Recalling that the Conference of the Parties has decided to rely on additional voluntary contributions for ensuring the participation of Parties in
meetings convened under the auspices of the Convention,
Considering that a decline in support for participation of representatives from developing countries and countries with economies in
transition in meetings convened under the auspices of the Convention is one of the most significant threats to the implementation of the Convention,
Acknowledging the efforts made by the secretariat for mobilizing additional financial resources, but also the limitations resulting from the
absence of authority for such activity,
1. Expresses gratitude to donor Governments and Parties who have made contributions in favour of participation of least developed countries and small
island developing States in the third meeting of the SBSTTA, in pursuance with decision III/24 of the Conference of the Parties;
2. Recognizes that these contributions were generous, particularly on the context of the budgetary difficulties encountered by many donor countries,
but were insufficient to enable the full participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the SBSTTA;
3. Appeals to more Parties and donors to join the group of donors in their efforts to ensure full participation in the meetings convened under the
auspices of the Convention;
4. Commends those developing countries and countries with economies in transition who have found alternative means of ensuring participation in the
third meeting of the SBSTTA;
5. Encourages all Parties to join forces to defeat the present declining trend in the availability of addition resources in its effects by
demonstrating more generosity and exerting extreme care in the use of the additional voluntary resources provided;
6. Recommends to the Conference of the Parties at its fourth meeting to give urgent consideration to the resolution of this serious problem in
relation to the SBSTTA, the SBSTTA Bureau and other meetings held under the auspices of the Convention,
7. Recommends further to the Conference of the Parties to adopt a similar approach for other meetings convened under the auspices of the
1. Opening of the meeting.
2. Organizational matters:
(a) Election of officers;
(b) Adoption of the agenda;
(c) Organization of work.
3. Assessment of the status and trends of terrestrial biological diversity: scientific, technical and technological advice on matters relating to
dryland and mountain biological diversity and options for conservation and sustainable use.
4. Review of ongoing activities under the Convention on Biological Diversity:
(a) Implementation of the pilot phase of the clearing-house mechanism;
(b) Implementation of the three-year work plan on the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity;
(c) Implementation of Article 8 (j);
(d) Implementation of the work plan for the conservation and sustainable use of forest biological diversity;
(e) Inland waters.
5. Advice on activities, instruments, issues and priorities relating to agricultural biological diversity: consideration of the draft multi-year
programme of work.
6. Impact assessment: scientific analysis of the ways in which human activities influence biological diversity and identification of ways to
minimize or mitigate negative impacts.
7. Consideration of matters related to benefit-sharing:
(a) Benefit-sharing with regard to promoting and facilitating access to and transfer and development of technology, including the knowledge
and practices of local and indigenous communities;
(b) Measures to promote and advance the distribution of benefits from biotechnology, in accordance with Article 19.
8. Identification of alternative models and mechanisms for linkages between in situ and ex situ conservation techniques.
9. Review of existing conventions and other international agreements relevant to the various paragraphs of Article 8.
10. Review of the operations of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, in the light of the review by the Conference of
the Parties of its operations and those of subsidiary organs.
11. Draft provisional agenda for the fifth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice.
12. Date and venue of the fifth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice.
13. Other matters.
14. Adoption of the report.
15. Closure of the meeting.
The informal meeting was conducted between 13:00 and 14:30 on Thursday, 4 September 1997; 27 representatives participated. The discussion focused on
those issues dealing with the operation of the SBSTTA which the participants felt were important to the overall review of the operations of the Convention,
but which were not covered by recommendation II/11 on the modus operandi of the SBSTTA. A wide range of issues were raised, and what follows presents only a
summary of the major points. It must be stressed that this summary is by no means the only opportunity of Parties, participants and other relevant
institutions to make submissions on the operations of the SBSTTA. As outlined in document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/3/10 and elaborated further by the secretariat at
this meeting, there will be opportunities at further meetings organized by the secretariat to express views verbally. Moreover, the secretariat indicated that
they would be able to fully utilize submissions from interested participants in the production of the synthesis document called for in decision III/22 until 1
December 1997. It further noted that these matters could also be informally discussed at meetings to be held under the Convention prior to the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties. In this context the United Kingdom
announced its intention to host a small workshop (5 to 7 January 1998) to provide further inputs to the preparation for the Conference of the Parties.
The meeting generally acknowledge the important role that the SBSTTA has to play in the overall Convention process. The effectiveness of the process
will fundamentally depend upon being able to generate and develop the necessary scientific, technical and technological understanding of the issues raised by
the Convention to build consensus and make decision. Developing the scientific understanding of biological diversity and the human processes which have an
impact on biological diversity is necessary to avoiding adverse impacts that human activities have on biological diversity. Without science and the
understanding that this brings we would be reduced to simply managing this impact in a reactive way.
Even though our understanding of these processes is far from comprehensive, there exists a vast body of knowledge of relevance to the
process of the Convention on Biological Diversity. A central task of the SBSTTA is to take this knowledge and translate it into advice for the
Conference of the Parties: advice which will present to the Conference of the Parties this knowledge in a relevant, useful and intelligent form; advice which
will present a range of realistic and viable options for the Conference of the Parties; advice which will ultimately allow the Conference of the Parties to
take decisions and implement actions which will address the management of human actions on biological diversity in a precautionary, anticipatory manner.
