Summary report, 11–22 February 2008

2nd Meeting of the Ad hoc Open-ended Working Group on Protected Areas (WGPA 2) and 13th Meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA)

The second meeting of the Ad hoc Open-ended Working Group on Protected Areas (WGPA 2) and the thirteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 13) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) convened at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy, from 11-22 February 2008.

WGPA 2 adopted two heavily bracketed recommendations for consideration by the CBD’s ninth Conference of the Parties (COP 9), which will take place from 19-30 May 2008 in Bonn, Germany, on the review of implementation of the programme of work and on options for mobilizing financial resources for its implementation.

SBSTTA 13 conducted in-depth reviews of the CBD work programmes on agricultural biodiversity and forest biodiversity, and addressed scientific and technical issues of relevance to the implementation of the CBD’s 2010 target to achieve a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss relating to marine and coastal biodiversity, inland waters biodiversity, invasive alien species, and biodiversity and climate change. The meeting also considered the modus operandi for addressing new and emerging issues relating to the conservation and use of biodiversity. SBSTTA 13 adopted seven recommendations, which will be forwarded to COP 9.

Both meetings ended with a sense of frustration, with many delegates expressing disappointment about the outcomes. In particular, delegates raised concerns about the large number of bracketed references that will have to be resolved by the COP. A number of participants expressed regret that, despite efforts to enhance the scientific profile of SBSTTA, discussions had been bogged down by political considerations that prevented detailed discussion of scientific aspects. Delegates did, however, welcome the recommendations adopted on invasive alien species and biodiversity and climate change, noting that substantial progress was achieved considering the controversy that these issues have generated in the past.


The CBD, negotiated under the auspices of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), was opened for signature on 5 June 1992, and entered into force on 29 December 1993. There are currently 190 parties to the Convention, which aims to promote “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.” The COP is the governing body of the Convention. It is assisted by SBSTTA, which is mandated, under CBD Article 25, to provide the COP with advice relating to the Convention’s implementation. The establishment and management of protected areas, together with conservation, sustainable use and restoration initiatives in the adjacent land and seascape, are central to CBD Article 8 (In situ Conservation).

COPs 1-3: At its first three meetings (November-December 1994, Nassau, the Bahamas; November 1995, Jakarta, Indonesia; and November 1996, Buenos Aires, Argentina), the COP adopted decisions on, inter alia: the establishment of the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) and SBSTTA; the designation of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) as the interim financial mechanism; the designation of Montreal, Canada, as the permanent location for the Secretariat; and cooperation with other biodiversity-related conventions.The COP also considered CBD Article 8, and emphasized regional and international cooperation, and the importance of disseminating relevant experience.

COP 4: At its fourth meeting (May 1998, Bratislava, Slovakia), the COP adopted thematic programmes of work on inland waters ecosystems and marine and coastal biodiversity, and decided to consider protected areas (PAs) as one of the three main themes for COP 7. It also encouraged the CBD Executive Secretary to develop relationships with other processes to foster good management practices related to PAs, and established an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on marine and coastal PAs.

COP 5: At its fifth meeting (May 2000, Nairobi, Kenya), the COP adopted work programmes on dry and sub-humid lands and on agricultural biodiversity, and decisions on access and benefit sharing (ABS), Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge), the ecosystem approach, sustainable use, biodiversity and tourism, invasive alien species (IAS), incentive measures, the Global Taxonomy Initiative, and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC).

COP 6: At its sixth meeting (April 2002, The Hague, the Netherlands), the COP adopted the Strategic Plan for the CBD, in which parties committed themselves to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss. The COP also adopted: an expanded work programme on forest biodiversity, containing a number of activities related to PAs; and the GSPC, which specifies that by 2010 at least 10% of each of the world’s ecological regions should be effectively conserved, and protection of 50% of the most important areas for plant diversity should be ensured through effective conservation measures, including PAs. COP 6 further established an AHTEG on PAs to prepare consideration of the issue by COP 7.

WSSD: The World Summit on Sustainable Development (August-September 2002, Johannesburg, South Africa) adopted the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, which endorsed the 2010 target in paragraph 44, and called for inter alia: supporting initiatives for hotspot areas and other areas essential for biodiversity, and for promoting the development of national and regional ecological networks and corridors (paragraph 44(g)); and the establishment of marine protected areas consistent with international law and based on scientific information, including representative networks, by 2012 (paragraph 32(c)).

MYPOW: The Open-ended Inter-sessional Meeting on the Multi-Year Programme of Work of the CBD COP up to 2010 (March 2003, Montreal, Canada) recommended that each COP through 2010 address progress in implementing the Strategic Plan and in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and consider refining mechanisms to support implementation.

COP 7: At its seventh meeting (February 2004, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), the COP adopted MYPOW-2010, and developed a preliminary framework for the future evaluation of progress in the implementation of the Strategic Plan. The COP also adopted the programme of work on protected areas (PoWPA), consisting of four interlinked elements on: direct actions for planning, selecting, establishing, strengthening and managing PA systems and sites; governance, participation, equity and benefit-sharing; enabling activities; and standards, assessment and monitoring. COP 7 further decided to establish an Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on PAs and to assess progress in implementation of the work programme at each COP meeting until 2010.

WGPA 1: The first meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Protected Areas (June 2005, Montecatini, Italy) adopted recommendations on: options for cooperation for establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) beyond national jurisdiction; further development of toolkits for the identification, designation, management, monitoring and evaluation of national and regional PA systems; options for mobilizing adequate and timely financial resources for the implementation of the PoWPA by developing countries and countries with economies in transition; and a process for the review of implementation of the PoWPA.

COP 8: At its eighth meeting (March 2006, Curitiba, Brazil), the COP adopted decisions on, inter alia: island biodiversity; biodiversity of dry and sub-humid lands; ABS; and Article 8(j) and related provisions. Participants also considered: progress towards implementation of the Convention and its Strategic Plan; implications of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) findings; and cooperation with other conventions and private sector engagement. COP 8 also assessed the implementation of the PoWPA for 2004-2006 and decided to convene WGPA 2 to evaluate progress and elaborate recommendations for improved implementation of the PoWPA. It further invited parties to elaborate financial plans incorporating national, regional and international sources.

SBSTTA 12: At its twelfth meeting (March 2006, Paris, France), SBSTTA 12 addressed: strategic issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, including improving SBSTTA’s effectiveness; and scientific and technical issues of relevance to the achieving the 2010 target, focusing on biodiversity and climate change, and dry and sub-humid lands. SBSTTA 12 also conducted in-depth reviews of the MA and the second edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, and considered the new and emerging issue of liquid biofuel production.


On Monday, 11 February 2008, José Antônio Marcondes de Carvalho, WGPA 2 Chair, welcomed delegates and underscored the importance of PAs for eradicating poverty, generating income and enhancing ecosystem services and goods. With a view to achieving the 2010 biodiversity target to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, he emphasized the need for enhanced international cooperation for protected areas (PAs). Aldo Cosentino, on behalf of Pecoraro Scanio, Italy’s Minister of the Environment, underlined the importance of creating a global PA network and highlighted Italy’s efforts regarding PAs, such as the development of effective management systems.

Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD Executive Secretary, said that effective implementation is contingent on commitment from governments and the wider public, pointing to the presence of the environment ministers from Mexico and Ecuador and the President of the Federated States of Micronesia as testament to such a political commitment. Jan Heino, FAO, gave an overview of FAO activities regarding PAs, which center on: identification, assessment, management and monitoring; the interface between PAs and the agricultural sector; and PAs contributing to food security and mitigating climate change.

A representative of international conservation NGOs outlined support in the areas of ecological gap analysis, financing for PAs and capacity development. She emphasized the importance of the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) implementation workshops and exchange of information to catalyze further action on the ground.

The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity said the establishment of PAs on indigenous communities’ lands and territories violates indigenous peoples’ rights. On mobilizing financial resources, he rejected proposed options such as carbon trading, privatization of water provisioning and payment for ecosystem services. The International Collective in Support of Fishworkers expressed concern regarding continued biodiversity loss and human rights violations and called for a moratorium on extractive industries in important biodiversity conservation areas and on indigenous peoples’ territories, without their prior informed consent.

Delegates adopted the agenda (UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/1) and the organization of work (UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/1/Add.1) without amendment. Mary Fosi (Cameroon) was elected Rapporteur, with the CBD COP Bureau serving as the Bureau for the Working Group.

Delegates met in plenary on Monday and Tuesday and in informal sessions, chaired by Ositadinma Anaedu (Nigeria) from Wednesday to Friday morning. The closing plenary met on Friday afternoon to adopt the recommendations to the COP.


On Monday and Tuesday, delegates delivered general statements regarding the PoWPA, with most countries outlining activities, achievements and challenges in PoWPA implementation, conducting ecological gap analyses, promoting regional cooperation and developing sustainable financing plans. Many developing countries reported constraints, including the lack of financial resources, weak legislative frameworks, inadequate capacity and lack of biodiversity databases, highlighting the need for capacity building, technology transfer as well as tools for monitoring PAs, and emphasizing the need for strengthened participation and cooperation. Several underscored the involvement of indigenous populations in the management of PAs.

China highlighted the challenge faced in balancing biodiversity conservation with economic growth. The Bahamas called for subregional technical clinics to assist with the development of a range of implementation tools. Mauritius announced its intention to establish 16 island national parks. Yemen highlighted the conclusion of memoranda of understanding between the Asian Gulf countries and Red Sea states as examples of interregional cooperation to protect biodiversity. Swaziland detailed recent agreements with South Africa and Mozambique regarding transfrontier conservation areas. Slovenia, for the European Union (EU), emphasized the importance of strengthening the interrelationship between PAs and climate change. Nigeria proposed strengthening the link between PA management and development.

