Info Service on Climate Change (May10/03)
Dear friends and colleagues,
At the 14th session of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) that took place at the UNEP headquarters on 10-21 May, a number of issues related to climate change were debated and recommendations albeit bracketed have been forwarded for resolution at the 10th meeting of the Conference of Parties in October.
Among the contentious issues were:
Some developing countries also called for elimination of references to the Copenhagen Accord in the SBSTTA document.
Below is a TWN report first published in SUNS #6930 Wednesday 26 May 2010.
Environment: UN biodiversity body meeting ends with unresolved issues
Nairobi, 25 May (TWN) -- The 14th session of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) that took place at the UNEP headquarters on 10-21 May left many unresolved issues, which participants expect will only be decided upon by the Conference of the Parties (COP) when they meet for the tenth time in Nagoya, Japan in October 2010.
"This is the most successful SBSTTA ever," said Mr. Spencer Thomas of Grenada at the close of the Nairobi meeting, ending his tenure as the Chair, even as the Secretariat noted that the meeting's outcome document has about 115 brackets, continuing the tradition set by SBSTTA13 that also forwarded text with numerous brackets to be resolved at the ninth meeting of the COP in 2008. These brackets indicate issues that did not get consensus from the participants.
The CBD COP meets every two years.
On the agenda item on protected areas, suggestions were made on how to improve the management of the world's protected areas which, among others, included the consideration of traditional systems of biodiversity management and the establishment of wildlife corridors on private and community lands, and ecological restoration outside protected areas. However, the most contentious issue on this supposedly non-finance-related matter was actually the issue of providing funds for the improvement of management of these protected areas.
China, with Iran and Ethiopia (opposed by Belgium and the UK) requested developed country Parties and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), among others, to fully implement the COP decision, which identifies options for mobilizing financial resources to provide adequate, predictable and timely financial support to developing country Parties to enable full implementation of the CBD's program of work related to protected areas.
sustainable finance for protected areas,
The other contentious aspect of the protected areas discussion relates to the role protected areas play in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
[The Copenhagen Accord is the highly contentious document that was not negotiated in accordance with UN procedures in the December 2009 Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and was only "taken note of" by that COP.]
[REDD refers to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, and is a "hot" topic under the UNFCCC. There is a UN-REDD Programme being implemented by FAO, UNDP and UNEP.]
debates on protected areas that have a bearing on climate change involved
the issue of carbon sequestration and storage whereby
[Carbon storage and capture/sequestration is another contentious topic in climate change discussions.]
Delegates agreed to refer to "maintenance of carbon stocks" instead. Delegates also decided to eliminate language on the proposed joint work programme among the Rio Conventions, as it will be addressed in the recommendation on climate change.
Switzerland, with Cote D'Ivoire and Mali, underscored the importance of retaining language on the possibility of having a joint high-level segment of an extraordinary meeting of the COP of the Rio Conventions, with Brazil preferring to "explore the possibility" for a joint high-level segment.
agreed to insert
On China's proposal to request the CBD Executive Secretary to invite Parties' views to explore the possibility to develop proposals for joint activities between the Rio Conventions and report on progress at COP10 later this year, Germany, supported by Norway, suggested instead to note the need to bring biodiversity and climate change agendas closer together and the many scientific issues considered by SBSTTA relevant to the objectives of the conventions on combatting desertification and on climate change.
was opposed by
the plenary, further debates on biodiversity and climate change were
on funding, where delegates double-bracketed three paragraphs of text
relating to funding, while the
On geo-engineering (a controversial set of emerging technologies) as one possible technological fix to address climate change, delegates debated whether to include consideration of risks for "social, economic and cultural impacts".
Eventually, the bracketed text called for the application of the precautionary approach such that no climate-related geo-engineering activities will take place until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts.
the issue of agricultural biodiversity, the
Another key item on the joint work plan of the CBD and FAO Commission Secretariats that was suggested by NGOs, supported by the Philippines and qualified by Canada, was the inclusion in the joint work plan "the relevant findings and recommendations of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development and their implementation, as appropriate".
The qualifications "relevant' and "as appropriate" were ultimately supported by all delegates, as the text would then be un-bracketed thus reflecting consensus.
contentious issue on agricultural biodiversity involved the conservation,
restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity-rich and high-nature-value
farmland, including the FAO's Globally Important Agricultural Heritage
Systems (GIAHS) that was pushed by
Observers here noted that this debate is crucial for developed countries, as they would want to continue subsidizing their agricultural sector in order that it may be considered in compliance with the "green-box" subsidies of the World Trade Organisation.
The discussions on agricultural landscape would also include what Japan has promoted extensively here in SBSTTA in the lead-up to COP10, particularly the Satoyama Initiative which recognizes socio-ecological production landscapes such as the muyong, uma and payoh in the Philippines or mauel in Korea, dehesa in Spain, terroirs in France and other Mediterranean countries, chitemene in northern Malawi and Zambia, and satoyama in Japan.
On the issue of bio-fuels, a large amount of time was spent in the contact groups for three days with no text advancing within those three days and in the lead-up to the plenary of the SBSTTA Working Group 1, which finally tackled the text on this agenda item.
In the end, heavily-bracketed texts were in place on various proposals, such as to request the CBD Executive Secretary to compile, analyse and disseminate information on tools that will assess the impacts on biodiversity of bio-fuels while working with various UN bodies such as FAO, and industry such as the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, the Roundtable on Sustainable Bio-fuels, the Global Bio-energy Partnership and other organizations.
contentious issue here was on the insistence on land security by
was also text on the application of the precautionary approach on
bio-fuels turned by a
On synthetic biology, the Philippine proposal to form an ad hoc technical experts body to assess the technology's impacts on biodiversity and livelihoods remained, albeit in brackets.
The Philippines made a closing statement in the plenary lamenting the watering down of the precautionary approach because the 2008 COP Decision IX/29 had put the burden on those who wish the SBSTTA to consider new and emerging issues to gather data and comply with further criteria first, as set out in Decision IX/29, before SBSTTA will even consider the issue.
Most of the text on the goals and targets of the CBD up to the year 2020 was forwarded to the 3rd Meeting of the Working Group on the Review of Implementation of the CBD, which will meet this week (24-28 May), also at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi.
For some, this has put into doubt the SBSTTA's long-term role, as delegates also discussed informally outside of the sessions, the establishment of a potentially competing global body similar to the Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change.
The proposed new body, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, is being formally discussed under the auspices of the UNEP whose Executive Director was welcomed in a 2008 CBD COP decision to convene an "ad hoc open-ended intergovernmental multi-stakeholder meeting to consider establishing an efficient science-policy interface on biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being".
first meeting was held in