Generally, meetings of the SBSTTA should be open, flexible and collegiate. Delegates should not be afraid to develop advice which might be politically contentious.
The significant contribution that the SBSTTA has already been able to make was acknowledged. In this respects the meeting believed it was worthwhile
recalling that the SBSTTA has been extremely successful in conceptualising issues. For example, it has made a vital contribution to the development of
the Jakarta Mandate on coastal and marine biological diversity. The meeting stressed that the importance that this role of conceptualizing issues should
not be underestimated.
It was understood that the SBSTTA has been less successful in developing more detailed information needed to support detailed decision-making or
national efforts to implement the Convention. In order to facilitate the development of this capacity a number of key preliminary suggestions were
offered by the meeting, which can be described as:
1. Focusing the agenda or range of issues addressed by the SBSTTA;
2. Relationship between the SBSTTA and other institutions;
3. Preparations for the SBSTTA recommendations;
4. Participation in the SBSTTA;
5. The structure of the meetings of the SBSTTA
1. Focusing the agenda or range of issues addressed by the SBSTTA
It was recognized that this is a key issue to making the work of the SBSTTA more effective. The thematic approach where we focus on a given
ecosystem has contributed to a focusing of agendas and should be continued. Discipline in all the institutions of the Convention are vital to achieve this.
In this respects it was acknowledge that the last Bureau had exercised great discipline in its work. On balance it was felt that the agenda for the third
session of the SBSTTA was about the right scope, although it was recognised that there was still some room for improvement in this respect. Clearer
instructions from the Conference of the Parties are important. Each meeting of SBSTTA has only the capacity to respond to a very clear set of limited issues.
Furthermore, the Conference of the Parties needs to recognise that many aspects of the Convention do not require the development of scientific advice for there
to be action by the Conference of the Parties. In other words the Conference of the Parties needs to fully assume its responsibilities and not to avoid
issues by requesting advice from the SBSTTA.
It was recognized that there also needs to be discipline in the advice developed by the SBSTTA itself and in the preparations of the secretariat of
the Convention on Bilogical Diversity.
A structured agenda would contribute to being able to address issues more effectively. In this respect, there was wide spread support for classifying
agenda items into those which require action and those which merely were reporting orientated or really only required information sharing (see
paragraph 6 below).
2. Relationship between the SBSTTA and other institutions
The SBSTTA has an important role in bridging the gap between the scientific community and the policy makers. It needs to use the existing
scientific knowledge and expertise more effectively. Closer cooperation with other scientific bodies such as STAP, DIVERSTAS and ICSU, through exploring a
more formal arrangement between such organizations, would make an important contribution to including them in the process more fully and ensuring better
use of their networks. It was also agreed that relations with the private sector are important.
3. Preparations for the SBSTTA recommendations
The main dilemma in this respect is balancing the need for transparency verses efficiency in the process of preparation. It was acknowledged that
rosters do provide an effective way to engage expertise. The use of liaison groups was also welcomed. Questions were raised regarding the criteria by
which these liaison groups are constituted. It was felt that developing criteria in this respect would help with transparency, while not compromising
efficiency. It was also felt that the transparency/efficiency balance was different for different types of activities. Assessments and information-gathering
did not require as much transparency as decision-making.
The issue of future phasing or timing of the work of the SBSTTA also appliesgoes to the preparations for meetings. The experience to date is that
in practice, there are really only six months for the preparation of documents. The Conference of the Parties needs to pay careful attention to this aspect if it is to assist the SBSTTA in developing effective advice.
4. Participation in the SBSTTA
This has not been adequate and raised great concern. Particularly Eastern European countries and developing countries are absent from the SBSTTA.
Although the issue is largely a financial matter, it was recognized that the greater discipline with the agenda would also facilitate genuine participation
of Parties in the SBSTTA process.
The issues of using the regional approach was also recognized as providing some possible solution to this issue. It was felt that given the
scientific nature of the meeting that it should be possible to allow for regional representation on issues.
The structure of its meetings was raised as an issue which might merit some attention.
Some thought might be given to looking at the way that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change structures its meetings as an
alternative model for the existing modus operandi of meetings.
6. Other Issues
Denmark proposed that the Conference of the Parties consider amending the proposed modus operandi as contained in recommendation II/11 by the addition of
a new section XII, comprising the existing paragraph 10 of Annex 1 of recommendation II/11, together with the following paragraph:
"Each meeting of the SBSTTA will endeavour to elaborate its findings and results to be presented to the forthcoming Conference of the Parties
either as proposals to the Conference of the Parties to take note of SBSTTAs findings or to recommend that specific action is taken by the
Conference of the Parties. Such action will be presented in the format of draft decisions containing, e.g. recommendations to the Parties or
international bodies, (guidelines for) work to be undertaken by the secretariat, decisions affecting the Conference of the Parties itself,