The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity and the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers called for enhanced efforts to implement the PoWPA elements on indigenous participation, benefit-sharing, and recognition of indigenous land rights and customary laws. Greenpeace urged parties to address pressing issues such as illegal logging and funding constraints.


KEY NOTE PRESENTATIONS: Emanuel Mori, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, detailed his country’s conservation efforts through the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and discussed regional initiatives such as the Micronesian Conservation Trust and the Micronesia Challenge, which aims to preserve 30% of Micronesia’s marine resources and 20% of its terrestrial resources by 2020. Highlighting the limitations of local responses to biodiversity loss, he called on delegates to implement PA management in an integrated manner.

Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources, Mexico, outlined activities and achievements of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, which has overseen the recent increase in PA coverage and focuses on making the network more representative of Mexico’s biodiversity. He highlighted national efforts to mainstream integrated environmental management and underscored the importance of PAs for regional development and local communities.

Guy Suzon Ramangason, Ministry of Environment, Water, Forests and Tourism, Madagascar, presented his country’s achievements regarding participatory PA management, reconciling PAs and other activities such as mining, and integrating ecotourism, watershed management and other ecosystem services into PA management plans.

Maria Cecília Wey de Brito, Ministry of the Environment, Brazil, stated that the PA network in Brazil will be increased to cover 15% of its territory, including 30% of the Amazon rainforest. She emphasized initiatives to improve PA management effectiveness, including the Chico Mendes Institute of Amazon Studies and the Amazon Region Protected Areas Programme.

Marc Hockings, University of Queensland, Australia, presented the findings of a global study of management effectiveness evaluation in PAs. He explained that the latter is a useful tool for improving reporting and allocating resources as well as helping to build support for PAs. The study reported that although PAs are conserving their values and contributing to the livelihood of communities, PA management requires improvement. Findings included: the need to address serious threats to PAs to conserve their values; the lack of basic requirements for PAs to operate effectively; the need for enhancing communication, community involvement and programmes beneficial to communities; and the need for managers to improve pro-active management capacity.

REVIEW OF POWPA IMPLEMENTATION: Delegates considered the Review of the Implementation of the PoWPA (UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/2) in plenary on Monday and Tuesday and revised draft recommendations in informal sessions from Wednesday through to Friday.

Debate focused on: structures to facilitate and coordinate implementation, including the designation of national focal points (NFPs) and multisectoral advisory committees; ways and means to improve monitoring, governance and PA management; and finalizing the ecological gap analysis to identify potential PA sites. Contentious issues included reporting of the results of the gap analysis, indigenous participation and co-management. Throughout the debate, developing countries repeatedly called for financial support, capacity building, technology transfer, and enhanced collaboration for implementation of the suggested activities.

On the designation of NFPs for PoWPA implementation, delegates debated the risk of duplicating structures of existing NFPs and clarified that parties may put in place a flexible structure for managing PAs, including efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of existing NFPs. On establishing multi-stakeholder advisory committees, a number of countries stressed that parties should be free to determine which stakeholders should participate. Others underlined that committees should include actors from all sectors and that their role should be to advise on ways and means to accelerate PoWPA implementation. After debate on the committees’ name and functions, delegates agreed to the term “multisectoral advisory committees.” Regarding regional cooperation, many highlighted the relevance of regional workshops and training on biodiversity issues. Delegates also discussed the establishment of intergovernmental and inter-agency networks to support exchange of information, make available implementation tools, convene regional workshops and enhance partnerships and training institutions.

Regarding ways and means to improve monitoring, governance and management of PAs, several countries called for monitoring systems and the establishment of baselines for measuring progress in PoWPA implementation, with some noting that lack of institutional capacity and fragmented PA governance are the main obstacles to sound management and cost-effectiveness in developing countries. Other proposals included: establishing national institutions to oversee coordination and implementation of the PoWPA, such as biodiversity monitoring units; and review of national policies and legislative reform. Brazil opposed references to monitoring and evaluation in the context of improving management effectiveness, which others preferred to retain, and agreed to the inclusion of “collaboration with parties and donors.” IUCN-WCPA announced the forthcoming publication of its revised PA management guidelines and offered support for convening regional workshops and technical clinics.

On recognizing co-management of PAs, New Zealand and Canada requested deletion of references stating that co-managed PAs, private PAs and those managed by indigenous and local communities should be acknowledged “through national laws.” Canada, Kenya and Nepal said such PAs should be “recognized” as PAs rather than “incorporated” in PA management.

Delegates debated language referring to the participation of indigenous and local communities in PA management, with Turkey requesting deletion of language stating that participation should be consistent with applicable international law. New Zealand, Canada and Argentina, opposed by the EU, requested deleting language stating that the participation of indigenous and local communities should be “in full respect of their rights and recognition of their responsibilities.” Parties eventually agreed to ensure that such participation is consistent with national laws and international obligations, and to state that parties should give special attention to the implementation of a related programme element on governance, participation, equity and benefit-sharing.

Regarding finalizing the ecological gap analysis to achieve the 2010 and 2012 targets for designating terrestrial and marine PAs, delegates agreed that these should be finalized no later than 2009. Delegates agreed to delete reference to “social and cultural” analysis thereby referring only to ecological gap analysis. On integrating PAs into broader land/seascapes, Brazil opposed using the term “spatial planning” and suggested referring to the promotion of “tools and policy measures” to better integrate PAs into broader land/seascapes, instead. The EU preferred to retain reference to spatial planning. After lengthy discussion delegates agreed to “including, as appropriate, integrated spatial planning.”

Contentious discussions emerged around the issue of whether information on potential PA sites identified on the basis of the gap analysis should be transmitted to the Secretariat. Brazil, China, Burkina Faso, Syria, and Argentina requested deleting the respective reference, while Costa Rica, Ecuador, the EU, Ethiopia and the Bahamas favored its retention. Despite informal consultations, Brazil continued to oppose the inclusion of a reference in this regard.

On national reporting, New Zealand and Cuba requested deleting reference to electronic reporting mechanisms, while Australia and Canada called for the deletion of language on the development of national and regional data networks. Regarding assigning IUCN Protected Area Management Categories to PAs for reporting purposes, delegates agreed to the formulation “recognizing the need to finalize the ongoing process of refining the guidelines for applying the IUCN Protected Area Management Categories,” while Brazil called for consistency with previously agreed language in decision VII/28 (Protected Areas), which recognizes the value of a single international classification system for PAs.

On language regarding the role of PAs in carbon sequestration, Burkina Faso suggested moving a reference on datasets to the preamble, while Brazil requested its deletion. The EU, Peru and the Central and Eastern European Group (CEE) opposed this, with Peru and the CEE suggesting reference to carbon storage instead. Further proposals included adding language on the importance of functional ecological networks and improving technology transfer. Delegates remained divided about whether to refer directly to “mitigation and adaptation” in the context of enhancing awareness about the linkages between PAs and climate change.

In a similar vein, delegates discussed references to the role of PAs in local sustainable development, including benefit-sharing mechanisms. Canada and Australia, opposed by Brazil, suggested replacing a reference on instruments for benefit-sharing, with language on PA contributions to local sustainable development. Although a majority of parties supported language promoting development activities in the context of PAs to contribute to the eradication of poverty, an exact formulation could not be agreed upon. Delegates did agree on language linking poverty eradication and sustaining human wellbeing.

During the closing plenary, delegates discussed the status of various references that led to the re-bracketing of text in several instances. Delegates then adopted the recommendation as amended.

Final Outcome:The recommendation (UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/L.2) contains several references that are bracketed, including on:

  • promoting the development and importance of functional ecological networks in both terrestrial and marine areas, at national and regional levels and further developing measures for benefit sharing;
  • establishing or strengthening regional or subregional forums in to strengthen implementation, accordance with national legislation;
  • transmitting to the Executive Secretary information on scientifically assessed candidate sites, with a view to mobilizing new and additional resources from donors; and
  • recognizing the contribution of co-managed protected areas, private protected areas and indigenous and local community conserved areas within the national protected areas and indigenous local community conserved areas.

In the agreed sections of the recommendation, the Working Group recalls decision VIII/24 where parties, other governments and multilateral funding bodies are urged to provide the necessary financial support to developing countries to enable them to build capacity and implement the PoWPA. It [requests/invites] parties to: finalize the ecological gap analysis by 2009; promote the application of appropriate tools and policy measures; and give special attention to improving, in collaboration with partners and donors, the management effectiveness of PAs by enhancing human technical and financial resources.

It encourages the establishment of appropriate, multisectoral advisory committees; [requests/invites] parties to improve protected area governance and establish effective processes for the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities.

The Working Group reaffirms paragraph 31 of decision VII/28, which recognizes the value of a single international classification for PAs. It requests the Executive Secretary, with the support from the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and others, to develop a streamlined process through standardized information gathering as part of national reporting and encourages parties and others, with the support of national and international NGOs, research and academic institutions and agencies, to enhance activities and resources to assist countries in implementing the PoPWA.

The Working Group requests the Executive Secretary, in collaboration with other partners, to facilitate the development of a user-friendly, comprehensive central website on the PoWPA. It encourages parties to ensure that conservation and development activities in the context of PAs contribute to the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and to ensure that benefits are equitably shared. It also requests parties to designate national focal point[s] for coordinating the PoWPA.


KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS: Marcela Aguiñaga, Minister of Environment, Ecuador, said her country’s PA system is estimated to contribute US$1 billion annually to the economy. She acknowledged the need to substantially increase investment for in situ conservation, emphasizing the importance of participatory management, sustainable financial planning and needs assessment. Aguiñaga concluded by highlighting the potential of the national PA system in terms of economic development and poverty alleviation.

