Marine and coastal biological diversity was an early priority for the COP. At its first meeting, the COP requested SBSTTA to advise on scientific, technical and technological aspects of the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity (decision I/7)
Accordingly, the first meeting of SBSTTA produced recommendation I/8 on scientific, technical and technological aspects of the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity.
COP 2, in 1995, subsequently adopted decision II/10
on the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity, supporting some of SBSTTA's recommendations, subject to additional conclusions by COP on the recommendations of SBSTTA 1 on scientific, technical and technological aspects of the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity (as set out in annex I to decision II/10). Decision II/10 provided guidance on the process to be utilized to develop a work programme on marine and coastal biological diversity, and on key substantive elements of the work programme. It also provided guidance to the Parties in relation to marine and coastal biological diversity, and provisions on cooperation with related conventions and relevant international and regional organizations. In particular, it requested the Executive Secretary to prepare for SBSTTA a study on the bio-prospecting of genetic resources of the deep seabed in consultation with the secretariat of UNCLOS II/10, paragraph 12.
Also at COP 2, the Ministerial Statement on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity referred to the new global consensus on the importance of marine and coastal biological diversity as the "Jakarta Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity". The Ministerial Statement reaffirmed the critical need for the COP to address the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity, and urged Parties to initiate immediate action to implement COP decisions on this issue Ministerial Statement.
Decision II/10 instructed the Executive Secretary to provide to SBSTTA, in accordance with annex II to the decision, advice and options for recommendations to COP in further elaborating the recommendations of SBSTTA. This annex also referred to annual reports to SBSTTA to be produced by the Executive Secretary to the Convention, as part of further work of the Secretariat on marine and coastal biological diversity. The first report was to include a three-year work plan.
In accordance with decision II/10, the Executive Secretary established a roster of experts on marine and coastal biological diversity, on the basis of country input; and, drawing from the roster, convened the first meeting of the Group of Experts on Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity (Jakarta, March 1997). The outcome of this meeting provided the basis for the elaboration by the Executive Secretary of a three-year programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity. This programme of work was considered and amended by SBSTTA 3 recommendation III/2.
Based on the SBSTTA recommendations, COP 4 adopted decision IV/5
on the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity. Its annex contains the programme of work arising from decision II/10. Sections II and II also specifically address the issue of coral bleaching and related biodiversity loss, and the special needs and considerations of small island developing States in implementation of the work programme.
COP 4 urged Parties to propose projects that promote implementation of the programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity when requesting assistance through the financial mechanism. It has also urged Parties, countries, relevant organizations and donor agencies to contribute to the implementation of specific elements of the work programme.
COP 5 reviewed progress in the implementation of the work programme, encouraging the Executive Secretary and SBSTTA to complete the implementation of decision IV/5 as soon as possible, and added a work element on coral reefs, specifically on coral bleaching, to be integrated into programme element 2 (marine and coastal living resources), with a minimum three-year time schedule. It further endorsed the results of the Expert Consultation on Coral Bleaching, held in Manila from 11 to 13 October 1999, and included them as an annex to the decision. The annex contains priority areas for action on coral bleaching under four headings: information-gathering; capacity-building; policy development/implementation; and financing. The work plan on coral bleaching was to take into account recommendations in this annex decision V/3
COP 5 also made suggestions for further action in each of the existing programme elements and approved the terms of reference and duration of work specified for the ad hoc technical expert groups on marine and coastal protected areas and mariculture, as contained in annex II to SBSTTA recommendation V/14, with slight modification (decision V/3, paragraph 15). It also invited UNESCO to continue its strong involvement with the work programme and asked the Executive Secretary to coordinate with the secretariats of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, with a view to exploring further collaboration, including the development of joint work programmes.
COP 5 further noted in the relevant decisions that work on the following issues should be incorporated into the thematic work programmes, including that for marine and coastal biological diversity: impact assessment, incentive measures, implementation of Article 8(j), and public education and awareness (decision V/15 paragraph 4; decision V/16, paragraph 8; decision V/17, paragraph 5; decision V/18, section I, paragraph 1(a)).
Based on the recommendations of SBSTTA, COP 6 adopted decision VI/3
. This decision took note of the progress made in the implementation of the programme of work, including the integration of coral reefs into programme element 2.
The decision also requested the Executive Secretary to continue facilitating the implementation of the specific work plan on coral bleaching, as contained in annex II to SBSTTA recommendation VI/2 and the work plan on physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs, as contained in annex I thereto, setting priorities as appropriate, with special emphasis on small island developing States and the least developed States, in active collaboration with the International Coral Reef Initiative and its partners, the Regional Seas Programmes of the United Nations Environment Programme, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and other relevant organizations.
In addition, decision VI/3 invited the Executive Secretary to continue developing further the work plan on physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs as contained in annex I to SBSTTA recommendation VI/2.
Finally, the decision invited the Executive Secretary to strengthen collaboration with Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans. COP also recognized the need for support through the financial mechanism for implementation of the coral reef work plans.
The implementation of the programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity, adopted in decision IV/5, was reviewed by SBSTTA 8 in March 2003. In the resulting recommendation VIII/3, SBSTTA stressed that the programme elements of the programme of work still correspond to global priorities, and although much progress had been made, the programme of work had not yet been fully implemented. Therefore, SBSTTA recommended that the Conference of the Parties extend the time period of the programme of work by an additional six years, and that an elaboration of the programme of work be undertaken by the Executive Secretary in accordance with paragraph 2 of recommendation VIII/3 A for the consideration of the Conference of the Parties at its seventh meeting.
SBSTTA also considered the outcomes of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Marine and Coastal Protected Areas and the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Mariculture, which resulted in sections B and C respectively of recommendation VIII/3. SBSTTA recommended that these sections be incorporated into the elaborated programme of work.
Based on the recommendations of SBSTTA, COP 7 adopted decision VII/5
. Annex 1 to this decision contains the elaborated programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity. The structure (prorgamme elements) of the programme of work remains the same as it was in decision IV/5, except for the addition of enabling activities designed to assist Parties to overcome obstacles to implementation. Activities in the programme of work adopted in decision IV/5 that have been completed have now been removed. New material on marine and coastal protected areas, mariculture, high seas biodiversity, and coral bleaching has been added, including an update to the specific work plan on coral bleaching. In addition, relevant activities from the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development have been incorporated into the programme of work.
The conservation and sustainable use of high-seas biodiversity, specifically deep seabed genetic resources beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, was taken up at COP 8 (decision VIII/21)
, when Parties noted that hydrothermal vent, cold seep, seamount, coldwater coral and sponge reef ecosystems contain genetic resources of great interest for their biodiversity value and for scientific research as well as for present and future sustainable development and commercial applications, and recognized an urgent need to enhance scientific research and cooperation. The COP requested the Executive Secretary to further analyse and explore options for preventing and mitigating the impacts of some activities to selected seabed habitats.
In decision VIII/22
, the COP recognized the importance of integrated marine and coastal area management (IMCAM) for reaching the 2010 target and requested the Executive Secretary to compile and analyse case studies on the implementation of IMCAM and to provide lessons learned for the consideration of the SBSTTA.
In decision VIII/24
, on protected areas, the COP expressed its deep concern over the range of threats to marine ecosystems and biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, and recognized that marine protected areas are an essential tool to help achieve conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in these areas. The COP also recognized that the CBD has a key role in supporting the work of the United Nations General Assembly with regard to marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction, by focusing on provision of scientific and, as appropriate, technical information and advice and requested the Executive Secretary to synthesize the best available scientific studies on priority areas for biodiversity conservation in these areas; refine, consolidate and, where necessary, develop further scientific and ecological criteria for the identification of marine areas in need of protection, and biogeographical and other ecological classification systems; and collaborate in the further development of spatial databases containing information on these areas.
The COP also decided to convene a scientific expert workshop on ecological criteria and biogeographic classification systems, which was held in the Azores, Portugal, in October 2007 (the final report of which is available here
At COP 9, in decision IX/20
, the Parties requested the Executive Secretary to compile and synthesize scientific information on the potential impacts on marine biodiversity of both direct human-induced ocean fertilization to sequester CO2 and ocean acidification. The COP also adopted scientific criteria for identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas in need of protection and scientific guidance for designing representative networks of marine protected areas and took note of the four initial steps to be considered in the development of representative networks of marine protected areas. Furthermore, the COP decided to convene an expert workshop to provide scientific and technical guidance on biogeographic classification systems and on the identification of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction in need of protection.
Also at COP 9, in its decision on biodiversity and climate change (decision IX/16, section c)
, Parties requested the Executive Secretary to bring the issue of ocean fertilization to the attention of the Joint Liaison Group
and recognized the current absence of reliable data covering all relevant aspects of ocean fertilization. The COP further requested Parties to ensure that ocean fertilization activities do not take place until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities.