Summary report, 12–16 March 2001

6th Meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA)

The sixth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-6) of the Convention on Biological Diversity met in Montreal, Canada, from 12-16 March 2001. Over 520 participants, representing 96 governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and others attended the meeting. SBSTTA-6 delegates met in two working groups. Working Group I, focusing on invasive alien species, held general discussions on four thematic areas, including: an integrated approach; prevention, early detection and incursion response; eradication; and mitigation of effects. It also produced recommendations regarding options for future work and reconsidered the Guiding Principles. Working Group II considered scientific assessments, the Global Taxonomy Initiative, climate change and biodiversity, and migratory species. The recommendations from SBSTTA-6 will be forwarded to the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-6), to be held in The Hague, the Netherlands, from 8-19 April 2002.

Despite the rise of political debates over the precautionary approach and other issues within discussions on the Guiding Principles on invasive alien species, delegates were generally pleased with progress made during the week. They highlighted SBSTTA-6s streamlined agenda, with a focus on invasive species, and emphasis on providing background information through presentations, side events, roundtables and additional documentation, as positive elements of "experimentation" with SBSTTAs modus operandi. Some called for such inputs to be more targeted and focused on the specific elements for deliberation. The challenge for SBSTTA-7 and future meetings is to find the balance among providing appropriate scientific and technical input, technical policy advice, and recommendations for action.


The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), negotiated under the auspices of UNEP, was opened for signature on 5 June 1992, and entered into force on 29 December 1993. To date, 180 countries have ratified the Convention. The three objectives of the CBD are to promote "the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources."

COP-1: The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-1) took place in Nassau, the Bahamas, from 28 November - 9 December 1994. Some of the key decisions taken by COP-1 included: adoption of the medium-term work programme; designation of the permanent Secretariat; establishment of the Clearing-house Mechanism (CHM) and the SBSTTA; and designation of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as the interim institutional structure for the financial mechanism.

SBSTTA-1: SBSTTA-1 met in Paris, France, from 4-8 September 1995. Delegates discussed and produced recommendations on: SBSTTAs modus operandi; components of biodiversity under threat; access to and transfer of technology; scientific and technical information to be contained in national reports; contributions to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) meetings on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture; and marine and coastal biodiversity. SBSTTA-1 also requested flexibility to create: two open-ended working groups to meet simultaneously during future SBSTTA meetings; ad hoc technical panels of experts, as needed; and a roster of experts.

COP-2: The second meeting of the COP was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 6-17 November 1995. Major outcomes of COP-2 included: designation of the permanent location of the Secretariat in Montreal, Canada; establishment of the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety; adoption of a programme of work funded by a larger budget; designation of the GEF as the continuing interim institutional structure for the financial mechanism; and consideration of its first ecosystem theme, marine and coastal biodiversity.

SBSTTA-2: The second meeting of SBSTTA met in Montreal, Canada, from 2-6 September 1996. The meeting produced recommendations on: monitoring and assessment of biodiversity; approaches to taxonomy; economic valuation of biodiversity; access to genetic resources; agricultural biodiversity; terrestrial biodiversity; marine and coastal biodiversity; biosafety; and the CHM.

COP-3: At its third meeting, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 4-15 November 1996, the COP adopted decisions on a number of topics, including: elaboration of work programmes on agricultural and forest biodiversity; a Memorandum of Understanding with the GEF; an agreement to hold an intersessional workshop on Article 8(j) regarding traditional knowledge; an application by the Executive Secretary for observer status to the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Committee on Trade and the Environment (CTE); and a statement from the CBD to the Special Session of the UN General Assembly to review implementation of Agenda 21.

SBSTTA-3: At its third meeting, held in Montreal, Canada, from 1-5 September 1997, SBSTTA delegates considered the implementation of the CHMs pilot phase, and a progress report on SBSTTAs work and the effectiveness of its advice. Additional recommendations were formulated on biodiversity in inland waters, marine and coastal biodiversity, agricultural biodiversity, forest biodiversity, and biodiversity indicators. SBSTTA-3 also adopted a recommendation on participation of developing countries in SBSTTA.

COP-4: At its fourth meeting, held in Bratislava, Slovakia, from 4-15 May 1998, the COP adopted decisions on, inter alia: inland water ecosystems; marine and coastal biodiversity; forest biodiversity; agricultural biodiversity; implementation of the CHMs pilot phase; implementation of Article 8(j); national reports; cooperation with other agreements, institutions and processes; activities of the GEF; incentive measures; access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing; public education and awareness; and the long-term work programme. At a Ministerial Roundtable, ministers, deputy ministers and special guests discussed integrating biodiversity concerns into sectoral activities, such as tourism, and private sector participation in implementing the Convention's objectives.

SBSTTA-4: During its fourth meeting in Montreal, Canada, from 21-25 June 1999, SBSTTA delegates made recommendations on: the SBSTTA programme of work; the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI); guiding principles to prevent the impact of alien species; control of plant gene expression; options for sustainable use of terrestrial biodiversity; incorporation of biodiversity into environmental impact assessments; and approaches and practices for the sustainable use of resources, including tourism.

ISOC: The Intersessional Meeting on the Operations of the Convention (ISOC) met in Montreal, Canada, from 28-30 June 1999, and was convened on the basis of COP-4 Decision IV/16, which called for an open-ended meeting to consider possible arrangements to improve preparations for and conduct of COP meetings. ISOC also held preparatory discussions on: access and benefit-sharing; ex situ collections acquired prior to the Convention's entry into force; and the relationship between intellectual property rights and the relevant provisions of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and the CBD.

ExCOP FOR THE CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOSAFETY: The first Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties for the Adoption of the Protocol on Biosafety to the CBD (ExCOP) was held in Cartagena, Colombia, from 22-23 February 1999, following the sixth meeting of the CBDs Biosafety Working Group (14-22 February 1999). Delegates sought to develop a compromise package over two days of non-stop negotiations. Unable to reach an agreement, the meeting was suspended, and three informal consultations were held in Montreal (July 1999), Vienna (September 1999) and again in Montreal (January 2000). The resumed session of the ExCOP was held in Montreal, Canada, from 24-28 January 2000. Following four days of informal consultations and five days of formal negotiations, delegates adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The Protocol addresses the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) that may have an adverse effect on biodiversity, with a specific focus on transboundary movements. It establishes an advance informed agreement procedure for imports of LMOs, incorporates the precautionary principle and details information and documentation requirements. The Protocol will enter into force on the 90th day after receipt of the 50th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. To date, the Protocol has 86 signatories and two Parties (Bulgaria, and Trinidad and Tobago).

SBSTTA-5: The fifth session of SBSTTA met in Montreal, Canada, from 31 January - 4 February 2000. SBSTTA-5 developed recommendations on, inter alia: inland water biodiversity; forest biodiversity; agricultural biodiversity; marine and coastal biodiversity, including coral bleaching; a programme of work on dry and sub-humid lands; alien species; the ecosystem approach; biodiversity indicators; the pilot phase of the CHM; the second national reports; and ad hoc technical expert groups.

COP-5: At its fifth meeting, held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15-26 May 2001, the COP adopted decisions on, inter alia: dry and sub-humid land biodiversity; the ecosystem approach; access to genetic resources; alien species; sustainable use; biodiversity and tourism; incentive measures; the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation; the GTI; scientific and technical cooperation and the CHM; identification, monitoring and assessment, and indicators; and impact assessment, liability and redress. A high-level segment on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, including a Ministerial Roundtable and a special signing ceremony, was convened during the second week of the meeting.


Chair Cristin Samper (Colombia) opened the meeting and called for a moment of silence in memory of Ebbe Neilson (Australia). He then welcomed participants, thanked the Secretariat and the Government of Canada for hosting the meeting, and noted changes in the modus operandi of SBSTTA to streamline the agenda. He outlined the meetings main theme of invasive alien species (IAS) and sub-themes on: scientific assessments; the GTI; climate change and biodiversity, including cooperation with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and migratory species and cooperation with the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

Paul Chabeda, UNEP, on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Klaus Tpfer, highlighted the work of UNEPs Division of Environmental Conventions and reviewed UNEPs recent activities, including meetings of multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) subsidiary scientific bodies, secretariats and regional seas agreements. He further stated that issues involving IAS and migratory species require increased coordination among relevant agreements and bodies.

CBD Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan outlined recent developments on thematic and cross-cutting issues under the CBD. He noted progress in ad hoc technical groups on forest and marine and coastal protected areas, and delays in groups on mariculture and dry and sub-humid lands due to lack of funding. Regarding work with other institutions, he highlighted cooperation with a number of MEAs, regional agreements and specialized organizations. He finally noted submission of thematic reports on IAS by 49 countries.

