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Summary report, 11–16 December 2017

21st Meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice and 10th Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions

The twenty-first meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) convened in Montreal, Canada, from 11-14 December 2017, in conjunction with the tenth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions, from 13-16 December. The SBSTTA adopted seven recommendations on: scenarios for the 2050 vision for biodiversity and the links between the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); guidance for achieving a more sustainable wild meat sector; biodiversity and human health; biodiversity mainstreaming in the energy, mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing industries, and in the health sector; tools for evaluating the effectiveness of policy instruments for the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity; the fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO 5); and new and emerging issues.

The Article 8(j) Working Group adopted six recommendations on: voluntary guidelines for the repatriation of traditional knowledge relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; glossary of relevant key terms and concepts to be used within the context of Article 8(j) and related provisions; future work for the integration of Article 8(j) in the work of the CBD; resource mobilization; United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) recommendations; and future in-depth dialogues. The meeting also featured an in-depth dialogue on the contribution of traditional knowledge to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), with particular emphasis on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The meetings were attended by around 600 participants representing parties and other governments; UN agencies; intergovernmental, non-governmental, indigenous and local community organizations; academia; and the private sector. The highlights of SBSTTA 21 were recommendations on biodiversity and health, on biodiversity mainstreaming, and on scenarios for the 2050 vision for biodiversity, which were seen as important steps towards securing strategic positioning vis-à-vis the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change. The highlight of the Article 8(j) Working Group was the finalization of the guidelines for the repatriation of traditional knowledge and of the glossary, which were considered instrumental to develop a common approach to traditional knowledge and related issues across the Convention.


The CBD was adopted on 22 May 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 196 parties to the Convention, which aims to promote the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the Convention. It is assisted by SBSTTA, which is mandated, under CBD Article 25, to provide the COP with advice relating to the Convention’s implementation.

Three protocols have been adopted under the Convention: the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (January 2000, Montreal, Canada); the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (October 2010, Nagoya, Japan); and the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) (October 2010, Nagoya).

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

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

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

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

COP 10: At its tenth meeting (October 2010, Nagoya, Japan), the COP adopted as a package: the Nagoya Protocol; the CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including a mission, and strategic goals and the Aichi Targets aiming to inspire broad-based action by parties and stakeholders; and a decision on activities and indicators for the implementation of the Resource Mobilization Strategy.

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

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

COP 13: At its thirteenth meeting (2-17 December 2016, Cancun, Mexico), the COP considered, inter alia: progress towards implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 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 adopted the Mo’otz Kuxtal voluntary guidelines for the development of mechanisms, legislation or other appropriate initiatives to ensure the “prior informed consent” (PIC), “free PIC,” or “approval and involvement,” depending on national circumstances, of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) for accessing their traditional knowledge, for fair and equitable benefit-sharing, and for reporting and preventing unlawful appropriation of traditional knowledge.


SBSTTA Chair Theresa Mundita Lim (the Philippines) opened the meeting, highlighting the need for effective science-policy interfaces, transformational change, coordinated strategies, ecosystem-based solutions, and stakeholder empowerment. Recalling the upcoming 25th anniversary of the CBD’s entry into force in 2018, CBD Executive Secretary Cristiana Pașca Palmer underscored: the need to enhance awareness of biodiversity values in the wider global community; the role of COP 14 in 2018 in accelerating progress for achieving the Aichi Targets and setting a post-2020 path; and engaging producers and consumers through biodiversity mainstreaming. Andreas Obrecht, on behalf of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Secretary Erik Solheim, underscored relevant resolutions adopted by the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in early December, including on marine litter and microplastics.

Delegates adopted the agenda and organization of work (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/21/1 and Add.1) without amendment; and elected as new SBSTTA Bureau members: Theresa Mundita Lim (the Philippines); Sigurdur Thrainsson (Iceland); Hendrik Segers (Belgium); Samuel Dieme (Senegal); Senka Barudanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Sergiy Gubar (Ukraine); Eugenia Arguedas Montezuma (Costa Rica); Yousef Al-Hafedh (Saudi Arabia); Ilham Atho Mohamed (Maldives), and a representative still to be nominated by Namibia. Montezuma was elected as SBSTTA 21 rapporteur.

Unless otherwise stated below, recommendations were adopted by plenary on Thursday with no or minor amendments.


This item was discussed in plenary on Monday and Wednesday. The Secretariat introduced the documents (CBD/SBSTTA/21/2 and Add.1). Paul Ledley, Paris-Sud and member of the IPBES Multi-disciplinary Expert Panel, presented on relevant scientific work, stressing that: trade-offs and synergies between the 2050 vision and the 2030 Agenda should be addressed; continuation of current trends will lead to substantial degradation of biodiversity and ecosystems; transformational change is required to attain the 2050 vision, while also reaching broader socio-economic objectives; and scenarios and models can help develop and implement a post-2020 framework.

Several countries recognized the relevance of the 2050 vision for the SDGs. Colombia noted the need to define drivers of biodiversity loss and link them to relevant sectors. Mexico underscored: scenarios and modeling for biodiversity and ecosystem services in policy design; and a focus on underlying causes of biodiversity loss and reduction of pressures, including through mainstreaming. Austria and others supported scenarios as communication tools. Finland underscored the ecosystem approach and, with China, integration with the SDGs and other biodiversity-related conventions. Uganda and others called for capacity building and institutional capacity to develop and use scenarios. Cuba called for technical and scientific cooperation, and resource mobilization to continue efforts to realize the Aichi Targets. Morocco proposed applying current scenarios to countries and working further on indicators. Norway recommended: building upon the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and IPBES scenarios; generating momentum towards an ambitious post-2020 framework; and, with Denmark and Australia, communicating success stories in realizing the Aichi Targets. Belgium called upon the Secretariat, and current and future COP presidencies, to identify celebrity ambassadors. Switzerland called for coordination with IPBES, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), and others, and for shared indicators across biodiversity-related treaties, the SDGs, and the Paris Agreement. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) called for the vision to be framed positively, succinctly, and quantifiably; and for a new mission with science-based targets by 2030. Poland highlighted the Secretariat’s notes on scenarios for the 2050 vision as an input for the post-2020 framework, with Finland recommending “welcoming” them, and Germany, India, and others suggesting annexing them to the SBSTTA recommendation.

Bolivia suggested: including ecosystem functions and their relevance to living systems, in addition to ecosystem services; addressing climate change adaptation, along with mitigation; and acknowledging IPLCs’ collective actions in biodiversity conservation. Peru said that achieving the 2050 vision requires addressing broader socio-economic goals and mainstreaming biodiversity, urging common approaches. The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) lamented lack of recognition and inclusion of traditional knowledge, recommending urging the IPBES Expert Group on Models and Scenarios to ensure IPLC participation. Brazil and Bolivia supported recognizing the importance of IPLCs’ participation in the IPBES. Bolivia recommended including reference to participation of governments, IPLCs, and relevant stakeholders in the peer review of the Secretariat’s notes on scenarios for the 2050 vision.

Brazil, opposed by Bolivia and the European Union (EU), requested eliminating reference to research on “land use change.” The EU requested to refer to “land use” and “land use change.” Delegates agreed to revised language in the draft recommendation by deleting reference to the impacts of land use change on biodiversity in an invitation to the scientific community to promote coherence in scenarios; retain reference to land use change with respect to habitat loss; and introduce a reference to “change of land management” with regard to the need to ensure that climate change adaptation and mitigation measures do not negatively impact biodiversity.

The ETC Group recommended analyzing and assessing technological trends in relation to biodiversity. Bolivia proposed language on emerging technologies that may affect the CBD objectives, and IPLCs’ traditional knowledge and way of life. Delegates agreed to compromise language that technology developments may have positive or negative impacts on the achievement of the three CBD objectives, as well as on IPLCs’ lifestyles and traditional knowledge.

On inviting scientific communities to work on scenarios, including by identifying potential constraints and trade-offs related to biodiversity that should be considered in efforts to achieve the SDGs, Brazil, opposed by Austria and the Philippines, requested deleting reference to “constraints” and referring to “synergies” instead. Eventually delegates agreed to refer to identifying “potential synergies, trade-offs, and limitations related to biodiversity that should be considered to identify effective measures and policies to enable the achievement of the SDGs.” Mexico offered, and delegates agreed to, compromise language noting: the integrated and indivisible nature of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda implies that the achievement of all goals is necessary, and scenarios and models may inform the choice of policies and measures and their limitations, highlighting the need for policy coherence.

On inviting the scientific community to take into account issues that are relevant to the development of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, delegates agreed to add “taking into account not only negative but also positive impacts of productive sectors to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.”

Final Recommendation:In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/21/L.7), SBSTTA welcomes: the information provided in the notes by the Secretariat on scenarios for the 2050 vision and the 2030 Agenda, requesting the Secretariat to conduct a peer review of the relevant information documents; ongoing work of the expert group on scenarios to develop a new set of multi-scale biodiversity scenarios through a stakeholder-driven process; and the ongoing work of the scientific and other relevant communities working on scenarios.

SBSTTA invites the scientific and other relevant communities working on scenarios to take into account:

  • the broad range of underlying drivers related to biodiversity loss;
  • combinations of policy approaches at multiple scales;
  • the identification of potential synergies, trade-offs, and limitations related to biodiversity that should be considered in order to identify effective policies and measures to enable the achievement of the SDGs;
  • the contributions of the collective action of IPLCs in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity;
  • potential positive and negative impacts of productive sectors; and
  • technology developments that may have positive or negative impacts on the achievement of the CBD objectives, as well as on the lifestyles and traditional knowledge of IPLCs.

SBSTTA requests the Secretariat, when preparing proposals for the process of developing a post-2020 global biodiversity framework, to make provisions for sound analytical work, taking into account: links between biodiversity and the SDGs and the role of the 2030 Agenda, lessons learned from the implementation of the Convention, its Protocols, and the Strategic Plan; possible reasons for the varying levels of progress towards the achievement of the Aichi Targets; and ways in which other conventions could contribute to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the 2050 vision.