Matthew Hatchwell, Wildlife Conservation Society, presented on reduced carbon emissions in PAs as an innovative sustainable financing tool. He explained how accredited voluntary emission reductions can contribute towards reducing global carbon emissions. Outlining a project in the Makira Plateau, Madagascar, where deforestation is being reduced through trading voluntary emission reduction credits, he explained that a sustainable revenue stream has been generated for the government and correspondingly benefits local communities. He urged delegates to consider emission reductions from avoided deforestation as an innovative funding mechanism, taking into account additional social and environmental benefits.

FINANCIAL RESOURCES: Options for Mobilizing Financial Resources (UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/4) were discussed in the informal sessions from Tuesday to Thursday. On Thursday, the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), protested against their restricted participation and the omission of their proposals in the conference room papers (CRPs), and announced the withdrawal of all indigenous and local community representatives from the meeting. Chair Anaedu responded that the IIFB intervention was ill-timed; efforts had been made to accommodate indigenous and local community participation; and that intergovernmental processes should not be abused for publicity. The meeting was then suspended to facilitate consultation following requests from the EU and Canada.

The debate highlighted a schism between developed countries and developing countries, including the least developed countries, small island developing states (SIDS) and countries with economies in transition, calling for increased funding for PAs in addition to current levels of official development assistance, and developed countries pushing for increased reliance of innovative financing mechanisms for PAs.

Concerning funding through international mechanisms, a number of developed countries opposed an increase in the GEF funding for PAs, observing that additional official development assistance for biodiversity and PAs is contingent on developing countries identifying their priorities and needs through national biodiversity strategies and action plans. Others highlighted the GEF’s role in providing finance for implementing the PoWPA and proposed that the CBD Secretariat elaborate a uniform method for calculating financial needs. A number of developing countries proposed the creation of appropriate institutional platforms to support progress on financial sustainability and the enhancement of GEF activities related to PAs.

On new financing mechanisms, a number of developing countries questioned the emphasis on innovative funding, stating that new and additional funding, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, should be the primary source of funding for PAs. They were supported by the local and indigenous communities who cautioned that a proliferation of innovative financing mechanisms could undermine indigenous rights, and called for capacity building and funding to assess potential impacts. A number of developed countries emphasized innovative financial mechanisms to support PAs, taking into account broader social, economic and political considerations. Mechanisms that are linked to climate change and public-private partnerships divided delegates along the same lines.  

Developing countries further reiterated that funding issues must be considered in the context of decision VIII/24, which calls for new and additional funding for PoWPA implementation, and remained skeptical of innovative funding mechanisms in general, developed countries held back on statements of intent to increase official development assistance (ODA) funding for PAs and encouraged the use of innovative financing mechanisms. 

On the responsibilities of donor countries, developing counties underscored the need for “timely and predictable” funding for PAs in addition to the “promised 0.7%” of ODA. Australia said that calling on countries to increase their ODA falls outside the mandate of the Working Group. Others underscored that any ODA would take into account the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Nevertheless, delegates accepted an EU proposal to enhance implementation of provisions in decision VIII/24 referring to donor responsibilities and agreed to language urging donor countries to collaborate with developing countries on capacity development and cooperation on the PoWPA.

Many developing countries, such as China, Brazil and Cuba, requested deletion of references to innovative financial mechanisms throughout the text, and to “payment for ecosystem services” and language on “removing legislative barriers that may hinder the diversification of incomes for PAs.” Colombia however, did support the development of measures to promote the evaluation of ecosystem services in PAs to achieve greater linkages between conservation, poverty alleviation and the MDGs. This led to the retention of brackets on two alternative proposals: one by Brazil, stating that countries should develop a “socioeconomic justification” to increase PA funding by linking PAs to development agendas; and another proposed by Cuba, stating that better integration of conservation and development should be achieved by promoting the valuation of ecosystem services.

The EU proposed text recommending further study on the financing mechanism listed in UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/4 and suggested annexing this list to the recommendations, to which Canada and Argentina noted that the list is not exhaustive and China specified that it not be legally binding.

Regarding exploring funding opportunities in the context of climate change, a number of developed counties, opposed by Brazil and others, favored linking the protection of PAs to the global efforts to mitigate climate change. SIDS and Norway proposed language on the opportunities for PA design, establishment and effective management in the context of climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Specifically on the GEF, SIDS proposed language to “facilitate greater access” to UNDP funding; Ecuador suggested an amendment to provide wider scope for GEF funding, not only for sustainable financing plans, and the African Group proposed adding language stating that GEF procedures should be reviewed to remove impediments to developing countries accessing GEF funding. Parties agreed on a proposal by Brazil inviting the GEF to provide new and additional resources for PAs within the GEF portfolio. UNDP urged African countries to collaborate with others in order to access GEF funding.

Finally, the title itself remained bracketed due to differences over its emphasis. The EU continued to support reference to “different mechanisms,” opposed by SIDS and Brazil, who preferred the title to focus on PoWPA implementation “by developing countries, in particular, least developed countries, small island developing states and countries with economies in transition.”

Final Outcome: The recommendation (UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/L.3) is almost bracketed in its entirety. It includes agreed text on mobilizing adequate financial resources as a matter of urgency, by parties, other governments and international financial institutions, to provide the necessary, adequate and timely support to developing countries, including through new and additional financial resources.

It also includes agreed text on undertaking country-level financial needs assessment and sustainable financing plans including, as appropriate: a diversified portfolio, the equitable sharing of benefits and including information on progress regarding this recommendation as part of the in depth review of the PoWPA to COP 10 within the context of the fourth national reports.

It requests donor countries to significantly increase the level of official development assistance directed to support the establishment and management of PAs with the full participation of indigenous and local communities and urges developing country parties to prioritize the implementation of the PoWPA. It urges donors to make funding available to allow for the designation of new PAs that are necessary in order to complete comprehensive and ecologically representative national and regional systems of PAs, and for improving management of highly underfunded existing PAs.

Bracketed paragraphs refer to:

  • innovative mechanisms, including market-based approaches, which can complement but not replace public funding and development assistance;
  • developing legislative and institutional policy means for the management and application of or administration of a sustainable financing plan;
  • demonstrating the diverse value of PAs and linking as practical to the development agenda;
  • exploring funding opportunities for PA design, establishment, and effective management in the context of climate change adaptation and mitigation, with a special focus on the mitigation of emissions from deforestation and unsustainable land use, taking into account possible synergies;
  • taking further actions by collaborating with developing countries in the development of comprehensive and targeted programmes for capacity development and cooperation to meet the targets and timelines of the PoWPA;
  • taking reasonable steps to facilitate proposals for increasing the level of ODA, above the promised 0.7% of GDP contribution by the developed countries to the establishment and management of PAs;
  • allocating financial resources to build and enhance capacity building for communities and/or indigenous people to participate in the establishment and management of PAs;
  • submitting  to COP 10 a proposal on tools and increased financial and technical support and capacity building, including innovative financial mechanisms; and
  • improving access to and increasing the size and scope of the UNDP/GEF project for supporting country action on the CBD PoWPA.


On Friday, 15 February, Mary Fosi, Rapporteur, presented the draft report of the meeting (UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/L.1), which was adopted with amendments, including a note that indigenous and local communities had not been given sufficient opportunity to express their views.

Ositadinma Anaedu, Chair of the informal sessions, detailed progress made by WGPA 2. Referring to the outcome documents: the Review of Implementation of the PoWPA (UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/L.2), and Options for Mobilizing Financial Resources for the Implementation for the PoWPA (UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/L.3), he explained that both texts remained heavily bracketed, and drew attention to a number of textual corrections, including noting that the annex in UNEP/CBD/WG-PA/2/L.2 was “neither discussed nor negotiated.” He then recommended the documents for adoption. WGPA 2 Chair José Antônio Marcondes de Carvalho invited comments and a number of interventions were made to clarify the status of various references in brackets, after which the documents were adopted.

Greenpeace expressed disappointment regarding procedural aspects of the meeting and its outcome, stating that the level of political impetus in the context of PAs would have to be increased before COP 9. The EU voiced concern regarding the lack of full consideration of financing needs, including innovative financing mechanisms and public-private partnerships. Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD Executive Secretary, underscored the role of indigenous peoples in the conservation of biodiversity and thanked delegates for their participation. He expressed frustration with the meeting’s outcome and hoped for a more successful discussion during COP 9. Chair Marcondes de Carvalho thanked delegates, the Secretariat, NGOs and indigenous peoples, stating that the extensively bracketed text would impact on the workload at COP 9. He gaveled the meeting to a close at 9:31 pm.


On Monday, 18 July 2008, Asghar Mohammadi Fazel (Iran), SBSTTA 13 Chair, welcomed delegates to the meeting, noting the challenge of providing timely and informed scientific advice to decision makers in a rapidly changing world. Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea, highlighted climate change as one of the major threats to ecosystems in the Mediterranean region, and underscored the importance of linking the Rio conventions in order to address this challenge. Underlining the importance of the Bali Action Plan for reaching agreement on post-2012 emission reduction commitments, he called for urgent and ambitious actions to reduce the negative effects of climate change.

Dario Esposito, on behalf of Walter Veltroni, the Mayor of Rome, outlined the city’s efforts to protect its green areas and its intention to incorporate 31% of Rome’s land area into protected areas. He then signed the Countdown 2010 Declaration, a commitment to reduce emissions, increase the city’s biodiversity and undertake biodiversity restoration efforts.

Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD Executive Secretary, underscored the importance of agricultural biodiversity in achieving food security and development. He thanked the FAO for continued support to the CBD, as part of its global efforts to combat hunger. Highlighting accelerating urban demand for food, he invited local authorities to join other mayors in signing the Countdown 2010 Declaration.

James G. Butler, FAO Deputy Director-General, reaffirmed the close links between FAO’s core mandate and the need to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity. He noted that the recently adopted Multi-year Programme of Work for the FAO Commission on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) provides an excellent means to strengthen relationships within FAO and with other partners for achieving the MDGs and the CBD’s 2010 target to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.

