/SBI/INF/31).
Discussions continued on Tuesday, 22 March, and a CRP was developed for further consideration.
On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced document CBD/SBI/3/CRP.19, noting that it contained a draft SBI decision and a draft recommendation to COP-15. Following discussions, the recommendation was adopted as bracketed.
In the evening, Chair Sörqvist presented the final SBI decision and recommendation to the COP (CBD/SBI/3/L.19).
AUSTRALIA reported willingness to refer to the term “crisis” in the text on interlinked global crises of biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution.
The final decision and recommendation were adopted.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.19), the SBI recommends the COP invite the WG2020 Co-Chairs and parties to take into consideration in the further development of GBF:
- the report and conclusions of the follow-up workshop of biodiversity-related conventions on the GBF (Bern II);
- possible new areas and approaches for enhancing cooperation, as well as lessons learned; and
- the recommendations of the Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention at its 11th meeting.
The SBI recommends that the COP welcome the contributions of other biodiversity-related conventions, MEAs and others to enhancing synergies in GBF implementation; and encourages the strengthening of cooperation and synergies among relevant conventions and MEAs by establishing or renewing cooperation frameworks.
The SBI recommends that the COP invite, inter alia:
- the Liaison Group of Biodiversity-related Conventions, as well as the informal advisory group on synergies, to enhance cooperation, reduce inefficiencies and facilitate synergies, between the heads of the secretariats of biodiversity-related conventions;
- the UN Environment Management Group to facilitate UN system-wide coordination towards CBD objectives, its Protocols, and the GBF; and
- the Global Partnership on Plant Conservation to prepare a set of complementary actions related to plant conservation to support the implementation of the GBF aligned with the final version of the framework.
The SBI further recommends that the COP request the Secretariat to:
- identify, develop, and provide technical support;
- continue to implement key actions to enhance synergies among biodiversity-related conventions;
- continue working with the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent on topics related to biodiversity and traditional knowledge;
- advance, with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and IUCN, the Joint Programme of Work on the Links between Biological and Cultural Diversity; and
- collaborate with the World Health Organization (WHO) to facilitate consideration of access to pathogens and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in its ongoing work on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.
Mechanisms for reporting, assessment, and review: This agenda item was addressed in a contact group co-chaired by Andrew Stott (UK) and Gillian Guthrie (Jamaica), and in plenary.
On Tuesday evening, 15 March in the contact group, delegates discussed paragraphs in the draft recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.5), relating to indicators in national reporting, national planning, and global assessments.
On Wednesday evening, 16 March, discussions focused on, inter alia: a request to parties to review and update their NBSAPs vis-à-vis each of the goals and targets of the GBF; and encouraging parties to facilitate coordination among focal points, IPLCs, and stakeholders.
On Tuesday evening, 22 March, delegates addressed a revised non-paper restructured into five sections on: planning, focusing on NBSAPs and national targets/commitments; reporting, addressing national reports and indicators; review, focusing on the global stocktake and assessments; non-state actors; and means of implementation.
On Thursday evening, 24 March, delegates addressed the revised and restructured version of the non-paper. They focused on, inter alia, alternative paragraphs relating to headline indicators in the section on reporting; and debated at length a section on review, discussing various paragraphs, including on: overall ambition, information to inform the review, and timing.
On Monday, 28 March, in plenary, Chair Sörqvist recalled the work of the contact group on options to enhance planning, reporting, and review mechanisms during the first part of SBI-3, and presented the draft recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.5/Rev.1.). Contact group Co-Chair Guthrie explained that the group was not able to discuss the annex on guidance on NBSAPs due to insufficient time.
Chair Sörqvist proposed extending the peer-review of the annex, as well as of three other annexes (on non-state actor commitment guidance; national reporting guidance and template; and country-by-country review modalities) that were excluded from the Group’s deliberations due to insufficient submissions from the previous review period. She proposed extending the peer-review period to 30 April 2022. The AFRICAN GROUP urged for a longer extension, suggesting 16 May 2022. Chair Sörqvist noted that a further extension would affect the requirement to present documents six weeks in advance of meetings.
On the preambular part, NORWAY suggested text to ensure that the outcomes of the options to enhance planning, reporting, and review mechanisms are made available to the WG2020 to inform its work towards the finalization of the GBF. COLOMBIA suggested “inviting the WG2020 to consider the outcomes of the extended peer-review of the annexes in future deliberations.” Several parties, including SWITZERLAND, CHILE, and ARGENTINA, supported this text.
Belize, on behalf of SIDS, recommended flexibility in the application of the headline indicators, based on their adoption within NBSAPs and availability of resources, capacities, technologies, and financial mechanisms required for implementation. She further called for explicitly mentioning SIDS within the review framework, and removing brackets around reference to CBD Article 20 (financial resources). Chair Sörqvist said the statement will be included in the meeting’s report. The draft recommendation was adopted.
In the evening, Chair Sörqvist introduced the final recommendation, which was adopted with no comments.
Final Outcome: In its draft recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.15), the SBI:
- recommends that the outcomes of the agenda item be made available for consideration by the WG2020; and
- requests that the Secretariat facilitate a peer review of the included annexes on guidance for national reports, and invites the WG2020 to consider the outcome.
Furthermore, the SBI recommends that the COP encourage parties to apply the post-2020 gender plan of action across the GBF.
On planning, the SBI recommends that the COP:
- request parties to revise and update their NBSAPs; and
- encourage parties to use the headline indicators, supplemented by national indicators
A number of paragraphs remain bracketed, including, among others, on revising and updating national targets, and communicating them through the Convention’s clearing-house mechanism.
On reporting, the SBI recommends that the COP:
- request parties to submit their seventh and eighth national reports, including information on implementation of NBSAPs;
- encourage parties to collaborate with other reporting processes, where appropriate.
Disagreements remain on, among others, adopting guidelines for the seventh and eighth national reports; requesting parties to use headline indicators in national reports; and deciding that parties will provide information on financial resources, technology transfer, and capacity-building.