SBSTTA also recommends that that COP request the Secretariat to facilitate capacity-building activities to enable all countries to participate in the development and application of scenarios; and promote the use of scenarios as communication tools as a means of raising public awareness and fostering participation and involvement of all stakeholders.

An annex contains SBSTTA conclusions regarding scenarios for the 2050 vision, setting out that, inter alia:

  • the 2050 vision remains relevant and should be considered in any follow-up to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020;
  • current trends, or “business-as-usual” scenarios, show continued loss of biodiversity;
  • measures could be developed in various “policy mixes” depending on the needs and priorities of countries and stakeholders;
  • a coherent approach is needed on biodiversity and climate change;
  • the pathways toward a sustainable future require transformational change; and
  • the biodiversity goals reflected in the 2050 vision could be attained, while also reaching broader socio-economic objectives, by deploying a combination of measures and scenarios for future socio-economic development.


SBSTTA considered tools to evaluate the effectiveness of policy instruments for the implementation of the Strategic Plan (CBD/SBSTTA/21/7) on Monday and Tuesday. 

The Maldives observed that listed methodologies are resource-intensive and thus unsuitable for developing countries. The Republic of Korea called for more detailed information regarding the application of methodologies, costs, robustness, and information generation. Bolivia recommended that the Secretariat carry out case-studies on implementation of methodologies. China requested the Secretariat to compile information on methodologies used by parties. New Zealand and Finland encouraged parties to share information on individual methodologies used through the Clearinghouse Mechanism. Sudan, for Africa, called for technical support, financial resources and, with Cuba, capacity building. India underscored information-sharing and mutual learning. Finland proposed considering work on protected areas and indicators for sustainable forest management. Colombia underscored synchronizing efforts with IPBES and other multilateral environmental agreements.

Switzerland and the EU suggested: requesting the Secretariat to continue compiling information and develop a toolkit; and taking into account information on evaluating effectiveness when considering the follow-up to the Strategic Plan at the next session of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI). Belgium recommended developing guidance, using information contained in the sixth national reports.

New Zealand supported the IIFB proposal to include community-based monitoring and IPLCs’ information systems. Switzerland supported voluntary peer review and recommended a compliance mechanism under the CBD. Australia and the UK preferred referring to voluntary peer reviews. Brazil, Australia, and the UK favored reference to implementation, rather than compliance, under the Convention. Delegates agreed to refer to “strengthening reviews, such as voluntary peer reviews of national reports and National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and options for a forward-looking approach to promote future implementation of the Convention.”

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/21/L.2), SBSTTA:

  • takes note of the range of approaches, including community-based monitoring and information systems by IPLCs, for evaluating the effectiveness of policy instruments or measures in supporting the implementation of the Convention and the Strategic Plan;
  • encourages the use by parties, as appropriate, of the information in the Secretariat’s note on tools to evaluate the effectiveness of policy instruments for the implementation of the Strategic Plan (CBD/SBSTTA/21/7), when designing and undertaking evaluations of the effectiveness of measures taken to implement the Strategic Plan, in particular in the context of preparing their sixth national reports;
  • invites SBI 2 to take into account the importance and usefulness of sound evaluations of the effectiveness of measures and the need for associated capacity building when considering mechanisms for review of implementation, including consideration of proposals for strengthening existing review mechanisms, such as the voluntary peer-review mechanism of national reports and NBSAPs and options for a forward-looking approach to promote future implementation under the Convention, as well as when considering the preparation for the follow-up to the Strategic Plan; and
  • requests the Secretariat to continue compiling information, including case studies, on experiences in the use of tools to evaluate the effectiveness of policy instruments for the implementation of the Strategic Plan.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • emphasize the importance of sound evaluations and the need for associated capacity building, requesting the Secretariat to take both into account when preparing for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and for SBI 3;
  • emphasize the value of aligning indicators used across different reporting processes on biodiversity and sustainable development;
  • encourage governments and others to use the information contained in the Secretariat’s note on evaluation tools;
  • request parties and others to share information on evaluations’ methodologies, including case studies and lessons learned; and
  • request the Secretariat to develop a toolkit on the implementation of evaluations for SBI 3 consideration.


Guidance for a more sustainable wild meat sector was discussed from Monday to Thursday in plenary, and in a Friends of the Chair group chaired by Prudence Galega (Cameroon) on Monday and Tuesday evenings. On Monday, the Secretariat introduced the document (CBD/SBSTTA/21/3). John Fa, Center for International Forestry Research, presented on wild meat as a food security and cultural issue, and recommended as solutions to unsustainable practices: reviewing existing policies and legal frameworks; enhancing enforcement capacity; strengthening participation; reducing wild meat demand focusing on cities; and developing enabling conditions. Discussions focused on the mandate and scope of the guidance, practices related to wild meat, and whether and in what terms to adopt the guidance.

MANDATE AND SCOPE OF THE GUIDANCE: The Friends of the Chair group discussed the need to respect the COP 13 mandate to “elaborate technical guidance for better governance towards a more sustainable bushmeat sector.” Mexico, supported by Brazil, noted that sustainable wildlife use should cover terrestrial and aquatic fauna and flora in tropical and temperate regions, and that the guidance would benefit from lessons learned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Poland stressed that the issue is also pertinent to developed countries. Brazil requested the Secretariat to identify terrestrial tropical and sup-tropical areas where application of the guidance should be prioritized.

WILD MEAT PRACTICES: India drew attention to local communities’ needs and IPLCs’ customs and traditional practices, as opposed to recreational or luxury practices. South Africa, for Africa, noted the lack of alternative means for alleviating poverty. Cameroon stressed, with Colombia and Bolivia, IPLCs’ involvement in the process, avoiding top-down approaches. The Philippines, for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) noted certification, community-based management, and growing regulation of wildlife trade. Bolivia highlighted the distinction between commercial and non-commercial practices, stressing the need for mechanisms to deal with illegal trafficking. France cautioned against undesired effects of increasing the price of wild meat. Botswana pointed to the need to balance wild meat demand with moratoria on harvesting endangered species. Ecuador and FAO urged recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights, with the Global Forest Coalition underscoring free PIC. The IIFB called for protecting areas of wildlife abundance and strengthening indigenous institutions. The Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) suggested addressing gaps in the guidance, such as corruption, gender mainstreaming, and developing trust between IPLCs and law enforcement authorities.

ADOPTION OF THE GUIDANCE: India recommended “taking note,” rather than “endorsing,” the guidance, considering it, with Argentina, too prescriptive; and referred to consistency with national priorities. Indonesia also preferred taking note of the guidance to be applied in accordance with national legislation. Germany welcomed the guidance and underscored the role of trade measures. Belgium suggested endorsing the guidance, and supported by the UK, France, and others, proposed annexing it to the recommendation. Africa, Colombia, and Brazil recommended further work on the guidance.

Delegates eventually agreed to: referring to SDG 2 (zero hunger) and food security in relation to integrated wildlife management; adding to an invitation to parties and others to use the voluntary guidance “in accordance with national law”; and deleting a reference to unsustainable consumption rates of wildlife in the Amazon and Congo Basins. Finland recommended reinserting the reference to the estimates of yearly extinction rates after a peer review is complete. The Secretariat pointed to a footnote indicating that the annex may be revised due to the work pursuant to this recommendation.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/21/L.5), SBSTTA takes note of the draft voluntary guidance for a sustainable wild meat sector, applicable to some areas of terrestrial tropical and subtropical habit, biomes, and ecosystems, and requests the Secretariat, in collaboration with parties, other members of the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management, and IPLCs, to review the guidance and address related issues, as appropriate, in light of regional needs and circumstances.

SBSTTA maintained two options for the COP to “welcome” or “take note” of the annexed guidance, taking into account IPLCs’ traditional use without adversely affecting their livelihoods.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • encourage governments to make use of the guidance in accordance with national circumstances and national legislation, when developing and updating national development plans and NBSAPs;
  • invite parties to provide information on their activities and results arising from the consideration of the guidance;
  • invite parties to provide, on a voluntary basis, best practices from their existing national programmes to promote sustainable wildlife management, while contributing to poverty reduction, food security and employment generation, in line with the SDGs and the sustainable use of biodiversity; and
  • request the Secretariat to: identify areas that may require complementary guidance and explore ways to apply it to other geographical areas, species and uses, in view of the fact that the annexed guidance is applicable only to some areas of terrestrial tropical and subtropical habitats, biomes and ecosystems; and to further test multidisciplinary approaches to combining better knowledge of the use and trade in wildlife, taking into account IPLCs’ traditional knowledge and livelihood alternatives.

The annexed guidance includes sections on: context related to wild meat, food security, and livelihoods; scope and purpose; and technical guidance for achieving a sustainable wild meat sector to promote the sustainability of supply at source, managing the demand along the entire value chain, and creating the enabling conditions for legal, sustainable management of terrestrial wild meat in tropical and subtropical habitats. The guidance focuses on wild meat, defined as “the meat of terrestrial vertebrates in tropical and subtropical habit, biomes, and ecosystems, which is used for food” and which “can be considered synonymous with bushmeat.” A footnote indicates that this is based on the scope of work in past CBD COP decisions on the work programme on forest biodiversity and clarifies that the annexed guidance excludes non-food purposes, including medicinal uses. The guidance is aimed at enhancing governance for a sustainable, participatory, and inclusive wild meat sector and has the overall objective to facilitate the development of integrated policy measures to prioritize and incorporate actions to improve the sustainability of the wild meat use.


Plenary discussed health and biodiversity (CBD/SBSTTA/21/4) on Monday and Wednesday, with discussions focusing on health-biodiversity linkages, and next steps.