Professor Rosalía Arteaga Serrano, Ecuador, presented on reconciling forestry, agriculture and environment in the context of the 2010 biodiversity target. She introduced the term “glocal issues” to highlight the importance of integrating global and local perspectives. She further outlined the reasons why environmental concerns had become disconnected from agriculture and forestry, including: increased pressure for intensification resulting from increasing demand for food, energy, and housing; the separation of public sector responsibilities for environment from those for agriculture, forestry, and water; and the emergence of market demand for biofuel, agrofuel and organic products. She explained that achieving reintegration will require greatly increased application of the principles of sustainable development.

ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Delegates elected Angheluta Vadineanu (Romania) as the rapporteur; Gabriele Obermayr (Austria) and Linus Spencer Thomas (Grenada) as Chairs of Working Groups I and II, respectively, and Hesiquio Benitez-Diaz (Mexico) and Asghar Fazel as Co-Chairs of the Committee of the Whole (COW). The Western Europe and Others Group nominated Norway as a new SBSTTA Bureau member. Nominations from other regional groups were pending regional consultations. Delegates then adopted the meeting’s agenda and organization of work (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/1 and Add.1). In response to a request for clarification on suggestions for SBSTTA procedure outlined in UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/1/Add.2, including the practice of forwarding options on issues for which no consensus can be achieved, Chair Fazel explained that this procedure would follow past SBSTTA practice.

Delegates convened in the COW throughout the week where they addressed the in-depth reviews of the work programmes on agricultural and forest biodiversity and the SBSTTA modus operandi for theconsideration of new and emerging issues. The two working groups met from Tuesday to Thursday. Working Group I considered marine and coastal biodiversity and inland waters biodiversity, while Working Group II discussed invasive alien species and biodiversity and climate change. A contact group on forest biodiversity met on Thursday afternoon and evening. This report summarizes discussions on the in-depth reviews and each of the substantive items.


AGRICULTURAL BIODIVERSITY: COW Co-Chair Fazel introduced the in-depth review of the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/2) on Monday and then delegates heard keynote presentations. A conference room paper (CRP) was discussed on Wednesday and a revised CRP adopted on Thursday.

In his presentation, Peter Kenmore, FAO, highlighted the impacts of agricultural practices on biodiversity in general, pointing to the need to increase food production by 50% by 2050 to feed the projected global population. He called for a paradigm shift, away from chemically-based intensification, reliant on conventional inputs such as pesticides, fertilizers and large quantities of water, to biological intensification, which draws on the richness of plant and microbial genetic resources and has the potential to increase food production. He observed that the intensified production of biofuels would compromise efforts towards sustainable agricultural production.

François Pythoud, Switzerland, reported on the outcomes of the first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, held in Interlaken, Switzerland, in September 2007. The conference launched the FAO’s State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources and adopted the Global Plan of Action comprising 23 strategic priorities for the conservation and sustainable use of animal genetic resources for food and agriculture.

FAO outlined its achievements as lead partner in the implementation of the agricultural biodiversity work programme, emphasizing cooperation across organizations and from the food producer to policy level.

Most countries opened their statements with calls for enhanced cooperation with the FAO and other organizations. The discussion focused on impacts of agriculture on biodiversity and related research needs, indicators for monitoring implementation, on-farm conservation, information gathering and dissemination and policy mainstreaming. Contention evolved around biofuels and climate change mitigation activities.

Regarding impacts of agriculture on biodiversity, many countries called for a balanced approach that considers both negative and positive impacts, in particular the positive impacts of traditional farming practices. Proposals for issues in need of enhanced research included: underutilized crops, documentation of traditional farming practices and knowledge and successful practices, the expansion of the agricultural frontier, sustaining agricultural ecosystem functions and services, and the challenge to sustainably intensify agriculture in order to meet growing demands while preventing new land conversion.

The discussion on biofuels reconfirmed the divergence of views between European countries and biofuel producers. The European Community (EC) called for guidelines to minimize potential negative impacts of biofuel production and consumption and policy frameworks to ensure the sustainable production and consumption of bioenergy. European countries also called for references to full life-cycle assessments of biofuels and their climate-change related impacts and mechanisms for sustainable biofuel production. Biofuel producers, on the other hand, repeatedly requested deletion of references to action on biofuels going beyond the collection and dissemination of information, with Argentina noting that climate change and biofuel issues are already addressed in other fora. Greenpeace requested parties to strengthen efforts to develop criteria, standards and verification schemes for sustainable biofuels and to adopt a precautionary approach. Delegates could not agree on any of the references and the entire section remained bracketed. In the closing plenary, Brazil requested recording in the report that the consideration of biofuels in the context of the review of the work programme was inappropriate since the issue had already been addressed by SBSTTA 12.

With respect to a section on agricultural biodiversity and climate change, Australia requested removing all references to mitigation. Slovenia noted that certain response measures taken by the agricultural sector can also impact biodiversity. Argentina proposed deleting a request to the Executive Secretary to gather and disseminate information on, for instance, links between climate change, agriculture and biodiversity, while the EC, Mexico and Indonesia favored keeping the proposal with minor modifications.

On indicators to monitor implementation, delegates debated whether to recommend the use of existing indicators or the development of new ones. A number of countries, including India and Argentina, preferred a flexible approach to indicator development and use, which was reflected in the recommendation.

Delegates also discussed language on inviting the FAO and other organizations to disseminate information relevant to the work programme. Brazil proposed a reference to information on the impact of unsustainable agricultural policies and practices on the biodiversity of other countries, but opposed a suggestion by Germany and others to make reference to agriculture’s ecological footprint.

Regarding policy, delegates discussed an invitation to FAO to promote “socioeconomic” or “multidisciplinary” studies to evaluate constraints for the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. Slovenia emphasized that national sectoral and cross-sectoral programmes and strategies should contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity, and discourage policies that cause biodiversity loss.

The discussion about on-farm conservation centered on participatory decision-making processes and adequate references to traditional farmers and indigenous and local communities and to the components of biodiversity and associated ecosystem functions. Switzerland argued that the issue is better dealt with by more specialized bodies. Via Campesina urged the protection of traditional farmers and their crop varieties.

Participants also discussed issues that should receive greater attention in the future implementation of the work programme, including: sustainable use of soil biodiversity, management of water resources and integrated pest management; rehabilitation of degraded agricultural ecosystems, and protection of fragile areas; mainstreaming agricultural biodiversity into policy in other sectors; and threats from invasive alien species and nitrate loading.

A number of international organizations reported on their contributions to the implementation of the work programme and its three initiatives on the conservation and sustainable use of soil biodiversity, and pollinators, and on biodiversity for food and nutrition. UNEP described an initiative aiming to minimize trade liberalization’s negative impacts on agrobiodiversity in developing countries. The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity noted that preserving agrobiodiversity requires protecting local land rights and socio-cultural systems. In the COW on Friday, delegates were unable to remove brackets pertaining to financial matters, with Canada reiterating that SBSTTA does not have the mandate to discuss such issues. The recommendation was adopted with minor amendments.

Final Outcome: The recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/L.2) contains sections on: implementation of activities in the programme of work regarding assessment, adaptive management and capacity building and mainstreaming; the international initiatives for the conservation and sustainable use of soil biodiversity and pollinators; the international initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition; agricultural biodiversity and climate change; the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines on Sustainable Use; research issues; and general considerations. A section on biofuels is bracketed in its entirety.

Regarding implementation activities, SBSTTA recommends that the COP, inter alia:

  • invite parties to finance and undertake research to develop monitoring and assessment techniques;
  • invite FAO and others to compile and disseminate information on the impacts of agriculture, agricultural practices and policies and best practices; and
  • invite relevant actors to promote, support and remove constraints to on-farm conservation and in-situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity.

References to the impacts of perverse agricultural incentives, especially related to measures that distort international trade on the biodiversity of other countries, and to providing information on the ecological footprint of agriculture, are bracketed.

On agricultural biodiversity and climate change, SBSTTA recommends that the COP, inter alia:

  • encourage gathering of information on lessons learned about agricultural biodiversity conservation and use and integrating these into climate change adaptation and planning and making this information available through the CHM; and
  • request the Executive Secretary to gather and disseminate information on the links between climate change agriculture and biodiversity, ways and means to build resilience into agricultural livelihood systems as part of strategies for climate change adaptation, adaptation strategies of vulnerable communities, and the impact of climate change on agricultural ecosystems for maintaining wildlife and habitats.

References to climate change mitigation and cross-sectoral planning are bracketed.

The bracketed section on agricultural biodiversity and biofuels contains two options. Option one includes references to the development of sound policy frameworks that ensure the sustainable production and consumption of biofuels, and to the development of biodiversity-related guidelines to inform criteria standards and certification schemes for sustainable biofuels. Option two contains references to: the development of policy frameworks and guidelines to strengthen efforts to develop criteria, standards and verification schemes for sustainable biofuels; the development of a tool to assess the indirect conversion or degradation of ecosystems due to policy measures that increase the demand for biofuels; adopting the precautionary approach by suspending the introduction of supportive measures for the consumption of biofuels; and integration of the issue into the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity.

FOREST BIODIVERSITY: The programme of work on forest biodiversity (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA.13/3) was discussed in the COW on Tuesday, where the item was introduced. Delegates consider two CRPs on Thursday in the COW and in an afternoon and evening contact group. The draft recommendation was considered at length on Friday in the COW before its subsequent adoption. Discussions under this item were protracted, and consensus proved to be elusive on a number of issues, as reflected in the extensively bracketed text. Contentious issues included genetically-modified trees, potential negative impacts of biofuel production on forest ecosystems, biodiversity and climate change and with respect to addressing deforestation, and potential financial mechanisms under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

José Antonio Prado Donoso, FAO, reported on the status of forest biodiversity, explaining that 1.6 billion people depend on forests, deforestation accounts for 17% of global carbon emissions and only 9% of global forests are currently protected. He described joint efforts to improve data on deforestation rates and the development of guidelines for sustainable forest management.