A section on review remains extensively bracketed, with disagreements on, among others, a global review of progress on implementing national targets for the GBF; how to conduct a global stocktake process; and revising or updating NBSAPs.
On stakeholder and non-state actor engagement, the SBI recommends that the COP:
- invite parties and other governments to cooperate at the regional and international levels to implement the post-2020 GBF; and
- recognize corresponding elements within other biodiversity-related MEAs.
A paragraph on means of implementation remains largely bracketed.
Review of the effectiveness of the processes under the Convention and its protocols: On Tuesday, 22 March, Chair Sörqvist highlighted progress achieved during the first part of SBI-3 and opened discussions on the draft recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.10).
Discussions continued on Thursday, 24 March. The CRP was approved with amendments and brackets. An L document was developed for further consideration.
Final Outcome: In its draft recommendation to the COP/MOP (CBD/SBI/3/L.8), the SBI makes the following recommendations to the COP, the Cartagena Protocol COP/MOP, and the Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP.
On experience with concurrent meetings, the SBI recommends that the COP and COP/MOPs request the Secretariat to further improve the planning and organization of future concurrent meetings on the basis of current experience.
On experience with virtual meetings, the SBI recommends that the COP and COP/MOPs:
- request the Secretariat to gather views from parties and stakeholders in conducting virtual and hybrid meetings in 2021-22, and prepare options for procedures for such meetings; and
- request the SBI to make recommendations to the COP/MOP at their next meeting.
The recommendation includes three paragraphs in brackets:
- agreeing that formal meetings in a virtual setting do not set a precedent for similar meetings in the future under the Convention;
- calling on parties and observers to continue to participate in virtual and hybrid meetings; and
- requesting the Secretariat to prepare an analysis of options to further improve the effectiveness of meetings under the CBD.
Mainstreaming of biodiversity: Engagement with subnational governments and local authorities for GBF implementation: On Thursday, 24 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced the relevant document and opened the floor for comments.
On Monday, 28 March, SBI Chair Sörqvist introduced CBD/SBI/3/CRP.8, on engagement with subnational governments, cities, and other local authorities to enhance implementation of the GBF, including a plan of action on subnational governments, cities, and local authorities for biodiversity.
Following discussions, delegates approved the draft recommendation with existing brackets.
In the evening, Chair Sörqvist introduced the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.16), which was adopted.
Final Outcome: The final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.16) contains a number of brackets. Some of the operative paragraphs include references to: the annexed updated plan of action on subnational governments, cities, and other local authorities for biodiversity, along with invitations to implement it at all levels, in an inclusive manner, and to provide the necessary resources; and a potential review by SBI-5 of the role of subnational governments, cities, and other local authorities integrated with the regular review of CBD and GBF implementation and the long-term approach to mainstreaming.
The annex contains the plan of action on subnational governments, cities and other local authorities for biodiversity (2021-2030).
Mainstreaming of biodiversity within and across sectors and other strategic actions: On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced a draft recommendation on the long-term strategic approach to mainstreaming (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.16), which is annexed to the draft recommendation. The Secretariat explained that following discussions in an informal group during the first part of SBI-3, the document was streamlined to allow parties to develop their own approaches, including by choosing from a menu of suggested activities.
Following discussions, the draft recommendation was approved with amendments.
In the evening, Chair Sörqvist introduced the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.17), which was adopted.
Final Outcome: The final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.17), is bracketed, including references to: recognition of the work of the Informal Advisory Group on Biodiversity Mainstreaming; the annexed long-term strategic approach to mainstreaming biodiversity as an important contribution to GBF development; invitations to implement this voluntary guidance tool; requests to report information; and requests to the Secretariat to support this work.
The annex containing the long-term strategic approach to mainstreaming biodiversity is also bracketed as a whole.
Specialized international ABS instruments in the context of Article 4 of the Nagoya Protocol: On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced the recommendation to the Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP (CBD/SBI/3/L.6).
The AFRICAN GROUP expressed: procedural concerns, noting that the L document was developed during the online session, with limited participation from the region; legal concerns regarding SBI’s mandate; and substantive concerns on the document’s content.
He suggested adding to the draft recommendation: that the Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP has the authority to assess, determine, review, or terminate the status of instruments as specialized international ABS instruments in the context of Nagoya Protocol Article 4.4, based on a set of criteria contained in an annex to the document; and a request to the Secretariat to receive and submit instruments to Nagoya Protocol parties for their consideration four months prior to the respective meeting.
He further requested amending the indicative criteria for specialized international ABS instruments, noting that such instruments should: be agreed or adopted through an intergovernmental process and/or explicitly endorsed by states through a decision of the governing body of an international organization; and create legal certainty with respect to access to genetic resources or traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, and with respect to application of FPIC, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits.
The suggestions were bracketed, and the recommendation was adopted.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.6), the SBI recommends that COP-15:
- invite parties to take into account, each of the indicative criteria in developing, applying access and benefit-sharing measures, and endorsing international instruments that include access and benefit-sharing provisions;
- request parties to include information in their national reports through the ABS Clearing House; and
- decide to review the present decision in the context of the assessment and review process with a view to promote coherence in the international regime on ABS.
The annex contains indicative criteria for specialized international ABS instruments in the context of the Nagoya Protocol.
Global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism: On Monday, 28 March, Chair Sörqvist introduced the draft recommendation to the Nagoya Protocol COP/MOP (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.12), noting that the document is heavily bracketed and suggesting developing an L document without further discussion.
The AFRICAN GROUP reiterated its position that a global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism would be conducive to the objectives of the Convention, noting serious limitations of the bilateral model.
PERU emphasized that the relevant AHTEG should be regionally balanced and include IPLC representatives.
The draft recommendation was approved.
In the evening, Chair Sörqvist introduced the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.18), which was adopted.
