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Daily report for 1 February 2000

5th Meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA)

Delegates met in Plenary to hear presentations on sustainable use by Karimou Ambouta and on the ecosystem approach by Daniel Janzen, and then started discussions within Working Groups. Working Group One (WG-1) addressed drylands and agricultural biodiversity. Working Group Two (WG-2) addressed the ecosystem approach and biodiversity indicators.


Delegates heard presentations on sustainable use and the ecosystem approach. Karimou Ambouta (Faculty of Agronomy, Niger) lectured on the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity. He identified three conditions necessary to implement the concept of sustainable use: knowledge of existing potential; economic evaluation of biological resources; and capacity-building. He stressed that case studies are essential, due to cultural variations from place to place. He reported on the traditional use of the tree Acacia albida (Faidhebia albida) in the sahelian agro-ecosystems in Nigeria and Senegal. Resulting from the cycle of greening and losing their leaves, these drought resistant trees improve soil fertility, combat soil erosion, regulate the micro-environment and provide protein-rich fodder for cattle. Agricultural yield increases considerably in the presence of Acacia albida. Per hectare, 30-35 trees, aged 15 years, are needed to optimize results. Agricultural technologies, like artificial fertilization, currently threaten the use of Acacia albida.

Daniel Janzen (University of Pennsylvania, US) spoke on the ecosystem approach using the Guanacaste Conservation Area in Costa Rica as an example. He introduced the concept of the "gardenification of nature," where humans cultivate and utilize natural ecosystems for products and services. He stressed the need to combine the traditional park conservation approach ("save it"), the scientific approach ("know it") and the commercial approach ("use it"). He advocated a place-based, adaptive management strategy, incorporating decentralization, local education and empowerment. He emphasized that ecosystem and biodiversity services be considered products with commercial value, providing examples including rain clouds for water, forests for carbon sequestration and orange peel decomposition. He called on countries to implement at least one such local, adaptive management, "ecosystem approach" project.


DRYLANDS BIODIVERSITY: The Secretariat introduced the background note on the development of a programme of work for dryland, Mediterranean, arid, semi-arid, grassland and savannah ecosystems (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/5/9), including inter alia: scope, importance, status and trends; ongoing activities of international organisations and conventions and possible synergies; and a draft programme of work. BRAZIL and AUSTRALIA suggested explicit references to capacity-building and bioprospecting, dissemination of information and best practices, and the ecosystem approach. A number of countries highlighted capacity-building for assessment and monitoring, development programmes focusing local capacities and new technologies to enhance productivity, education and awareness-raising. The UK, CANADA, GERMANY, ETHIOPIA and NORWAY stressed involvement of indigenous and local communities in drylands management. ETHIOPIA, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, NORWAY and FRANCE suggested more emphasis on synergies with other international conventions. Several countries proposed further collaboration with the CCD, which welcomed cooperation and highlighted relevant CCD experience and activities at the grassroots, national and sub-regional levels.

CANADA emphasized integrating resource management approaches and establishing an international network to facilitate information sharing. ARGENTINA stressed the importance of information exchange at the national and international levels and proposed that the CHM refer to other international organizations programmes. AUSTRALIA said activities should focus on outcomes. The NETHERLANDS said SBSTTA should refrain from addressing non-technical matters and should therefore not refer to GEF funding, although MALI, TURKEY and ALGERIA disagreed. The NETHERLANDS, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, COLOMBIA and KENYA proposed establishing an expert group on drylands management, although they differed on whether it should be a roster or panel. GREECE said that assessments could be conducted in separate fora for each of the ecosystems in the programme. The NETHERLANDS, PORTUGAL and the WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION (WMO) noted the need for reference to in situ conservation. ZIMBABWE and MALI called for an analysis of the underlying causes of biodiversity loss. GERMANY stressed the issue of subsidies and the relation between gender and biodiversity. BURKINA FASO suggested including pollution as a cause of biodiversity loss. The EC and SWITZERLAND asked for clarification of definitions. BELGIUM drew attention to endemic biodiversity. The WMO drew attention to the impact of climate variability on drylands.

Regarding the alternatives for an abbreviated title, most delegations expressed preference for "biodiversity of dry and sub-humid land." Chair Mary Fosi (Cameroon) established an informal group to draft recommendations.