Frances Seymour, Center for International Forestry Research, attributed deforestation to land conversion, infrastructure construction, unsustainable logging, market and governance failures, and uncertain property rights. She highlighted policy tools to address these causes, including eliminating perverse subsidies, establishing market incentives such as certification and clarifying land tenure.

Many countries drew attention to potential negative impacts of biofuel production on forest ecosystems, with some delegates suggesting that COP 9 should develop guidelines or standards for impact assessment. Brazil and Argentina rejected references to impact assessment, with Brazil maintaining that it was premature to define a role for the CBD under the programme of work on forest biodiversity and was opposed to a blanket treatment for biofuels, because of its multidimensionality, which he said, did not necessarily entail negative environmental impacts or compromise food security. He also noted that in Brazil, techniques have been developed to reduce impacts on the environment from their production. Greenpeace called for a moratorium on deforestation for the production of agrofuels, and the Global Forest Coalition urged for the removal of perverse incentives. Brazil noted that the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) remains the sole universal forum for forest policy. Bangladesh sought to integrate climate change response activities into national strategies and action plans and Colombia called for a focus on adaptation strategies.

Citing the potential risks of genetically-modified trees, many countries and NGO participants called for further research and supported the precautionary approach. During the debate on related text, Cuba and Chile requested a reference to decision VIII/19 on adopting the precautionary approach, and the EC and the African Group called for reference to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. This reference was bracketed.

On addressing threats to forest biodiversity, delegates debated major threats listed, with Canada, opposed by Australia, requesting the addition of “human-induced” forest fires, and Sweden suggesting that “human-induced” refer to all listed threats with the exception of extreme storms and hurricanes. Regarding law enforcement to minimize deforestation and forest degradation, delegates discussed whether to “engage,” and/or “partner with” the private sector exclusively or “with NGOs” or “with all relevant stakeholders,” or “with a long list of relevant stakeholders,” and how to specify collaboration with, inter alia, UNFF, CITES, and the World Bank.

Brazil consistently maintained its opposition to the term “illegal logging,” which they said is not internationally prescribed and, with China, considered that logging and related trade should be addressed at the national level. Colombia suggested substituting this reference for “unsustainable logging practices.” The EC proposed that parties establish processes and mechanisms for ensuring that only legal timber products enter the market. Debate in the subsequent contact group session then centered on merging references to strengthening forest governance, law enforcement and use of the term “illegal logging” in this context.

During the COW on Friday, consideration of the forestry biodiversity draft recommendation was drawn out. Delegates were not able to remove brackets around proposed alternatives either “welcoming” or “bearing in mind” the findings of the in-depth review of the programme of work and “urges” or “invites,” in relation to parties undertaking various activities.  In the context of recognizing the urgent need to strengthen implementation and means for doing so, Brazil sought to replace “instruments ” with  “tools,” ostensibly to avoid a legal inference.

Delegates debated the use of the precautionary principle versus the precautionary approach and whether forest restoration encapsulates afforestation and reforestation. Canada, opposed by Qatar, proposed deleting a reference to compiling information on the relation between forest ecosystem resilience, forest biodiversity and climate change. New Zealand suggested the addition of “through the CHM and other relevant mechanisms” and this was accepted. Options for items on the precautionary approach in the context of genetically-modified trees, developing risk assessment and noting the results of a workshop on risk- assessment were also considered. Turkey sought to delete “benefits” in reference to the Cartagena Protocol, which she said dealt with the risks associated with the use of genetically-modified trees. This reference remained bracketed in its entirety. The draft recommendation was then adopted as amended and a revised (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/L.7/Rev.1) subsequently issued.

Final Outcome: In the recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/L.7/Rev.1), SBSTTA recommends that the COP recognize: the urgent need to strengthen implementation of the programme of work on forest biodiversity through sustainable forest management using the ecosystem approach; the need to promote the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities in the implementation of the expanded programme of work; and that the COP reiterate the need for increased support for developing countries.

SBSTTA urges and/or invites parties to strengthen the implementation of the programme of work and:

  • address the obstacles identified such as the major human-induced threats and issue of market access for value-added forests products originating from sustainably managed forests;
  • strengthen efforts to establish, maintain and develop national or regional forest protected area networks and ecological connectivity, taking into account the target of having a least 10% of each of the world’s forest types effectively conserved;
  • promote multidisciplinary scientific research to better understand the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on forest biodiversity and ecosystem resilience aimed at integrating forest biodiversity aspects into climate change adaptation activities and degraded environments’ rehabilitation;
  • strengthen national and or sub-national forest governance and forest law enforcement for the conservation and sustainable use of forest biodiversity; and
  • fully involve and, where appropriate, partner with the private sector, other relevant stakeholders, including indigenous and local communities, in the implementation of the programme of work.

SBSTTA recommends that the COP: invite and/or urge parties, other governments and other organizations to ensure that actions for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries do not run counter to the objectives of the CBD and the implementation of the programme of work; recognize the role of non-timber forest products for sustainable forest management and poverty eradication; promote forest restoration, including reforestation and afforestation, in line with sustainable forest management; and strengthen cross-sectoral efforts for integrated approaches.

SBSTTA requests that the Executive Secretary:

  • facilitate, in cooperation with existing processes, initiatives and organizations, regional and subregional workshops;
  • collaborate with other members of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, particularly the Secretariat of the UNFCCC and World Bank, in order to support parties’ efforts to address reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries;
  • explore with the UNFF Secretariat possibilities for developing a work plan with targeted joint activities; and
  • continue cooperation with the FAO and other relevant organizations on the monitoring of forest biodiversity, and on clarifying the definitions of forest and forest types.

The recommendation also includes bracketed text in reference to:

  • options for strengthening forest governance and law enforcement and actions to prevent illegal and unauthorized harvesting of timber and forest products in cooperation with forest law enforcement and governance processes, including the UNFF;
  • initiating and/or further engaging, where appropriate, approaches for national and sub-national forest governance and national and sub-national law enforcement to prevent illegal and unauthorized use of forest biological resources, including genetic resources and related trade;
  • options for the consideration of genetically-modified trees including: reaffirming the need to apply the precautionary approach in accordance with Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration; suspending the release of genetically-modified trees, pending sufficient assessment of their potential impacts on forest biodiversity and indigenous and local communities; or noting the results of the Canada-Norway workshop on risk assessment for emerging applications of living modified organisms;
  • addressing direct and indirect negative impacts that the production and consumption of biomass for energy might have on forest biodiversity;
  • liaising with relevant institutions to assess the impacts of biofuel production on forest biodiversity and forest-dependent indigenous and local communities and preparing a report on these impacts for consideration by the COP; and
  • compiling information on the impacts of bioenergy production and consumption, particularly biofuels, on forest biodiversity to inform existing and emerging standards and certification schemes relating to the production and consumption of sustainable bioenergy.

References to the provision of adequate, predictable and timely financial resources and new and additional resources were also bracketed.


MARINE AND COASTAL BIODIVERSITY: This agenda item and relevant documentation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/4 and INF/11, 12, 13, 14 and 19) were introduced in Working Group I on Tuesday. A Friends of the Chair group met on Wednesday to draft a CRP, which was considered in Working Group I on Thursday.

Ricardo Santos, University of the Azores, Portugal, presented the findings of a workshop on ecological criteria and biogeographic classification systems for marine areas in need of protection in open ocean waters and deep sea habitats, held in October 2007. The criteria contained in three annexes to the working document became a major source of contention.  

On the criteria, Slovenia, Sweden, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Haiti, Thailand and New Zealand called for their adoption. The African Group, Australia, Argentina, China, Japan, Iceland, Canada, and others preferred “taking note” of the list. IUCN, Greenpeace, WWF and Birdlife International called on delegates to support the criteria and to take immediate concrete action to protect marine biodiversity.

During the Friends of the Chair discussion, delegates explained their positions on the criteria. Brazil and Iceland stated that the workshop that developed the criteria did not provide for regionally-balanced participation, with Brazil adding that CBD work should focus on developing “technical guidelines” rather than “selection criteria.” Australia stated that the CBD’s mandate extends only to the provision of scientific, technical and technological advice to more specialized bodies such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). FAO expressed support for the criteria and stressed the importance of stakeholder involvement.

Thursday’s discussion again focused on the criteria, with Iceland, the US, Cuba and Argentina proposing to delete reference to the draft technical guidelines because they had not been reviewed. Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Slovenia and others opposed. After much debate, delegates agreed to retain a paragraph listing the annexes to the recommendation, but remained divided on whether to “adopt” or “take note of” them, and on whether to reference “open ocean waters and deep-sea habitats” or “marine areas beyond the national jurisdiction. This agenda item was discussed in plenary on Friday where delegates made final comments on the draft recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/L.6). Portugal attempted to break the deadlock by proposing, inter alia, the insertion of language recognizing the need to scientifically review the criteria and guidance when new evidence from their practical application became available, and to consider the need to establish a mechanism for such review in future meetings of SBSTTA after COP 10. In support, Burkina Faso noted delegates had agreed in another paragraph to language implying acceptance of the criteria and guidelines. Cuba rejected both suggestions on the procedural grounds that the Working Group report had already been approved, and that the criteria had not been reviewed. As a result, many of the recommendations remain bracketed.

Other issues raised included, spatial databases, the inclusion of reference to “regional fisheries management organizations” and the UNEP-WCMC Interactive Map. The recommendation was adopted in the closing plenary after a lengthy discussion during which delegates attempted, without success, to remove the brackets around references to the criteria.

Final Outcome: A substantial part of the recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/L.6) remains bracketed.