LINKAGES: Australia suggested reference to gender equality. India underscored the need for a pluralist strategy for health systems, noting the role of traditional medicine. Mexico noted the need to address plastic residues in the marine environment and pesticides.Finland and Sweden pointed to the business case for nature-based solutions. Norway stressed that biodiversity loss is a health risk multiplier. Bolivia requested reference to nutrition and to biodiversity assisting in addressing chronic diseases. New Zealand highlighted antimicrobial resistance. The IIFB called for recognizing indigenous health systems and traditional knowledge related to health. The Global Forest Coalition requested reference to IPLCs’ and women’s rights and consideration of IPLCs’ integrated knowledge. The Ecohealth Alliance recommended partnerships to mainstream biodiversity into the health sector.

NEXT STEPS: Sweden proposed, with France, “welcoming,” rather than “taking note of,” the guidance; and “urging,” rather than “encouraging,” parties to make use of it. Belgium and Norway proposed requesting IPBES to carry out an assessment on biodiversity and health to help policy priority-setting, and inviting the World Health Organization (WHO) to mainstream biodiversity throughout its work.

Japan and France suggested annexing the guidance on integrating biodiversity considerations into One Health approaches to the recommendation. Delegates agreed to language on integrating One Health policies in their NBSAPs and, “as appropriate,” national health plans and other instruments. On inviting WHO to consider ecosystem-based approaches, delegates agreed to extend the invitation also to the World Animal Health Organization and FAO.

Final Recommendation:In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/21/L.6), SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • acknowledge: health-biodiversity linkages, including through prevention and reduction of both infectious and non-communicable diseases; the importance of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and of traditional knowledge for IPLCs’ health; and enhanced human health benefits from accessible biodiverse green spaces, including for children and the elderly;
  • note the opportunities to contribute to the achievement of the Aichi Targets and the 2030 Agenda, by mainstreaming health-biodiversity linkages into relevant sectors and initiatives;
  • welcome the guidance on integrating biodiversity considerations into One Health approaches, recognizing the importance of ecosystem-based approaches for the delivery of multiple benefits to health and well-being, and encourage governments and relevant organizations to make use of the guidance, in accordance with national circumstances;
  • invite parties and others to: consider integrating One Health policies, plans, or projects in their NBSAPs, and, as appropriate, national health plans and other instruments; consider gender-differentiated impacts and responses in the integration of biodiversity and health linkages in their policies, plans and actions; and support capacity building;
  • encourage parties to promote dialogue among agencies responsible for the sectors of health (including domestic animal and wildlife health), environment, pollution (such as marine plastic debris), pesticides, antimicrobial resistance, agriculture, nutrition and food security, food safety, planning (including urban planning), climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction, to foster integrated approaches; and
  • invitethe WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health, FAO, and other relevant organizations to consider ecosystem-based approaches in their efforts to strengthen the prevention of ill health.

In addition, SBSTTA recommends that the COP request the Secretariat and invite the members of the Inter-agency Liaison Group on Biodiversity and Health, and other partners, subject to the availability of resources, to:

  • promote and facilitate dialogues on biodiversity-health approaches with relevant national, regional, and subregional stakeholders;
  • assist parties in developing strategies to mainstream biodiversity-health linkages effectively and, in particular, to promote holistic One Health approaches;
  • co-convene further regional and subregional capacity-building workshops in all regions;
  • compile information on relevant research, experiences, and best practices of the microbiome and human health; and
  • explore a mechanism that would facilitate access, synthesize and disseminate scientific literature and other reports on health and biodiversity, with a view to supporting the development of good practice guidance, reporting on progress to SBSTTA 23 and to SBI 3.

SBSTTA 21 further indicated it is aware that SBSTTA 22 may consider possible suggestions for the second work programme of IPBES and may wish to consider biodiversity and health.


Mainstreaming was discussed in plenary on Tuesday and Thursday. The Secretariat introduced the document (CBD/SBSTTA/21/5). SBI Chair Francis Ogwal (Uganda) presented on challenges and opportunities for mainstreaming biodiversity into infrastructure, mining, energy, manufacturing, and processing sectors, noting that they can negatively affect biodiversity unless fundamental change is affected through national planning processes and by identifying champions in the relevant sectors. Discussions focused on: considerations in mainstreaming, including environmental assessments; and next steps, including for a programmatic approach to mainstreaming.

CONSIDERATIONS: The UK, Finland, and Germany requested reference to the need for transformational change at all levels to achieve the Strategic Plan’s goals and the 2050 vision. Finland highlighted: national dialogues among all stakeholders, especially IPLCs and youth; development of national standards and legislation, including certification schemes, offset systems, payments for ecosystem services and education; and mainstreaming health aspects in an integrated fashion. Morocco called for assessing financial obstacles to mainstreaming. Cambodia emphasized minimizing impacts. The IIFB, supported by New Zealand, requested inclusion of IPLCs’ role and community-based monitoring and knowledge systems. Togo highlighted capacity building and communication among different stakeholders. Niger highlighted the need to involve local communities.

Sweden highlighted the need for: effective regulatory frameworks, institutions, and participatory processes with IPLCs, academia, civil society, and the private sector, as well as standards and good-practice guidelines based on the ecosystem approach. Peru emphasized the need to distinguish among sectors, impacts, and mitigation factors. Jamaica noted the importance of environmental stewardship and corporate responsibility, and, with the Maldives, suggested including reference to sand mining, and the development of training tools.

Environmental assessments: India emphasized environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and practical examples on effectiveness, potential gaps, and further steps for biodiversity mainstreaming. The EU noted EIAs, integrated management, and business platforms, and, with Brazil, suggested addressing biodiversity mainstreaming in the health sector in the recommendation. The Netherlands noted the potential of EIAs and strategic environmental assessments (SEAs) in preventing adverse impacts on biodiversity and providing consultation. Brazil suggested reference to: the role of the private sector and financial institutions funding projects in these sectors; the use of best available information in EIAs; and mainstreaming actions in NBSAPs to promote exchange of experiences. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility called for sharing primary biodiversity data collected through EIAs. The CBD Alliance and GYBN urged references to perverse incentives, and impacts on IPLCs’ and women’s human rights.

NEXT STEPS: Germany and others recommended assessing challenges and gaps for SBI consideration. Japan raised concerns regarding duplication of work in addressing the issue under both SBSTTA and SBI. Belgium underscored the importance of considering biodiversity mainstreaming also for the purposes of the post-2020 framework. Mexico suggested: broadening the scope; taking into account new information; and, with Ecuador, holding more extensive discussions through a panel or online fora. A number of parties suggested sharing national experiences. France recommended: requesting the Secretariat to assess mainstreaming obstacles, exploring links with other work under the CBD to avoid duplication, and, with Norway, referencing the UNEP work on green economy. Canada favored inviting case studies for SBI 2 consideration, including information on IPLCs’ and stakeholders’ role, and organizing sector-specific discussions. The Philippines, for ASEAN, Senegal, Jamaica, Niger, and the Gambia favored developing guidance to support biodiversity mainstreaming.

Programmatic Approach: Norway and the EU called for a programmatic approach towards mainstreaming. South Africa called for a programmatic, considered, and practical approach, strengthening of institutional capacity, and inclusion of practical experiences and lessons learned. Delegates agreed to refer to a “long-term strategic approach to mainstreaming,” indicating that it will entail identifying key tasks and priorities, including best practices, methodologies, experiences and tools, as well as challenges and gaps, to ensure CBD implementation in a manner coherent with the 2030 Agenda and the 2050 vision, ensuring broad participation; and request the Secretariat to prepare draft terms of reference for a possible ad hoc technical expert group to assist with this work. The UK suggested that a proposed informal a group tasked to assist the Secretariat be time-limited and work electronically.

On the annex, which provides information for the Secretariat to prepare an additional note for mainstreaming for SBI 2 consideration, Canada suggested deleting reference to policy gaps that hinder biodiversity mainstreaming, and an explicit list of key elements drawn from SBSTTA 21 meeting documents. Delegates adopted the recommendation with a bracketed recommendation to SBI 2 to consider a number of elements in preparing its recommendation to COP.

Final Recommendation:In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/21/L.8), SBSTTA notes that: mainstreaming is a critical approach to assist parties in CBD implementation; its conclusions regarding scenarios for the 2050 vision that pathways towards a sustainable future, while plausible, require transformational change to meet the 2030 Agenda; and, while numerous policies and tools exist to address the mainstreaming of biodiversity in these sectors, many gaps in their implementation also exist, including with respect to strategic planning and decision-making, economy and sector-wide policies, and the wider application of biodiversity-inclusive impact assessments, in particular SEAs of policies, plans, and programmes, and the use of spatial planning at the national, subnational, regional, and interregional levels, as appropriate.

SBSTTA further emphasizes the important role of IPLCs, as well as women, youth, local and subnational governments, and other relevant stakeholders, and the roles and contributions of community-based monitoring and information systems in addressing mainstreaming in these sectors; and requests the Secretariat to:

  • prepare an additional note taking into account an annexed list of elements for SBI 2 consideration;
  • invite parties and others to submit case studies of mainstreaming biodiversity into these sectors, and to consider these in the lead-up to SBI 2;
  • prepare, for SBI 2 consideration, a proposal for a long-term strategic approach to mainstreaming, identifying key tasks and priorities, including best-practices, guidelines, methodologies, experiences, and tools, as well as challenges and gaps, along with terms of reference for a possible ad hoc technical expert group on mainstreaming biodiversity; and
  • to convene a time-limited informal advisory group that will work electronically and be regionally balanced, to assist in preparing for the discussion of mainstreaming at SBI 2 and COP 14.

