Daily report for 3 September 1996

2nd Meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA)

The second day of the second session of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical andTechnological Advice (SBSTTA-2) commenced with a brief meeting of the Plenary toelect remaining Bureau officers. Following this, the two Working Groups convened.


The Plenary completed the election of Bureau officers. The Asian region nominated MickRaga (Papua New Guinea), the East European region nominated Issa Omarovich Baitulin(Kazakhstan), GRULAC nominated Edgar Espeleta-Guttierrez (Costa Rica), and theAfrican region nominated a representative from Swaziland.


The CHAIR introduced a draft text summarizing the group's discussion on items 3.1(assessment), 3.2 (identification and monitoring) and 3.3 (indicators). NORWAY askedfor distinction between assessments of biodiversity status and state of knowledge.SWEDEN called for mention of biotechnology’s impact. MARSHALL ISLANDS queriednext steps regarding adverse impacts, suggesting discussions with NGO experts.COLOMBIA, the EU, the UK, NEW ZEALAND, CANADA, the US, ZIMBABWE,AUSTRALIA and NIGERIA called for prioritization of work. Priorities included: criticalmethodological review, indicators, information exchange, analysis of activities withnegative impact, refinement of guidelines, capacity building, information exchange andcooperation with other international processes. DOMINICA called for direct reference tofinancing.

CANADA underlined the importance of existing biodiversity knowledge. Supported byZAIRE, ZIMBABWE and the IVORY COAST, he added traditional knowledge to theChair’s list of priorities. The US called for a methodological review of guidelines andindicators. BANGLADESH suggested using World Bank social indicators forcomprehensive biodiversity assessments. FINLAND proposed using indicators forassessing ecological landscapes. ZIMBABWE suggested an intergovernmental expertpanel on adverse impacts. The IVORY COAST emphasized capacity building.INDONESIA called the clearinghouse mechanism (CHM) the highest priority forinformation flow. MAURITIUS stated that biodiversity assessment requires capacitybuilding. The FOUR DIRECTIONS COUNCIL emphasized the role of indigenouscommunities in monitoring biodiversity.

The Secretariat introduced the document on Agenda Item 3.9, agricultural biodiversity(UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/10). Many delegations cautioned against duplicating the work ofFAO. BRAZIL introduced a paper on biodiversity’s importance to agriculture, proposinga 5-year plan. SWEDEN called for an agro-ecosystem plan of action in cooperation withother agencies, and submitted a supplementary document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/Inf.20). The NETHERLANDS called for identification of areas forconservation or sustainable use and inquired about negotiations between FAO and theCBD.

The UK called for integrating agriculture with biodiversity conservation.SWITZERLAND supported FAO’s work and highlighted microbial biodiversity.ZIMBABWE, for the African Group, called for agricultural practices that promote bothhigh yields and environmental restoration. COLOMBIA generally supported the Brazilianpaper. AUSTRALIA gave scientific cooperation and technology transfer the highestpriorities.

GERMANY said that not all modern agricultural practices damage biodiversity and thatSBSTTA’s future work should incorporate traditional and modern practices.BANGLADESH highlighted sustainable and equitable sharing of international resources,particularly water and riparian resources. NORWAY said SBSTTA should focus onanalysis of the gaps in knowledge, and the COP needs to clarify communication with theFAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. INDONESIA stressedcoordination between agencies working on biodiversity, and noted much work is neededat ecosystem level. PERU said the document needs to be more specific regarding insitu conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA).DENMARK characterized the document as too general for substantive decisions andhighlighted the importance of restoring natural habitats.

MOROCCO focused on integrated resource management and said SBSTTA shouldsupport all existing initiatives using CBD as a basis. JAPAN noted that formation of aworking group is premature. CANADA suggested consulting FAO on information gaps,such as the relationship between biodiversity-friendly practices and market forces. TheUS, supported by the EU, highlighted positive aspects of intensive agriculture, includingreduced pressure on wild biodiversity, and called for consultation with FAO. MALAWIsupported recommendations in Sweden’s paper on public awareness of cultural andbiological diversity. AUSTRALIA underscored that FAO is the primary task manager onagricultural biodiversity. The EU highlighted FAO’s work on PGRFA and outlinedlegislation to encourage agricultural sustainability.

PAKISTAN stressed transfer of environmentally sensitive technology and focused onmanagement of arid lands. NEW ZEALAND suggested that the CBD Secretariat shouldcoordinate with FAO in identifying gaps for SBSTTA action. URUGUAY called for abalance between increased food production and biodiversity conservation. GHANAproposed that COP-3 support ex situ PGRFA conservation, and support the“biosphere concept” through the GEF small grants window.

AUSTRIA underscored the importance of conserving silvicultural species. FRANCEstated that the document omits in situ conservation highlighted by the FAO GlobalPlan of Action. KENYA emphasized indigenous agro-practices and access to technology.The CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC called for ensuring that traditional farmers benefitfrom the dissemination of knowledge on modern practices. The WORLD BANK called forcross-sectoral cooperation in removing institutional constraints on understandingbiodiversity and agriculture.

FAO noted the follow-up to the Leipzig Conference and cooperation with the CBD andother international processes, including the secondment of a FAO officer to the CBDSecretariat. The THIRD WORLD NETWORK called for discussion of links betweentrade liberalization and biodiversity and recognition of traditional agriculture-relatedknowledge. The RURAL ADVANCEMENT FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL askedfor a moratorium on agreements between biotechnology companies and botanical gardensin developed countries.