Final Outcome: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/L.18), the SBI recommends that the COP takes note of the submissions of views, information, and the peer-reviewed study to identify specific cases of genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources in transboundary situations, or for which it is not possible to grant or obtain prior informed consent.
Parties did not agree on how to phrase the decision on the need for a global multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism under Article 10 of the Nagoya Protocol. The recommendation on evaluating potential modalities for a multilateral approach to address transboundary situations remained bracketed, as did the establishment of an AHTEG on modalities of a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism. The annex containing terms of reference for the AHTEG is also bracketed.
Adoption of the report: On Monday, 28 March, Rapporteur Eric Amaning Okoree (Ghana) presented the draft report of the meeting (CBD/SBI/3/Part2/L.1).
BRAZIL amended the reference to their statement, adding that they presented two non-papers on the implementation of Article 21 of the Convention and on payments for ecosystem services.
On resource mobilization and the financial mechanism, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION requested inclusion of their statement regarding the importance of financial resources for GBF implementation and the need to ensure full access of GEF funding without influence of unilateral decisions outside of the GEF.
Under other matters, the EU stated that the meetings were held under the “dark cloud” of the unprovoked attack on Ukraine. He highlighted that comments by the Russian Federation on the occasion of the SBSTTA Bureau election showed a lack of respect for the Convention’s procedures. He noted that the EU members that are also members of the CEE have traditionally also occupied a place in the Bureau. He asked for reflection of this statement in the meeting’s report and also in the SBSTTA report. New Zealand, speaking also on behalf of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Monaco, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the UK, and the US (JUSSCANNZ GROUP), supported this statement.
The RUSSIAN FEDERATION responded, saying they had already made their position clear regarding the rationale for the military option taken. She objected to the inclusion of the EU statement in the report, saying it is not relevant to the current meeting. She added that the SBSTTA report has already been adopted and cannot be reopened.
With these and other minor amendments, the meeting’s report (SBI/3/Part2/L.1) was approved.
Closure of the meeting: CBD Executive Secretary Elizabeth Mrema remarked that SBI had taken on a “challenging agenda,” but had nevertheless made significant progress. She thanked all involved, including technical and venue support staff, for their “tireless efforts.” She reminded delegates that “the world will accept nothing less than a clear, ambitious, and transformative framework on biodiversity,” but expressed great hope, as all involved had risen above the difficult circumstances despite differing views.
SBI Chair Sörqvist thanked delegates for their work, which would ensure that the work of the CBD “will be turned into action on the ground.” Thanking delegates, the COP presidency and Bureau, the CBD team, interpreters, and technical support staff, she underlined that it had been “an honor” for her to serve as SBI Chair for the past two years, and wished all good luck at COP-15. She closed the meeting at 10:02 pm.
Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Basile van Havre (Canada), Co-Chairs of the WG2020, opened the meeting on Monday, 14 March by reminding participants that “investing in biodiversity is investing in the future of humanity,” and welcoming recent biodiversity-related resolutions from the UN Environment Assembly.
Organization of Work: Co-Chair van Havre presented the organization of work (CBD/WG2020/3/1/Add.2/Rev.3). BRAZIL expressed frustration with the current mode of drafting, calling the current text “a Northern view of a Southern framework” and stressing that drafting should be party-driven. The organization of work was adopted without objections.
Progress since WG2020-2: Co-Chair Ogwal provided an update on the work that was performed virtually between 2020-2022. He highlighted the Co-Chairs’ reflections (CBD/WG2020/3/6), which emerged as a result of the virtual work.
GBF: On Monday, 14 March, Co-Chair van Havre elaborated on the work of the contact groups established in the first part of WG2020-3 and the origin of the non-papers for negotiations. He explained that the contact groups will continue work during the resumed session and, following their first respective meetings, non-papers will be developed based on the submissions. These non-papers will thereafter become the working documents for the group’s negotiations and be presented as CRP documents at the WG2020-3 plenary.
On Tuesday, 29 March, Co-Chair van Havre presented the draft decision (CBD/WG2020/3/CRP.2), noting that the deliberations of Contact Group 2’s Tuesday morning meeting would be appended as an addendum to the document. He noted that the annex (outcomes of part II of the WG2020) will be the basis of discussions moving forward.
GABON, speaking on behalf of a like-minded group of developing countries on biodiversity and development, urged measurable, predictable, effective, new, and additional financial resources and institutional arrangements to support developing countries in GBF implementation. The group called for commitment to GBF Target 19 on mobilizing developed countries to jointly raise at least USD 100 billion annually initially and rising to USD 700 billion annually by 2030 and beyond. He highlighted that the financial mechanism should include an agreement on the establishment of a new global biodiversity fund to complement the GEF for the pooling and disbursement of biodiversity-related financing under Article 20 of the Convention. CHINA supported this statement, saying the experiences and lessons from the implementation towards the Aichi Targets have shown the challenges developing countries face, urging for financial support.
PARAGUAY requested brackets around Goal C on the benefits arising from the sustainable use of biodiversity and Target 13 on measures to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits that arise from the utilization of genetic resources, including DSI.
NORWAY noted sections on transparency and accountability that were not included in the document are integral to the GBF and should be allocated adequate time in the future sessions.
ARGENTINA requested deleting a paragraph suggesting that the COP consider the draft GBF, taking into account the additional elements in a document on proposed headline indicators of the GBF monitoring framework (CBD/WG2020/3/3/Add.3), saying that the meeting did not have time to address it. The recommendation was deleted.
With these amendments CBD/WG2020/3/CRP.2 was approved along with CBD/WG2020/3/CRP.2/Add.1, which contains the main points of discussion under Contact Group 2 on Tuesday, 29 March. An L document was developed.
Delegates adopted the final decision with no further comments.
Final Outcome: In the final decision (CBD/WG2020/3/L.2), WG2020 takes note of the progress made in developing the GBF; agrees that the text of the mission, goals, and targets will be the basis of the negotiations at the fourth meeting of WG2020; and recommends that the COP consider the GBF with a view to its finalization and adoption.