SBSTTA further invites the SBI to take this information into account in its deliberations, including a bracketed recommendation to consider a number of elements in preparing its recommendation to COP, such as:

  • recognizing that the energy and mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing, and health sectors have potential impacts on biodiversity, which may threaten the provision of ecosystem functions and services that are vital to humanity;
  • bearing in mind that mainstreaming biodiversity into these sectors is essential for halting biodiversity loss and achieving the goals and objectives of different multilateral agreements and international processes, including the 2030 Agenda;
  • noting implementation gaps remain with respect to strategic planning and decision-making, economy and sector-wide policies, and the wider application of biodiversity-inclusive impact assessments, in particular SEAs, and the use of spatial planning at the national, regional, and interregional levels;
  • inviting parties and others to, inter alia: review trends in these sectors, as well as existing laws, policies and practices, to address potential impacts on biodiversity and on IPLCs’ traditional livelihoods and knowledge; include the economic, social and environmental value of biodiversity and ecosystem services in decision-making on investments; promote and strengthen good practices on sustainable production and consumption; and encourage investments in biodiversity as a means of enhancing ecosystem functioning and services.

An annex contains information for use by the Secretariat in preparing an additional note on mainstreaming biodiversity in these sectors, to be made available to SBI 2, including: a brief assessment of the challenges and gaps in knowledge hindering biodiversity mainstreaming in these sectors; clear indication of linkages to other ongoing work under the Convention and other fora, to avoid duplication of work; relevant inputs from UNEP, including the International Resource Panel; and an analysis of IPLCs’ role.


Delegates first considered this item (CBD/SBSTTA/21/6) on Tuesday and Wednesday. Discussions mainly focused on the preparation of national reports, involvement of relevant organizations and IPLCs, transparency, and the importance of scenarios and spatial data at different scales.

 Mexico, Finland, and Canada proposed involving IPBES, FAO and others. Morocco emphasized the importance of updated data on biodiversity trends and threats. Canada called for a transparent and inclusive process, allowing for public comments on a draft of GBO 5.

Nepal stressed the need to include in GBO 5 best practices in conservation. Japan, with Australia, noted that work should be conducted in a cost-effective manner, supporting a minimal cost estimate. South Africa, for Africa, emphasized the need to use diverse data sources, including IPLCs, and address shortcomings, including lack of resources and capacity.

India suggested reference to the UNEP Global Environmental Outlook, climate change impacts and land use policy, and cooperation opportunities under the 2030 Agenda. Denmark highlighted the GBO 5 mandate to provide a target-by-target analysis on progress and links to the SDGs, while the IPBES assessments provide the evidence base for analysis. The UK, supported by Belgium, proposed taking into account SBSTTA 21 conclusions on scenarios in its preparation.

The Netherlands deemed the IPBES global assessment a useful input to GBO 5. New Zealand noted that GBO 5 should draw upon extensive sources, calling for timely submissions of the sixth national reports to assist in its preparation. Jamaica highlighted the importance of: accurate, verifiable, quantifiable, and qualitative data including at the regional level; the status of biodiversity in island states; and spatial data.

Bosnia and Herzegovina suggested identifying regional and subregional policy needs and spatial data. Peru recommended including information on obstacles encountered in achieving the targets. Colombia highlighted: harmonization of global indicators, their methods and criteria, including on the SDGs; and contribution from other knowledge systems. The IIFB, supported by New Zealand, recommended including reference to the second edition of the Local Biodiversity Outlooks (LBOs) as a complementary product to GBO 5. GYBN and the Global Forest Coalition emphasized the need to include IPLCs, women, and youth in the review of the GBO 5 zero draft and its communication strategy.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/21/L.4), SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • recall Decision XIII/29, in which it decided that GBO 5 should serve as a basis for the follow-up to the Strategic Plan to be considered by COP 15;
  • highlight that IPBES assessments and other relevant national and subregional assessments form an important evidence base for the assessment of progress towards the achievement of the Aichi Targets in GBO 5;
  • take note of the plan and cost estimates for the preparation of GBO 5, including the annexed indicative time table;
  • request the Secretariat to: prepare GBO 5, including a summary for policy-makers; continue collaborating with other biodiversity-related conventions and relevant processes and organizations in the preparation and review of GBO 5, including IPBES, FAO, and others; and take into account SBSTTA 21 conclusions on scenarios for the 2050 vision;
  • urge parties and invite others to make available in an open manner, accurate and reliable data and data updates on the status of, trends in, and projections for biodiversity and threats to it, and on progress in implementing the Convention and the Strategic Plan, including mainstreaming activities; and
  • invite governments and relevant organizations, where possible, to provide timely financial contributions for the preparation and production of GBO 5 and the second edition of the LBOs.


This item was discussed in plenary, and in a Friends of the Chair group, facilitated by Hendrik Segers (Belgium), on Tuesday. The Secretariat introduced relevant documentation (CBD/SBSTTA/21/8). Delegates discussed proposals for new and emerging issues, as well as the process for identifying these issues. The following topics had been proposed: environmental and social consequences of forced migration, proposed by Iraq; jurisdiction shopping and selection of non-genetic material media for transmission, proposed by the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law; legislative and regulatory frameworks to govern bioprospecting and use of digital sequence information, proposed by the University of the South Pacific; and marine dust from the Sahara desert in Africa nourishing the Amazon Rainforest, proposed by Babagana Abubakar.

PROPOSALS: Several delegations supported not including any new and emerging issues, noting that all four proposals submitted to the Secretariat did not meet the criteria contained in decision IX/29 (operations of the Convention). Mexico and Brazil said that the proposal on jurisdiction shopping and selection of non-genetic-material media for transmission may be addressed at a later stage. Bangladesh emphasized that refugees’ movements and subsequent pressures to biodiversity should be included as a new and emerging issue. The CBD Alliance, supported by Bolivia, stressed that synthetic biology is an outstanding new and emerging issue that has been included in the agenda, stressing that any recommendation should not impact issues already under discussion. India pointed to the ongoing intersessional process on digital sequence information.

PROCESS: New Zealand, Belgium, and India emphasized the relevance of all criteria, urging parties to accompany proposals with the information requested in Decision IX/29. Japan pointed to different views on the need for a proposal to fulfil all seven criteria, and recommended, with Mexico, that the COP consider distinguishing mandatory criteria, taking into account the need to reduce agenda items to improve the effectiveness of the subsidiary bodies’ work. Norway and the EU called for flexibility in addressing new and emerging issues; and supported reaffirming the relevance of all seven criteria and noting that the extent to which each criterion applies is considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all relevant information. Bolivia indicated that the criteria should not be restrictive, enabling the identification of new and emerging issues. Australia called for robust assessments of proposals against all criteria. Brazil, Belgium, Austria, and the UK opposed conducting a review of the criteria. In the Friends of the Chair group, delegates decided against addressing the process at this juncture.

Final Recommendation:  In the final recommendation (CBD/SBSTTA/21/L.3), SBSTTA takes note of the proposals for new and emerging issues and recommends that, pursuant to the procedure established through Decision IX/29, the COP decide not to add to any of the proposed issues to the SBSTTA agenda in the coming biennium.


On Thursday, Rapporteur Montezuma introduced the draft report (CBD/SBSTTA/21/L.1), which was adopted without amendments. Peru reported on the Coalition for Centers of Origin’s work towards achieving Aichi Target 13 (genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domestic animals and of wild relatives). Egypt reported on preparations for COP 14 under the theme, “investing in biodiversity for people and the planet.” Brazil reported on preparing a draft COP decision to support creating zero-extinction sites. Mexico, for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), called on parties to become more proactive and ambitious with only three years left for achieving most Aichi Targets. Ukraine, for Central and Eastern Europe, welcomed work on scenarios and its contributions to the post-2020 framework. The EU considered that the meeting made progress towards laying the foundations for follow up on the Strategic Plan.

Executive Secretary Pașca Palmer stated that “we are one step closer to the transformation we are seeking for the period post-2020.” SBSTTA 21 Chair Lim, underscoring the need to continue to strive to achieve the Aichi Targets and take actions on the ground, gaveled the meeting to a close at 6:29 pm.


On Wednesday, Mohawk elder Alex Sonny Diabo, Kahnawake, welcomed delegates to Mohawk territory, offered a Mohawk prayer, and noted women’s biodiversity stewardship. Working Group Co-Chair Edda Fernandez Luiselli (Mexico), for the COP Presidency, said the Working Group represents an important space for IPLCs’ voices under the CBD. Executive Secretary Paşca Palmer underscored opportunities for IPLCs’ positioning in the post-2020 framework and expressed commitment to working on greater protection for environmental defenders with other international organizations.

The provisional agenda (UNEP/CBD/WG8J/10/1) was adopted without amendments, and the organization of work (UNEP/WG8J/10/1/Add.1) was adopted with minor amendments. Sergei Melnov (Belarus) was elected rapporteur.

Seven IPLCs representatives were designated as “Friends of the Bureau,” representing the geo-cultural regions recognized by the UNPFII: Lucy Mulenkei (Africa); Aslak Holmberg (Arctic); June Cadalig Batang-ay (Asia); Polina Shulbaeva (Central and Eastern Europe, and the Caucasus); Yeshing Upùn (Latin America and the Caribbean); Christine Grant (Pacific); and with a nomination from North America outstanding. Upùn was designated as Working Group Co-Chair.

All recommendations were adopted by plenary on Saturday with no or minor amendments, unless otherwise indicated below.


The Working Group considered draft Rutzolijirisaxik voluntary guidelines for the repatriation of traditional knowledge relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity on Wednesday and Friday, and in a contact group co-chaired by Basile van Havre (Canada) and Lucy Mulenkei (IIFB) on Thursday evening. On Wednesday, the Secretariat introduced the draft guidelines (CBD/WG8J/10/2). Discussions focused on the nature, scope and content of the guidelines.

NATURE OF THE GUIDELINES: South Africa, supported by the Philippines, emphasized the voluntary nature of the guidelines, noting that their effect depends on whether parties translate them into national law. Australia stressed that the guidelines should: remain voluntary and be applied according to national circumstances; recognize the variety of IPLCs; and be focused on traditional knowledge relevant to biodiversity. The IIFB, supported by the Philippines and Ecuador, suggested adding that any legal measures should not prejudge the future recognition of rights and the guidelines address issues that are not settled in international law, particularly traditional knowledge in the public domain. Norway suggested inviting the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to take the voluntary guidelines into account.

