Daily report for 2 September 1997

3rd Meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA)

Delegates to the Third Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-3) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) met first in Plenary to adopt and then in two Working Groups. Working Group I discussed biodiversity of inland waters and Working Group II focused on forest biodiversity.


Chair Elaine Fisher (Jamaica) invited the Secretariat to introduce the report on biological diversity in inland waters (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/3/2). A number of delegations, including NORWAY, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, the UK, the EU, SWEDEN, FINLAND, GERMANY, AUSTRALIA and DENMARK, supported the proposed work programme and noted the importance of integrated watershed management. Many delegations, including NORWAY, the REPUBLIC OF KOREA, the UK, SWEDEN, FINLAND, GERMANY and SOUTH AFRICA, noted that it was also essential to ensure contact between the CBD's biodiversity efforts and the CSD work programme, which will focus on freshwater. Several delegations, such as KENYA, the NETHERLANDS, ARGENTINA, CANADA and FRANCE supported the establishment of partnerships with specialized organizations from the wetlands and water resources sector at national and international levels. A number of delegations, including IRELAND and INDIA, underscored the importance of catchment areas.

NORWAY and SWEDEN highlighted the conclusions of the Workshop on Freshwater Biodiversity, which took place in Selbu, Norway, 5-7 June 1997, which emphasize: conservation of national and regional waters; national capacity building; and the need for extensive taxonomic inventories of freshwater systems. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA and GERMANY supported an ecosystem approach to inland water ecosystems and integrated watershed management. The UK suggested that priorities include: the sharing of information and experience on managing the water resources and natural processes of whole catchments; the development of practical methods for evaluating and monitoring trends in biodiversity of inland waters; the sharing of information concerning the sustainable use of water resources and the biodiversity of inland waters; and raising awareness and sharing information on controlling alien species. Noting that freshwater ecosystems or inland waters represent a variety of habitats, FINLAND and GERMANY suggested that the ecosystem approach to freshwater management requires the integration of both the terrestrial and aquatic components.

DENMARK stated that SBSTTA's aims to maintain full natural biodiversity and the report should clarify that SBSTTA is concerned about increased biodiversity in inland waters because it often stems from pollutants. SWITZERLAND said the CHM should synthesize available information on inland water ecosystems and, with INDIA, said the GEF should finance projects that promoting inland water conservation and sustainable use. The US recommended, inter alia, watershed management with a participatory ecosystem approach and better integration of inland water ecosytems with traditional resource management. BENIN called for reduced pressure on the populated shorelines of inland water systems.

COLOMBIA favored a work programme that strengthens national capacity and focuses equally on conservation and utilization. With BRAZIL, she called for defining priorities at the regional level. BRAZIL also called for addressing integrated river management and, with MEXICO, called for consideration of transboundary impacts. ARGENTINA said the report should address activities effecting inland waterways, such as deforestation, mining and tourism. PERU highlighted, inter alia, preserving catchment areas; training and public awareness; establishing technical guidelines and management plans; and promoting technical assessments. CANADA called for a focus on issue-driven technological adaptation and an assessment of ongoing programmes of international organizations. The NETHERLANDS and KENYA stressed the need for a taxonomic inventory of inland water systems.

KENYA, HAITI, GUINEA, SOUTH AFRICA and MALAWI, on behalf of the African Group, called for increased financial support and technology transfer and stated that institutional arrangements must incorporate indigenous knowledge and build local self-help programmes. MALAWI also highlighted: synergy with relevant conventions; impact assessments; watershed management, with local community participation. He urged SBSTTA and the COP to: establish regional expert groups; include inland waters in the SBSTTA-4 agenda; facilitate participation in regional workshops and meetings. CAMEROON favored an integrated review of inland waters with guidance from international organizations and conventions. INDONESIA noted that public awareness is particularly important in countries with dense populations. A representative of the RAMSAR CONVENTION noted that its Strategic Plan could contribute to the CBDs emphasis on inland water systems and requested guidance from the CBD on how to opertionalize this role.