The preambular paragraphs contain reference to UN General Assembly resolution 60/30, emphasizing the universal and unified character of the UNCLOS, and paragraphs 42 and 38 of CBD decision VIII/24. Although SBSTTA’s request to the Executive Secretary to make available the results of the expert workshop and further develop technical guidance for their application remain bracketed, SBSTTA does take note of the report on Global Oceans and Deep-Sea habitats Bioregional Classification.

A number of paragraphs relating to SBSTTA’s recommendations remain bracketed. These include that the COP:

  • adopt or take note of scientific criteria in Annex I to the present recommendation, for identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas in need of protection, in open ocean waters and deep-sea habitats in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction, as well as scientific guidance, in Annex II to the recommendation, for designing representative networks of marine protected areas, as recommended by the Expert Workshop on Ecological Criteria and Biogeographic Classification Systems for Marine Areas in Need of Protection;
  • adopt or take note of the four initial steps to be taken in Annex III to the recommendation, in the development of such networks, as recommended by the Expert Workshop;
  • invite parties and others to submit to the Executive Secretary their views on the use of the scientific criteria in Annex I, the scientific guidance in Annex II, and the four initial steps in Annex III, and request the Executive Secretary to compile these views and make them available to parties as part of the efforts to further improve the criteria, scientific guidance, and steps, with a view to eventually being endorsed by the COP;
  • recognize the need to scientifically review these criteria in Annex I and scientific guidance in Annex II, when new scientific information as well as evidence and results from their practical application are made available, and decide to consider the need to establish a mechanism for such a review at the future meeting of SBSTTA after COP 10;
  • invite or urge parties and others to apply, as appropriate, the scientific criteria in Annex I, the scientific guidance in Annex II, and initial steps in Annex III, along with national policies and criteria, to identify ecologically significant and/or vulnerable marine areas in need of protection, in open ocean waters and deep-sea habitats, for implementation of conservation and management measures, including the establishment of representative networks of marine protected areas in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS; and
  • recognize that overwhelming evidence has been compiled, which emphasizes the need for urgent action to promote the conservation, management and sustainable use of biodiversity in marine areas and protect biodiversity in selected seabed habitats and marine areas in need of protection using the precautionary approach in accordance with principle 15 of Rio Declaration, the preamble of the Convention, and international law, as reflected in the UNCLOS.

Delegates agreed to recommend that the COP:

  • welcome the review of spatial databases containing information on marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction and the development of an Interactive Map, prepared in collaboration with UNEP-WCMC;
  • invite parties, other governments and relevant organizations to cooperate in further developing and applying effective options for preventing and mitigating the adverse impacts of human activities to selected seabed habitats;
  • urge parties and other to undertake further research to improve understanding of marine biodiversity, especially in selected seabed habitats and marine areas in need of protection;
  • call upon parties and others to collaborate with developing countries in enhancing their scientific, technical and technological capacities to engage in activities aimed at conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity; and
  • invite parties to promote full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, in accordance with the national legislation and applicable international obligations, when establishing new marine protected areas, taking into account, as appropriate, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The three annexes remain bracketed, namely: scientific criteria for identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas in need of protection in open-ocean waters and deep-sea habitats; scientific guidance for selecting areas to establish a representative network of marine protected areas, including open ocean waters and deep-sea habitats; and four initial steps to be taken in the development of representative networks of marine protected areas also remain bracketed. 

BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY OF INLAND WATER ECOSYSTEMS: This agenda item and relevant documentation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/5 and INF/15 and 16), were discussed on Wednesday and Thursday in Working Group I, in a Friends of the Chair group, and in plenary on Friday.

Nick Davidson, Ramsar Convention, highlighted the importance of wetland biodiversity and emphasized cooperation with the CBD. Many countries supported the joint work plan (2007-2010) between the CBD and the Ramsar Convention (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/5, annex) and called for the plan to include continued work on a harmonized reporting format.

Regarding a reference to related conventions, delegates disagreed about whether to “encourage” parties to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses and deleted reference to the UN Economic Commission for Europe’s Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. Delegates also disagreed on a paragraph on international cooperation towards allocating water to maintain ecological functions of inland water ecosystems.

Other comments included noting rising water levels in wetlands due to climate change. Haiti proposed taking into account the particular circumstances of SIDS. FAO stated that conservation and sustainable use of inland aquatic waters should be further developed using the ecosystem approach.

During the closing plenary, delegates adopted the recommendation.

Final Outcome: In the recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/L.3), SBSTTA requests the Executive Secretary, in collaboration with Ramsar to: update the website links with Ramsar, collect the views of parties on ways to streamline and make more explicit the work of the two conventions, and to develop a new draft joint work programme (2010-2013). SBSTTA recommends that the COP: invite Ramsar to review criteria for designation of Ramsar sites in light of experience, and to encourage efforts to harmonize reporting requirements; invite the Ramsar Convention, UNEP and UNEP-WCMC to continue their joint work on harmonized reporting requirements; and endorse the 2007-2010 joint work plan (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/5, annex).

Two paragraphs remain bracketed: one welcoming the ongoing work of the Ramsar Convention on the allocation and management of water and international cooperation on water management, and one encouraging the ratification by parties and other governments of the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses.

INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES: This agenda item was introduced in Working Group II on Tuesday, together with a report on consultations undertaken on gaps in the international regulatory framework on IAS (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/6). Delegates heard a presentation from Peter Kenmore, International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), on the IPPC’s objectives, ongoing activities and cooperation with the CBD. Delegates then considered a CRP on Tuesday and Thursday. The recommendation was adopted in plenary on Friday.

Many delegates welcomed the consultations and reaffirmed the need to address identified gaps on IAS. The Netherlands, Brazil, Canada and Australia were cautious about developing new legislation or standards, however, with New Zealand proposed to liaise with current international standard-setting bodies. Delegates debated text on inviting the IPPC and the International Committee of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to expand their mandates in relation to identified gaps. The EC resolved concerns raised by China and Brazil by proposing compromise text inviting the OIE to consider whether the committee would need “to broaden its mandate” in order to consider a role in addressing IAS, in particular animals, that are not pests of plants.

On IAS for fisheries and aquaculture, delegates agreed after informal consultations to invite the FAO Committee of Fisheries to formalize relevant technical guidance, with Brazil deleting reference to formalizing such guidance “as international standards.” On the introduction of alien species as “pets, aquarium and terrarium species, and as live bait and live food,” after informal consultations delegates agreed to collate best practices for addressing associated risks, and asked for SBSTTAto consider establishing an AHTEG “to suggest means” for addressing these. Sweden raised the issue of potential gaps in international standards on alien invasive genotypes.  

Final Outcome:In its recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/L.4), SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • encourage parties, where appropriate, to make use of risk assessment guidance and other procedures and standards developed by the IPPC, OIE and other relevant organizations, and in particular to consider applying procedures and standards for quarantine pests under the IPPC to all IAS with adverse impacts on plant biodiversity;
  • invite the IPPC to continue its efforts to expand, within its mandate, actual coverage of IAS that impact on biodiversity, including in aquatic environments;
  • invite the OIE to note the lack of international standards covering IAS, in particular animals, that are not pests of plants, and to consider whether and how it could contribute to addressing this gap;
  • invite the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to note identified gaps under the IPPC and OIE, and to consider ways and means so that implementation of the provisions of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement of the WTO covering animal and plant health could address risks from IAS associated with international trade;
  • invite parties, other governments and relevant organizations to submit to the Executive Secretary examples of best practices for addressing the risks associated with the introduction of alien species as pets, aquarium and terrarium species, and as live bait and live food, and request SBSTTA to consider the resulting collation of best practices prior to COP 10 and, if necessary and appropriate, to establish an AHTEG to suggest means for addressing these risks; and
  • request the Executive Secretary to consult with relevant organizations to explore the extent to which existing international instruments recognize and address threats from invasive alien genotypes.

BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE: This agenda item and relevant documentation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/7 and INF/18) were introduced in Working Group II on Tuesday, containing proposals from the Joint Liaison Group of the three Rio conventions (JLG) and parties’ views on mutually supportive activities within the three Rio conventions, and a report of the eighth meeting of the JLG. A draft recommendation was considered on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The revised draft recommendation was forwarded to plenary and adopted with bracketed text on Friday.

Delegates supported further collaboration among the three Rio conventions, but emphasized the importance of synergies at the national level and the need to respect the independent, legal status of each convention. Slovenia, supported by Portugal, Finland, Czech Republic, Yemen and others, called for an AHTEG with a mandate to provide advice on biodiversity relevant to the UNFCCC’s Bali Action Plan and Nairobi work programme on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. Other delegates questioned whether an AHTEG was the appropriate mechanism by which to inform these processes. In a Friends of the Chair group, delegates agreed to “recognize the need” to provide input in a timely manner, but bracketed the recommendation to establish the AHTEG. Following debate on whether or not to urge parties and other governments to act in accordance with the decision of the London Convention endorsing a “Statement of Concern regarding iron fertilization of the oceans to sequester CO2,” Ghana, Swaziland and Belgium endorsed a new proposal by SEARICE calling for a moratorium on ocean fertilization. The text remained bracketed.

Debate in the closing plenary centered around establishment of the proposed AHTEG. China asked for additional brackets around a paragraph requesting the Executive Secretary to develop a proposal, for consideration at COP 9, on terms of reference for the group. Delegates agreed instead to refer to “possible” terms of reference for a “possible” AHTEG. Parties could not agree on whether to “invite” or “request” parties and other governments to implement activities to promote synergies among the Rio conventions contained in the indicative list in Annex I to the recommendation, keeping instead “urge,” in brackets. Canada, opposed by Denmark, proposed deleting a bracketed paragraph requesting the Executive Secretary to summarize relevant deforestation, climate change and biodiversity information for submission to the 28th meeting of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice.

