Report of main proceedings for 13 October 1993

1st Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the Convention on Biological Diversity (ICCBD)


The Chair reconvened Working Group I with a summary of the remarksmade by representatives of UNEP, UNDP, and the World Bank. He thenopened the floor to questions, whereupon India requestedUNEP to circulate the guidelines for country studies forconsideration at the next ICCBD. South Africa asked how UNEPand UNDP address regional initiatives, since most support isbilateral. Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and SouthAfrica expressed the need for intellectual and institutionalsupport for museums, herbaria, and computerization of collectionsin developing countries.

Prof. Reuben Olembo spoke on behalf of UNEP and describedcountry studies as the basis for national strategies. Brazilcautioned that country studies should not be a pre-conditionfor national strategy funding. UNEP is responsible for allinternational legal instruments for biodiversity and has planned a1993 meeting of the executive heads of all related conventions tostudy their interrelationships.

World Bank representative Ken Newcombe explained that thedemonstration herbarium project reflects the type of projects thatthe GEF could fund. He referred to the commercial use ofbiodiversity and the importance of transborder projects.

UNDP representative Dr. Eduardo Fuentes noted that asnational capacity is increased, the need for incremental costs tobe covered by the GEF will diminish. On the point of capacitybuilding, UNEP noted that developing country experience should berelied on as well, citing Costa Rica as a good model.


Delegations continued with their statements on the full range ofimportant national activities for reducing the loss ofbiodiversity. Several common themes emerged: whether nations hadsigned or ratified the Convention; the establishment of nationalparks, protected areas, and biosphere reserves; conferences,seminars and workshops; the creation of commissions, committees,and ministries on biodiversity and the environment; the involvementof local populations and people living on the perimeter ofprotected areas; national plans and inventories; and the need forboth national legislation and funding to implement the Convention.

The Chair began the afternoon session of Working Group I with asummary of common themes which could serve as the basis forrecommendations to the Plenary and, in turn, to the COP: allnations should conduct country studies, relevant financial supportshould include computerized data and bibliographic purchases;conservation and sustainable use measures should emphasize theparticipation of local communities and women, and improve localstandards of living; regional approaches should be devised throughworkshops and seminars; ex situ and in situ programmes should beintegrated, including the collection of microorganisms;conservation aspects of different conventions should be integrated;biosphere reserves could provide an efficient approach toconservation and management of resources; restoration of ecosystemsshould be considered; institution-building should be addressed;biodiversity conservation outside protected areas should beconsidered; national legislation should be reviewed to reflect theneeds of the Convention.

The Chair then identified points where opinion of delegations didnot crystallize. The majority felt that the country studies shouldnot be preconditions for national strategies and should not bemandatory. The Chair then asked for comments on the recommendationsto be transmitted to the COP.

Malawi objected to the point on biosphere reserves, statingthat the G-77 would not accept this reference. Indonesiaasked whether the Interim Secretariat would attempt to implementsome of the suggestions itself before the COP or would transmitthem directly to the COP. He then suggested that the InterimSecretariat should allocate funds to initiate regional cooperation.The Chair replied that the working group and the Plenary could makerecommendations to both the Interim Secretariat and the COP. TheChair then moved on to the next agenda item, "Factors for settingnational action priorities." He listed several factors to stimulatediscussion: national strategic frameworks; global impacts ofactivities; likelihood of success; and scope for publicparticipation. Israel referred to the limited success of itsbiodiversity conservation approaches due to insufficient funding.The Philippines' criteria include: volume of biodiversity;percentage of primary forests; level of protection needed; level ofutilization; and little known ecosystems. Malaysia's factorsinclude: optimization of economic benefits; food security;protection of unique biodiversity; and enhancement of science,technology, education and knowledge of biodiversity value.Indonesia outlined the three guiding principles of its 1993national biodiversity strategy: meeting basic country needs;generating income; and promoting environmental protection.India expressed its opposition to the exercise of listingpriorities, explaining that he was troubled by the expectation thatcountries must produce a list of factors when in fact the issue isdynamic and one that is difficult to quantify. He added that acomprehensive list of priorities was dependent on the parties'assurance of funding. Bolivia echoed India's point, statingthat the cultural and linguistic diversity of their societypresented obstacles in the setting of social and economicpriorities. Both Bolivia and Peru stated that theimportance of traditional knowledge must be recognized withinnational sustainable development strategies. China'spriority criteria included: degree of biodiversity; degree ofthreat; number of species; ecosystem diversity; and the economic,social and cultural importance of biodiversity. Mauritiusand Tanzania suggested that the amount of ecosystem pressuremust be assessed and that countries with the most endangeredspecies should receive the highest priority. Uruguayincluded in its priority factors: environmental education and theinvolvement of the private sector, as well as both the NGOs andlocal populations. Lithuania referred to the importance ofdiscussing the role of monitoring in national activities. TheMarshall Islands echoed the view of other island states thatthe immediate threat to their ecosystems is climate change. TheUS prioritized activities to protect endangered species thatwould: consolidate inventories and other types of data; enablebetter understanding of emerging ecological problems.Germany outlined the factors that underlie its nationalpriorities: degree of threat; categorization of species by type anddegree of threat; monitoring; influence of projects on ecosystems;and sustainability of land use practices. Costa Rica statedthat in setting priorities, it is key that all sectors of societyunderstand the importance of biodiversity. The CzechRepublic said that it is transforming its land tenure systemsand, in that process, it is trying to save endangered gene banks doto the restructuring of scientific institutions. Nigerianoted the extent to which lack of awareness regarding fuelwoodalternatives contributes to biodiversity loss. Bulgarianoted the importance of education programmes especially inbiodiversity-rich areas. WWF Brazil noted the difficultiesin setting priorities and referred to the importance of integratinghuman needs into conservation projects. The Biodiversity SupportProgram called on governments to include the experience ofNGOs, local populations, indigenous communities and localgovernments in their decision- making. India raised theconcern that the COP might develop a set of factors that did notreflect the recommendations of the ICCBD. Brazil highlightedthe importance of considering country and region-specific factorsand stated its concerns with the notion of global benefits.

