SBSSTA closes on 14 Dec with eight legal documents

Timing was tight in the last afternoon of the 21st SBSTTA meeting, as the Secretariat scrambled to get the last two L-documents (L-docs) translated so that delegates would be able to approve them. Luckily, additional agenda items could be tackled during time it took for translation to occur, and 5 new bureau members were (re-)elected before the plenary addressed its last L-doc.


The last of the conference room papers discussed by delegates (CRP-7 on Mainstreaming) eventually became L8 on ‘Mainstreaming of biodiversity in the sectors of energy and mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing, and health’ and will be submitted with its 9th paragraph in brackets to the Subsidiary Body on Implementation, which will meet for the second time in (9-13) July 2018 in Montreal, just after SBSTTA-22. The bracketed 9th paragraph of L-8 includes a draft recommendation that the SBI is asked to consider transmitting to COP-14. But Parties were not given the opportunity to provide their comments or edits due to time constraints, so all discussions on this will be relegated to SBI-2.

Canada had questioned whether it was appropriate at all for SBSTTA to be addressing the issues outlined in the CRP-7 document, seeing as the ‘how’ of Mainstreaming is an issue of implementation and would thus in principle fall under the remit of the SBI, not SBSTTA. Discussions went ahead nonetheless and centred, inter alia, around the recommendation to establish additional groups to work on the topic of mainstreaming, with some initial unclarity about whether it would be a group on mainstreaming in the sectors relevant to this intersessional period (energy and mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing, and health), or a longer term group on mainstreaming in general, or both. The agreed outcome was both. In the L-doc it is now stated that the Executive Secretary should 1. propose Terms of Reference to the SBI for a ‘possible ad hoc technical expert group on mainstreaming biodiversity’, which would have a longer term mandate and also take a while to establish,  and 2. should convene a ‘time limited informal advisory group to work online’ that does not require developing Terms of Reference and other formalities. The later would help Executive Secretary Palmer to prepare for the discussions on mainstreaming at SBI-2 and COP-14, i.e get established fairly rapidly and have a clear focus on the above-mentioned sectors in this intersessional period.

View of Montreal from the Mont Royal. Photo: K. Raab

New and emerging issues

In L3 on ‘New and emerging issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity’, it was decided that SBSTTA would recommend to COP-14 not to add to the agenda of the Subsidiary Body in the coming biennium any of the new and emerging issues the Executive Secretary had received after inviting proposals on this topic (detailed in CBD/SBSTTA/21/8, titles copied below**). Indeed, a number of criteria have been defined by CBD earlier in Decision XI/29, para 12, and anyone submitting a proposal for a new and emerging issue should also provide accompanying information (Decision XI/29, para 12). In discussions however, opinions differed as to whether all seven criteria must be fulfilled, or a bigger picture approach can be used in selecting new issues. Essentially, it remains unclear what the minimum requirements are, and indeed the Secretariat’s CBD/SBSSTA/21/8 doc states ‘There is no clear threshold above which each individual criterion can be considered “fulfilled” and below which it would be “not fulfilled”. It may therefore be appropriate to discuss the extent to which each criterion applies individually while considering the fulfilment of the criteria as a package’.  

During SBSTTA-21, eight legal documents were adopted, consisting of:

-the report of the meeting

-five recommended decisions to the Conference of the Parties

-one recommendation to COP not to add additional agenda items to SBSTTA-22 (regarding new and emerging issues)

-one recommendation to the Subsidiary Body on Implementation to consider particular elements for a future decision they might recommend to COP-14 (regarding mainstreaming)

NeFo will prepare a report with a short overview of the recommendations on each issue and make it available on the website shortly.

Next CBD meetings will be SBSTTA-22 and SBI-2 on 2-7 July and 9-13 July 2018 respectively.

Topics on the agenda of SBSTTA-22 will include synthetic biology, marine and coastal biodiversity, invasive alien species, conservation and sustainable use of pollinators, the second work programme of IPBES, and more…lots to look forward to!



** by the following parties, organisations or individuals (detailed in CBD/SBSTTA/21/8): Iraq: Environmental and social consequences of forced migration; Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA): jurisdiction shopping and selection of non-genetic-material media for transmission; University of the South Pacific: legislative and regulatory frameworks to govern bioprospecting and use of digital sequence information; Babagana Abubakar: marine dust from the Sahara desert in Africa nourishing the mighty Amazon Rainforest of South America.