AGRICULTURAL BIODIVERSITY: The Secretariat presented the background note, (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/5/10), which contains: suggested recommendations; the main conclusions of a multi-year assessment requested at COP-3; and further development of the agricultural biodiversity programme of work. The Secretariat stressed that the recommendations in the document aim not to replace, but to facilitate Decision III/11 on agricultural biodiversity. BRAZIL outlined the findings of the So Paulo workshop on pollinators which resulted in a declaration for possible endorsement at COP-5. BANGLADESH suggested GEF financing for regional projects and highlighted the need to support the role of women in agriculture. The EC said the fact that agricultural biodiversity encompasses biodiversity components beyond relevance to food and agriculture should be reflected in the document. On this point, the NETHERLANDS and FRANCE noted the need to include social and biological services provided by agro-biodiversity. VENEZUELA drew attention to how agro-biodiversity provides recycling services for gas emissions. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION noted the importance of the soil layer for agro-biodiversity. GERMANY, the EC, the NETHERLANDS, SWEDEN, FINLAND and FRANCE stated that agro-biodiversity should be dealt with in an interdisciplinary manner. SWEDEN called for greater emphasis on the underlying causes of agro-biodiversity degradation, and along with FRANCE requested reference to the multi-functional approach, which was rejected by ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, CANADA, NEW ZEALAND and the US. INDONESIA, AUSTRALIA, CANADA, the US and the UK stated that recommendations were too ambitious and would benefit from prioritization. COLOMBIA highlighted that the impact of industrialized agriculture on agro-biodiversity must not be forgotten. PAPUA NEW GUINEA stated that the issues of benefit sharing and intellectual property rights of commercialized natural resources had not been sufficiently covered. MALI drew attention to the lack of public awareness and stressed the need to integrate technology with traditional and local knowledge. BURKINA FASO highlighted the importance of indigenous knowledge.


ECOSYSTEM APPROACH: The Secretariat introduced the document on the ecosystem approach (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/5/11). Several countries supported the twelve Malawi principles and five operational guidelines contained in the document, while others were generally supportive, but proposed changes to wording. The UK stressed that all principles are equally important and should not be prioritized or reduced in number. FINLAND and the US said that the ecosystem approach should be used in thematic and cross-cutting issues. POLAND, CANADA and the RUSSIAN FEDERATION stated that a common understanding of the ecosystem approach is still needed and supported the operational guidelines as key components. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION proposed a global mechanism to ensure the ecosystem approach in ecoregions with high biodiversity levels. NEW ZEALAND, CANADA, the US and COSTA RICA expressed different concerns about language on decentralization. ZAMBIA, GHANA and the COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT stressed the need for capacity-building. BOLIVIA and ECUADOR stressed the importance of equitable benefit sharing at the local level. TOGO noted that equity in national legislative frameworks, particular in land ownership legislation, is a problem in many countries.

The SEYCHELLES expressed concern that the ecosystem approach might undermine funding for the conservation of individual species. NEW ZEALAND, the CZECH REPUBLIC and GERMANY supported the concern for individual species and their cultural value. ECUADOR cautioned against viewing the ecosystem approach as solely focusing on ecosystem functioning. Several countries supported case studies and pilot projects. The UK and the COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT offered funding for workshops to discuss such studies. The need for regional and national workshops was further stressed by POLAND, ECUADOR, CHINA, PERU and ERITREA. ROMANIA, GERMANY and the WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE called for further refinement of the glossary in Annex III. The CZECH REPUBLIC called for awareness building and public education. UNESCO stressed that Biosphere Reserves already operationalize the ecosystem approach. In summarizing, Chair David Brackett (Canada) noted consensus on the principles as a non-prioritized package and the operational guidelines as an evolving understanding that needs further case studies. He stressed that the annexes to the document, including the glossary, will not be part of the recommendation. A group of friends of the Chair met in the evening to develop a consolidated text.

INDICATORS OF BIODIVERSITY: The Secretariat introduced the background document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/5/12), which proposes a core set of generic state and pressure indicators to assist countries to design, initiate and/or improve national monitoring programmes. The SEYCHELLES said the Secretariats work could serve as a good starting point, but raised a number of concerns regarding the proposed recommendations and the format of national reports. NEW ZEALAND expressed general dissatisfaction with the document, noting that it does not fully respond to the work plan endorsed by the COP. Similar concerns were expressed by ZIMBABWE, SWITZERLAND, SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA, the US and NORWAY. CANADA, CUBA, HAITI and COSTA RICA stated that they were willing to proceed with work on the basis of the document and refine the approach, especially regarding the appropriate level of indicator development and priorities.

The UK, GERMANY, the NETHERLANDS and FINLAND stressed rapid progress in developing indicators as a tool for assessment and development and further refinement of the generic indicators framework. Many delegations stressed the need for financial support and capacity-building for indicator development and monitoring. ECUADOR suggested better incorporation of socioeconomic aspects. The REPUBLIC OF KOREA stressed public awareness raising as an important component of indicator development. CANADA and COSTA RICA stressed that development of indicators should focus on the national level.

Chair Brackett announced that he would produce a Chairs text including, inter alia: a reminder of the COP-4 mandate to produce manuals on guidelines; national level examples for indicator sets; more active involvement of the Secretariat in relevant activities addressing biodiversity indicators; and support for workshops at various levels on the application of indicators.


After four COPs, five SBSTTAs and seven years of wonky CBD implementation, at least some Parties seem to be waking up in the run up to COP-5 and Beijing+5, discovering that there is more to successful biodiversity management than men. Statements by Germany and Bangladesh in the drylands and agriculture discussions, and a paper tabled outside, might just be pushing the CBD through the glass ceiling on gender and biodiversity, and into the 21st century.


WORKING GROUP ONE: WG-1 will meet at 10:00 am to discuss alien species.

WORKING GROUP TWO: WG-2 will meet at 10:00 am to discuss sustainable use.


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