SCOPE OF THE GUIDELINES: Canada noted that cultural property and intellectual property rights do not fall within the scope of the CBD. The EU considered the draft a solid basis to finalize negotiations; and underscoring, with the Republic of Korea, the need to remain within the scope of the Convention, questioned language on proactive identification of the origin of traditional knowledge and on benefit-sharing from ongoing use of traditional knowledge. Colombia called for clarifying the kind of traditional knowledge that is subject to repatriation; and pointed to intercultural dialogue and additional work on gender-specific knowledge.

CONTENT OF THE GUIDELINES: India suggested supporting IPLCs’ preparedness to receive repatriated traditional knowledge. Ecuador called for distinguishing between owners and users of traditional knowledge, and, supported by Bolivia, suggested that efforts to repatriate and restore traditional knowledge should be under mutually agreed terms (MAT) with the IPLCs where the knowledge originated. Mexico recommended: IPLCs’ full participation in the recording, documentation, and digitalization of traditional knowledge in accordance with their practices, and respect for sacred practices, confidential information, and restricted access to knowledge; and a reference to CBD Articles 17 and 18 (exchange of information and scientific cooperation). The Philippines proposed adding reference to circumstances that led to the acquisition of traditional knowledge, whenever identifiable, and clarifying that any resulting product or derivative from the acquisition of traditional knowledge should be shared with the knowledge holder. Brazil highlighted PIC and MAT before the publication of information associated with traditional knowledge. Argentina requested reference to businesses, as they often acquire and use traditional knowledge. Switzerland recommended eliminating the definition of repatriation and provisions foreseeing retroactive benefit-sharing. Bolivia proposed broadening language on benefit-sharing and PIC; and full involvement of IPLCs in repatriation.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/WG8J/10/L.2), the Working Group recommends that the COP:

  • recall CBD Articles 17 and 18;
  • consider the complexities of “publicly available traditional knowledge”;
  • adopt the annexed guidelines;
  • invite governments, organizations, and entities holding, storing, or housing traditional knowledge and related or complementary information, IPLCs, and others to use the guidelines; and
  • invite UNESCO to take into account the guidelines.

The annexed guidelines include sections on: objectives; purpose; scope; guiding principles for repatriation; and good practices and actions at all levels, including through community-to-community exchanges, in relation to governance, management and cooperation. The objective of the guidelines is to facilitate the recovery of traditional knowledge relevant for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, including related or complementary information, to facilitate the recovery of traditional knowledge and without limiting or restricting its ongoing use and access, unless under MAT. A footnote indicates that this does not preclude the application of the Nagoya Protocol, as appropriate. The purpose of the guidelines is the return of traditional knowledge to where it originated or was obtained for recovery, revitalization, and protection, as appropriate.

The guiding principles include, inter alia:

  • respect for traditional knowledge, values, worldviews, community protocols, rights, and interests of IPLCs, consistent with international obligations and national circumstances;
  • the development of enduring relationships with IPLCs;
  • encouragement of the creation of intercultural spaces and co-sharing of knowledge;
  • recognition of the importance of repatriating secret or sacred, gender-specific or sensitive traditional knowledge, as identified by relevant IPLCs, as a priority for them;
  • recognition and support of community-to-community efforts to restore traditional knowledge, which may involve PIC, free PIC or approval and involvement, MATs, and benefit-sharing; and
  • facilitation of information exchange, respecting the rights of the original holder and not impeding the use of traditional knowledge that is publicly available in the party, institution, or entity that decides to repatriate it.

Among other things, the good practices contained in the guidelines indicate that:

  • IPLCs should effectively participate in identifying origins of traditional knowledge in question and may be guided by oral histories and other forms of information;
  • governments should consider proactive arrangements to facilitate the identification of the origins of traditional knowledge and the original knowledge holders, which could include requirements in national law for authors to state the origin of access to traditional knowledge in all publications, uses, developments, and other disseminations;
  • agreements to repatriate should recognize any rights that the original holder may have, including PIC, free PIC, or approval and involvement, to the repatriation process for traditional knowledge concerned, and aim to develop MAT;
  • institutions and entities considering the digitization of collections, as an aid to repatriation, should do so with IPLCs’ full and effective participation, fully cognizant of both the challenges and benefits of documenting, digitizing and making publicly available traditional knowledge, with a footnote recalling Decision VIII/5B, which recommends that governments bear in mind that registries should only be established with IPLCs’ PIC;
  • users should consider special measures when there is ongoing use of traditional knowledge to address benefit-sharing, where appropriate, including compensation, return of rights to the original holders, and development of benefit-sharing mechanisms, which should be appropriate to the cultural and social context and IPLCs’ needs and aspirations;
  • fair and equitable benefit-sharing should be encouraged whenever traditional knowledge has been accessed and is used for either commercial or non-commercial purposes, unless waived under MAT; and
  • discussions concerning benefit-sharing in the context of the guidelines do not detract from the overall benefit of repatriating or restoring knowledge relevant for conservation and sustainable use.


The glossary was discussed in plenary from Wednesday to Friday. The Secretariat introduced the document (CBD/WG8J/10/3) and discussions focused on: the legal implications of the glossary, the definitions of indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas (ICCAs), and traditional biological resources.

LEGAL IMPLICATIONS: The EU, Switzerland, and Colombia noted that the glossary is not to be used for purposes of interpreting the Convention and should be limited to the context of Article 8(j). Argentina suggested preambular language stating that the glossary should not be understood as providing an evolutionary interpretation of the Convention. Colombia considered that the glossary does not prejudice discussions under other international instruments. India emphasized, with Australia, the voluntary nature of the glossary; and indicated that the terms are subject to national legislation. Ecuador suggested clarifying that the guidelines serve as a guide for parties adopting legislation concerning traditional knowledge in the framework of Article 8(j).

Mexico, supported by Brazil, opposed by Australia and Canada, requested referring to the glossary as a living “instrument,” rather than “resource.” The IIFB considered the glossary useful and, supported by Bolivia, Canada, and others, recommended periodic reviews of the glossary as a living document, with IPLCs’ participation.

ICCAs: The ICCA Consortium recommended referring to the most recent terminology “indigenous peoples and community conserved territories and areas,” and clarifying that ICCAs could be recognized as “protected areas” or “indigenous peoples’ protected areas” subject to free PIC and national circumstances. Delegates discussed whether “areas conserved by IPLCs could potentially be recognized as protected or conserved areas, subject to their free PIC and national circumstances.” Argentina suggested adding “subject to national circumstances and legislation.” Colombia, opposed by Bolivia, suggested replacing “free PIC” with “their request,” noting that the areas in question belong to IPLCs. Mexico offered as compromise language “subject to free PIC or a request, and according to national circumstances and legislation.” Following informal consultations, Colombia suggested “subject to their free PIC or request, subject to national circumstances.” Australia recommended using already agreed terminology referring to “PIC, free PIC or approval and involvement.”

BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES: The EU requested reference to traditional biological resources throughout the glossary. Argentina, supported by Brazil and queried by Bolivia, expressed concern about traditional “biological” resources and the omission of “tangible and intangible resources,” pointing to possible implications for the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol. Argentina stressed that biological resources are already defined in CBD Article 2 (use of terms) as including “genetic resources, organisms or parts thereof, populations, or any other biotic component of ecosystems with actual or potential use or value for humanity.” He suggested adding to this definition, for the purposes of the glossary, “used traditionally by IPLCs in keeping with their customs and national legislation.” Jamaica offered “in keeping with their customs and/or national legislation.” Mexico proposed “resources defined in CBD Article 2, used traditionally in keeping with their customs and/or national legislation.” Switzerland and the EU expressed concerns about potential impacts of a definition on genetic information for other processes. Peru favored bracketing the definition.

On Saturday in plenary, Bolivia requested bracketing “in accordance with national legislation, as appropriate” from the definition of biological traditional resources, due to concerns expressed by IPLCs. Argentina noted that the definition reflected compromise text agreed the day before in informal consultations, but would not oppose bracketing it. The document was approved with the proposed brackets. 

Final Recommendation:In the final recommendation (CBD/WG8J/10/L.3), the Working Group recommends that the COP:

  • note that clarity in the use of terms and concepts within the context of Article 8(j) and related provisions can contribute to a common understanding and assist in their implementation to achieve Aichi Target 18 (traditional knowledge) by 2020;
  • emphasize that the use of the glossary is without prejudice to the terminology used in the Convention and does not constitute an interpretation of the Convention or the application of its provisions in accordance with the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, and is without prejudice to further discussions on terminology in other international fora;
  • encourage parties, with IPLCs’ full and effective participation, to disseminate and make use of the glossary to support the implementation of Article 8(j) and related provisions, in accordance with national legislation and circumstances, as appropriate, and to take it into account in future work under the Convention; and
  • request the Working Group to keep the glossary in mind in its future work, as a living resource and reference, and to revisit and update it at regular intervals, as may be appropriate as part of the post-2020 arrangement.

Brackets remain around the recommendation that the COP “adopt”, or “take note of”, the annexed glossary, taking into account that the terms are subject to national legislation and diverse national circumstances, and that many parties have specific understandings of terms and concepts that may already apply within their jurisdiction.

The annexed glossary contains definitions of:

  • traditional biological resources being biological resources as defined by CBD Article 2 and used traditionally by IPLCs, in accordance with national legislation, as appropriate. The reference to “in accordance with national legislation, as appropriate” remains in brackets.
  • ICCAs being natural and/or modified ecosystems containing significant biodiversity values, ecological services, and cultural values, voluntarily conserved by IPLCs, both sedentary and mobile, through customary laws or other effective means. The glossary adds that ICCAs could potentially be recognized as protected or conserved areas, subject to their PIC, free PIC, approval and involvement or request, according to national circumstances;
  • cultural impact assessments, cultural heritage impact assessments, customary law, EIAs, sacred sites, social impact assessments, and SEAs, which are drawn from the Akwé: Kon Guidelines; and
  • PIC and free PIC, or approval and involvement, and community protocols, which are drawn from the Mo’otz Kuxtal Guidelines.