Final Outcome:In the recommendation (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/L.5), SBSTTA recommends that the COP request the Executive Secretary to:

  • collaborate with the secretariats of the three Rio conventions on ongoing, specified, and potential opportunities for mutually supportive activities;
  • examine, as far as possible in collaboration with the secretariats of the other Rio conventions, multiple nutrient loading and acidification as a threat to biodiversity, and to report findings to SBSTTA 14;
  • continue discussions with the JLG on activities including, among others, compiling lessons learned on national mechanisms for coordination among focal points, improving ways to communicate research needs on synergies to the scientific community, and providing focal points of all three conventions with up-to-date information on relevant assessments, research programmes and monitoring tools;
  • explore, inter alia, with the GEF, in collaboration with the JLG, ways and means to achieve biodiversity co-benefits and benefits for combating desertification/land degradation in climate change activities, with a view to presenting a specific proposal to COP 10; and
  • explore with UNEP, and as far as possible in collaboration with the JLG, the nature and scope of the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building with a view to identifying how it might support synergies in national implementation among the three Rio conventions, and report to COP 10.

SBSTTA also recommends that the COP:

  • request SBSTTA to include a consideration of progress in the implementation of mutually supportive activities in the context of the in-depth review of ongoing work under the cross-cutting initiative on biodiversity and climate change prior to COP 10;
  • invite parties and other governments to support, as appropriate, implementation of relevant components of existing national climate change adaptation plans in developing countries;
  • urge parties and other governments to apply, as appropriate, the ecosystem approach in the implementation of climate change adaptation measures; and
  • urge parties to act in accordance with the decision of the London Convention on ocean fertilization.

In addition to the bracketed passages debated during the closing plenary, the final recommendation retains brackets around a reference to climate change mitigation measures, around specific wording on whether to “note with appreciation” reports of the seventh and eighth meetings of the JLG, and a reference to collaboration among the subsidiary bodies of the three Rio conventions.

MODUS OPERANDI FOR NEW AND EMERGING ISSUES: The modus operandi for new and emerging issues (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/8) was considered in the COW on Monday and Friday and addressed in the intervening period by a Friends of the Chair group. In their first COW discussion, delegates were divided on three options: that the SBSTTA Bureau decide whether to consider a new and emerging issue; that no prioritization was necessary before the next meeting of the COP, noting that the procedure must respect the COP’s agenda-setting authority, and that the Secretariat, rather than the Bureau, annotate SBSTTA’s agenda; or a two-step procedure, whereby the first meeting of SBSTTA following a COP would recommend ways in which the second meeting could address the issues. The Friends of the Chair group worked on the options but was unable to find a compromise, and the COW decided to bracket the options. In further discussion, delegates agreed to preambular text stating that the draft recommendation is “without prejudice to the rules of procedure and modus operandi of SBSTTA.”  

Final Outcome: In the recommendation to the COP (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/L.8), SBSTTA recommends that the COP:

  • note, inter alia, that the rules of procedure for the meetings of the COP shall apply, mutatis mutandis, and there is a need to reduce the number of agenda items for consideration by SBSTTA in order to improve its effectiveness;
  • request the Executive Secretary to notify parties of the date by which they should submit proposals for new and emerging issues, to compile the submissions, and to prepare a document for consideration by SBSTTA;
  • decide that proposals for emerging issues should be accompanied, wherever possible, with information on, among other things: the level of urgency of the issue; work already underway on the issue; and credible sources of information; and
  • further decide that a number of criteria should be used for identifying new and emerging issues, including: the relevance of an issue to the CBD; the urgency of the issue; and the magnitude of actual and potential impact on human-wellbeing.

SBSTTA also requests the COP to consider three bracketed options for identification of emerging issues: the Executive Secretary, in consultation with the SBSTTA Bureau, identifies the issue to be considered by the SBSTTA; SBSTTA reviews and discusses the proposals and, as appropriate, identifies the emerging issue/s to be considered at its next meeting; SBSTTA reviews and discusses the proposals and, as appropriate, identifies the emerging issue/s to be considered by the COP. 


The closing plenary convened Friday afternoon, 22 February 2008. Delegates elected the following new officers to serve on the Bureau for a two-meeting term, Nabil Hamada (Tunisia), Krishna Chandra Paudel (Nepal) and Senka Barudanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Spencer Linus Thomas (Grenada) was elected for a second two-meeting term.

Delegates considered the draft agendas for SBSTTA 14 and 15 (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/9). Chair Fazal noted that the COP had already proposed the following items for in-depth review: protected areas; inland waters; mountain biodiversity; marine and coastal biodiversity; sustainable use; and climate change. He stressed that the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook would play a critical role in light of the 2010 target, and should therefore be considered as an additional item. Many delegates cautioned against overloading SBSTTA’s agenda. Mali suggested adding biodiversity of arid and semi-arid lands. Delegates decided to let the COP decide on the agenda items for SBSTTA 14 and 15.

Delegates then adopted the reports of the working groups (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/WG.1/L.1 and UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/13/WG.2/L.1) with minor amendments and Rapporteur Vadineanu submitted the meeting’s report (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/12/L.1) for adoption. Brazil requested the report to reflect that the discussion of biofuels in the context of the in-depth review of the work programme on agricultural biodiversity was not appropriate, since the issue had been addressed by SBSTTA 12. The report was adopted with this and other amendments.

In their closing remarks, Switzerland, Sweden, Mexico expressed regret at the meeting’s meager outcome, observing that little time was devoted to discussing scientific issues and too much time wasted on renegotiating text that had been agreed in previous COP decisions. Noting that SBSTTA does not live up to its role as scientific advisory body, they called for refocusing its work on obstacles that hinder CBD implementation in the near future.

Greenpeace and the ETC Group said that a small number of parties had blocked progress during the meeting using procedural techniques and called on donor countries to live up to their funding commitments under the CBD. The ETC Group also said that indigenous and civil society participants represent the future of the planet and called for enhanced commitment to implementation of the Convention.

A representative of FAO stressed the importance of agricultural biodiversity for food security and stressed the role of farmers, fishers and livestock keepers for its conservation. Highlighting FAO’s contribution to CBD implementation, he thanked delegates for fruitful discussions during the week. Noting a new record in SBSTTA participation, CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf expressed his appreciation to FAO for hosting the meeting. Echoing frustration expressed by some delegates, he said the meeting’s outcome did not honor the effort devoted to its preparation.

Chair Fazel then gaveled the meeting to a close at 6:31 pm.


With just three months before COP 9, WGPA 2 and SBSTTA 13 faced agendas critical for evaluating progress towards the target of achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss. Both meetings set out to review implementation of programmes of work and sharpen the focus on 2010. But the outcomes did not live up to expectations. As delegates left FAO headquarters after two weeks of intense negotiations, many expressed their frustration that, in the end, so little had been achieved, raising concerns that COP 9 risks being overburdened by the meetings’ heavily bracketed recommendations.

The work programme on Protected Areas, which many regard as being the most important tool for CBD implementation, cut across several items on SBSTTA 13’s agenda, such as forest biodiversity, inland waters biodiversity and marine and coastal biodiversity. As such, one might have expected the difficulties in the consideration of protected areas during the first week to spill over into SBSTTA’s work during the second week. However, SBSTTA 13 showed that the root cause of its slow progress was not the overlap between the CBD’s programmes of work, but much more the overlap of the CBD’s objectives with the mandates of other conventions and the lack of a procedure to address new and emerging issues. These two reasons, aside from all too familiar clashes about funding and financing strategies, trapped both WGPA 2 and SBSTTA 13 into a political deadlock that dominated their original tasks to review implementation and provide scientific advice.

This analysis explores the ways in which funding issues, overlapping mandates and an inadequate procedure to address new and emerging issues led to the outcomes that left many delegates concerned about the Convention’s implementation and how this will be dealt with at COP 9 and beyond.


The tone of countries detailing their accomplishments in implementing the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) was triumphal. Many delegates highlighted domestic achievements, including the designation of national focal points, improvements in management, and finalizing ecological gap analyses to identify potential PA sites. But while the review of implementation fostered a sense of common purpose, discussion of mobilizing resources highlighted a deep schism between delegates’ disparate visions for the future of financing for protected areas.

Throughout the review, developing countries emphasized the financial constraints of their PA systems, which undermine their monitoring systems, legislative frameworks and technical capacity. To meet this need, they called for “new and additional” funding for PAs in line with donor countries’ commitment to assist developing countries in CBD implementation. Developed countries, for their part, argued that a sustainable financing strategy must draw on diverse sources of funding, including innovative mechanisms such as payments for ecosystem services, private-public partnerships, tourism revenues or payments for carbon sequestration and reduced deforestation.

Developing country delegates balked at the lack of political will to provide financial resources for their custodianship of the world’s genetic heritage and effectively rejected calls to link their PA systems to market-driven mechanisms. The result of the standoff on funding was a heavily bracketed text, indicating there is little if any agreement on funding heading into the COP.


SBSTTA’s meaningful engagement with in-depth reviews of the work programmes on forest and agricultural biodiversity was sidelined by politically sensitive new and emerging issues. Biofuels, avoided deforestation and genetically-modified trees dominated the discussions. Drawing on recent studies highlighting the effects of biofuels production on biodiversity, European countries pushed for guidance on the development of policy frameworks for biofuels, while biofuel-exporting countries opposed all references that could be interpreted as a move towards the development of standards. The arguments on avoided deforestation mirrored this division, with developing countries, especially developing countries with large forest cover, such as Brazil, Malaysia and Argentina, opposed to developed countries’ focus on using climate change mitigation strategies to fund the conservation of biodiversity.