Delegates then adopted the provisional agenda (UNEP/CBD/ SBSTTA/ 6/1) and the annotated provisional agenda (UNEP/CBD/ SBSTTA/6/1/Add.1) without substantive debate. They agreed to establish two working groups, and approved Anastasios Legakis (Greece) as Chair of Working Group I, Raed Bani Hani (Jordan) as Chair of Working Group II, and Dimitri Pavlov (Russian Federation) as the meetings rapporteur.

The Netherlands highlighted signature of the host country agreement with the CBD Secretariat regarding the sixth Conference of the Parties (COP-6).

KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS: Three keynote presentations were delivered on the issues of climate change and biodiversity, and IAS. Robert Watson, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), discussed an IPCC summary report of key climate and biodiversity interactions (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/11) and presented scientific data relevant to climate change. He highlighted: interlinkages among food production and global environmental issues; synergies between environmental science and policy; and underlying causes of climate change, including population increase, inefficient resource use, inappropriate technologies and lack of economic incentives. He stated that most global warming is attributable to humans, noting that increasing surface temperatures and climatic changes will result in: changes in precipitation patterns and sea levels; effects on hydrological, agricultural, physical and ecological systems; runoff; crop yield changes; species composition; and habitat fragmentation. He further identified coral bleaching, emergence of pests and fires, loss of coastal wetlands and shifting composition of forest systems as directly related to climate change. He concluded by noting potential mitigation options and the reality of adverse consequences for biodiversity at the ecosystem, species, and genetic levels.

Harold Mooney, Stanford University (USA), noted that society depends on the movement of biological material, and highlighted the need to concentrate on those IAS that threaten ecosystems, habitats and species. He noted that transmission vectors are both intentional and accidental, and that invasives come from all taxonomic groups. He highlighted the range of ecological and economic damage caused by IAS, including, inter alia: depleting water supplies; disrupting fire cycles; transmitting diseases; destroying forests, fisheries, rangelands and agricultural systems; eliminating species; and impeding navigation. He noted that problems in addressing IAS include: their self-replication; their alteration of biological systems; their ability to evolve quickly; lag times in identifying their effects; and inadequacies in existing information. He concluded by noting the need to develop prediction models, environmentally benign and cost-effective control methods, and means to regulate the flow of IAS.

Jeff Waage, Chair of the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP), said GISP is coordinated by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment in collaboration with IUCN and CAB International. GISP focuses on assembling and disseminating best management practices and stimulating new tools development in science, information management, education and policy. He referenced its components, namely: education, pathways and risk assessment, human dimensions, ecology of IAS, early warning systems, economic consequences, current status and assessment, global change, legal and institutional frameworks, and best management practices. He highlighted the need to: improve access to information and extend collaborative information exchange systems; identify pathways of invasion; identify priorities and gaps in research; develop a terminology guide; support activities at the national level; emphasize taxonomy; and raise public awareness.

ORGANIZATION OF WORK: During the course of the week, the Plenary considered progress reports on ad hoc technical expert groups, assessment processes, marine and coastal biodiversity, and inland water ecosystems. The working groups met from Tuesday, 13 March, to Thursday, 15 March. Working Group I, focusing on IAS, held general discussions on four thematic areas, including: an integrated approach; prevention, early detection and incursion response; eradication; and mitigation of effects. It also produced recommendations regarding options for future work and reconsidered the Guiding Principles (GPs). Working Group II considered scientific assessments, the GTI, climate and biodiversity, and migratory species. The following report summarizes discussions on each issue on the SBSTTA agenda and the recommendations that were adopted.


AD HOC TECHNICAL EXPERT GROUPS: On Monday, 12 March, the Secretariat introduced document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/ 2, on progress made to date on ad hoc technical expert groups for marine and coastal protected areas, mariculture, forest biodiversity, and biodiversity of dry and sub-humid lands. During discussion, the Netherlands and Norway expressed concern on lack of progress in expert groups on mariculture and dry and sub-humid lands due to absence of funds. The Secretariat noted discussions within the COP Bureau on securing funding. Canada suggested that lists of national experts for specific topics be maintained by national focal points. Regarding the forest biodiversity expert group, Finland and others called for input into and coordination with the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), the UNFCCC and other relevant bodies. New Zealand expressed concern over lack of representation for Southern hemisphere countries and those interested in forest plantations. Regarding marine and coastal protected areas, Argentina suggested consideration of access and benefit-sharing, and the EC called for coordination with the upcoming experts panel. The closing Plenary on Friday, 16 March, adopted the recommendation without comment.

Recommendation: The recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/ 6/L.3): notes progress made; recalls that the expert group on forest biodiversity should take into account the work of forest-related bodies; encourages governments and organizations to provide support; and requests the CBD Executive Secretary to explore funding possibilities for the groups on mariculture and dry and sub-humid lands.

ASSESSMENT PROCESSES: On Monday, 12 March, the Secretariat introduced document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/3, which describes the scope, expected outputs, approaches, methodology and progress made by three scientific assessment activities: the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA); the Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA); and the Forest Resources Assessment 2000. A representative of the MA described its structure and methodology, noting objectives of providing information for decision-makers and building human and institutional capacity on multiple scales. Kenya underscored the need for collaboration among users of such information and said that information provision and capacity building should be extended beyond the MAs existing regional pilot activities. The Netherlands called for an overview of regional assessments, and said the MA should provide input to the expert groups on forests and dry and sub-humid lands. Turkey proposed reference to UNEPs recent paper on water policy and strategy and noted inconsistencies between GIWAs mandate and the expected outputs and products as outlined in the background document.

Noting these comments, delegates agreed to consider these assessments further under the agenda item on scientific assessments.

MARINE AND COASTAL BIODIVERSITY: On Monday, 12 March, the Secretariat introduced the progress report, contained in document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/4, on the implementation of the programme of work on marine and coastal biodiversity, including the integration of coral reefs. Australia, supported by others, noted that the work plans for coral bleaching and physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs are extremely ambitious, and expressed the need to prioritize activities. Norway highlighted the climatic interference with coral reef habitats and cooperation with relevant organizations. The EC noted that the focus should not be limited to tropical coral reefs. The Seychelles, joined by Brazil, expressed concern that work to date has been research rather than action-oriented. Germany welcomed the dialogue between the CBD and IPCC regarding the impacts of climate change on coral reefs. Delegates also stressed attention to coral reefs, funding for the liaison group working on coral bleaching, and national experiences.

On Friday, 16 March, in Plenary, Chair Samper presented the draft recommendation, noting that priority setting in this area would be addressed in the Secretariats work. The Seychelles addressed availability of financing from the UNFCCC. The Netherlands stressed the importance of assessments and the need to support all joint actions. Antigua and Barbuda added language on implementation of measures to address coral bleaching and related mortality. Tanzania suggested language on further elaboration of the work plan. With these and other textual amendments, delegates adopted the recommendation.

Recommendation: The recommendation, contained in UNEP/ CBD/SBSTTA/6/L.5, invites the CBD Executive Secretary to promote and facilitate implementation of the work plans on coral bleaching and physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs. It further recommends that the COP examine the need for financial support for addressing coral bleaching and physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs. The scientific work plan on coral bleaching includes: information gathering, capacity building, policy development and implementation, and financing. In the possible elements of a work plan on physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs, the following activities are included: assessment and indicators, management, capacity building, financing, education and public awareness.

INLAND WATER ECOSYSTEMS: On Monday, 12 March, the Secretariat introduced document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/5, on the progress of the implementation of the programme of work on biodiversity of inland water ecosystems, including elements for future elaboration and refinement. Delegates also considered document UNEP/ CBD/SBSTTA/6/5/Add.1, on recommendations by the World Commission on Dams (WCD) on elements to be incorporated into the programme of work, including those related to watershed management, environmental flow assessment and baseline ecosystem assessments. The WCD presented its report, which reviews experiences with large dams and calls for, inter alia, decision-making processes that respect the rights of people, address risks, follow strategic priorities, and sustain rivers and livelihoods related to them.