The Chair promised to present a summary of all the ideas forfurther consideration and, eventually, presentation to the COP.



Operational structure and characteristics of the financialmechanism: The Chair summarized that most countries noted thatthe language in Article 21 is sufficiently clear regarding therequirements of the financial mechanism. Countries cited bothstructural and performance components, such as transparency,democratic decision-making, and universal membership as essential.The Chair noted agreement on the criteria of effectiveness andefficiency. The US said that, beyond the requirements of theConvention, the mechanism should: fund high quality projects;facilitate participation of local communities and NGOs in projectproposal and execution; be responsive to the different needs ofbiodiversity conservation.

Relationship of the COP to the financial mechanism: TheChair noted agreement on the need for clear procedures in thefinancial mechanism; communication between the mechanism and theCOP; a formalized reporting system from the mechanism to the COP;a quick response to funding requirements; and regular replenishmentand advice from the COP on the resources needed. Japan stressedthat the COP should consult with the financial mechanism onarrangements. There was agreement on the need for a clear divisionof labor between the COP and the mechanism to avoidmicro-management. In accordance with the Convention, the COP shalldetermine the policy, strategy and programme priorities. Regardingthe legal relationship between the COP and the financial mechanism,Hungary proposed preparing a list of desired characteristics aspart of a contract with the GEF or any other mechanism. Tanzaniasuggested that the mechanism should be an independent legal entity.

Eligibility criteria: The Chair requested that the delegatescontribute to an indicative list of eligibility criteria. Swedensuggested that Malaysia prepare alternative criteria. The Chairrequested that the G-77 meet with the Nordic countries to preparea list for today.

It was agreed that only developing country signatories will beeligible after the first meeting of the COP. Japan dropped itslegal concern over the definition of the term "developingcountries." Consequently, it was agreed that all developingcountries are eligible until the first COP. Bahamas noted thespecial conditions dealing with LDCs and SIDS.

Economies in transition (EITs): The Chair explained that theissue of access of "economies in transition" to the mechanism isnot a matter for the Convention. Brazil noted Expert Panel Three'ssuggestion of an amendment to the Convention regarding this point.Poland called for additional provisions, noting the vital need ofEITs for support to implement the Convention.

Subsidiary bodies: Japan, the US, Austria and Canada saidthat no subsidiary bodies should be established. Tunisia, supportedby Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil, suggested a follow-up body linkingthe COP and the GEF. Some noted that the same countriesinvolved in the restructuring of the GEF were present at the ICCBD.

GEF restructuring and suitability as a mechanism: Sweden,Belgium on behalf of the EC, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, the US,Austria and Chile expressed confidence that the GEF would berestructured to ensure its suitability for the Convention. TheChair referred to links to the GEF as "bridge-building." He notedthat the group would want to transmit guidelines to the GEF. Somecountries said that guidance from this group to the first COPregarding the mechanism could serve as a signal to the GEF.Malaysia opposed relegating discussions with the GEF to theSecretariat and said the ICCBD should provide it with"instructions" rather than "guidelines."

The Chair's summary indicated that the relationship between the COPand the GEF could be settled during the interim by the Chair of theICCBD at GEF meetings. Colombia, on behalf of the G-77, stated thatthis should not preclude the possibility that the ICCBD send policyguidance to the GEF, as proposed by the Finnish non-paper.

Interim period: Many countries felt it was not useful tofocus on the interim period. However, Brazil stated that the GEFshould be provided with criteria for the interim period. WWF notedthat, according to the Convention, the GEF's eligibility as theinterim mechanism is dependent on its restructuring, scheduled tobe completed by December 1994, after the first COP and, therefore,there is no basis for a decision to be taken on this point.

On behalf of Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, Finland proposed a draftresolution regarding the interim financial mechanism. Paragraph2(g) of Resolution 2 invites the ICCBD to consider developingpolicy, strategy and programme priorities, as well as criteria andguidelines for eligibility to resources until the Convention'sentry into force. The Chair stated that it would, in fact, continueuntil the first COP. Malaysia took issue with the implications ofthe criteria, referring to "conditionalities."

Other mechanisms and placement: WWF called for the GEF to bebut one element of the Convention's financing mechanism. EDF, onbehalf of several NGOs, noted the Expert Panel's recommendation toconsider a centralized mechanism within the COP like the MontrealProtocol Fund. Canada spoke on developing countries' access toinformation and funds from other sources, such as developmentagencies and regional banks. After asking about the relationship ofthese sources to the COP and their responsibility to theConvention, he suggested that the Secretariat arrange for thesebodies to attend the next session.


WORKING GROUP I: Working Group I will consider two agendaitems: scientific and technical work between meetings; andbiosafety. Several developed countries, including Japan, the US,and Germany, will make presentations on their national strategiesas well as elements to include in implementation plans for theConvention.

WORKING GROUP II: Discussion will continue for the firsthalf of the morning session, concluding debate on the financialmechanism. The remainder of the meeting will focus on the rules ofprocedure and incremental costs. The afternoon will be spent ontechnology cooperation and capacity building.

PLENARY: A night session is planned to take up countrystatements. Text of Rule 45(1) of the Rules of Procedure for theICCBD as amended by Brazil will be available for distribution.This amendment was approved in substance subject to wording byBrazil.