Both issues reflect the rapidly evolving agenda on climate change and its potential to compromise efforts towards meeting other environmental objectives such as biodiversity conservation. While this merits their timely consideration within the CBD’s work programmes, they are also fraught with contentious linkages to international trade and financing for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Biofuels had been discussed as a SBSTTA 12 agenda item, but the outcome left European countries dissatisfied. Their attempt to reintroduce biofuels at this meeting had the effect of drawing the focus away from other relevant issues. This led a number of countries to criticize the recommendation on forest biodiversity for its narrow focus on the impacts of climate change, noting that other important items such as governance, illegal logging, non-wood forest products, forest conversion, valuation of ecosystem services, did not receive sufficient attention.

One of the most important issues on the SBSTTA 13 agenda, therefore, may have been the development of a modus operandi for the consideration of new and emerging issues. While some progress was achieved with regard to the criteria for selecting these issues, the exact procedure for identifying new issues was unresolved. It remains to be seen whether COP 9 can adopt a procedure that not only allows timely response to emerging issues, but also provides a viable framework so that SBSTTA can focus on their scientific aspects.


While the political impasse on agriculture and forest biodiversity surprised some delegates, a deadlock had been anticipated for invasive alien species, marine protected areas and biodiversity and climate change. All three issues are examples of the effects of intersecting mandates and “convention overlap.” Each issue falls within the responsibilities of one or more existing process or body, which creates the challenge to identify which aspects of a problem fall under the CBD’s mandate and how to coordinate activities with those bodies or processes addressing other aspects.

The evolution of the consideration of invasive alien species illustrates this challenge. Initiated at COP 5, the CBD’s task was first defined as one of elaborating a protocol or a comprehensive set of standards to address risks to biodiversity arising out of the introduction of invasive alien species. The mandate was subsequently narrowed down to a recommendation to analyze gaps in the international framework. The recommendation adopted by SBSTTA 13 now seeks to address these gaps by inviting the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) to consider whether it would need “to broaden its mandate” and recommending that the COP invite the FAO Committee on Fisheries to consider ways and means to address gaps on IAS for fisheries and aquaculture. SBSTTA is now focusing on organisms not covered by existing bodies. While this has substantially changed the CBD’s envisaged role in addressing invasive alien species, many delegates welcomed this outcome as a “progressive step towards working smarter.”

Marine protected areas benefited from a similar clarification of mandates initiated by COP 8, which recognized the lead role of the UN General Assembly’s Working Group on Marine Protected Areas beyond national jurisdiction, leading to a streamlined consideration of the issues, at least at the procedural level. Delegates at both WGPA 2 and SBSTTA 13 welcomed the decision to clearly mandate SBSTTA to focus on scientific criteria for the establishment of marine protected areas. While SBSTTA 13 did not succeed in reaching agreement about the use of the criteria developed, many felt that consensus was within reach.

Regarding mutually supportive actions addressing climate change within the three Rio conventions, the process of clarifying mandates remains the least advanced. The challenge for the CBD, as one delegate put it, is to “green the UNFCCC” and make it more “biodiversity sensitive.” The onus is on the CBD and its SBSTTA to demonstrate that when environmental and social factors are considered, the “cheapest” means for achieving emission reductions are not necessarily the best. With this in mind, SBSTTA recommended to establish an Ad Hoc Technical Experts Group on biodiversity and climate change with the mandate to develop biodiversity guidance relevant for the Bali Action Plan. With the present international focus on climate change, many feel that now is the time for the CBD to make a definitive and focused attempt to address these linkages.


As SBSTTA 13 drew to a close, a number of delegates condemned the politicization of science that has been at the heart of the CBD’s scientific advisory body in their closing statements. In the eyes of many, the week’s wrangling over whether to “welcome” “take note of” or “adopt” scientific reports such as the ecological criteria for marine areas in need of protection, led some to point out that despite recent efforts to reform SBSTTA’s procedures in order to “work smarter,” it still remains a prep-COP, where parties negotiate the policy ramifications of best available science. Suggested alternatives for reform fall within two camps, either refocusing on providing scientific advice to the COP, or accepting its apparent role as a prep-COP.


Whereas WGPA 2 was stymied by a lack of political will to engage and find compromise on mobilizing financial resources, paradoxically, SBSTTA foundered because an overemphasis on procedural and policy considerations robbed the COP of objective advice on scientific, technical and technological matters. Put another way, WGPA 2 required more political commitment, SBSTTA less political involvement. The COP will suffer in the end.

As delegates said their farewells, “See you in Bonn” reverberated in the corridors. Rather than helping to facilitate the adoption of decisions in Bonn, both meetings ended up adding to the COP’s already burgeoning agenda. While some delegates argued that despite the level of brackets, the underlying divisions were surmountable, others warned of a continuation of the trend set at SBSTTA: consecutive late night negotiations. “These negotiations are leaden” quipped one departing delegate, “Let’s hope the COP is an alchemist.” The cost of inaction, as the 2010 biodiversity target reminds us, is further loss of biodiversity.


COHAB 2: The second International Conference on Health and Biodiversity will be held from 25-28 February 2008, in Galway, Ireland. This conference will highlight the links between population health and the status of global biodiversity. For more information, contact: the COHAB Initiative Secretariat; tel: +353-935-2329; fax: +353-875-242-5339; e-mail:; internet:

WIPO IGC 12: The twelfth session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore will be held from 25-29 February 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, contact: WIPO Secretariat; tel: +41-22-338-8161; fax: +41-22-338-8120; e-mail:; internet:

INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON UNDERUTILIZED PLANTS FOR FOOD, NUTRITION, INCOME AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: This symposium is organized under the auspices of the International Society for Horticultural Science and will be held from 3-7 March 2008, in Arusha, Tanzania. It aims to provide a global forum for exchange and debate on issues related to the promotion of underutilized plants. For more information, contact: Dr. Hannah Jaenicke; tel: +94-11-278-7404; fax: +94-11-278-6854; e-mail:; internet:

2ND SIGNATORY MEETING OF THE CMS MOU ON WEST AFRICAN MARINE TURTLES: This meeting of the signatories to the Convention on Migratory Species’ Memorandum of Understanding on West African Marine Turtles is scheduled to take place from 5-7 March 2008, in Dakar, Senegal. For more information contact: CMS Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-2401/02; fax: +49-228-815-2449; e-mail:; internet:

IWC INTERSESSIONAL MEETING: An International Whaling Commission (IWC) Intersessional meeting on the Future of the IWC will be held from 6-8 March 2008, at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel, UK. For more information, contact: IWC Secretariat; tel: +44-1223-233-971; fax: +44-1223-232-876; e-mail:; internet:

FIFTH MEETING OF THE WORKING GROUP ON LIABILITY AND REDRESS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE BIOSAFETY PROTOCOL: The fifth meeting of the Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts on Liability and Redress in the Context of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will take place from 12-19 March 2008, in Cartagena, Colombia. This meeting will elaborate options for elements of rules and procedures referred to in Article 27 of the Biosafety Protocol. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; internet:

BERN CONVENTION GROUP OF EXPERTS ON BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE: This meeting organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) will be held on 13-14 March 2008, in Seville, Spain. For more information, contact: Carolina Lasen Diaz, Secretary of the Bern Convention; tel: +33-3-9021-5679; fax: +33-3-8841-3751; e-mail:; internet:

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF RESPONSES TO CLIMATE CHANGE FOR INDIGENOUS AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES, THEIR TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE AND BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: This conference will take place from 25-28 March 2008, in Helsinki, Finland. It is organized by the CBD Secretariat. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; internet:

BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM FINANCE: Supported by the UNEP Finance Initiative and the CBD Secretariat, this conference will explore issues relating to the developing area of biodiversity finance from 27-28 March 2008, in New York City. For more information, contact: Green Power Conferences; tel: +44-207-801-6333; e-mail:; internet:

SUSTAINING CULTURAL AND BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING WORLD: LESSONS FOR GLOBAL POLICY: Organized by the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation of the American Museum of Natural History, IUCN and Terralingua, this symposium will explore the links between biological and cultural diversity and policy implications from 2-5 April 2008, in New York City. For more information, contact: Fiona Brady, symposium coordinator; tel: +1-212-496-3431; fax: +1-212-769-5292; e-mail:; internet:

DURBAN +5 MEETING: This meeting is organized by the IUCN-World Commission on Protected Areas on the fifth anniversary of the 5th World Parks Congress, and will be held from 9-11 April 2008, in Cape Town, South Africa. For more information, contact: IUCN; tel: +41-22-999-0000; fax +41-22-999-0002; e-mail:; internet:

CITES 17TH MEETING OF THE PLANTS COMMITTEE AND 23RD MEETING OF THE ANIMALS COMMITTEE: These meetings will convene from 15-19 April 2008 (Plants), and 19-24 April 2008 (Animals) in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, contact the CITES Secretariat: tel: +41-22-917-8139/40; fax: +41-22-797-3417; e-mail:; internet:

UNPFII 7:The seventh session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will be held from 21 April - 2 May 2008, at UN headquarters in New York. The session’s focus is: “Climate change, bio-cultural diversity and livelihoods: the stewardship role of indigenous peoples and new challenges.” For more information, contact: UNPFII Secretariat; tel: +1-917-367-5100; fax: +1-917-367-5102; e-mail:; internet:

SECOND MEETING OF THE AD HOC OPEN-ENDED INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON MARINE BIODIVERSITY BEYOND NATIONAL JURISDICTION:  The second meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Informal Working Group on Marine Biodiversity in Areas beyond National Jurisdiction will be held from 28 April - 2 May 2008, at UN headquarters in New York. For more information, contact: UN-DOALOS Secretariat; tel: +1-212-963-3962; fax: +1-212-963-2811; e-mail:; internet:

CARTAGENA PROTOCOL COP/MOP 4: The fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP 4) will take place from 12-16 May 2008, in Bonn, Germany. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; internet:

CBD COP 9:The ninth Conference of the Parties to the CBD will take place from 19-30 May 2008, in Bonn, Germany. A high-level segment will be held from 28-30 May. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; internet:

Further information