A number of delegates were hesitant to endorse the annex in document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/5/Add.1 on strategic priorities and guidelines. Argentina expressed reservations on the WCD recommendations, noting the recently published report was still under review. Turkey agreed that it would be instrumental to know whether the WCD report would be internationally accepted and recognized in the UN system. The Ramsar Convention urged closer collaboration between subsidiary bodies through identification of relevant experts and a review of subsidiary bodies of relevant conventions. Iran supported the CBD-Ramsar joint work plans. Australia proposed reference to a third CBD-Ramsar joint work plan to be considered at CBD COP-6. Italy said that ecosystem assessments should apply to existing as well as future dams. Burkina Faso called for reference to threatened species and endemic species preservation. The Seychelles called for reference to the CBD COP-4 decision on rapid assessment. Brazil opposed the WCD recommendation for policies that would exclude major interventions on selected rivers.

On Friday, 16 March, during the closing Plenary, delegates agreed to Australias request that the CBD Executive Secretary draft a third CBD-Ramsar joint work plan addressing future joint activities for consideration by COP-6. Turkey requested their reservation be included in the meetings report regarding concerns on reference to the WCD report. With these changes the Plenary adopted the recommendation.

Recommendation: The recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/ 6/L.4/Rev.1) requests the CBD Executive Secretary to prepare a report on the second joint work plan between the CBD and the Ramsar Convention, including suggestions on future joint activities, and to make the report of the WCD available through the CHM. It also recommends that COP-6 take note of the recommendations contained in the WCD report in regard to implementation of the work programme.


On Tuesday, 13 March, Working Group I Chair Legakis introduced the organization of work in document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/1/ Add.2 and its annex, noting four general discussions: on an integrated approach to IAS; prevention, early detection and incursion response; eradication; and mitigations of effects. This would be followed by deliberations on options for future work and the Guiding Principles (GPs). The Secretariat introduced documents UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/ 6, 7 and 8, along with nine informational documents.

Nirmalie Palewatta, University of Columbo (Sri Lanka), highlighted IASs role in the CBDs thematic areas, islands, polar regions, Mediterranean habitats and mountains. She listed gaps in knowledge, including: short/long-term and cumulative impacts; extent and rate of spread; country baselines; and taxonomic knowledge. She stated that the issue is not only about conserving biodiversity, but also about preserving livelihoods.

On Thursday, 15 March, Jeffrey McNeely, IUCN, presented the GISPs Global Strategy on IAS, included in document UNEP/CBD/ SBSTTA/6/INF/9. He underlined its main elements:

  • building management and research capacity;
  • promoting information sharing;
  • developing economic policies and tools;
  • strengthening international and legal frameworks;
  • instituting a system of environmental risk assessment;
  • building public awareness;
  • preparing national strategies and plans;
  • building IAS into global change initiatives; and
  • promoting regional and international cooperation.

INTEGRATED APPROACH: On Tuesday, 13 March, Jeff Waage, GISP, presented an integrated approach to CBD Article 8(h) referencing document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/INF/10, on prevention and management practices. He outlined the conditions for a national programme, namely: awareness raising; economic assessments; engagement of stakeholders; national surveys; legal and institutional frameworks; and incorporation in national biodiversity action plans. He summarized options for addressing IAS, including: prevention; early detection; eradication; and containment, control or mitigation.

Peter Schei, Norway, highlighted the role of international cooperation for information sharing, joint research programmes, harmonization of regulations and standardization of risk assessments, and emphasized potential cooperation with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), given its role as a phytosanitary standard-setting body for the WTO. He recommended: information-sharing through the CHM; adjusting funding mechanisms to reflect regional efforts; and developing models for cooperative mechanisms.

Marcos Silva, CBD CHM, discussed information management, highlighting information needs and recommending, inter alia: interrelating various data types; creating national and regional biodiversity information networks; developing public awareness initiatives, specialist centers and capacity-building programmes; creating inventories of experience, expertise and tools; and improving prediction capacity.

Delegates also heard presentations on three case studies. Eladio Fernndez Galliano, Council of Europe, highlighted efforts to address IAS in the framework of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) focusing on integration of risk management assessments, information exchange, involvement of neighboring countries and opportunities for immediate action through NGO participation. Greg Sherley, South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, described a regional invasives strategy, including training programmes for conservation and border control officers, and model island restoration projects. He noted lack of knowledge regarding expertise on threats, pathways, and the status of invasives and native species. He recommended establishing centralized information and coordination agencies, acting immediately on obvious priorities and using existing frameworks. Nick Davidson, Ramsar Convention, stressed the problem of IAS in protected areas and the importance of providing best tools and practices to site managers. He outlined joint projects to increase management expertise, establish networks and involve local stakeholders.

Chair Legakis highlighted relevant international instruments and bodies, outlining options for a comprehensive agreement, an instrument to fill identified gaps and enlargement of existing instruments. During the ensuing discussions, delegates addressed, inter alia: cooperation among multilateral organizations that might propagate IAS; inclusion of human pathogens and alien genotypes; attention to IAS at the genetic level; the role of local knowledge; trade in raw materials; biological control methods; land-use management; and the context of IAS within local food webs.

PREVENTION, EARLY DETECTION AND INCURSION RESPONSE: On Tuesday, 13 March, delegates heard presentations on two national case studies. Vicente Paeile (Chile) described Chiles national system to control IAS, including quarantine measures, pest risk assessment procedures, early detection programmes and contingency response programmes. He noted specific problems with aquatic invasives, despite the existence of relevant legislation. He also highlighted: lack of technical capacity, especially for monitoring systems; the need for risk assessments for intentional introductions; and efforts for public-private collaboration and public awareness.

John Hedley (New Zealand) discussed New Zealands control regime, including legislation on biosecurity and hazardous substances. He highlighted procedures for compliance checks, surveillance and monitoring, enforcement and education, and eradication and control. He also noted the importance of an integrated multi-agency system.

Nick Van der Graaf, IPPC, described the IPPCs scope and provisions, including the agreements last revision. He drew attention to efforts for information sharing, coordination of regional organizations and technical assistance. He highlighted the role of the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures as the IPPCs governing body and described the IPPCs role in setting International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures under the WTOs Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS Agreement).

In the ensuing discussion, delegates addressed: risk analysis for intentional introductions; capacity-building needs; education; identification of key pathways of introduction; work with industry on prevention programmes and codes of conduct; and provision of information on all species.

ERADICATION: On Wednesday, 14 March, delegates heard two presentations. Piero Genovesi, National Wildlife Institute (Italy), reviewed case studies, including rat eradication on islands, American mink in Europe and grey squirrels in Italy, and summarized eradication as a conservation tool. He highlighted rapid response and the necessity of early warning, legal frameworks, monitoring, public awareness through consultation processes, and recovery. He noted that eradication can be cost-effective compared with long term control.

Michael Clout (New Zealand) reported on an International Conference on Eradication of IAS, underscoring that eradication benefits outweigh costs, while prevention should be the top priority. He named success factors, including proper planning and commitment, support from local people, demonstration of benefits and early action. He recommended pre-eradication assessments regarding potential impacts, post-eradication monitoring of the species and evaluation of trophic interactions and functional roles of alien species.

During discussion, delegates highlighted: concerns regarding animal welfare groups opposition to eradication efforts; consideration of socio-economic implications of eradication; monitoring systems for early detection, eradication and control; impact assessments; responsibility for damage and restoration; the commercial sectors involvement; use of one alien species to manage another; and biological control agents. Several countries provided national experiences with IAS and eradication.

MITIGATION OF EFFECTS: On Wednesday, 14 March, delegates heard three presentations. Sean Murphy, CAB International, presented elements for control programmes, including the need for early and prioritized actions, development of cost-effective response measures, assigned responsibilities and continuity of programmatic efforts. He stressed: access to information on practical solutions; partnerships among environmental and agricultural sectors, taxonomists and international groups; and development of toolkits and long-term/ large-scale strategies.

Guy Preston (South Africa) presented a national Working for Water Programme to address threats from IAS. He highlighted the programmes work on research, education, legislative development, and means to promote local employment to meet larger development needs. Yousouf Mungroo (Mauritius) presented two case studies on the control of herbivores to protect plant species and the eradication of small mammals to protect endemic lizards. He also highlighted assistance from New Zealand and the importance of public awareness to prevent reintroductions.

During the discussion, delegates addressed: assessments of the socio-economic and beneficial aspects of IAS; prioritized control of IAS; cost-benefit tools for identification of priorities; consideration of the ecosystem approach in mitigation efforts; ecosystem restoration; and funding of regional and national action plans.