WORLD BANK said its review of projects to determine impacts on inland water ecosystems indicated that certain irrigation, water supply, and hydroelectric projects are bereft of biodiversity management and could benefit from improved monitoring and impact assessment. WETLANDS INTERNATIONAL stressed the need to enhance communication with and participation by cross-sectoral groups. A representative from the GLOBAL BIODIVERSITY FORUM-8 highlighted the need for information on threats to individual species and whole system functioning and suggested that information exchange could be implemented through the Clearinghouse Mechanism (CHM). INDIGENOUS PEOPLES BIODIVERSITY NETWORK observed that the summary document does not adequately reflect the role of traditional technologies and underscored the need for specific case studies regarding the knowledge and practices of indigenous peoples. FAO observed that reports of fishery production data often dont include information from inland sources and that improved catch and effort data could help provide needed indicator information.

Delegates also discussed a report on identification and monitoring of components of biodiversity of inland water ecosystems(UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/7). The UK, COLOMBIA, SWEDEN and JAPAN noted that RAMSAR criteria may be helpful, but did not support their adoption by CBD. He supported developing an overall classification system for inland waters. FRANCE agreed with the adoption of existing Ramsar Criteria, but cautioned against adding new criteria at this time. NORWAY supported endorsing the criteria regarding threatened species, but was reluctant to recommend that Parties prepare indicative lists, concluding that such a proposal is premature. BURKINA FASO suggested that the proposed criteria for assessing specific sites are too simplistic. PERU said that guidelines should include physical and biological risks to humans, plant and animal life caused by pollution.


Working Group II Chair Gabor Nechay (Hungary) opened discussions on forest and agricultural biodiversity. The Secretariat introduced the Draft Programme of Work for Forest Biological Diversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/3/5).

Many delegations supported CBD Secretariat cooperation with the Inter- agency Task Force on Forests (ITFF), Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and other ongoing forest activities. FINLAND, with JAPAN, NEW ZEALAND, ITALY, GERMANY and FRANCE, proposed avoiding duplication with the IPF and the upcoming International Forum on Forests (IFF). VENEZUELA, with BRAZIL, was concerned with inconsistency with UNGASS and along with AUSTRALIA with possible duplication by the CBD of the IPFs holistic work on forests. The IFF Secretariat suggested that it is premature for SBSSTA-3 and COP-4 to adopt a WP on forests without being able to receive a contribution from IFF. BRAZIL SWEDEN, supported by PERU, THE REPUBLIC OF CONGO, GFPP, GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL and FUNDACION ECOTROPICA, expressed concern that other processes duplicate the legally binding CBD mandate; and, with SWITZERLAND, hopd the CBD would not wait to make its contribution to the IFF. GREENPEACE added that UNGASS stated that existing regimes such as the CBD should use their efforts to implement their responsibilities on forests. GFPP reminded delegates that: the IPF is over and the IFF dialogue has yet to begin. FAO expressed its commitment to cooperate with the CBD on biodiversity in forests and agriculture, particularly on the conservation and use of genetic resources and elaboration of C&I. . NORWAY suggested keeping the GEF also in mind and SWEDEN and FUNDACION ECOTROPICA hoped for SBSTTA coordination with all relevant institutions and processes.

FINLAND and PERU welcomed the forest liaison group initiative but other delegates raised concern over the ways and means of formulating and implementing the work programme. JAPAN, with GFPP, requested clarification of the roster of expert and liaison group selection procedures. FINLAND stressed the need to incorporate valuable expertise and coordinated scientific backstopping and information exchange. . SWEDEN stressed the importance of regional workshops. GERMANY and the UNITED KINGDOM suggested not being limited to liaison groups and technical workshops. AUSTRALIA, with GFPP, JAPAN and GERMANY questioned the transparency and participation of the liaison group model. VENEZUELA with JAPAN, INDIA and THE REPUBLIC OF CONGO said the model duplicated efforts, funding and time. GERMANY proposed the undertaking of a critical review be undertaken in collaboration with Parties and other relevant institutions to share SFM experiences and the UNITED KINGDOM suggested the use of electronic networks. PERU suggested soliciting Party initiatives to tackle specific elements similar to those taken in the IPF.

