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Background

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First National Reports

At its second meeting (Jakarta, November 1995), the Conference of the Parties decided that the first national reports should 'focus in so far as possible on the measures taken for the implementation of Article 6 of the Convention, as well as the information available in national country studies on biological diversity' (decision II/17). At its third meeting (Buenos Aires, November 1996), the Conference of the Parties decided that the first national reports should be submitted no later than 1 January 1998 (decision III/9).

At its fourth meeting (Bratislava, May 1998), the Conference of the Parties considered a synthesis of the information contained in the 86 reports received prior to that meeting. The meeting asked SBSTTA to provide advice on the intervals and form of future national reports, including the nature of the information needed from Parties in order to assess the status of implementation of the Convention, recommendations on improving the reporting process, and identification of ways and means to facilitate national implementation (decision IV/14).

Second National Reports

At the fifth meeting of SBSTTA (Montreal, January-February 2000), participants considered guidelines for future national reporting that had been developed by the Secretariat through a pilot project, carried out with the collaboration of a number of Parties, to identify a methodology for assessing the state of implementation of the Convention. This involved (i) identifying the obligations on Parties deriving from the provisions of the Convention and the decisions of the Conference of the Parties, and (ii) formulating these as questions designed to elicit responses that would reveal the level of implementation, relative priorities, constraints encountered and issues not yet addressed. At its fifth meeting (Nairobi, May 2000), the Conference of the Parties endorsed this format as a guide for future national reporting and as a means by which the status of national implementation can be measured (decision V/19). Parties were requested to submit their second national reports by 15 May 2001 for consideration at the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in April 2002.

The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties agreed that national reports would be called for on a four-yearly basis and considered at alternate meetings of the Conference of the Parties.

Third National Reports

At its sixth meeting (The Hague, April 2002), the Conference of the Parties considered a full assessment of information contained in second national reports received by the end of January 2002, and requested the Executive Secretary to prepare a draft format for the third national reports for the consideration of the Conference of the Parties at its seventh meeting (decision VI/25). Building on the methodology and format used for the second national reports, the format for the third national reports would, among other things, include questions on strategic objectives and goals established under the Strategic Plan, focus on allowing the Parties to provide information on the experience of implementing their national biodiversity strategies and action plans, and facilitate the identification of obstacles and impediments to implementation.

At its seventh meeting (Kuala Lumpur, February 2004), the Conference of the Parties considered an analysis of information contained in the second national reports that were received by the end of October 2003. The meeting also endorsed the format for the third national report, as amended, with respect to the questionnaire on forest biological diversity and requested the Executive Secretary to further develop the format by considering the views expressed during the meeting and the data required from Parties to assess the implementation of the Strategic Plan and the 2010 Biodiversity Target. The revised format for the third national report was transmitted to Parties in July 2004 who were requested to submit their completed report to the Executive Secretary by 15 May 2005 for the consideration of the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2006 (decision VII/25).

Fourth National Reports

At its eighth meeting (Curitiba, March 2006), the Conference of the Parties considered a preliminary synthesis of information contained in the third national reports that had been received by the end of October 2005. The meeting also endorsed the guidelines for the fourth national report that had been prepared according to guidance provided by the first meeting of the Working Group on Review of Implementation (recommendation I/9). Consideration was also given to relevant views expressed by Parties at the eighth meeting and further comments submitted by some Parties. In accordance with Decision VIII/14, Parties were requested to submit their fourth national report by 30 March 2009.

The fourth national report provided an important opportunity to assess progress towards the 2010 Biodiversity Target, drawing upon an analysis of the current status and trends in biodiversity and actions taken to implement the Convention at the national level, as well as to consider what further efforts are needed. The details of this assessment are presented in the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook published in 2010.

The guidelines for the fourth national reports were developed based on the experience and lessons learned from previous reporting processes under the Convention, in particular from the second and third national reports. The multiple-choice questionnaire, the main format adopted for these earlier reports, has proven less helpful than expected for review and decision-making processes under the Convention, focusing too narrowly on COP decisions addressed to Parties rather than providing a complete picture of national implementation. Consequently, the guidelines for the NR4 requested Parties to report on national implementation of the Convention primarily in narrative form, and to complement concise narrative substantive reporting with tables, figures or graphics.

Fifth National Reports

In decision X/10, the Conference of the Parties requested Parties to submit their fifth national report by 31 March 2014. The fifth national reports will provide an important source of information for a mid-term review of progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets which will be undertaken by the Conference of the Parties at its twelfth meeting in the second half of 2014. The fifth national reports will also contribute to the development of the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook. Further, the fifth national report guidelines request Parties to report on contributions to the relevant 2015 Targets of the Millennium Development Goals.

The format of the fifth national report is the same as that adopted for the fourth national report (i.e. concise narrative substantive reporting complemented by tables, figures or graphics) however Parties are encouraged to emphasize the use of indicators, including the global headline indicators contained in decision VIII/15, to measure progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and report thereon in the fifth national report.

Further information is available at the Fifth National Report Information Portal.

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  • United Nations Environment Programme