OPTIONS FOR FUTURE WORK: On Tuesday, 13 March, delegates considered document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/8, which contains recommendations regarding: the GPs; development of an international instrument; national strategies and action plans; and international cooperation. Regarding discussions on options for an international instrument, several countries expressed reservations on development of a new one. Others supported retaining language on identification of gaps in the international regulatory framework, noting the need to keep the option for future consideration. Some countries supported further consideration of the role of existing instruments. Norway proposed addressing how to develop standards regarding IAS. Several countries supported: CBD cooperation with relevant organizations; country ratification of the revised IPPC; preparation of an international instrument on ballast water under the International Maritime Organization; and elaboration of standards relating to IAS. Jamaica specifically questioned SBSTTAs mandate to recommend ratification of the revised IPPC.

On the issue of strategies and action plans, Kenya, on behalf of the African Group, highlighted the need to consider and review regional issues regarding IAS. Delegates also proposed consideration of, inter alia: language on financial measures, which could encompass disincentives and sanctions; access to information and public awareness; capacity-building pilot projects; and work on islands and cost-effective surveillance techniques. The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity called for participation of indigenous and local communities at the policy and implementation levels. Additionally, the Seychelles and Papua New Guinea called for prioritization of the needs of isolated ecosystems, and Brazil called for for consideration of species shifts resulting from climate change.

On Thursday, 15 March, Working Group I Chair Legakis introduced a conference room paper incorporating delegates comments, as well as relevant interventions from discussions on the thematic areas of IAS. Delegates debated whether to delete a recommendation on identifying and exploring legal gaps in the international legal framework. After informal consultations, delegates agreed that SBSTTA should identify and explore such gaps in light of inter-sessional work. Regarding the importance of IAS strategies and action plans, Portugal proposed addition of regional strategies and plans, and Papua New Guinea highlighted their funding. Delegates debated inclusion of a footnote on the occasional necessity of eradication of IAS, including mammals and vertebrates, with regard to concerns of animal welfare organizations. The footnote was removed with its language referenced in Working Group Is report. Several developing countries supported requesting financial assistance from international organizations. On development of technical tools for prevention, early detection, eradication and control, Burkina Faso and Senegal called for inclusion of environmental education, and the US called for monitoring. Regarding arrangements for financial resources, several delegates supported a list of activities to be financed, and prioritized isolated ecosystems. Delegates also called for references to GISP, CITES, IPPC, the Bern Convention and the Island Cooperative Initiative.

During discussion in the closing Plenary on the recommendation, the Seychelles and Jamaica reiterated previous requests to change use of "invasive alien species" to "alien invasive species" to reflect COP Decision V/8. After extensive debate, Plenary agreed to use "invasive alien species" and to include a footnote stating that in the interim the two will be treated synonymously. The Seychelles and Jamaica requested inclusion of their reservations in the meetings record. With these and other amendments, the recommendation was adopted.

Recommendation: The final text (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/L.6/ Add.1) includes four categories of recommendations to COP-6 on: status and trends; the GPs; relevant international instruments; activities and capacity building; and other options, including IAS strategies and actions plans, international cooperation, and assessment information and tools. Regarding status and trends, the recommendation notes the report on the status, impacts and trends of IAS in document UNEP/ CBD/SBSTTA/6/INF/11. It urges Parties to promote and implement the GPs, while noting that some non-scientific matters outside SBSTTAs mandate had been identified. Regarding relevant international instruments, the recommendation, inter alia: calls on Parties to ratify the revised IPPC; invites relevant international instruments elaborating standards or agreements to consider incorporating criteria regarding IAS; and requests SBSTTA to further identify and explore gaps in the international regulatory framework. Regarding activities and capacity building, the recommendation considers the need for arrangements to provide financial resources in a number of areas, and requests the Executive Secretary to explore means of facilitating capacity for eradication.

Under other options, regarding national IAS strategies and action plans, the recommendation urges Parties to, inter alia:

  • identify national needs and priorities;
  • create mechanisms to coordinate national programmes;
  • enhance sectoral cooperation;
  • promote awareness and stakeholder involvement;
  • collaborate with trading partners; and
  • develop capacity for risk analysis.

Regarding international cooperation, it urges Parties, multilateral organizations and others to consider the potential effects of global change on the risks of IAS, with specific references to the UNFCCC, the WTOs Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE), the FAO, the World Health Organization, the UN Development Programme, UNEP and the World Bank. It more generally references a number of other relevant programmes and agreements. On assessment, information and tools, the recommendation urges research on, inter alia:

  • characteristics of species invasiveness and ecosystem vulnerability;
  • pathways;
  • socio-economic implications;
  • environmentally benign control and eradication methods;
  • biocontrol agents;
  • taxonomic priorities; and
  • criteria for risk assessment.

It also calls for work with the GISP and, inter alia: technical tools on prevention, early detection, monitoring and eradication and/or control; anthologies of terminology; procedures for risk assessment; databases; and reporting systems.

In a section on inter-sessional work, it requests the CBD Executive Secretary to explore cooperation with the Office International des Epizooties and the IPPC regarding the development and review of standards under the WTOs SPS Agreement.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES: Delegates discussed the guiding principles in Working Group I and a contact group in morning, afternoon and late evening sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, 14-15 March. Wednesdays discussion was based on the original text from COP Decision V/8, a new Chairs text integrating comments submitted to the Secretariat from a number of countries, and a non-paper prepared by Canada with Australia, Mexico, South Africa and the US. Working Group I discussed GPs 1-7, while the contact group met in a late evening session to discuss GPs 8-15. Delegates debated which text to use, with some noting that the Chairs text weakens the original GPs.

On the title, they debated "Guiding Principles" over "Guidelines." They also debated use of reference to "alien species," "alien invasive species" or "invasive alien species." Some called for consistency with language in COP Decision V/8. Several countries supported: inclusion of sub-species and genotypes; consistency in terminology; and inclusion of the IUCN definition. Many countries opposed consideration of two new principles proposed by Australia, on a user pays and a polluter pays guideline.

On Thursday, 15 March, Chair Legakis presented a revised text based on Wednesdays deliberations. Delegates agreed to rename the document "Alien Species that Threaten Ecosystems, Habitats or Species," while referring to a decision on whether the points would be Guiding Principles or Guidelines to COP-6. The closing Plenary adopted document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/L.6/Add.2. New Zealand noted that the final text is not an elaboration of the interim principles as suggested in COP Decision V/8 and does not provide clear scientific advice to COP-6. Norway recorded preference for the original text of the GPs.

Introduction: Delegates discussed the introduction to the GPs on the basis of the Chairs revised text. Chair Legakis noted: reference to the GPs non-binding nature; a general statement on dependence of implementation on available resources accommodating concerns of developing countries; and inclusion of IUCN/GISP definitions from UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/INF/5. Argentina suggested, and delegates agreed, to move the definitions to a footnote pending further consideration of terminology by COP-6. Regarding a proposal recognizing that species distributions vary over time, several delegates objected to reference to climatic factors, and delegates agreed to note their variation without human involvement.

Following discussion on reference to the precautionary approach in the introduction, two versions will be submitted to COP-6: one stating that the meaning of the precautionary approach throughout the document is that set forth in Rio Declaration Principle 15, as proposed by Australia, and another one without such reference. The text notes that: the GPs are non-binding, providing governments direction and a set of goals; implementation is dependent on available resources; standardized terminology on IAS has yet to be developed; and distribution of species might vary without involvement of a human agent. A footnote explains interim use of terminology, with reference to document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/INF/5. Editorial comments were made during the closing Plenary.

GP-1 Precautionary Approach: Delegates debated use of text based on Rio Declaration Principle 15, and whether to include reference to "full scientific certainty." Australia suggested applying the precautionary approach to IAS pathways. One delegate proposed applying the precautionary approach to unintended introductions and eradication, control or containment measures. After debate, delegates formulated three alternatives: use of Rio Declaration Principle 15 with reference to "full scientific certainty," as suggested by Australia and supported by others; reference to the approach as "initially" set forth by Rio Declaration Principle 15 and "further elaborated" in the CBD and Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, with reference to "scientific certainty," as suggested by Norway and elaborated by the Netherlands and others; and reference to "a" precautionary approach, as suggested by Switzerland. The final option was withdrawn during the closing Plenary. Common elements in the two final options to be forwarded to COP-6 include recognition of the unpredictability of pathways and impacts of IAS, and application of the precautionary approach: in identifying and preventing unintentional introductions; in decisions concerning intentional introductions; and when considering eradication, containment and control measures.

GP-2 Three-Stage Hierarchical Approach: During discussions on this principle, South Africa highlighted elements from the Canadian non-paper regarding an integrated approach. Sweden proposed consideration of introductions within and between States and France suggested adding examination of social benefits and costs. On Thursday, 15 March, the GP was accepted with Australias proposal to remove specification of costs to be evaluated.

