Recalling the relevant provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in particular
Article 25, and the principles contained in the preamble of the Convention;
Recalling also decision II/1 of the Conference of the Parties and particularly paragraph 3
thereof which requested the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological
Advice (SBSTTA) to keep under review its modus operandi with a view to improving its
functioning on the basis of experience gained;
Taking into account the experience gained so far in the operation of the SBSTTA
The second meeting of the SBSTTA, held in Montreal from 2-6 September 1996:
1. Recommends that the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties, to be held in
Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 4 to 15 November 1996, adopt the revised elements of the
modus operandi of SBSTTA contained in Annex I hereto; and
2. Invites the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to consider the further
conclusions of the second meeting of SBSTTA with regard to its modus operandi contained
in Annex II hereto.
1. The functions of the SBSTTA are those contained in Article 25 of the Convention.
Accordingly, the SBSTTA will fulfil its mandate under the authority of, and in accordance with,
guidance laid down by the Conference of the Parties, and upon its request.
2. Pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 3, the functions, terms of reference, organization and
operation of the SBSTTA may be further elaborated, for approval by the Conference of the
3. The rules of procedure for meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity shall apply, in accordance with rule 26, paragraph 5, mutatis mutandis to the
proceedings of the SBSTTA. Therefore, rule 18 on credentials will not apply.
4. In accordance with rule 52, the official and working languages of the SBSTTA will be those of
the United Nations Organization. The proceedings of the SBSTTA will be carried out in the
working languages of the Conference of the Parties.
5. In order to facilitate continuity in the work of SBSTTA and taking into account the technical
and scientific character of the input of SBSTTA, the terms of office of members of the Bureau of
SBSTTA will be two years. At each meeting of the SBSTTA one of the two regional
representatives shall be elected in order to achieve staggered terms of office. The members of
the Bureau of SBSTTA will take office at the end of the meeting at which they are elected.
6. The Chairman of the SBSTTA, elected at an ordinary meeting of the Conference of the
Parties, shall take office from the beginning of the next ordinary meeting of the SBSTTA and
remain in office until the beginning of the following meeting of the SBSTTA.
7. The SBSTTA shall meet annually and sufficiently in advance of each regular meeting of the
Conference of the Parties, for a duration to be determined by the Conference of the Parties
which should not normally exceed five days. The number and length of the meetings and
activities of the SBSTTA and its organs should be reflected in the budget adopted by the
Conference of the Parties or other sources of extra-budgetary funding.
8. The documentation prepared for meetings will be distributed six weeks before the meeting in
the working languages of the SBSTTA, will be concrete, focused draft technical reports and will
include proposed conclusions and recommendations for consideration of the SBSTTA.
9. To facilitate the preparation of documentation, and in order to avoid duplication of efforts and
ensure the use of available scientific, technical and technological competence available within
international and regional organizations, including non-governmental organizations and scientific
unions and societies, qualified in fields relating to conservation and sustainable use of
biodiversity, the Executive Secretary may establish, in consultation with the Chairman and the
other members of the Bureau of the SBSTTA, liaison groups, as appropriate. Such liaison
groups will depend on the resources available.
10. Each meeting of the SBSTTA will propose to the Conference of the Parties, in light of the
programme of work for the Conference of the Parties and the SBSTTA, a particular theme as the
focus of work for the following meeting of the SBSTTA.
11. Two open-ended sessional working groups of the SBSTTA could be established and
operate simultaneously during meetings of the SBSTTA. They shall be established on the basis
of well-defined terms of reference, and will be open to all Parties and observers. The financial
implications of these arrangements should be reflected in the budget of the Convention.
12. A limited number of ad hoc technical expert groups on specific priority issues on the
programme of work of the SBSTTA may be established, as required, for a limited duration. The
establishment of such ad hoc technical expert groups would be guided by the following
(a) The ad hoc technical expert groups should draw on the existing knowledge and
competence available within, and liaise with, international, regional and national
organizations, including non-governmental organizations and the scientific community in
fields relevant to this Convention;
(b) The ad hoc technical expert groups shall be composed of no more than fifteen experts
competent in the relevant field of expertise, with due regard to geographical representation
and to the special conditions of least-developed countries and small island developing
(c) The SBSTTA will recommend the exact duration and specific terms of reference, when
establishing such expert groups for the approval of the Conference of the Parties;
(d) Expert groups will be encouraged to use innovative means of communication and to
minimize the need for face-to-face meetings;
(e) The ad hoc technical expert groups may also convene meetings parallel to the
proceedings of the SBSTTA;
(f) All efforts will be made to provide adequate voluntary financial assistance for the
participation of experts in the expert groups from developing countries and countries with
economies in transition Parties; and
(g) The number of ad hoc technical expert groups active each year will be limited to a
maximum of three and will depend on the amount of resources designated to the SBSTTA
by the Conference of the Parties in its budget or on the availability of extra-budgetary
13. The scientific and technical contribution of non-governmental organizations to the fulfilment
of the mandate of the SBSTTA will be strongly encouraged in accordance with the relevant
provisions of the Convention and the rules of procedure for meetings of the Conference of the
14. The SBSTTA shall cooperate with other relevant international, regional and national
organizations, under the guidance of the Convention of the Parties, thus building upon the vast
experience and knowledge available.