The main outcomes on the goals and targets are heavily bracketed and include numerous alternative suggestions. This brief summary highlights the main contentious points for each goal and target under the respective contact group discussion together with hyperlinks to the annex of document CBD/WG2020/3/L.2, indicating where negotiations currently stand.
Contact Group 1 on goals, milestones, and principles and approaches: Contact Group 1, co-led by Vinod Mathur (India) and Norbert Baerlocher (Switzerland), focused on the GBF goals and milestones, as well as on structural questions such as the relationship between the framework’s goals, milestones, and targets. It further addressed a section on principles and approaches for the framework’s implementation, known as section B.bis. The group met three times, and a Friends of the Co-Leads Group on milestones was formed, co-facilitated by Melissa Laverde Ramirez (Colombia) and Virginie Dumoulin (France).
On Tuesday, 15 March, delegates addressed the GBF milestones, glossary, and principles and approaches for implementation. They further initiated discussions on Goal A, which addresses: the integrity and connectivity of natural ecosystems; species extinctions, and the abundance and distribution of depleted populations; and species’ genetic diversity.
On Friday, 18 March, parties discussed:
- Goal B on nature’s contributions to people being valued, maintained, or enhanced through conservation and sustainable use, supporting the global development agenda for the benefit of all;
- Goal C on the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the utilization of genetic resources, with a substantial increase in monetary and non-monetary benefits shared; and
- Goal D on closing the gap between available financial resources and other means of implementation, and those necessary to achieve the 2050 Vision of living in harmony with nature.
The informal Friends of Co-Leads Group co-facilitators reported that some milestones are not aligned with the intended rationale of the GBF, and that others are unclear on their objectives and links to the goals and targets. The group also noted duplicated elements, and concluded that the milestones add confusion and complexity to the structure of the framework. They reported, however, that the parties prefer to keep elements of the milestones, and proposed integration into the goals and targets, as appropriate.
On Friday, 25 March, delegates heard a report from the Friends of the Co-Leads Group on milestones and their proposed placement as set out in a non-paper containing a table with goals, milestones, and their proposed placement along with respective arguments by parties. Co-Lead Mathur suggested bracketing the milestones and invited delegates to incorporate them into the goals.
Delegates resumed discussions on Goals A-D, the 2030 mission, and section B bis.
Final Outcome: The basis for future discussion on the GBF goals and mission is contained in an annex; and section B bis in an appendix of document CBD/WG2020/3/L.2.
Goal A is comprised of three elements. On ecosystem integrity, disagreements remain on whether to consider ecosystem “resilience”; the amount by which integrity should improve, and by when; and the range of ecosystems considered. On extinction, divergences concern whether to halt or minimize extinction rates, and how to consider progress on increasing depleted species populations. On diversity, brackets are around whether to maintain or safeguard species, among others.
Goal B: Two alternative goals are presented: one on valuing, enhancing, and maintaining nature’s contributions to people through conservation, restoration, and sustainable use; and the other on sustainable use and management of biodiversity, achieving sustainable development and achieving a reduced ecological footprint. Both include bracketed text on the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.
Goal C: This goal currently has three alternatives. The primary differences between them are: whether the goal includes benefits from DSI and associated traditional knowledge; whether to contribute to conservation and sustainable use, and alternative international ABS instruments; and whether the goal mentions the SDGs.
Goal D: This goal is heavily bracketed and contains four alternatives. Major disagreements remain on how to align national and international public and private financial flows, whether to address transparency, carbon neutrality, and capacity building, among others; and on mainstreaming of biodiversity values.
Contact Group 2 on targets on reducing threats to biodiversity: Contact Group 2, co-led by Teona Karchava (Georgia) and Rosemary Paterson (New Zealand), had the mandate to consider the first eight targets of the draft GBF, focusing on reducing threats to biodiversity. The group met four times.
Discussions on Tuesday, 15 March, focused on: Target 4 (active management actions for conservation, genetic diversity, and human-wildlife conflict); Target 5 (elimination of unsustainable, illegal, and unsafe harvesting, trade, and use of wild species); Target 6 (identification and management of pathways of the introduction of IAS; and Targets 1-3 as a package. Target 1 addresses integrated, biodiversity-inclusive spatial planning. Target 2 seeks to place degraded ecosystems under restoration, ensuring connectivity among them and focusing on priority ecosystems. Target 3 focuses on conservation through systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures.
On Saturday, 19 March, delegates resumed discussion on Targets 1-3 and further addressed Target 7 (reducing pollution from all sources, including by reducing nutrients lost to the environment and pesticides, and eliminating the discharge of plastic waste) and Target 8 (minimizing the impact of climate change on biodiversity).
Discussions on Friday, 25 March, focused on Target 1 and 4-6.
On Tuesday, 29 March, the Contact Group met for its last session, addressing Targets 1-3.
Final Outcome: The basis for further discussion on Targets 1-8 is contained in document CBD/WG2020/3/L.2. The targets remain heavily bracketed. Major disagreements remain on targets related to, inter alia, recovery and conservation of species, invasive alien species, and ensuring that areas are under integrated biodiversity-inclusive spatial planning.
Contact Group 3 on targets on meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing: Contact Group 3, co-led by Gabriele Obermayr (Austria) and Gillian Guthrie (Jamaica), focused on GBF targets 9-13.
On Wednesday, 16 March, the group addressed all targets under its mandate, namely:
- Target 9 on ensuring the sustainable use of species and providing benefits to people, especially the most vulnerable;
- Target 10 on the sustainable management of agriculture, aquaculture, and forestry;
- Target 11 on nature’s contributions to regulation of air quality, quality and quantity of water, and protection from hazards and extreme events for all people;
- Target 12 on increasing the area of, access to, and benefits from green and blue spaces in urban areas; and
- Target 13 on measures at the global level to facilitate access to genetic resources, and to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, including through MAT and PIC.