The NETHERLANDS COMMITTEE FOR THE IUCN highlighted recommendations ofthe fourth session of the Global Biodiversity Forum (GBF-4), focusing on theidentification and removal of “perverse incentives” as impediments to biodiversityconservation. CAB INTERNATIONAL underscored concern over co-evolved anddomesticated organisms and soil biodiversity.


The Secretariat introduced the document on the CHM (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/9). TheGEF outlined its contribution to CHM implementation. Several countries emphasized thatit needs to be based on the CBD, demand-driven and synergy-based. GERMANY,supported by CANADA, JAPAN, INDIA, MALAWI, NORWAY, COLOMBIA,SWEDEN, the UK and the EC, suggested regional workshops on the CHM. SWEDENand CANADA suggested an advisory committee. The WORLD CONSERVATIONMONITORING CENTRE proposed testing the prototype through pilots. MALAYSIAagreed with SWEDEN in advocating a pro-active role for the CHM in brokering bio-prospecting contracts.

THAILAND endorsed the publication of a CHM newsletter, GERMANY stressed that itshould not be limited to electronic information. PERU stressed the need for moreinteractive work with national thematic and regional focal points. INDONESIA said thepilot phase evaluation should focus on organisation, visualization and decision supportfunctions. CHINA suggested that SBSTTA organize a training course for developingcountries. SPAIN proposed drawing on national patent office databases. CAMEROONand SWITZERLAND called for information exchanges for countries with existing Internetcompetence.

MALAWI called for funds from developed countries, the GEF and other donors to assistcapacity-building in developing countries. INDIA noted varying levels of capacity tooperationalize national focal points. The NETHERLANDS announced cooperation withGermany on developing a World Wide Web site. JAPAN cautioned against an over-ambitious pilot phase. ZIMBABWE urged integrating local knowledge and classificationsystems. The EC called for involvement of all stakeholders.

The CHAIR introduced a draft recommendation on Agenda Item 3.5 on transfer anddevelopment of technology, including biotechnology. ANTIGUA and BARBUDA askedfor a reference to the GEF. Supported by CANADA, INDIA, the US, COLOMBIA andthe UK, he also queried the competence of SBSTTA to institute a liaison group.MALAWI called for financial assistance. The UK, supported by MALAWI, suggested arole for a focused open-ended liaison group.

The Secretariat introduced the documents on Agenda Item 3.6, indigenous knowledge(UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/7 and UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/2/Inf.3). CANADA, GERMANY,AUSTRALIA, and NEW ZEALAND advocated statements by indigenous people duringthe session. INDONESIA recognized the role of indigenous knowledge and practices inadvancing science and technology. MALAYSIA supported the establishment of workinggroups on indigenous knowledge. AUSTRALIA and the UK requested guidance by theCOP for the SBSTTA process. GERMANY supported establishing a technical panel ofexperts and sharing indigenous knowledge with interested parties and the commercialsector. Several states called for clearly defined terms of reference for a panel of experts toavoid duplication of work. NEW ZEALAND stressed the financial implications of thepanel.

Support for an open-ended working group came from COLOMBIA, the PHILIPPINES,SWEDEN, the AFRICAN GROUP, and NGOs. The US, the UK, AUSTRALIA,SWITZERLAND and JAPAN expressed reservations. COLOMBIA said elements raisedduring discussion are included in his country’s Constitution. The PHILIPPINES proposeda study on the impact of the current intellectual property rights system on biodiversity.The INUIT TAPIRISAT OF CANADA described the Inuvialiuit Final Agreement (1984)on indigenous participation in environmental management. SWITZERLAND outlined aseries of proposed inventories and called for support from the financial mechanism.ARGENTINA said SBSTTA should avoid political issues, and objected to a number ofreferences in the document.

ZIMBABWE, for the AFRICAN GROUP, called on SBSTTA to recognize: the role ofindigenous people in sustainable development, the scientific basis of indigenousknowledge, and ethnoscientists. INDIA stressed the significance of traditional knowledgeoutside local contexts. The INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' BIODIVERSITY NETWORKreported on the round table on indigenous knowledge. They suggested an open-endedworking group on indigenous people and biodiversity and a moratorium onbioprospecting. SWEDEN, PERU and the UK stressed the need for a cautious approachon intellectual property rights. The INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE ONDIVERSITY stressed that a technical panel would need to be composed of formalscientists and indigenous representatives.

DENMARK noted the importance of public awareness and education in protectingknowledge and practices of local communities and proposed global and local indigenousnetworks. The INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF THE INDIGENOUS TRIBALPEOPLES OF THE TROPICAL FOREST stressed the importance of recognizing thecollective right of indigenous peoples within their territories. MADAGASCAR proposedan international code of ethics on access to genetic resources in countries of origin. TheUS endorsed market and non-market mechanisms to conserve traditional knowledge, andlocal participation in land management. The FOUR DIRECTIONS COUNCIL, supportedby ZIMBABWE, called for GEF funded roundtables and networks to bring indigenousand formal science practitioners together to monitor biodiversity threats and responses forSBSTTA and the COP. CANADA favored a COP-sanctioned work programme involvingindigenous peoples.


A well-attended roundtable discussion on indigenous knowledge and biodiversityconservation received favorable reviews by delegates from both North and South. Onedeveloping country delegate called the roundtable “eye-opening”, while most agreed thatit added value to SBSTTA-2. Some, however, lamented that the discussion was nottechnical but political, echoing a frustration heard in the corridors that SBSTTA-2 is notkeeping to its mandate to consider scientific and technical matters.


WORKING GROUP 1: Working Group 1 will meet at 10:00 a.m. in room 407A

WORKING GROUP 2: Working Group 2 will meet at 10:00 a.m. in room 406.

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