The final text recognizes that: prevention is more cost effective and desirable than other measures; early detection and rapid action are crucial if an IAS has been introduced; fast eradication is often the preferred response; containment and control measures should be implemented if eradication is not feasible; and cost-benefit examinations should be done on a long-term basis.

GP-3 Ecosystem Approach: Delegates debated retaining the original text or using the Chairs text, allowing for application of the ecosystem approach where relevant. Some countries stated the Chairs proposal was weaker, while others noted its greater flexibility. Following the debate, the final text states that measures to deal with IAS should, as appropriate, be based on the ecosystem approach described in COP Decision V/6.

GP-4 State Responsibility: Delegates debated: bracketing language on activities constituting a risk for another State; retaining general language on State responsibility; using language of CBD Article 3 (Principle); and adding language on identification of invasive species and making such information available. Canada emphasized States cooperation, and proposed titling the GP "Rights and Responsibilities." Following extensive debate, delegates agreed to indicate the political nature of the issue and forward two versions to COP-6. The first one reads that States should recognize the risk they may pose to other States as a potential source of IAS, and take individual and cooperative actions to minimize it, including provision of any related available information. It references CBD Article 3 and Rio Declaration Principle 2 on the sovereign right of States to exploit their own resources and the responsibility to ensure that their activities do not harm other States environment. It outlines activities that could present a risk to other States, including: intentional or unintentional transfer of IAS to another State; and introduction into their own State, if there is a risk of the IAS subsequently spreading and becoming invasive in another State. Following a suggestion by Germany during the closing Plenary, language was added on identification of possible IAS and making such information available. The second version does not include the list of activities that could present a risk.

GP-5 Research and Monitoring: Many delegates supported the Canadian non-paper, which includes undertaking a baseline taxonomic study, while others stressed capacity limitations and called for more flexible language. Delegates also debated: the genetic impacts of IAS; reference to social impacts; and use of the terms "alien species" or "invasive species." The final text states that research and monitoring efforts should attempt to include a baseline taxonomic study, and that monitoring is the key to early detection of IAS and should benefit from the involvement of other sectors, including local communities. Research should include identification and document: the history and ecology of invasion; the biological characteristics of the IAS; and the associated impacts on the ecosystem, species and genetic levels, as well as social and economic impacts.

GP-6 Education and Public Awareness: The final text, agreed upon without major debate, recognizes that public awareness is crucial to the successful management of IAS. Education and public awareness programmes are necessary to engage local communities and appropriate sector groups when mitigation measures are required.

GP-7 Border Control and Quarantine Measures: Delegates debated: amendments regarding capacity limitations; specification of assessments as "scientific"; and references to controls within national borders. The FAO stressed harmonization of the term "introduction" with the IPPC. The final text addresses implementation of border control and quarantine measures to ensure that intentional introductions are subject to appropriate authorization and that unintentional or unauthorized introductions are minimized. Language on measures to control introductions within the State was bracketed following an intervention by Brazil during the closing Plenary. The GP also suggests that measures should be based on an assessment of the risks posed by aliens and their pathways and makes reference to: strengthening of governmental agencies; training of staff; early detection systems; and international coordination.

GP-8 Information Exchange: Sweden suggested dissemination of information on the ecology and genetics of IAS. With some minor changes, the GP was accepted. It addresses: development of an inventory and synthesis of relevant databases; development of information systems; and a network of databases for compilation and dissemination of information; and dissemination of information and guidelines, such as those compiled by GISP, through the CHM. Such information should include incident lists, potential threats to neighboring countries, and information on taxonomy, ecology and genetics of IAS, and control methods.

GP-9 Cooperation, including Capacity Building: With Argentina expressing concern over requiring States of origin to provide information on potential IAS, related language was deleted during the closing Plenary. Regarding capacity-building support, Brazil proposed adding mitigation of risks of introductions. The US proposed that research efforts include monitoring and control. The approved text lists cooperative efforts: programmes for information-sharing on IAS with emphasis on cooperation among neighboring countries, trading partners and countries with similar ecosystems; agreements to regulate trade in IAS focusing on the particularly damaging ones; capacity-building programmes, including technology transfer and training programme development; and cooperative research and funding efforts.

GP-10 Intentional Introduction: Delegates debated: addition of genetic diversity to ecosystems, habitats and species potentially harmed; accommodation of social and economic considerations in risk assessments; the burden of proof on safety of an introduction; and reference to the precautionary approach. After extensive discussion, delegates decided to bracket the "science-based" qualifier regarding risk assessment; and link resolution of bracketed text on burden of proof and on the precautionary approach to COP-6 consideration of GP-4 and GP-1, respectively.

Three options are forwarded for COP-6 consideration. Each option states that authorization is necessary for all first-time introductions, unless it is known that an alien species poses no threat to biodiversity. On risk assessment, the first option states that it should be carried out before authorizing an introduction to the country or to new areas within the country, while the second and third leave introduction unspecified. The third option also qualifies that risk assessment be science-based. On the burden of proof, the first option states that it should be on the one who proposes the introduction that is unlikely to cause harm, while the other two do not address the issue. The first and second options also include reference to the precautionary approach. During the closing Plenary, Sweden requested a note in the meetings record stressing that genetic biodiversity of species should be included with reference to harm to ecosystems, habitats and species.

GP-11 Unintentional Introductions: This principle, approved without major debate, requests that States put in place provisions to address unintentional and invasive introductions, with reference to: regulatory and institutional measures, strengthening of institutions, identification of pathways, and related risk assessments.

GP-12 Mitigation of Impacts: Delegates debated language stating that individuals responsible for an introduction should bear the cost of control measures and biodiversity restoration in case of non-compliance with national regulations. No agreement was reached and language remains bracketed. The GP suggests that once an IAS has been established, States should take mitigation measures, such as eradication, containment and control, individually and collectively. Such measures should be: safe to humans, the environment and agriculture; ethically acceptable to stakeholders in the affected areas; and taken as early as possible, on the basis of the precautionary approach. It also recognizes the importance of early detection, combined with the capacity to take rapid follow-up action.

GP-13 Eradication: Delegates debated use of the term "cost-effective." Brazil favored its use, while the Seychelles opposed it, emphasizing contradiction with biodiversitys intrinsic value. The approved text suggests that eradication, when feasible, is often the best course of action. It also references: early detection systems; post-eradication monitoring; community support; and consideration of secondary effects on biodiversity. During the closing Plenary, Hungary requested a note in the meetings record stating that techniques of eradication and control should be subject to preliminary impact assessment.

GP-14 Containment: Delegates agreed to a suggestion by Canada to delete language on the importance of monitoring specifically outside control boundaries. The approved GP suggests that limiting the spread of IAS is appropriate where the range of organisms is small enough to make efforts feasible. The importance of monitoring and its linkage with quick action to eradicate new outbreaks is recognized.

GP-15 Control: Following an intervention by the Seychelles, delegates debated the necessity of detailed provisions on control measures and on reference to GP-10. The final text states that control measures should focus on reducing damage caused by and the number of IAS, with reference to integrated management techniques, such as mechanical, chemical and biological control, and habitat management. Text remains bracketed on the need for long-term commitment and a recurrent operating budget for the regular application of most control measures, and on implementation of biological control in line with existing regulations and GP-10.


SCIENTIFIC ASSESSMENTS: With regard to scientific assessments, delegates considered documents UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/3, on ongoing assessment processes, and UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/9/Add.1, on a brainstorming meeting on scientific assessment held in Oslo in November 1999. Document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/9 drew upon these two documents in providing suggested recommendations on: methods and procedures for scientific assessments; options for potential pilot projects addressing ecosystems, specific biomes and habitats and threats posed to biodiversity; and assessment methods.

On Tuesday, 13 March, debate revolved around the roster of experts, the process and procedures for undertaking assessments, and priority issues for projects. Many delegates supported employing the roster of experts without creating additional bodies, and some proposed its expansion. Others emphasized better coordination and tailoring to specific assessments. A number of delegates supported a pilot study on procedures to identify experts and use of the CHM in scientific assessment processes. On assessments, delegates specified parameters, prioritization, and a more comprehensive indicative list of proposed initiatives. The Seychelles emphasized a COP-4 decision on priority of rapid assessment for small island developing States. China stressed prioritizing assessments and cooperation with the UNFCCC. Japan and India said a pilot project on the CBD and climate change was premature, while Portugal said it should be emphasized. The Netherlands advocated timely assessment of climate changes impact on biodiversity, and supported a coral reef assessment.