The Working Group considered on Thursday: progress towards Aichi Target 18 (traditional knowledge respected), implementation of the customary sustainable use action plan, and integration of Article 8(j) in the work of the CBD and its Protocols; and finalization of tasks 7, 10, and 12 under the Article 8(j) work programme (CBD/WG8J/10/4, CBD/WG8J/10/7- 8). On Friday, these items were addressed together in a Friends of the Chair group, facilitated by Tone Solhaug (Norway) and June Cadalig Batang-ay (IIFB) to ensure a coherent and integrated outcome on future work.

PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTATION: The Indigenous Women’s Biodiversity Network called for: recognizing ICCAs’ contributions to several Aichi Targets in national and global reporting; considering ICCAs and community conservation efforts in developing guidelines on ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction; and including gender assessments in sixth national reports, GBO 5, and NBSAPs.

Mexico called for establishing an online forum to share scientific, technical, and environmental information and best practices for consideration at SBSTTA 22, SBI 2, and COP 14. The EU supported completing the work programme no later than COP 15. India recommended, upon completion of the work programme at COP 14, identifying gaps in the implementation of Article 8(j) as part of the preparations of the post-2020 framework. Ecuador emphasized the need to conserve ecosystems where IPLCs are living to protect their traditional customary use.

PROGRESS TOWARDS AICHI TARGET 18: The Dominican Republic called for further progress in achieving Aichi Target 18, and, with the Philippines, capacity building. The IIFB and Indigenous Women’s Biodiversity Network expressed concern about limited progress, and proposed encouraging parties to strengthen efforts to ensure IPLCs’ full participation in implementing NBSAPs, particularly women and youth. The EU noted the importance of making available information on progress and best practices. Te Kopu and Native XP recommended addressing gaps on reporting and monitoring on traditional knowledge.

CUSTOMARY SUSTAINABLE USE: The Forest Peoples Programme recommended focusing on enhanced understanding to build partnerships and collaborations with IPLCs at local and national levels, building on the recommendations of the LBOs; noted limited national reporting on customary sustainable use; and suggested convening an expert meeting to develop the second phase of the customary sustainable use action plan. Te Kopu and Native XP recommended fulfilling the action plan; holding consultations with indigenous regions to enhance participation in the CBD implementation; and encouraging parties to support the IIFB in convening regional and global dialogues before SBI 2.

TASKS 7, 10, AND 12: Canada agreed on the need for further work at the Working Group’s next meeting and its consideration in the post-2020 framework. The Philippines supported gathering best practices and studies to inform the development of rules and laws to protect IPLCs’ rights.  Morocco noted the importance of relying on concrete experiences to better understand PIC. South Africa supported gathering experience on the implementation of the Mo’otz Kuxtal Guidelines for the post-2020 process. The IIFB, supported by New Zealand, requested more time to consider how to closely link proposals with the post-2020 framework.

INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS: On options for fully integrating Article 8(j) in the work of the Convention and its Protocols, Canada suggested: a hybrid option of enhanced integration and a permanent body, seeing value in both a permanent body with a longer-term mandate on Article 8(j) and related provisions, and enhanced participatory mechanisms for other CBD bodies; and called for an in-depth discussion of functions, roles, responsibilities, and governance, and for a compilation of views and inputs, deferring decision to SBI 2 and ensuring IPLCs’ full participation. The IIFB called for both options to be adopted; drew attention to work that still needs to be done, also relating to specific CBD bodies such as SBSTTA and SBI; and indicated that a permanent body could provide advice to different CBD bodies and the COP.  Japan, Mexico, and Morocco preferred enhanced integration by applying, when addressing matters of direct relevance to IPLCs in CBD subsidiary bodies, the enhanced participation mechanisms used by the Working Group.

The EU recommended organizing future work according to criteria of: continuity, building upon the Working Group’s work; IPLCs’ full and effective participation; focus on implementation; and efficiency. Brazil cautioned against prejudging decisions, including by determining criteria, underscoring the need to ensure IPLCs’ full participation, and gathering information about future tasks. Australia called for a robust process, information about costs and, with Norway and New Zealand, sufficient time to consider options. China requested an analysis of the options’ respective advantages and disadvantages before making a choice.

Pointing to previous COP decisions establishing the Article 8(j) Working Group and work programme, Japan indicated they did not foresee ending the Working Group. The Secretariat indicated if the Working Group was to continue, its terms of reference would have to be updated, whereas for a new body they would have to be developed. Australia suggested looking at current models and governance arrangements. The EU, supported by China, proposed drawing on experiences in integrating issues related to the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols across the Convention.

NEXT STEPS: Mexico proposed: inviting sharing of experiences about integrating and incorporating work of IPLCs, including in other international processes, such as UNPFII, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and UNESCO; and, supported by Bolivia and Colombia, holding an online forum before SBI 2. Canada supported consultation with IPLCs before SBI 2, possibly through a meeting. On Saturday, the Working Group discussed procedural approaches around a request to the Secretariat to facilitate a participatory online forum on elements of an Article 8(j) work programme as part of the post-2020 biodiversity framework, as well as possible institutional arrangements, lessons learned, and pros and cons of current arrangements.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation on ways and instruments for achieving the full integration of Article 8(j) and provisions related to IPLCs in the work of the Convention and its Protocols, with IPLCs’ full and effective participation and aiming at enhancing efficiencies, coherence, and coordination (CBD/WG8J/10/L.7), the Working Group requests the Secretariat to make available to SBI 2: a preliminary analysis of existing and possible future institutional arrangements for the Article 8(j) Working Group, including financial and governance implications, as well as experiences and lessons learned from other related intergovernmental organizations and conventions. The Working Group also invites governments, IPLCs, and relevant organizations to submit views on possible elements of a future work programme on Article 8(j) as part of the post-2020 biodiversity framework, as well as possible institutional arrangements and their modus operandi, requesting the Secretariat to make these available to COP 14.

The Working Group invites SBI 2 to consider elements of a draft COP decision, including by:

  • emphasizing the need for the effective implementation of the guidelines and standards related to Article 8(j) at the national level;
  • deciding to complete the current work programme no later than COP 15;
  • deciding to consider the development of a fully integrated work programme within the post-2020 biodiversity framework on the basis of achievements to date, also taking into account the SDGs, the Paris Agreement, as well as gaps identified;
  • inviting parties to gather experiences in the implementation of the guidelines and standards related to Article 8(j) at the national level and, in the light of those experiences, to consider the need for further work on these issues;
  • encouraging parties to engage with IPLCs in CBD implementation, including by recognizing, supporting, and valuing their collective actions, their efforts to protect and conserve their territories and areas, for the goals of the Convention, and fully engage them in the preparation of national reports, the revision and implementation of NBSAPs, and the development of the post-2020 biodiversity framework;
  • inviting governments to report on the implementation of the work programme, the Plan of Action on customary sustainable use, as well as other guidelines and standards, through the national reports or the clearing-house mechanism to determine progress made and inform the development of the post-2020 biodiversity framework;
  • requesting the Secretariat to facilitate an online forum inviting governments, IPLCs, relevant organizations, and other stakeholders to have an initial exchange of views and information, as appropriate, on possible elements of a work programme as part of the post-2020 biodiversity framework, as well as on possible institutional arrangements, lessons learned and pros and cons of current arrangements, for compilation and consideration at the next meeting of the Working Group;
  • inviting governments, IPLCs, relevant international organizations, in particular other biodiversity-related conventions, and interested stakeholders to submit views to the Secretariat on possible elements of a fully integrated work programme as part of the post-2020 biodiversity framework, for consideration at the next meeting of the Working Group; and
  • requesting the Secretariat to extend appropriate assistance that enables IPLCs’ representatives to participate effectively in broader discussions and processes under the Convention, including through regional consultations, which will determine the post-2020 biodiversity framework.

The recommendation includes a bracketed invitation to parties, governments, and IPLCs to submit views to the Secretariat on the possible institutional arrangements and their modus operandi for the implementation of Article 8(j).


The Working Group discussed this item from Wednesday to Friday. The Secretariat introduced the documents on assessing the contribution of IPLCs’ collective actions and safeguards in biodiversity financing mechanisms (CBD/WG8J/10/5-6), noting that the draft recommendations will be forwarded to SBI 2. Underscoring that resource mobilization is fundamental for the Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets, the Philippines suggested “recommending” the indicative list of elements of methodological guidance on IPLCs’ contribution to achieving the Strategic Plan’s objectives, as well as recognizing “the primacy of” and fully including traditional knowledge in relevant considerations. The IIFB, supported by Bolivia, suggested recognizing the importance of IPLCs’ holistic collective actions within a framework of rights, ethical principles, and values, and gender-differentiated roles. India highlighted the need to: recognize the intrinsic value of biodiversity and its role for sustaining livelihoods in local communities; take into account relevant national processes and legislation, and other international agreements; and define stakeholders’ rights and responsibilities.  The EU, India, Australia, and Canada suggested further discussion at SBI 2. Delegates adopted a recommendation, following a clarification from the Secretariat that comments made, especially from IPLC representatives, were annexed to the recommendation for SBI 2 consideration.

Final Recommendation:In the final recommendation (CBD/WG8J/10/L.4), the Working Group invites parties and others to submit views and requests the Secretariat to: compile the submissions and make them available through the clearing-house mechanism; revise the notes and the draft recommendations, on the basis of the submissions received and the annexed IPLCs’ views; and make them available to SBI 2.