Delegates generally supported the draft work programme (WP), but had comments overall and concerning specific gaps and programme elements. FINLAND supported by NORWAY, the UNITED KINGDOM, AUSTRALIA, SWEDEN, NEPAL, FRANCE and the NETHERLANDS hoped for clearer objectives, priorities and action-orientation. JAPAN, VENEZUELA and AUSTRALIA questioned the ability of the CBD to handle the WP. VENEZUELA said that UNGASS, and CSD decisions were not adequately incorporated and with CANADA, PERU, the GFPP, AUSTRALIA, FINLAND, and the IFF Interim Secretariat stressed the need to synthesize not simplify IPF proposals for action and with AUSTRALIA did not consider discussion of a global framework for forest biodiversity appropriate. The UNITED KINGDOM, AUSTRIA and JAPAN asked for clarification on who precisely will do and oversee the work and with CANADA requested full costing and timelines. CANADA proposed that SBSTTA recommend to the COP that the Executive Secretary select an appropriate international agency be selected to prepare costed options for financing WP priorities, keeping in mind the special needs of developing countries.

USA suggested that best practices be the WP priority. NORWAY proposed distinguishing management from scientific aspects. BENIN and THE NETHERLANDS, supported by SOUTH AFRICA, felt the draft work programme is too centered on natural forests rather than planted, agricultural and secondary forests. SBSTTA needs to support research that considers the role of commodity production and livelihood alternatives for farmers that do not result in forest destruction. DENMARK, with PERU highlighted the need for the CBD to complement existing efforts to define sustainable forest management (SFM) and prioritize advising on how to integrate biodiversity into national programmes and reporting, across sectors and by elaborating biodiversity criteria related to Article 8j. Referring to COP-3 decisions, GERMANY, with SOUTH AFRICA, stressed the need for the work programme to focus on suitable technologies for forest biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. KENYA with FINLAND and PERU noted that forest valuation methodologies were not adequately addressed and added the need to internalize social and environmental costs.

FINLAND also suggested more emphasis be given to: with SWITZERLAND and MEXICO, traditional forest related-knowledge (TFRK) and traditional systems of conservation and sustainable use; ongoing work on Article 8j; with CANADA and SOUTH AFRICA human influences and mitigation measures to counter the underlying causes of biodiversity loss; and recommendations on how to integrate forest biodiversity and the ecosystem approach in sustainable forest management (SFM) in various ecoregions, biomes and biogeographical zones. The AFRICA GROUP noted the complex interrelationship forest and non-forest ecosystems and the need for the WP to address all aspects of forests, not just biodiversity but also community participation and silvicultural practices and with VENEZUELA socioeconomic aspects. SOUTH AFRICA, with the NETHERLANDS added the need to address the need for restoration of degraded forests and with KENYA and MALAWI proposed an exhaustive inventory and categorization of forests. PERU emphasized the need for building national and regional consensus, particularly concerning C& I. GERMANY also suggested that a separate program element dealing with the COP-3 decision on assessment of ways to minimize or mitigate negative influences should be created. With the GLOBAL FOREST POLICY PROJECT and DENMARK stressed that the WP must focus on a few major issues where the CBD can fill gaps and with NEW ZEALAND where it can make a difference. SWITZERLAND suggested that this might be in the area of sustainable use along with an inventory of work underway biodiversity indicators and the use of genetic resources. SWEDEN suggested tackling difficult issues such as sustainable forestry, ecosystem management on a landscape scale on public and private lands and, with FRANCE, the NETHERLANDS and AUSTRIA, the need to create viable or large areas of protected forests.

Regarding the ecosystem approach to forest biological diversity, BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, and the FUNDACION ECOTROPICA called for clearer definitions. GERMANY, with ITALY, MEXICO, AUSTRALIA and KENYA suggested: clarifying links with TFRK; emphasizing mitigation measures; and deleting development of methodologies for assessing ecological landscapes, forest fragmentation and population viability. DENMARK, CANADA, and the US favored the ecosystem approach as an implicit part of all other WP elements rather than a separate area of work. ITALY, with the NETHERLANDS, proposed a broader approach to ecosystems, including marine and inland water efforts. AUSTRALIA recommended making outputs useful for NFP initiatives. MEXICO, with The AFRICA GROUP, BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, NETHERLANDS, FRANCE, AUSTRALIA and SWEDEN stressed incorporation of socioeconomic aspects. AUSTRIA called for a regional approach to ecosystems. SWEDEN noted that the ecosystem approach was already adopted by the COP.

Many delegates supported focus on the integration of forest biodiversity into sectoral and cross-sectoral planning (Article 6b). GERMANY proposed limiting analysis to non-legally binding recommendations for national reporting. AUSTRALIA was concerned about the prescriptive stakeholder definition and, with VENEZUELA, insisted on countries determining how and which stakeholders should participate. NEPAL, with MALAWI and SWEDEN called for capacity building in this area through the GEF.