A number of delegates emphasized linkages to national reports and to strategic environmental assessments, called for attention to regional experiences and national case studies, and encouraged governments to mobilize national institutions. Many supported consideration of assessments in establishing a core set of indicators and criteria, while one delegate said the existing criteria and indicators should be followed to avoid duplication. Many delegates suggested prioritizing and combining projects on forest biodiversity, and supported projects on rapid assessment of inland water and marine and coastal biodiversity.

On Thursday, 15 March, delegates reacted to a conference room paper incorporating proposals from Tuesdays discussion. The issue of financial resources generated debate, with the Netherlands preferring to refer the issue to COP-6 and proposing deletion of the paragraph on the ground that it was not in line with Decision IV/16, paragraph 13. Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas and China argued that the language simply asked COP-6 to identify resources. Following consultations, delegates agreed to recommend that COP-6 examine the need for financial resources to support the assessment process under the CBD, including through guidance to the financial mechanism, as appropriate.

On advancing assessments on priority issues, Belgium and Germany requested that text remain bracketed due to the unresolved relationship between the CBD and the IPCC. On reference to a technical paper on interlinkages between biodiversity and climate change to be prepared by the IPCC, Antigua and Barbuda noted that the specific role of the IPCC was not yet agreed. The Netherlands added reference to focusing on the regional level. Germany highlighted the need to follow standardized procedures. Ecuador called for language on education and public awareness.

On ongoing and planned assessments, the Netherlands proposed reference to the FAO report on the state of the worlds genetic resources. The Bahamas proposed sub-paragraphs highlighting ecosystem evaluation and assessment, and further aspects of marine and coastal biodiversity. Ghana, with Kenya, called for inclusion of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species regarding project briefs for assessments. Several delegates proposed language on strengthening the capacity of developing countries.

Recommendation: The final text in UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/L.7/ Add.1 defines the parameters of assessment processes, notes the usefulness of ongoing and planned assessments, stresses information in national reports, notes the value of rapid assessments, and agrees to develop a programme to address insufficient understanding of biodiversity. It also decides to initiate assessments on forest biodiversity, rapid assessment methods for inland water and marine and coastal biodiversity, impacts of IAS, and interlinkages between biodiversity and climate change, and invites the MA to integrate such assessments into its work. Additionally, the recommendation requests the CBD Executive Secretary to draw on the project briefs contained in Annex III of background document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/9 in carrying out these assessments.

GLOBAL TAXONOMY INITIATIVE: On Tuesday, 13 March, the Secretariat introduced documents UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/10 and UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/INF/4 on the Global Taxonomy Initiative. A short presentation was made on the Global Biodiversity Information Facilitys (GBIF) founding governing board meeting held prior to SBSTTA-6. The GBIF is an interoperable network of biodiversity databases that will make information freely available and will work in close cooperation with established programmes and organizations that compile, maintain and use biological information resources.

Many delegates expressed general support for the GTIs proposed programme of work. Australia, Sweden, New Zealand and the UK called for a permanent post within the CBD Secretariat for the GTI. Sweden called for clarification and development of the link between the GTI and the GEF. Several countries called for capacity building and GEF funding. Brazil, supported by many others, emphasized national and regional facilities on taxonomic activities. Delegates also: noted a lack of public awareness on taxonomy; stressed the importance of inventories; highlighted the potential input of traditional knowledge; and supported BioNET Internationals involvement in the work programme.

On Thursday, 15 March, delegates discussed a conference room paper containing a proposed work programme and recommendations to COP-6. Discussion centered on planned activities under the work programme. On public awareness and education, UNESCO emphasized its Global Initiative on Biodiversity Education. On access and benefit-sharing, as proposed by Colombia, delegates agreed to delete a paragraph concerning GTIs involvement in the commercialization of biodiversity. On developing a coordinated global taxonomy information system, Germany recommended that the CHM be the lead actor. On global and regional capacity building to support access to taxonomic information, Mexico stressed the need to obtain infrastructure to collate and curate the biological specimens and the generation of taxonomic information.

Regarding recommendations to COP-6, delegates agreed to: maintain consistency in language with other recommendations on provision of financial resources; include reference to capacity building through regional workshops; and encourage the CBD Executive Secretary to invite governments and others to contribute to the work programme. The recommendation was adopted in the closing Plenary with minor editorial amendments.

Recommendation: The recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/ 6/L.7/Add.2) requests COP-6 to:

  • endorse the draft work programme;
  • urge governments, international and regional organizations to promote and carry out the work programme;
  • encourage involvement of global, regional and sub-regional networks and partnerships to its implementation; and
  • examine the financial need for activities and capacity-building.

The work programmes operational objectives are to:

  • assess taxonomic needs and capacities;
  • provide focus in building and maintaining infrastructure for obtaining biological specimens;
  • facilitate infrastructure for access to taxonomic information; and
  • generate information needed for decision-making regarding the CBDs thematic work programmes and cross-cutting issues.

Under these operational objectives, planned activities address, inter alia:

  • country-based, regional and global taxonomic needs assessments;
  • public awareness and education;
  • capacity building;
  • strengthening of existing networks for regional cooperation and development of a coordinated global taxonomic information system;
  • the CBDs thematic ecosystem areas;
  • access and benefit-sharing;
  • invasive alien species;
  • implementation of Article 8(j);
  • the ecosystem approach and assessments; and
  • protected areas.

BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE, INCLUDING COOPERATION WITH THE UNFCCC: Under this agenda item, document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/11 notes consultations with the UNFCCC and IPCC with a view to promoting implementation of COP Decisions V/3, V/4, V/15 and V/21 as related to biodiversity and climate change. It also provides information to assist SBSTTA in preparing scientific advice on integrating biodiversity considerations into the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, and identifies matters of potential relevance. Delegates also considered a supplemental note in document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/INF/13, providing a brief overview of the impacts of climate change on forest biodiversity.

On Wednesday, 14 March, Harald Dovland, Chair of UNFCCCs Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), called for a good working relationship between the CBD and UNFCCC, in the form of joint workshops or working groups, noting that this would be on the agenda of the resumed UNFCCC COP-6 and SBSTA-14. In discussions on the establishment of an expert group, delegates underscored regional balance, inclusion of representatives from various sectors, and reporting of its work to SBSTTA-7. Cooperation between the CBD and UNFCCC and their subsidiary bodies received general support, with many encouraging other relevant organizations engagement, calling for a joint work plan and a joint workshop for the scientific bodies, and emphasizing synergies between the two conventions.

Many delegates expressed disappointment with the lack of urgency and action regarding climate change, particularly on coral bleaching, calling for a recommendation to the resumed UNFCCC COP-6 that urgent measures be taken to mitigate climate change impacts. Others underscored the need for a global scientific analysis of climate change impacts on various components of biodiversity, with a few noting lack of emphasis on boreal forests. Several delegates highlighted the need for assessing impacts of biodiversity loss on climate change, and proposed assessing biological loss and mitigation measures.

Amid calls for capacity building, the GEF highlighted relevant programmes exploring synergies and combining efforts on climate change and biodiversity, and noted plans for capacity building. NGOs raised issues on the inadequacy of tree plantations in climate change mitigation. A contact group met late into Wednesday evening, to continue discussions on the composition and terms of reference for the expert group and proposed joint activities of the CBD and UNFCCC.

On Thursday, 15 March, delegates reacted to a conference room paper based on contact group discussions, containing proposed recommendations. Several delegates stressed that the paper had been carefully negotiated, and supported its present form. Brazil proposed new language recognizing reliable scientific data demonstrating that climate change already has an impact on coral reefs and recommending immediate actions within the CBD and the UNFCCC to mitigate such effects and associated socio-economic impacts. Ghana proposed reference to the ecosystem approach in crosscutting issues. Antigua and Barbuda proposed reference to the GEFs Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel. Norway suggested replacing language on the IPCC participating in the pilot assessment with text on contributing to this assessment process by preparing a technical paper and identifying experts.

On the expert groups analyzing effects of climate change, many opposed Norways suggestion to delete reference to "adverse" effects. Antigua and Barbuda observed that the proposed deletion would imply that all effects be examined, which would entail endless analysis, and, with Japan, noted that although a number of countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, it would be difficult to analyze "any" measures under it before it enters into force. Delegates debated analyzing measures related to carbon sinks and reforestation. Regarding adaptation measures, Belgium suggested text on mitigating climate change and contributing to adaptation. On identifying further work, Canada proposed specifying options for the participation of the IPCC and UNFCCC. Colombia called for flexibility in timelines for progress reports of the expert group, while the Bahamas supported a sense of urgency, and it was agreed that the group would submit a progress report to SBSTTA-7 and complete its work by SBSTTA-8. The final text was adopted in the closing Plenary without debate.