This Working Group discussed this item in plenary on Thursday. The Secretariat introduced the relevant documentation (CBD/WG8J/10/9), noting that UNPFII 16 and 17 did not address recommendations specifically to the CBD. Canada favored further cooperation with UNESCO, the World Bank, and UN Habitat. Mexico requested the Secretariat to inform parties on the development of issues of mutual interest with the Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Peoples’ Issues. The CBD Alliance, supported by the Philippines, proposed: recommending that the Inter-Agency Support Group take up the issue of environmental defenders, including indigenous ones, urging parties to protect them; and urging parties to implement UNPFII recommendations to involve, and seek free PIC from, IPLCs whose territories overlap wholly or partly with proposed protected areas or other area-based management tools.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/WG8J/10/L.5), the Working Group recommends that the COP note UNPFII 15 and 16 recommendations, and request the Secretariat to continue to inform UNPFII on developments of mutual interest.


The Working Group discussed the topic of future in-depth dialogues on Friday and Saturday. The Secretariat introduced the relevant documentation (CBD/WG8J/10/10), noting that the proposed topic for the next in-depth dialogue is the contribution of traditional knowledge to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The EU, Canada, and the IIFB supported the proposed topic. South Africa proposed preambular language recognizing the important contribution of traditional knowledge to the CBD objectives and achievement of the SDGs, and proposed “cultural diplomacy” as an alternative topic, noting that it focuses on the notion of national cultures, fostering a greater understanding of traditional knowledge, and providing innovative ways of engaging new partners. Following informal consultations, delegates agreed on the topic “contribution of the traditional knowledge and cultural diversity to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.”

On Saturday, John Scott, CBD Secretariat, moderated the in-depth dialogue on the contribution of IPLCs’ traditional knowledge to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda with special emphasis on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Yoko Watanabe, Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme, illustrated links between traditional knowledge and the SDGs related to land, water, and climate change as the foundational ones for food security and sustainable consumption; stated that sustainable customary use can help develop a more integrated approach and nature-based solutions; and explained how the GEF’s small grants utilize a bottom-up, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach, having supported over 20,000 projects in over 125 countries, pointing out how a number of projects integrate and some focus on traditional knowledge. Watanabe said the programme focuses on capacity building, especially of indigenous women, recommending that actions to strengthen the use of traditional knowledge in the implementation of the SDGs should be included in planning and implementation activities.

Mrinalini Rai, Global Forest Coalition, focused on SDG 5 on gender and its relevance for other SDGs related to the ownership and control of land and natural resources; called for “gender transformative change” by addressing socially constructed norms, attitudes, and power relations through rigorous gender analysis and gender-positive impacts; and recommended: producing disaggregated data, synergies between gender and forest policies, better reporting on women’s contributions in national SDGs and CBD reports; and recognizing women as biodiversity conservation stewards.

Gloria Marina Apén Gonzalez, Guatemala, shared concrete actions at the national level on the contribution of traditional knowledge for the SDGs, underscoring: legal and policy frameworks to ensure IPLCs’ full and effective participation in decision-making on protected areas management and biodiversity; free PIC; and IPLCs’ contributions based on their decisions regarding their own priorities for regional and national development plans. To improve global knowledge on climate change, biodiversity loss, and sustainable development, she recommended: recognizing that science and traditional knowledge are equally legitimate and complementary; and considering IPLCs as strategic allies in the realization of the SDGs, and IPLCs’ collective actions as governance models.

Zsolt Molnár, Centre for Ecological Research (Hungary) and lead author of the IPBES Europe and Central Asia Assessment, presented on traditional ecological knowledge for better conservation of global biodiversity from an ecologist’s perspective, noting that IPLCs and their knowledge are diverse. He highlighted needs and opportunities for knowledge co-production in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, stating that knowledge can only be validated within the respective knowledge system and if Western science and traditional knowledge systems work together, they can come up with the best possible solution based on both systems. He said co-creation is a better approach than one seeking to validate the other.

In the ensuing discussion, Bolivia commented on agricultural biodiversity increasing ecosystem functions and traditional knowledge’s many contributions not just to conservation, but also sustainable use. The Philippines pointed to stringent criteria of funding bodies that result in more frequent awards to NGOs than to IPLCs directly.  Delegates also noted: capacity-building opportunities for IPLCs to prepare GEF small grant proposals and acceptance of visual proposals; the need for trust-building processes across different knowledge systems; reliance on awareness-raising among government agencies about traditional knowledge; the importance of applying in transboundary contexts the Akwé: Kon Voluntary Guidelines for the conduct of cultural, environmental, and social impact assessments; the incorporation of traditional knowledge in decision-making concerning climate change mitigation and adaptation; and the importance of mainstreaming traditional knowledge in the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and at the national level, through the development of protocols and monitoring mechanisms.

Final Recommendation: In the final recommendation (CBD/WG8J/10/L.6), the Working Group:

  • notes the in-depth dialogue on contribution of traditional knowledge to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, with particular emphasis on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity;
  • recognizes the important contribution that IPLCs’ traditional knowledge and their customary use of biodiversity can make to the achievement of most SDGs;
  • invites parties, when implementing the 2030 Agenda to mainstream traditional knowledge, including those on customary sustainable use, into the implementation of all relevant SDGs with IPLCs’ full and effective participation; and
  • decides as the topic for the next in-depth dialogue “Contribution of traditional knowledge and cultural diversity to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.”


On Saturday, delegates adopted the meeting report with minor amendments (CBD/WG8J/10/L.1). Belarus, for Central and Eastern Europe, emphasized that his region is rich in traditional knowledge and practices relevant for conservation and sustainable use, but traditional knowledge is being lost due to urbanization and migration; and called for a balanced approach to new technologies that negatively impact traditional knowledge and those that support its conservation. South Africa, for Africa, underscored that the challenges identified in the third and fourth editions of the GBO are still present; and called for increased efforts to achieve the Aichi Targets by 2020, and more inclusion of IPLCs and youth in CBD implementation.

Estonia, for the EU, welcomed the finalization of the guidelines on the repatriation of traditional knowledge and of the glossary, and constructive discussions on integrating Article 8(j) into the work of the Convention. Mexico, for GRULAC, said that the meeting provided a good basis for completing the Article 8(j) work programme and preparing for the post-2020 framework, noting that biodiversity mainstreaming offers opportunities to implement Article 8(j) through accelerated efforts towards the realization of the Aichi Targets and the 2030 Agenda; and called for integrating traditional knowledge in public policy and education, and for strengthening efforts to enhance IPLCs’ participation in CBD implementation. Cambodia, for Asia-Pacific, expressed satisfaction at the constructive spirit of the Working Group’s deliberations.

The IIFB called for: respecting free PIC; ensuring genuine dialogue with IPLCs in different regions to progress discussions on the integration of Article 8(j) in the CBD work; and recognizing the role of indigenous women as protectors and transmitters of traditional knowledge, and as keepers of traditional seeds.

Executive Secretary Paşca Palmer recalled the tenth anniversary of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and IPLCs’ significant contribution to conservation and sustainable use, and considered IPLCs’ participation in the Convention critical for assessing implementation on the ground and for developing new arrangements to save biodiversity globally. Working Group Co-Chair Cuauhtemoc Ochoa (Mexico), for the COP Presidency, stated that the guidelines on traditional knowledge repatriation and the glossary will help develop a common approach across the Convention, and gaveled the meeting to a close at 1:19 pm.


“The pathways towards a sustainable future require transformational change. We all need to identify how the Convention can leverage action towards the positive change needed to achieve a world in harmony with nature.” The opening remarks of the CBD Executive Secretary Cristiana Paşca Palmer were echoed by panelists, chairs and several participants during the conjunct meetings of SBSTTA and the Article 8(j) Working Group. With only three years left and much more concerted efforts needed to realize the Aichi Targets, CBD delegates rolled their sleeves up to brainstorm about the path towards realizing the 2050 vision for biodiversity, including through the development of the post-2020 biodiversity framework.

This brief analysis will discuss the substantive outcomes of the two meetings, as well as the degree to which scientific processes are being strengthened under the Convention, to “demonstrate that biodiversity conservation and sustainable use are key to delivering other environmental and socio-economic objectives,” such as addressing climate change and the SDGs, as Executive Secretary Paşca Palmer urged at the beginning of the week.


Most delegates left Montreal with a shared belief that the two meetings delivered substantive outcomes, as well as setting the foundations for future work towards a post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The SBSTTA recommendation on health and biodiversity, for instance, was hailed by many as a strategic tool to get the health community on board with conservation and sustainable use efforts, while also having significant public-awareness potential. “People are much more responsive to issues about their own health than that of ecosystems,” mused a delegate. At the same time, the recommendation can feed into future work on mainstreaming biodiversity into the health sector.

Mainstreaming biodiversity was, in effect, expected to attract the lion’s share of attention at SBSTTA 21, primarily in relation to other sectors that are less dependent on biodiversity and possibly the most damaging to it: energy, mining, infrastructure, manufacturing, and processing. According to many observers, mainstreaming gained significant traction at the Cancun Biodiversity Conference, at least regarding the recognition of biodiversity concerns. “We have to remember,” commented a delegate, “that 30 years ago nobody knew about biodiversity, 20 years ago biosafety was an unfamiliar word, and 10 years ago few had heard about liability and redress,” hinting at the upcoming entry into force of the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol in March 2018. Some delegates pointed to the urgency to provide guidance on biodiversity mainstreaming, particularly in sectors such as energy and infrastructure that are expected to attract significant investment in the short term, as part of the efforts to achieving the SDGs.

Others, however, emphasized the need for further thought on this delicate task, recommending instead the development of a programmatic approach to allow for longer-term and strategic identification of priorities, on the basis of broad-based consultations and of a more systematic assessment of best practices and methodologies, as well as of challenges and gaps. “We need to consider more carefully the peril of diluting biodiversity, rather than properly mainstreaming it,” a seasoned delegate cautioned. Another added, “We haven’t factored in sufficiently the role of indigenous peoples and local communities, their knowledge systems, and contributions to monitoring,” pointing out that the concurrent convening of SBSTTA and the Article 8(j) Working Group could be better integrated. “Rather than having an in-depth dialogue on traditional knowledge and the SDGs on the last day when all recommendations are already finalized, why don’t we schedule it at the beginning of a fully integrated SBSTTA and Article 8(j) meeting, to kick-start discussions and draw out synergies between western science and traditional knowledge systems?”