Regarding criteria and indicators (C&I) for the conservation and sustainable use of forest biodiversity, GERMANY and AUSTRALIA supported a testing and evaluation phase and, with FINLAND, ITALY, DENMARK, CANADA, AUSTRALIA, JAPAN, BRAZIL, the US, SWEDEN and the GFPP, stressed compatibility with existing national, regional or international C&I processes. KENYA highlighted transparency in developing C&I. The GFPP, supported by PERU and the FUNDACION ECOTROPICA, suggested that the CBD improve C&I processes, particularly regarding appropriate indicators of the pressures on forest biodiversity JAPAN added a proposal for selecting an executing agency such as FAO or ITTO, while AUSTRALIA favored CBD/FAO collaboration for implementation. The NETHERLANDS noted that ongoing C&I processes give little attention to forest biodiversity and suggested CBD coordination. COLOMBIA called for a global C&I framework but AUSTRALIA questioned its appropriateness. AUSTRIA recommended harmonization of indicators and reporting requirements. The FUNDACION ECOTROPICA stressed development of targets and indicators to determine progress. SWEDEN noted the expense of introducing and monitoring indicators.

Regarding research needs and information dissemination mechanisms, FINLAND stressed the need to involve national expertise and different stakeholders, with PERU, improve coordination and further analysis of gaps in knowledge in all work programme areas including best practices and policy instruments in national forest planning and the implementation of Article 6b. GERMANY suggested prioritizing the analysis of threats to forest biodiversity while AUSTRALIA recommended work on integrating traditional knowledge. FIDJI, with MALAWI stressed the need for Parties to inventory their forest components. CANADA noted the need to recognize the specificity of regional and national contexts. THE SWEDISH SCIENTIFIC COUNCIL ON BIODIVERSITY shared results of its workshop including the need for the CBD and parties to research the history of natural and human ecological disturbance regimes, methods to mimic them in forestry and ways to improve capacity in taxonomy and participatory processes.

INDIA with the NETHERLANDS, SOUTH AFRICA, SWEDEN, USA and BIONET, supported SBSTTA placing a priority on best practices and their incorporation into advice on national planning. SWEDEN suggested focusing on ecosystem and landscape best practices and the USA stressed looking at local and regional approaches. GFPP suggested consideration of how well best practices care for biodiversity. BIONET suggested that Parties, NGOs, local and indigenous communities submit examples of success stories on inter alia: community-based and collaborative forest and protected area management; alternative livelihoods; low impact silviculture,; and independent certified forests and, with FUNDACION ECOTROPICA suggested their distribution through the CHM. Although DENMARK noted that best practices for forest biodiversity are a condition for SFM and should be developed for national and biogeographical levels, he did not support best practices as an element of work programme. GERMANY suggested postponing this element until the ecosystem approach is defined and a systematic analysis of the underlying causes of biodiversity loss for different forest types and ways to mitigate such loss is undertaken.


The Secretariat introduced Review of Ongoing Activities on Agricultural Biological Diversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/3/6). It implements Decision III/11, establishing a multi-year programme of activities on agricultural biodiversity on: agricultural practices impacts on biodiversity; conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources; and equitable sharing of benefits from genetic resources. BRAZIL recommended a core set of C&Is for agricultural biodiversity. AUSTRIA and AUSTRALIA recommended acceptance of the draft recommendations to continue the ongoing process. INDONESIA called for pooled efforts enhancing capacity to utilize domestic resources. Delegates will discuss the item further.


Different views emerged during forest discussions regarding the implicit hierarchy of international forest processes. While there was little support for the suggestion that SBSTTA should delay work on forests in order to incorporate contributions from the nascent IFF, a dispute as to how to interpret UNGASS hierarchization of UN bodies became evident. It was pointed out that the IPF/IFF process is more directly related to the General Assembly, a senior UN body, but others noted that the CBD is the only legally-binding document dealing with forest-related biodiversity issues and that UNGASS acknowledged the authority of already-established Conventions. Some speculate that many favor the IPF process because of its weaker environmental requirements. Others noted a COP-3 Decision to avoid duplicating the work of the IPF and other fora.


WORKING GROUP I: Working Group I will meet in Room I at 10:00 am. WORKING GROUP II: Working Group II will meet in Room II at 10:00 am.

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