Recommendation: The final text (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/L.7/ Add.3) emphasizes the urgent need to take prompt action to address climate change as a major cause of biodiversity loss, in particular regarding coral bleaching and its associated socio-economic consequences. It notes the impacts of biodiversity loss on climate change as well as of climate change on biodiversity loss, recognizes the existence of reliable scientific data that climate change is already having an impact on coral reef biodiversity, and recommends immediate action under the CBD and UNFCCC to mitigate these impacts. It initiates a pilot assessment of the interlinkages between climate change and biodiversity, establishes terms of reference for the ad hoc technical expert group, and invites the IPCC to contribute to this assessment process by preparing a technical paper and identifying experts. It promotes assessments on the basis of the ecosystem approach and invites other relevant organizations to contribute to the proposed assessment. It requests formation of a joint liaison group between the Bureaus of the subsidiary bodies of the CBD and UNFCCC, as well as a joint work plan and a joint workshop.

MIGRATORY SPECIES: On Wednesday, 14 March, Working Group II Chair Hani opened discussion on migratory species and cooperation with the CMS by inviting Arnulf Mller-Helmbrecht, Executive Secretary of the CMS, to make a presentation. Mller highlighted the linkages between the CBD and the CMS, and briefly discussed the CMSs objectives and activities.

The Secretariat introduced documents UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/12, Add.1 and INF/15. Many delegates supported a joint work programme between the CMS and CBD. Kenya and others stressed that actions should be undertaken not only by the conventions but also by Parties and relevant organizations. Several countries supported a realistic work programme that would be jointly implemented in a timely manner. Ecuador and Colombia supported a uniform programme with specific timelines. Numerous countries recommended integrating migratory species issues into guidelines for regional approaches and national action plans. Many countries emphasized that CBD Parties have an obligation to protect migratory species, stressing the need for harmonizing reporting systems.

The Ukraine called for legislative support for regional environmental networks on migratory species. Brazil proposed language on the need for arrangements to provide financial resources, where appropriate, and in accordance with CBD Article 20 (Financial Resources). A representative of Tulalip Tribes (US) emphasized the need to involve indigenous people. Delegates also called for, inter alia: transboundary analyses, habitat studies and better population dynamics descriptions; inclusion of case studies in the CHM and submission to scientific bodies of other conventions; the importance of migratory insects to agriculture; public awareness; and capacity building.

On Thursday, 15 March, discussion focused on a conference room paper containing draft recommendations. Regarding provision of financial resources, delegates agreed to follow the language used in the recommendation on scientific assessments, requesting COP-6 to examine the need for financial resources. Brazil noted that funding consideration should be in accordance with the proposed joint work programme. Ecuador and others requested reference to capacity building. Regarding the joint work programme, delegates agreed to language requesting close collaboration between the two conventions secretariats. As proposed by Germany, Belgium, the EC and the CMS, reference to the possible elements for the joint work programme, contained in UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/12/Add.1, was included. The recommendation was adopted during the closing Plenary.

Recommendation: The recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/ 6/L.7/Add.4) requests COP-6 to:

  • invite the CMS Secretariat and Parties to the CMS to compile and disseminate case studies on migratory species and their habitats through the CBDs CHM;
  • invite the CBD and CMS Secretariats to generate guidance for integrating migratory species into national biodiversity strategies and action plans and into the CBDs work programmes;
  • examine financial needs for capacity building and specific projects; and
  • urge Parties to report through national reports on their work in migratory species and their cooperation with other range States.

The recommendation also requests the COP to recognize the CMS as the lead partner for protecting migratory species. The recommendation further requests the CBD Executive Secretary, with the CMS Secretariat, to develop a joint work programme for the two conventions, taking into consideration possible elements contained in background document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/12/Add.1.


During the closing Plenary on Friday, 16 March, regional groups presented their nominations for the SBSTTA Bureau. Within the SBSTTA Bureau each UN region has two members with staggered terms who serve for two SBSTTA sessions. Delegates elected Dehui Wang (China), Grace Thitai (Kenya), Lily Rodriguez (Peru), Paula Warren (New Zealand) and Peter Straka (Slovak Republic). Raed Bani Hani (Jordan), Renato Rimoli (Dominican Republic), Anastasios Legakis (Greece) Koffi Edinam Dantsey (Togo), and Jan Plesnik (Czech Republic) will remain in office as Bureau members.

On the draft provisional agenda for SBSTTA-7, the Secretariat introduced document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/13. Togo, on behalf of the African Group, proposed moving marine and coastal biodiversity from SBSTTA-9 to SBSTTA-7. After some discussion, delegates agreed that the SBSTTA Bureau would consider the issue as a substantive element for SBSTTA-8. Delegates agreed that SBSTTA-7 would be held from 12-16 November 2001, in Montreal.

During discussion on other matters, Chair Samper introduced a recommendation on the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO), which notes progress made to date, and requests Parties and others to provide comments on the draft of the GBO to the CBD Executive Secretary by 30 April 2001. The recommendation was adopted without comment. Venezuela, with Ecuador, requested a note in the meetings report proposing further examination of biological control agents to eradicate crops.

Recommendations regarding the reports to Plenary on ad hoc technical expert groups, inland water biodiversity and marine and coastal biodiversity were adopted after some discussion.

Working Group II Chair Hani reported on the activities of Working Group II and introduced draft recommendations in UNEP/CBD/ SBSTTA/6/L.7/Add.1, 2, 3 and 4, which were adopted with minor editorial changes. The Working Groups report in UNEP/CBD/ SBSTTA/6/L.7 was adopted with an addition from the Netherlands noting general concern that references to financial resources were not in harmony with COP Decision IV/16, paragraph 13.

Working Group I Chair Legakis then reviewed Working Group Is deliberations and presented its recommendations. Chair Samper noted that the GPs are not legally-binding and that some issues, which are beyond SBSTTAs mandate, will be referred to COP-6 for resolution. Delegates held extensive discussions on use of terminology and the outstanding issues in the GPs, resulting in further bracketed text and reservations in the meetings record. Plenary then adopted Working Group Is recommendations, as contained in UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/ L.6/Add.1 and 2, and the report of WG-I in UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/6/ L.6.

Delegates adopted the report of the meeting (UNEP/CBD/ SBSTTA/6/L.1), without amendment. In assessing SBSTTA-6s experimental modus operandi, Chair Samper noted that: information documents should be provided ahead of time and be better linked to agenda items; the number of presentations should be reduced and made available through side events; more time should be devoted to drafting recommendations; and side events should continue to be arranged. Several developing countries requested regional group meetings prior to SBSTTA sessions. Canada noted that some presentations needed to be more targeted and suggested that relevant information be made available through CHM prior to meeting. The Netherlands complimented such an assessment as a process of translating the negative into positive. Chair Samper welcomed further feedback from participants for consideration by the SBSTTA Bureau.

In his closing remarks, Chair Samper noted SBSTTAs evolution in serving as a forum to exchange information and build bridges between science and politics, especially with regard to the issues of invasive species and climate change. He highlighted five essential aspects for the future:

  • the long-term view and approach to the CBD;
  • ways to improve the structure of work programmes by stressing priorities;
  • adhering to the terms of reference in scientific and technical assessments;
  • better coordination between the CHM and SBSTTA; and
  • continuing the process of building bridges to other conventions to promote linkages and avoid duplication.

SBSTTA-7/8 Chair Jan Plesnik expressed thanks to Chair Samper and said he would continue the process of making SBSTTA more operational and effective.

CBD Executive Secretary Hamdallah Zedan stated that SBSTTA-6 had been successful despite a challenging agenda. He noted that SBSTTA continues to evolve as the authority of scientific, technical and technological advice on biodiversity-related issues in the UN system. He thanked all for their commitment, support and guidance, and also thanked the Canadian International Development Agency and the Government of Quebec for renewing their financial support to the CBD Secretariat for three and five years, respectively.

Closing statements of appreciation were given by: Canada; Togo (African Group); Iran (Asian Group); Poland (Central and Eastern Europe); and Greenpeace International, who encouraged all to understand the importance of forests in looking to SBSTTA-7. Chair Samper then officially closed SBSTTA-6 at 6:30 pm.