Amidst the Working Group’s discussions on mainstreaming traditional knowledge considerations into all CBD processes, the finalization, after many years of deliberations, of the Rutzolijirisaxik Voluntary Guidelines for the repatriation of traditional knowledge and the glossary of key terms and concepts used in the context of Article 8(j) and related provisions was seen by many as an important basis for ensuring more consistent approaches under the Convention. Some delegations praised the Rutzolijirisaxik Guidelines for their broad recognition of IPLCs’ knowledge and practices, and for managing to tackle the divisive issue of benefit-sharing in cases of ongoing use of traditional knowledge that was acquired well before the adoption of the Convention. Another national delegate, however, sounded skeptical, underscoring the need for defined mechanisms, in addition to aspirational guidance, to change current practices: “Do you really think that museums around the world were waiting for these guidelines to start repatriating traditional knowledge?” A more hopeful negotiator pointed to the presence of natural history museum staff members at SBSTTA that have followed these negotiations for years. IPLC representatives, in turn, were satisfied with the outcome, but cautious about the need for a holistic approach in implementing the guidelines: “The heart of the matter is not just the repatriation of an item embodying traditional knowledge or information on it, but repatriating ownership, control, and rights over that knowledge. It is about genuinely understanding IPLCs’ aspirations and their worldviews.” Another observer pondered whether the reference in the guidelines to the development of enduring relationships with IPLCs and the creation of intercultural space and co-sharing of knowledge provides a realistic starting point for respectful and mutually fruitful engagement between those currently storing, and those originally holding and in need to revitalize, traditional knowledge.


Following the creation of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation, which is meant to focus on policy issues in preparation for the COP, many noticed that SBSTTA 21 marked a move towards a more scientifically-oriented body, with its preparatory documentation focusing on reviewing the latest research and distilling key scientific findings of relevance for the CBD. But more remains to be done in incorporating scientific knowledge in the work of the Convention. As one participant put it, “for the last decade at least, you hardly came across a policy statement that has not made a specific claim to sound science, but science is not unproblematic: scientists operate under continuous commercialization pressure, competition for funding, and ethical dilemmas.” In a way, the answers science provides depend on types of questions asked on the basis of societal predispositions and prejudices. A civil society representative added: “Science may provide us with facts about potential benefits and risks of given actions, but does not tell us necessarily which benefits should be pursued or which among the attainable technologies is socially desirable.” According to a CBD veteran, as already raised in previous SBSTTA meetings, more collaboration is needed among natural and social sciences, particularly when parties have different views of the role of the Convention vis-à-vis new technologies, as exemplified in the discussions on the use of scenarios for the 2050 vision and in ongoing discussions on synthetic biology, scheduled to continue at the next SBSTTA session.

The voluntary guidance for a sustainable wild meat sector also provided a good illustration of the degree of scientific strengthening of the CBD. Many considered that the guidance lays down scientifically-sound elements to balance environmental, socio-economic and cultural issues in promoting the sustainability of wild meat supply at the source, managing the demand along the entire value chain, and creating enabling conditions. In addition, the debate about a specific reference to the Congo and Amazon basins, which was eventually deleted, engaged delegations in an open discussion of the scientific sources underlying the guidance, with some calling for a consistent approach to review in line with the one used in the production of the CBD technical papers series. Others pointed to the peer-review practices of IPBES as a possible source of inspiration. Similar questions are already on the agenda of the next SBSTTA session, which, among many other issues, will consider the scientific credibility and peer-review practices of the CBD process on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs).

Moreover, as a participant in the Working Group on Article 8(j) stressed, “IPLCs’ traditional knowledge systems are often marginalized by Western science,” referring to the multiple calls voiced this week to integrate traditional knowledge across the work of the Convention. Another delegate drew attention to the key messages highlighted by ecologist Zsolt Molnár at the in-depth dialogue, calling for knowledge co-production, rather than western science and traditional knowledge seeking to validate each other. “I wondered whether co-production of knowledge should be the modus operandi for SBSTTA,” offered an observer, “and an important consideration in discussing the future of the Working Group and the integration of Article 8(j) in all CBD processes.” These discussions will engage CBD parties at SBI 2, in the context of the review of effectiveness of CBD processes, and COP 14, although a final decision on the future of the Working Group is expected for COP 15, when the current work programme on Article 8(j) will be completed.


Many delegates in Montreal seemed to subscribe to the idea that the CBD can facilitate and institutionalize transformative practices—an idea that emerged from the 2017 Bogis-Bossey dialogue on biodiversity that discussed sustainability transition research as a starting point for fresh thinking on the role of the Convention in the broad international policy landscape. But delegations also indicated that more needs to be done for the CBD to, confidently and credibly, support transformational change towards biodiversity conservation as the foundation of human wellbeing, health and sustainable development that depend on healthy ecosystems and rich biological resources. “Maybe we should see the CBD as a vast sprawling ecosystem where international negotiations are the end-point of a larger process, which is able to recognize transformative solutions from the grassroots level,” a delegate offered. This prompted a participant to assert, “while traditional knowledge is a term coined mainly for policy work, the invaluable lesson it contains is that indigenous peoples and local communities can teach us the way to reconnect with nature.”

Another, however, pointed to the challenge of spurring and recognizing private-sector innovation: “the one-million-dollar question is how to really ensure that biodiversity concerns influence sectors like infrastructure or mining.” On the other hand, an observer stated that “if we don’t find ways to alter “business as usual” approaches, our mainstreaming efforts will end up with companies placing a pond of frogs outside their headquarters and claim they are contributing to conservation.” Others were hopeful that the SBSTTA recommendation on the development of scenarios as tools to inform policy-making, by integrating the contributions of IPLCs’ collective action, as well as positive and negative impacts of production and technology development, can illuminate the possible paths for transformational change.

At a time when the Convention is seeking to secure strategic positioning vis-à-vis the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change, delegates left Montreal with some new tools and many pending questions about effectively communicating and building partnerships around the biodiversity-sustainable development nexus, to deliver on the theme for COP 14 that Egypt announced at SBSTTA 21, “Investing in biodiversity for people and the planet.”


Global Landscapes Forum: The Global Landscapes Forum is designed to produce and disseminate knowledge among diverse stakeholders and accelerate action to build more resilient, climate friendly, diverse, equitable, and productive landscapes around five broad themes: restoration, financing, rights, measuring progress, and food and livelihoods. The science-led Forum aims to lead to collaborative contributions to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  dates: 19-20 December 2017  location: Bonn, Germany  contact: Susan Tonassi  email:  www:

World Ocean Summit: The fifth World Ocean Summit, hosted by the Economist Group, will focus on sustainable seafood, ocean finance, marine debris, blue economy, ocean governance, and technology and the ocean. dates: 7-9 March 2018  location: Cancún, Mexico  phone: +44-20-7576-8118 or +1-212-641-9865  email:  www:

8th World Water Forum: The goal of the forum is to enhance dialogue in the decision-making process on water at the global level, to achieve the rational and sustainable use of this resource. Given its political, technical, and institutional scope, one of the Forum’s main features is the open, democratic participation of actors drawn from different sectors. It will be the first time the event is held in the Southern Hemisphere.  dates: 18-23 March 2018   location: Brasilia, Brazil   contact: World Water Council   phone +55-61-3039-8530  email:  www:

IPBES-6: The sixth session of the IPBES Plenary will consider for approval four regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services and the thematic assessment on land degradation and restoration. The plenary is also expected to conduct regular elections of the Multi-Disciplinary Expert Panel and consider the review of effectiveness of the Platform.   dates: 17-24 March 2018   location: Medellin, Colombia   contact: IPBES Secretariat   phone: +49-228-815-0570   email    www

48th Sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies: The 48th sessions of the subsidiary bodies to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will take place in April-May 2018.  dates: 30 April - 10 May 2018   location: Bonn, Germany  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone:+49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  email:  www:

World Conference on Marine Biodiversity: The fourth World Conference on Marine Biodiversity will bring together scientists, practitioners, and policy-makers to discuss and advance understanding of the importance and current state of marine biodiversity.  dates: 13-16 May 2018  location: Montreal, Canada  contact: WCMB 2018 Secretariat  phone: +1-514-287-9898 ext. 334  fax: +1-514-287-1248  email:  www:

G7 Leaders’ Summit: The Group of Seven (G7) Summit, under Canada’s Presidency in 2018, will focus on: investing in growth that works for everyone; preparing for jobs of the future; advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment; working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy, and building a more peaceful and secure world.  dates: 8-9 June 2018  location: Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada  phone: +1-833-472-4275 email:  www:

6th GEF Assembly and Associated Meetings: The 6th GEF Assembly, which meets every four years, will be held in conjunction with the 54th meeting of the GEF Council and other associated meetings.  dates: 24-29 June 2018  location: Da Nang, Viet Nam  contact: GEF Secretariat  phone: +1-202-473-0508  fax: +1-202-522-3240/3245  email:  www:

CBD SBSTTA-22: The twenty-second meeting of the CBD SBSTTA will address, inter alia: protected areas, marine and coastal biodiversity, biodiversity and climate change, and digital sequence information on genetic resources.  dates: 2-7 July 2018  location: Montreal, Canada  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288-6588  email:  www:

CBD SBI-2: The CBD Subsidiary Body on Implementation will address, inter alia: review of progress in the implementation of the Convention and the Strategic Plan; biodiversity mainstreaming; resource mobilization; cooperation with other conventions; and mechanisms for review of implementation; national reporting, and assessment and review, under the Convention and its Protocols; enhancing integration of Article 8(j) under the Convention and its Protocols; review of effectiveness of the processes under the CBD and its Protocols; and preparation for the follow up to the Strategic Plan.  dates: 9-13 July 2018  location: Montreal, Canada  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288- 6588  email:  www:

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