On Monday, 21 March, delegates resumed deliberation of the targets on the basis of a non-paper developed by the Co-Leads.
On Saturday, 26 March, parties discussed Targets 10-13.
Final Outcome: The basis for further discussion on Targets 9-13 is contained in document CBD/WG2020/3/L.2.
Major areas of disagreement remain on targets related to wild species, sustainable management and resilience of system, urban and densely populated area, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits. Many targets have alternate proposals.
Contact Group 4 on targets on tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming: Contact Group 4, co-led by Anne Teller (EU) and Jorge Murillo (Colombia), focused on GBF targets 14-21.
On Thursday, 17 March, delegates addressed all targets under the group’s mandate, other than Target 17. Parties discussed:
- Target 14 on integrating biodiversity values across government levels and economic sectors;
- Target 15 on businesses assessing and reporting on their dependencies and impacts on biodiversity;
- Target 16 on encouraging and enabling people to make responsible choices and have access to relevant information and alternatives;
- Target 18 on incentives harmful for biodiversity, including subsidies, as well as positive incentives;
- Target 19 on financial resources for biodiversity conservation;
- Target 20 on ensuring that traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices of IPLCs, with FPIC, guide decision making for the effective management of biodiversity;
- Target 21 on ensuring equitable and effective participation in decision making related to biodiversity by IPLCs, and respecting their rights over lands, territories, and resources, as well as by women and girls, and youth.
On Tuesday, 22 March, discussions in the contact group focused on Target 17 (potential adverse impacts of biotechnology on biodiversity and human health). Delegates further continued deliberation on Targets 14 and 15.
On Saturday evening, 26 March, the contact group discussed Targets 16-19 for a second time.
Final Outcome: The basis for further discussion on Targets 14-21 is contained in document CBD/WG2020/3/L.2.
Each of these targets remains heavily bracketed. Major areas of disagreement include: the role of businesses and financial institutions, the modalities around sustainable consumption, whether to monitor biotechnology impacts, and whether to phase out or reform subsidies harmful to biodiversity.
Contact Group 5 on digital sequence information: DSI was addressed in the WG2020 plenary and in Contact Group 5, co-led by Lactitia Tshitwamulomoni (South Africa) and Gaute Voigt-Hanssen (Norway).
On Monday, 21 March, Co-Chair Ogwal drew attention to the report of the Informal Co-Chairs’ Advisory Group on DSI (CBD/WG2020/3/INF/8), co-led by Tshitwamulomoni and Voigt-Hanssen.
Co-Lead Tshitwamulomoni provided an overview of the group’s work, drawing attention to document CBD/WG/2020/3/4/Add.1 and focusing on: policy approaches and options for benefit-sharing arising from DSI; areas of potential convergence and divergence; and areas for additional work prior to COP-15. She noted that the group suggests a step-by-step approach to narrow down possible options and identify the necessary elements to move discussions forward. She highlighted a multi-criteria analysis and a performance matrix to guide the development of an analytical framework and assess different policy options, including both qualitative and quantitative benefits. She noted that the section on areas of convergence and divergence was not negotiated by the group and reflects the co-leads’ understanding of the discussions. She suggested that the informal advisory group continue its work until COP-15 to achieve further progress on the contested issues.
Co-Chair Ogwal opened the floor for initial reflections, reminding delegates of their shared commitment to work towards resolving the divergence of views on benefit-sharing derived from the use of DSI on genetic resources, as expressed in CBD decision 14/20.
On Wednesday, 23 March, Contact Group Co-Lead Voigt-Hanssen opened the session, thanking participants for their interest in DSI, which led to a record number of interventions in plenary. He said that the exercise to develop a non-paper reflecting the discussion was “difficult but interesting.” He presented the non-paper, focusing on its structure and content, and opened the floor for initial reflections. Discussions focused on the non-paper with delegates tabling various proposals.
On Thursday, 24 March, Contact Group 5’s discussions focused on a paragraph of the non-paper that addresses key points of potential convergence on potential foundational criteria that a solution for fair and equitable benefit-sharing on DSI on genetic resources should include. A Friends of the Co-Leads Group was formed to advance negotiations.
On Sunday, 27 March, the Friends of the Co-Leads Group met throughout the night. Contact Group Co-Lead Voight-Hanssen reconvened the Contact Group after 3:00 am on Monday, 28 March. Co-Facilitator William Lockhart (UK) said that the informal group met three times since Friday, 25 March, worked on the most controversial paragraphs and managed to lift all brackets in the draft WG2020 decision.
Pointing to difficult and complex deliberations, Co-Facilitator Martha Mphatso Kalemba (Malawi) explained that the outcome constitutes a carefully balanced compromise, and urged delegates to consider this a package and endorse it without renegotiating. Contact Group 5 endorsed the draft decision.
On Tuesday, 29 March, the Contact Group Co-Leads reported back to plenary, highlighting that, with the help of a Friends of a Co-Leads Group, agreement was reached. They emphasized that the text had been thoroughly negotiated, and commended delegates’ commitment to work into the night, and make compromises in order to find a common way forward on such a controversial issue. They added that, while a lot of work needs to be done prior to COP-15, reaching agreement on the way forward provides a positive signal for future deliberations.
Co-Chair Ogwal presented the draft decision (CBD/WG2020/3/CRP.1/Rev.1), suggesting adopting it as a whole, following the intense negotiations in the Contact Group.
BOLIVIA expressed several reservations on a paragraph recognizing basic elements of a solution for fair and equitable benefit-sharing of DSI on genetic resources. He stressed, inter alia, that the nine conditions a proposed solution should satisfy have a wide scope, and are open to arbitrary interpretation. He particularly emphasized that a paragraph on the solution being consistent with open access to data does not recognize that open access is not equivalent to free access. He suggested bracketing the paragraph and continuing discussions before COP-15.
JORDAN noted that a paragraph recognizing that the monetary and non-monetary benefits arising from the use of DSI on genetic resources should, in particular, be used to support conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and, inter alia, benefit IPLCs is contradicting Nagoya Protocol Article 5.2 (policy measures at the national level to ensure that benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources held by IPLCs are shared in a fair and equitable way with the communities concerned, based on MAT, in accordance with domestic legislation).
Following extensive informal consultation, compromise was reached by noting in the meeting’s report that “this recommendation is intended to facilitate further process on DSI issues and does not prejudge the definition and the views on the parameters and principles governing a final solution.”
The decision was approved with this amendment. An L document was prepared.
Delegates adopted the final decision.
Final Outcome: In the final decision (CBD/WG2020/3/L.3), the WG2020, among others:
- takes note of the outcomes of the AHTEG on DSI on Genetic Resources, the Co-Leads’ report on the Informal Co-Chairs’ Advisory group on DSI, and of the range of views submitted during informal consultations and the first part of WG2020-3;
- welcomes the recommendation for a step-by-step approach, taking note of the listings of potential policy options and of potential criteria for assessing policy options;
- recognizes a solution should “be efficient, feasible and practical; generate more benefits, including both monetary and non-monetary, than costs; be effective; provide certainty and legal clarity for providers and users of DSI on genetic resources; not hinder research and innovation; be consistent with open access to data; not be incompatible with international legal obligations; be mutually supportive of other ABS instruments; [and] take into account the rights of IPLCs, including with respect to the traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources that they hold”;
- recognizes the benefits arising from the use of DSI should be used to support conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as the range of views on modalities and methodologies of a potential solution for fair and equitable benefit sharing;
- requests the Secretariat provide the findings of the preliminary assessment of policy options to the Informal Co-Chairs’ Advisory Group, and to COP-15, and that the Co-Chairs take these findings into consideration in their report to the COP;
- requests the Informal Co-Chairs’ Advisory Group on DSI to continue its work on assessing policy approaches, options, or modalities for benefit-sharing, and provide advice on, inter alia, legal feasibility; the role, rights, and interests of IPLCs; hybrid approaches; and next steps in finding a solution on fair and equitable sharing of benefits from DSI; and
- recommends the COP adopt a decision along the lines of the attached annex.
The annex appended to the recommendation is heavily bracketed, and compiles the views expressed by parties so far on all aspects of DSI, benefit sharing, and any possible solutions that may lead to an agreement. It also includes, in an appendix, a bracketed proposal for the establishment of a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism.
Other matters: Co-Chair van Havre presented the draft decision (CBD/WG2020/3/CRP.3) on preparations for a fourth meeting of the WG2020.
On a paragraph on the continuing negotiations on the GBF and DSI, building on the third meeting of the WG2020, to advance on the final draft for consideration at COP-15, NORWAY suggested including relevant intersessional work, and referring to producing a “final GBF draft” rather than advancing the work. BRAZIL requested building on intersessional work of the informal advisory meeting on DSI. JAPAN asked to specify that DSI relates to genetic resources.
The draft decision was approved with these amendments. An L document was developed.
Delegates adopted the final decision with no further comments.
Final Outcome: In the final decision (CBD/WG2020/3/L.4), WG2020 decides, among others:
- to convene a fourth meeting from 21-26 June 2022 in Nairobi;
- WG2020-4 will continue negotiations on the GBF and on DSI on genetic resources, building on the work of its third meeting, and the intersessional work of the informal advisory group on DSI on genetic resources; and
- WG2020-4 will take into account also the relevant outcomes of SBI-3 and SBSTTA-24.
Adoption of the report: Rapporteur Leina Al-Awadhi (Kuwait) presented the report of the meeting for adoption (CBD/WG2020/3/L.1). BRAZIL asked to clarify its statement reported in the section on the organization of work, “highlighting the need for initiating line-by-line negotiations immediately.” The report was adopted with this amendment.
Closure of the meeting: Co-Chair Ogwal invited regional and stakeholders’ closing statements.
Noting that scientific evidence indicates that the world faces a biodiversity crisis, the EU expressed concern that the GBF text on goals and targets needs a lot more work, so the ambition can go beyond the Aichi Targets. He called for political commitments for full GBF implementation and comprehensive resource mobilization. He reiterated concerns about the “unprovoked Russian attack on the Ukraine and attempts to justify an act of aggression.”
Senegal, for the AFRICAN GROUP, called for a strong commitment to contribute fully to achieve the GBF targets by 2030, noting that great ambition will have to go along with availability of adequate financial resources, solidarity, and fair and equitable benefit-sharing. He called for establishing a global biodiversity fund and a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism.
Bahamas, for SIDS, called for international resource mobilization, including financial resources, technology transfer, and capacity building, especially for SIDS, and a monitoring framework that matches the level of ambition, with an emphasis on healthy and productive costal ecosystems.
COLOMBIA, on behalf of a group of like-minded countries for transformational change including CHILE, COSTA RICA, MEXICO, and PERU, called for adopting a GBF commensurate with the gravity of the biodiversity crisis, taking into account traditional knowledge of IPLCs, and protecting at least 30% of land and marine areas by 2030.
The RUSSIAN FEDERATION reiterated that her country is “implementing its right to self-defense,” calling for a depoliticized process, and noting that “protection of biodiversity has little to do with war and peace.”
IIFB expressed concern with the slow progress in the negotiations. She noted the need for the GBF to recognize and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, noting that barely 1% of the funds available for climate and environment goes to IPLCs. She urged parties to ensure that benefit sharing from DSI is included in the GBF.
The WOMEN’S CAUCUS stressed the need to support adoption of the gender plan of action at COP-15. She called for support for a stand-alone target on gender, and urged recognition of the rights of women to FPIC in their traditional territories. GYBN urged strengthening discussions in Target 21 on ensuring the full, equitable, effective, and gender-responsive participation in decision making by IPLCs, women and girls, and youth. She urged for action to bring everyone onto the path of transformative change, leaving no one behind.