Even before SBSTTA-6 began, delegates were breathing a sigh of relief as the sessions agenda was considerably scaled down in comparison to previous SBSTTA sessions. Many expressed satisfaction that they could delve into the five substantive items on the agenda in significant depth. However, the agendas simplicity was arguably inversely proportional to the complexity of some issues, as delegates struggled with scientific, technical, political and organizational matters, primarily regarding invasive alien species and linkages between climate change and biodiversity. SBSTTA is still dealing with its historical struggle: is it a scientific body or a political body? However, as SBSTTA-6 Chair Cristin Samper highlighted in his closing remarks, SBSTTA has made steps in incorporating science-based recommendations, while recognizing their political implications. This brief analysis will address the efforts to re-focus SBSTTAs modus operandi, examine key areas of contention, and look ahead to SBSTTA-7 and beyond.


The discussions on IAS were clearly "an experiment" with SBSTTAs modus operandi, devoting three days of discussion, numerous presentations, roundtables and side events to the topic. Delegates certainly appreciated the provision of information, but failed to see how initial general discussions on four topical areas were concretely linked to substantive negotiations on options for future work and the Guiding Principles. Many expressed dissatisfaction regarding the time devoted to presenting information during early discussions, which consequently pushed deliberations on recommendations into two night sessions lasting until midnight.

Aside from time management problems and information overload, most participants appreciated the vast range of scientific inputs and offers of assistance from non-governmental and intergovernmental bodies and processes regarding IAS. Longtime SBSTTA attendees noted that this reflects SBSTTAs maturation into a scientific body, distancing it from past criticisms about its having an overly political nature. Yet others observed that protracted discussions involving bracketing text on the Guiding Principles during the closing Plenary revealed that political mutations persist in the laboratory of change. Information by itself is useless, and SBSTTA must move beyond information processing to provide concrete recommendations, especially for invasives, coral bleaching and other impacts of climate change on biodiversity. The subsequent challenge is one typically faced by many UN processes: to synthesize incoming information and the activities of relevant groups and international instruments and transform recommendations into actions.


Discussions on invasive alien species roundly dispelled the thought of work on a legally binding instrument on IAS in the near future, while several countries fought limiting options without full exploration of gaps in the international framework on IAS. Most did support improved collaboration with relevant instruments, although given their number (some listed the total as high as 40) and varying foci, such coordination definitely presents obstacles. Within this effort, a key priority is harmonization of terminology essential for any joint activities, which could lead CBD work in an alternative direction on setting standards, an idea floated during the meeting particularly in regard to work with the IPPC and its role in developing phytosanitary standards under the WTO. This could, however, resuscitate the trade-environment demons that plagued negotiations on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, since the growing significance of standards in international trade makes supposedly "neutral" scientific and technical deliberations highly political.

Time constraints and issues of a political nature prevented SBSTTA-6 from resolving the most contentious issues on IAS. As the final Plenarys deliberations over the Guiding Principles competed against time, progress rapidly came into question with a proliferation of brackets deferring contentious discussions on the precautionary approach, guidelines vs. principles, State responsibility and intentional introductions to COP-6. One delegate identified an element of hypocrisy in calls for rapid action compared with belabored political and terminological debates over non-binding principles. Another, referring to discussions on the precautionary approach, remarked that the concept and its application will continue to evolve, although such evolution will be difficult and will only be determined at the political level. An observer noted that this reflects SBSTTAs mission to find the balance in moving beyond the "S" in scientific and embracing its technical role in providing policy advice.


As an issue that entailed significant resistance at COP-4, climate change and biodiversity has certainly blossomed, as scientific evidence and awareness of impacts of climatic changes on the environment become ever more apparent. Many delegates were pleased with the final recommendation, particularly its balanced treatment of responsibilities and division of labor between the CBD and UNFCCC. While some appreciated such a concrete product, others pointed to tight timetables and tricky organizational linkages in trying to coordinate the two conventions and their subsidiary bodies, highlighting that the UNFCCC is embroiled in its own political problems. Carbon sinks were predictably a touchy subject given differing CBD and UNFCCC philosophies on their valuation and use. Some would argue that the UNFCCC, in evaluating the benefits of forests, neglects to recognize the interrelated aspects of biodiversity. Formal substantive discussion on the issue was generally absent, except during discussion on whether to include carbon sinks in the terms of reference of the expert group assessing climate changes impact on biodiversity.

With the expert group due to report progress to SBSTTA-7 there are certainly time constraints, not to mention budgetary and other implications. Delegates are now anticipating the distribution of a technical paper by the IPCC, to be released several months from now, that will contribute to the assessment process to be undertaken by the newly established expert group.

Coral bleaching became a flashpoint for discussions on the need for action, with island and coastal States calling for movement beyond assessments and evaluation to tangible on-the-ground efforts. With the persistence of a few countries, language was developed highlighting the dire situation of coral reefs and calling for immediate action. The impact of such a recommendation on the UNFCCC and how it might be dealt with remains to be seen.


Looking ahead to SBSTTA-7s work on forests, delegates are interested in applying lessons learned regarding the "experiment" on IAS. Several participants noted that information and understanding of forest issues is abundant, while questioning whether the political aspects of forests encumbering the UNFCCC and the IPF/IFF/UNFF would continue to curtail movement under the CBD. Recognizing SBSTTAs evolving nature from politics to science and, hopefully, to action, one observer called this a true test of its merits. The willingness to explore and tinker with SBSTTAs modus operandi is a very positive sign since it reflects a recognition that the process has and will continue to evolve. Consciously monitoring and directing such evolution is itself a significant step, and many delegates were notably pleased with the closing Plenarys exercise in self-criticism as delegates examined lessons learned over the week. The challenge ahead is to find the balance between providing appropriate scientific and technical input into the process and focusing deliberations and providing recommendations that include an impetus for action.


CBD PANEL OF EXPERTS ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT-SHARING: This panel will meet from 19-22 March 2001, in Montreal. For more information, contact: the CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; Internet:

THIRD MEETING OF THE INTERIM COMMISSION ON PHYTOSANITARY MEASURES: ICPM-3 will be held from 2-6 April 2001, in Rome. For more information, contact: Robert Griffin, AGPP, FAO; tel: +39-065705-4812; fax: +39-065705-6347; e-mail:; Internet:

NINTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The ninth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development will be held in New York from 16-27 April 2001. This session will focus on: atmosphere; energy/transport; information for decision making and participation; and international cooperation for an enabling environment. The topic of the multi-stakeholder dialogue segment will be energy and transport. For more information, contact: Andrey Vasilyev, Division for Sustainable Development; tel: +1-212-963-5949; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; Internet: csd9_2001.htm#. For information for major groups, contact Zehra Aydin-Sipos, Division for Sustainable Development; tel: +1-212-963-8811; fax: +1-212-963-1267; e-mail:

CSD-10 (PREPCOM I): The tenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, acting as the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, will be held in New York from 30 April - 2 May 2001. For more information, contact: Andrey Vasilyev, Division for Sustainable Development; tel:+1-212-963-5949; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; Internet:

IUCG-6: The Sixth Meeting of the Contact Group on the Revision of the International Undertaking will be held in Italy from 23-28 April 2001. For more information, contact: Clive Stannard, CGRFA, FAO; tel: +39-06570-55480; fax: +39-06570-56347; e-mail:; Internet:

INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND GENETIC RESOURCES, TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE AND FOLKLORE: The Committees First Meeting within the World Intellectual Property Organization will be held in Geneva from 30 April to 3 May 2001. For more information, contact: WIPO Information Center, tel: +41-22-338-8181; e-mail:; Internet:

MARINE BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS: This meeting, sponsored by the Ecology Action Centre, will be held in Halifax, Canada, from 13-15 May 2001. For further information, contact: Lara Gibson, Workshop Coordinator; tel: +1-902-429-2202; fax: +1-902-422-6410; e-mail:; Internet: Environment/EAC/

UNFCCC RESUMED COP-6: The resumed sixth session of the Conference of the Parties for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in Bonn from 16-27 July 2001. For more information, contact: the UNFCCC Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-1000; fax: +49-228-815-1999; e-mail:; Internet:

ICCP-2: The Second Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will take place in Montreal, Canada, or Nairobi, Kenya, from 1-5 October 2001. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat, Montreal, Canada: tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; Internet:

FIRST SESSION OF THE AD-HOC OPEN-ENDED WORKING GROUP ON ACCESS AND BENEFIT-SHARING: This meeting will be held in Bonn from 22-26 October 2001. For more information, contact: the CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; Internet:

SBSTTA-7: The CBDs seventh session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice will meet in Montreal from 12-16 November 2001. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat, tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; Internet:

CBD COP-6: The CBDs Sixth Conference of the Parties will be held in The Hague, the Netherlands, from 8-19 April 2002. For more information, contact: the CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; Internet:

Further information


National governments
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