SBSTTA: Scenario discussion continues off-topic, a series of recommendations accepted, and the sidelines…

The only plant in sight during the meeting is plastic, 'glassed', and growing in coffee bean substrate... Photo: K. Raab

The only plant in sight during the meeting is plastic, 'glassed', and growing in coffee bean substrate... Photo: K. Raab

Wednesday the negotiations on the Scenarios for the 2050 Vision document continued for a surprisingly long amount of time relative to other documents. This was in part due to the interventions by a limited number of countries requesting the inclusion of ideas that, while not unimportant as such, were not closely related enough to the topic of scenarios to warrant their inclusion in this particular document, or posed a risk of overlap with other documents (such as the communication strategy).

An example was the suggestion to include text about large-scale communication under paragraph 9 on the use of scenarios in communication. Finding celebrity ambassadors willing to be a voice for biodiversity was proposed by Belgium and text reformulation for inclusion took some time. The CBD could thus follow in the footsteps of Conservation International, which has been intensively employing this approach since 2014 when it launched its ‘Nature is Speaking’ series. (Each short and snappy episode of the series presents an aspect of nature narrated by a famous actress or actor.)

Throughout the day, incl. an evening session after the reception, the documents on the Global Biodiversity Outlook; on Biodiversity and Health; New and Emerging Issues; and on Sustainable Wildlife Management were made into legal documents. Thus only two conference room papers remain to be discussed this afternoon: on Mainstreaming, and on Scenarios for the 2050 vision.

SBSTTA negotiations are interspersed with interesting side events during mealtimes, many running in parallel. Side events addressed biodiversity and health for instance, presenting, inter alia, the results of recent meetings (e.g. Biodiversity and Health in the face of Climate Change in Bonn, see NeFo blog, at which Christina Romanelli from the CBD Secretariat also presented), followed by a discussion including personal experiences of participants on anxiety-based consumptive behaviour. At another side event on the topic, the IUCN Red List of ecosystems (which is under development) was presented, akin to the IUCN red list for species. The intention is that all ecosystems will be assessed by 2025, and the difference to the species red list is that ecosystems are not considered to go ‘extinct’ but ‘collapse’ instead, i.e. become a completely different ecosystem (e.g. as the Aral Sea dries up, it is not going extinct but collapsing).

IPBES held a side event to present the global assessment (due in 2019) as well as one on how indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) was integrated into the global assessment. Co-chair of the global assessment Eduardo Brondizio presented the call for contributions on ILK, and Zsolt Molnar presented the chapter on ‘Nature’. He highlighted that often ILK is not recorded in writing and mentioned that in Hungary a small group of herders had interviewed a number of others and written down these experiences into a report, which is now useable in the IPBES process.

Joji Carino from the Forest Peoples Programme underlined the continuity of the subject of traditional knowledge in the UN conventions, and that CBD delegates had been excellent champions for ILK within the IPBES context. IPBES is becoming a learning platform, she said, as the openness is there now to collaborate, and the IPBES approach is providing support to developing the ‘how’. An important aspect to be improved is the inclusion of ILK into the expert groups and into the scoping processes for various assessments, she added.  

The evening reception of SBSTTA-21 and the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Article 8j and related provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (WG8j-10) was introduced by four speakers, welcoming participants on behalf of: the city of Montreal, the government of Canada, the government of Québec, and the CBD (by Christiana Pasca-Palmer its new Executive Secretary). Afterwards, participants could socialize without it being in parallel to scheduled meetings (like regional coordination meetings, plenaries, contact groups, side events). The joy was noticeable: the speakers could hardly make themselves heard amidst the chatting of the participants.

The city of Montreal representative presented the new flag of the city, accepted on the occasion of the 375th anniversary of Montreal this year. He explained that the old flag had the symbols of the founding fathers of the city and the red cross, but that since this summer the flag includes the white pine at the centre, placed in a red circle, symbolic for the important role of the First Nations, whose territory Montreal is also located on. Mrs Palmer had also shared this inspiring story on the occasion of her opening of the 10th meeting of WG8j, as shown in the below picture.

Ms. Palmer presenting the new flag of the city of Montreal at her opening speech to the 10th meeting of the working group on article 8j on 13.12.2017.

Ms. Palmer presenting the new flag of the city of Montreal at her opening speech to the 10th meeting of the working group on article 8j on 13.12.2017.