The CBD ALLIANCE lamented the lack of discussion on marine and coastal biodiversity, and called on parties to declare a biodiversity planetary crisis and take measures to overcome it. He highlighted that “the whole world is watching,” urging delivering on a GBF that adequately considers the level of biodiversity crisis we have brought onto ourselves. BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL, on behalf of a group of NGOs, urged for supporting a clear nature-positive mission in the GBF, stressing the role of IPLCs, the need for measurable commitments, and the unblocking politically difficult issues such as resource mobilization.
The GROUP OF SUBNATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS noted the need for a whole-of-government approach, which will leverage and accelerate biodiversity actions. BUSINESS FOR NATURE emphasized that the GBF should send a clear signal that “business as usual is over,” and highlighted the need to transform our regulatory and financial systems to achieve a nature-positive world via our common responsibilities.
The OFFICE OF THE UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS stressed the interconnectedness of human rights and the environment, drawing attention to Human Rights Council Resolution 48/13 recognizing the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. He added that human rights need to be reflected in the GBF for a successful outcome. The UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE CONSERVATION ALUMNI NETWORK suggested developing and implementing a more inclusive measure to GDP, including biodiversity and human wellbeing as an ultimate mainstreaming tool, also proposing including annual steppingstones in the GBF to measure and celebrate progress.
Zhou Guomei, Deputy Secretary General, China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, on behalf of COP President Huang Runqiu, Minister of Ecology and Environment, China, stressed that the meeting inspired confidence and trust based on a transparent and inclusive approach. She added that delegates and participants sent a strong political signal to the world through their tireless work, and that COP-15 will be a success, reenergizing the global efforts to halt biodiversity loss.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, CBD Executive Secretary, noted the many accomplishments of the meeting, including refining the key dimensions of the GBF, its mission, goals, and action targets, and the way forward on DSI, sending an encouraging signal to the world that the outlook is decidedly positive. She also said that the WG2020 faces many formidable challenges to create a truly global framework that will engage all sectors of society, mobilize sufficient resources, and share benefits fairly and equitably, noting that “this manoeuvre has a high degree of difficulty.” She said the text now belongs to the parties so they can reach adequate consensus to meet expectations.
Noting that the CBD trust funds have been depleted by WG2020-3, CBD Executive Secretary Mrema said that they need to raise at least USD 2 million to allow for at least two delegates per country eligible for support and urged parties to make timely submissions to facilitate intersessional work. She thanked the WG2020 Co-Chairs, co-leads, and co-facilitators, the CBD Secretariat, and all those supporting the meeting for enabling full and effective participation.
WG2020 Co-Chair van Havre said that no one could have anticipated the vastness of the work going into GBF development; that the draft GBF now belongs to the parties; and that the Co-Chairs can see the progress made, noting that they “see the city lights of Kunming and the road is not long and winding.” WG2020 Co-Chair Ogwal said they look forward to seeing everyone back in Nairobi in June, and that WG2020-4 will have to focus on building compromise and mutual understanding. Thanking everyone who participated in and supported the meeting, the Co-Chairs jointly gaveled WG2020-3 to a close at 7:48 pm and took a bow.
A Brief Analysis of the Geneva Biodiversity Conference
To make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
– T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
When Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Elizabeth Mrema cited English poet T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets at the Geneva Biodiversity Conference, the reference seemed apt. The four-part poem tells of long years of global failure, its scars, and hope for redemption.
So it is for global biodiversity governance. The new post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) set to be adopted at the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) has been pitched as the “last, best hope” to address the biodiversity crisis. The previous CBD Strategic Plan culminated with the Aichi Targets and the Nagoya Protocol, both of which came at the cost of extremely difficult negotiations. Despite these efforts, evidence shows that the vast majority of the Aichi Targets have not been met.
What’s worse, the GBF is two years late. What was meant to be a year celebrating its approval became a gauntlet of virtual work as travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person meetings impossible. This culminated in a virtual first part of COP-15, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI), and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) in 2021. The Geneva Biodiversity Conference was meant to set up the second act, delivering something ambitious and tangible that rises to meet the moment.
So, has the Geneva Conference been a beginning, or the beginning of the end? What has it left for COP-15 in Kunming? This brief analysis will attempt to address these questions.
The Road to Geneva
And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
– T.S. Eliot, “East Coker”
There was an enormous amount to catch up on after two years of virtual discussions. The Geneva Conference became a triple meeting: one for each body informing the GBF. At two and half weeks, with three negotiation sessions per day, the Conference was both longer and arguably more grueling for the delegates than a COP.
Yet the gauntlet of SBI, SBSTTA, and the Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (WG2020) reflects just how interlinked each discussion was: talks on targets set by the WG2020 needed scientific advice on indicators from SBSTTA. And implementation, which was the Achilles heel of the Aichi Targets, was the focus of the SBI.
The overall combined agenda was punishing on delegates. Those parties with smaller delegations had little time for rest. As time wore on, some delegates were openly exhausted, complaining that they barely had time to eat between plenaries, contact groups, and informal discussions—let alone read new text. The schedule was necessary in order to catch up before Kunming, but it was obvious to any observer that the quality of discussions—and, consequently, decisions—may have suffered as a result.
What was Achieved, and What Remains
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again […]
– “East Coker”
What did Geneva achieve? By its own standards, not enough. The main purpose of the conference was to advance the draft of the global biodiversity framework to a point where it could be brought to the COP as a document where the technical details were solid, so that ministers can make the final compromises.
From the outset, however, delegates were bogged down in the details. Nearly the entire first week was spent reiterating the same positions that countries have stated for the past two years of virtual meetings, instead of beginning negotiations at the points of greatest disagreement. “In some ways,” one senior delegate commented, “it’s as if the virtual sessions had never happened at all.” But then, others suggested, the virtual sessions left many delegates feeling unheard, especially those from developing countries. “For us, it was necessary to make sure that views were expressed equitably,” one explained.
The resulting loss of time meant that delegates were forced to put in extra hours during the second week, fitting informal sessions into whatever time was available. A number of L documents were forwarded to the COP entirely bracketed, or with significant disagreements. And, in the end, WG2020 will meet again in Nairobi before the COP, as one last attempt to tie up the loose ends left in Geneva.
Nevertheless, some major work did get done. After discontented rumblings and marathon informal negotiations, the road ahead on digital sequence information (DSI) is clear: delegates agreed to a schedule of intersessional work. This is far from agreement on key issues, such as the fair equitable sharing of benefits—but it’s essential if those disagreements are going to get resolved. “The fact that we agree to deal with DSI and on the way forward is huge,” said one senior official. “We’re not in a deadlock, or back to the drawing board, and that’s enough for now.”
Similarly, work on indicators progressed. These will be essential to monitoring progress globally, and to ensuring that the goals and targets of the GBF are met. Again, however, success is dependent on future work: those goals and targets remain heavily contested. Contact groups on targets routinely went over their allotted time, and the streamlined targets that were proposed by co-leads usually ended up festooned with amendments from dozens of parties, with delegates joking that they were becoming “Christmas trees.” If the framework is to be clear, concise, and communicable, intersessional work will have to see major concessions from some parties to trim text down.
There were also less grandiose, but not less important gains to be noted. The proposed text now refers to the role of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPLCs)—who are both the most strongly affected by biodiversity loss, and biodiversity’s most important guardians—throughout. One observer saw this as a clear win: “We didn’t get a standalone target, we got permanence. IPLCs will have to be a part of the GBF. Countries will have to be accountable to that.” The CBD, by providing a forum for IPLCs to air their views, and ensuring their participation in negotiations, has a role in supporting their further involvement, which will be crucial during the implementation of the GBF.
The finalization of the Gender Plan of Action is essential. Women have essential roles as guardians of biodiversity. Ensuring their involvement in GBF actions will be crucial to mainstreaming biodiversity conservation across societies. Work on a standalone goal was also highly visible at the Geneva Conference, as a number of parties placed tulips at their desks to symbolize their support.
Subsidiary Bodies: Help or Hindrance?
…shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion.
– “East Coker”
Subsidiary Body agenda items that feed directly into the GBF were given priority in Geneva. Significant progress was achieved under the monitoring framework, where indicators were established for the eventual goals and targets. But as a result of the prioritization, insufficient time was devoted to other items. Work on marine and coastal biodiversity issues—a hotly contested aspect of biodiversity conservation—could not be completed. The extra intersessional meetings will place a significant burden on the COP: delegates will have to invest time to reach agreement on items that should have been wrapped up in Geneva.
Some of the SBSTTA discussions are clear examples of these troubles. At its inception, SBSTTA was meant to provide scientific, technological, and technical advice; science, by its nature, is not negotiable. Sending bracketed text on scientific matters to the COP, which is a political body, puts highly technical information in the hands of those not trained to analyze it.
This is a structural problem. Many delegations, due to their size, have the same people negotiating both political decisions and scientific advice; the result is that many seem to misunderstand some of the scientific consensus established around biodiversity conservation. Hours were lost discussing whether text should refer to “ecosystem services” or “nature’s contributions to people”—despite the fact that the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), whose role is to provide independent scientific advice, repeatedly advised delegates that the former is contained in the latter, and that “nature’s contributions to people” is the concept accepted by scientific consensus.
Having to clarify the science to the members of a scientific body is deeply problematic. If the trend continues, SBSTTA’s capacity to provide scientific and technical advice to the COP may be severely compromised.
Making the Most of Time
…last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
– “Little Gidding”
Despite the marathon of the Geneva Conference, a long stretch of the road lies ahead before the COP. WG2020 will meet for a fourth meeting, a decision which became increasingly necessary as the meeting progressed.
Other related work will need to be finalized. DSI is most pressing, as political and financial divergences still remain far apart. Synthetic biology remains a thorn in the side of the Convention, even as multinational corporations begin to exploit its advances. The CBD, which has stepped in as an international body to deal with the subject, will need to balance national responses with international interest. Monitoring frameworks will need to clarify how they cooperate at the global and national levels.
Expectations are high. “To say that there is absolutely no time to waste would be an understatement,” one delegate said at the end of the session. “And we must get it right.” If intersessional work is not efficient, the world’s environment ministers and their delegations will be left to sort out the mess of targets, scientific advice, and financial mechanisms on their own, and the desire for a political show may win out against a solid, implementable framework.
The last time that big a setback happened to global environmental governance was 2009 in Copenhagen. As of the conclusion of the Geneva Conference, such a moment does not seem out of the question. Yet that same delegate held out some optimism: “We’ve threaded that needle before. I think we can do it again.”
Ensuring a Beginning
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
– “East Coker”
The Geneva Conference was one of the most difficult in CBD recent memory. But there remain reasons for optimism. Parties are clearly committed to the process, even with additional intersessional work. And despite its many problems, the current GBF draft reaches across almost all aspects of sustainable development, ensuring that it will be able to support other aspects of environmental governance. In some ways, the optimism is necessary: the world is watching. More international media were present at the Geneva Conference than at previous CBD meetings. Both private and public sector organizations have put forward their support.
But public attention will not solve the many seemingly intractable disagreements. That will take trade-offs and compromises. The faster trade-offs are made, the better the chances for a robust, realistic, and communicable GBF, and the better the world’s chances to address the biodiversity crisis.
“History may be servitude, / History may be freedom”, wrote T.S. Eliot. At present, the CBD’s history is conflicted, full of hopeful promise that has not yet borne fruit. What kind of chapter the GBF will form remains to be seen. But it appears that a truly useful framework will learn from both the CBD’s successes and failures. Otherwise, it is condemned to repeat the latter, drawing towards a darker end than its beginning.