15. In this context, the SBSTTA emphasizes the importance of research to further increase
available knowledge and reduce uncertainties, and recommends that the Conference of the
Parties consider this issue in relation to the financial resources required for the effective
implementation of the Convention.
16. Regional and subregional meetings for the preparation of regular meetings of the SBSTTA
may be organized as appropriate for specific items. The possibility of combining such meetings
with other scientific regional meetings, in order to make maximum use of available resources,
should be considered. The convening of such regional and subregional meetings will be subject
to the availability of voluntary financial contributions.
17. The SBSTTA should, in the fulfilment of its mandate, draw upon the contributions of the
existing regional and subregional intergovernmental organizations or initiatives.
18. A list of focal points and focal persons to the SBSTTA shall be established and regularly
updated by the Secretariat, on the basis of information provided by Parties and other relevant
regional, subregional and intergovernmental organizations.
19. A roster of experts, in the relevant fields of the Convention, will be compiled by the
Secretariat on the basis of input from all Parties and, as appropriate, from other countries and
relevant bodies. The roster of experts will be regularly updated and will be made accessible
through the clearing house mechanism.
20. The ad hoc technical expert groups and liaison groups referred to above as well as the
Secretariat should make full use of such a roster of experts, inter alia, through scientific peer
In addition to the recommendation on the modus operandi of the SBSTTA contained in
Annex I to Recommendation II/11, the SBSTTA draws to the attention of the Conference of
the Parties the following broader concerns regarding the modus operandi of the SBSTTA
which the Conference of the Parties may wish to consider:
1. While the SBSTTA has adopted, and the Conference of the Parties has endorsed, a
modus operandi for the SBSTTA, the key challenge for the SBSTTA is to manage its
workload effectively. This requires the prioritization of issues to be dealt with by the
SBSTTA, linked to priorities identified by the Conference of the Parties. The Conference of
the Parties may wish to consider criteria for establishing priorities of the SBSTTA, such as
avoiding duplication of efforts of other bodies, the urgency of issues and the costs of
measures required. Effective management of the workload of the SBSTTA also requires
that adequate resources are made available for the SBSTTA to carry out its work.
2. The Conference of the Parties may wish to consider whether in order to increase its
effectiveness, the SBSTTA should adopt a thematic approach to its work programme, as
suggested in paragraph 10 of Annex I to Recommendation II/11.
3. In order for the SBSTTA to fulfil its tasks, some delegations felt that intersessional work
is likely to be necessary. Where possible, intersessional work should be coordinated with
relevant activities being undertaken by other international conventions and institutions.
Unnecessary duplication should be avoided. Cross-representation between the SBSTTA
and the meetings of other bodies may be useful and the Secretariat should be represented
at such meetings.
4. However, some concern was expressed by delegations to the SBSTTA about the
possible proliferation of intersessional activities of the SBSTTA, particularly with regard to
the capacity of developing country Parties to participate fully and effectively in these
activities, and the need to maintain transparency in intercessional activities.
5. In order for the SBSTTA to manage its workload effectively and to assist coordination of
work, it may be useful to establish a global calendar of all relevant work being undertaken
by the different bodies of the United Nations and by other international conventions and
institutions in the medium term (1997-2000). Such a calendar could be regularly updated by
6. The SBSTTA noted the need for the Conference of the Parties to consider satisfactory
transitional arrangements for the implementation of paragraph 5 of Annex I to the present
7. Concern was expressed by several delegations that the proceedings of the SBSTTA are
conducted only in the working languages of the Conference of the Parties. These
delegations felt that this made adequate preparation for, and participation in, meetings of
the SBSTTA difficult for delegations who worked in the other official languages, and
therefore the latter should be included as working languages of the SBSTTA.
8. It was suggested that the Secretariat should prepare an information document for the
Conference of the Parties on:
(a) The implications, including financial implications, of adding to the working languages of
(b) The preferred languages of the Parties.