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SBSTTA 12 Recommendation XII/1

XII/1. Application of the ecosystem approach

1. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, in its consideration of the in-depth review of the application of the ecosystem approach, based on background documentation available, expert inputs and scientific dialogue, brings to the attention of the Conference of the Parties at its ninth meeting, other Governments, and relevant international and other organizations the following range of views:

(a) The ecosystem approach remains a useful normative framework for bringing together social, economic, cultural and environmental values. The needs are to translate this normative framework into methods for further application which are tailored to the needs of specific users;

(b) "One-size-fits-all" solutions for the ecosystem approach are neither feasible nor desirable. The application of the ecosystem approach should be regarded as a process where learning by doing is the priority need at present;

(c) Global assessments suggest that the ecosystem approach is not being applied systematically to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, but there are many examples of successful application at the regional, national and local scales which should be widely promoted and communicated. Most of these examples can be considered as positive outcomes for both biodiversity and human well-being;

(d) There is experience with application, in particular at the local level, but the ecosystem approach needs to be applied much more broadly across all levels. The need now is to enhance access and awareness with the transmission of straight forward messages using practical tools;

(e) Wider adoption of the ecosystem approach can contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals;

(f) The full application of the approach in all of its ecological, social, economic, cultural and political dimensions remains a formidable task, particularly at the larger scale. There is a clear need to communicate and illustrate it more clearly in order to expedite broader application. There are ongoing efforts to promote this approach. Some initiatives mentioned at the meeting included the "Mountains to the Sea" concept, originally proposed by the Ramsar Convention and partners, as currently being promoted by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the "Five Steps to Implementation" developed by the World Conservation Union Commission on Ecosystem Management (IUCN-CEM), the Large Marine Ecosystem projects supported by the Global Environment Facility and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and other partners;

(g) The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment findings, and in particular their articulation of the role of ecosystem goods and services to human well-being, could be more widely taken into account in the application of the ecosystem approach as appropriate;

(h) There is a need for promoters and leaders for the application of the ecosystem approach that can promote wider application through demonstration of the benefits of doing so amongst their peers and at their level of operation;

(i) The development of standards and indicators for the application of ecosystem approach is in its infancy. Focusing on these needs would constrain further application at present and divert attention from the more pressing need for expanded application through the development of appropriate tools and mechanisms and through learning by doing;

(j) Capacity-building remains the priority. Needs exist across all sectors, biomes, levels and scales. There is a need to strengthen partnerships and coordination between the relevant United Nations bodies and processes and other relevant institutions so that more effective support to Parties to apply the ecosystem approach can be offered; and

(k) Some Parties expressed the view that the principles of the ecosystem approach need to be considered at the earliest stage of policy-making and planning at all levels that relate to or affect natural resources and can be useful in poverty reduction strategies.

2. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice requests the Executive Secretary to:

(a) Strengthen and promote the ecosystem approach in ongoing communication, education and public awareness activities of the Convention, including through, inter alia, the Communication, Education and Public Awareness Informal Advisory Committee, and in particular provide easy to understand communication materials on the ecosystem approach, illustrated by successful case studies in all United Nations languages, subject to availability of funding, in electronic and published forms in order to further promote awareness and understanding;

(b) Enhance support for updating of the Source Book through inter alia:

(i) Strengthened partnerships with relevant agencies;

(ii) The inclusion of additional case studies that relate to all the programmes of work of the Convention and all economic sectors and that demonstrate the benefits and trade-offs of the use of the ecosystem approach in achieving the 2010 target and the Millennium Development Goals;

(iii) Identifying tools that can integrate the ecosystem approach into planning and monitoring of biodiversity;

(iv) Compiling existing work on the valuation of ecosystem services and the reflection of these values in the market/marketplace; and

(v) The inclusion of initiatives mentioned in paragraph 1 (f) above;

(c) Invite, subject to available resources, the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (IUCN-CEM), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention, to provide their perspectives on approaches to build capacity to understand, interpret and apply, the ecosystem approach, and provide information on opportunities for funding, human and other resources for enhancing application of the ecosystem approach;

(d) Invite initiatives such as the WWF Mountains to the Sea to further develop tools to assist Parties to further integrate the ecosystem approach into the programmes of work of the Convention and make these widely available through the Sourcebook;

(e) Inform Parties, as appropriate, on ways to use the ecosystem approach more widely and effectively as a useful tool for the formulation of national biodiversity strategies and action plans and in other relevant policy mechanisms;

(f) Communicate the findings of the in-depth review of the application of the ecosystem approach to the Commission on Sustainable Development and the United Nations General Assembly to promote more coordinated actions under the United Nations system to overcome underlying management and political challenges to the wider application of the ecosystem approach; and

(g) Report on the progress on these activities of the Conference of the Parties at its ninth meeting.

3. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice recommends that the Conference of the Parties at its ninth meeting:

(a) Urges Parties, other Governments and relevant organisations, as appropriate, and subject to funding and availability of technical capacity, to:

(i) Strengthen the promotion of the ecosystem approach in ongoing communication, education and public awareness activities;

(ii) Further promote the use of the ecosystem approach in all sectors and enhance inter-sectoral cooperation, as well as promote the establishment of concrete national and/or regional initiatives and pilot projects;

(iii) Implement further capacity building initiatives to applying the ecosystem approach, using, inter alia, the tools made available through the sourcebook and other sources of information, as appropriate;

(iv) Recalling decisions VI/12, paragraph 2 (a), and VII/11, paragraph 9 (d), of the Conference of the Parties, urge Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to continue submitting case-studies and lessons learned and provide further technical input to the Source Book;

(v) Further facilitate the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities in the development of tools and mechanisms for the application of the ecosystem approach;

(vi) Strengthen and promote the use of the ecosystem approach more widely and effectively as a useful tool for formulation of national biodiversity strategies and action plans and in other relevant policy mechanisms; and

(b) Invites Parties to:

(i) Take into account the application of the ecosystem approach in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals;

(ii) Develop effective cooperation at all levels for the effective application of the ecosystem approach;

(iii) To provide a framework for the promotion of the ecosystem approach, as appropriate;

(iv) Give consideration to the challenge of incorporating land and marine tenure in the application of the ecosystem approach; and

(v) Provide information on outcomes and progress in these activities through the national reporting process and their national clearing houses;

(c) Acknowledges the efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in advancing the ecosystem approach within its areas of competence and invite the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to further apply, in cooperation with other relevant organizations, the ecosystem approach; and

(d) Invites the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands to further their activities in relation to the ecosystem approach in particular, inter alia, within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites) as appropriate, as ecosystem approach research and demonstration sites.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme