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COP Decisions

Integration of biofuels into the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity

In decision IX/1 , paragraph 31, the Conference of the Parties decided to integrate the issue of biofuel production and use into the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity, in particular by addressing biofuel production, especially when based on feedstocks produced through agriculture, inter alia to:

(a) Identify and promote the dissemination of information on cost-effective practices and technologies, and related policy and incentive measures that enhance the positive and mitigate the negative impacts of agriculture on biological diversity, productivity and capacity to sustain livelihoods (activity 2 of programme element 2 of decision V/5 );

(b) Promote methods of sustainable agriculture that employ management practices, technologies and policies that promote the positive and mitigate the negative impacts of agriculture on biodiversity, with particular focus on the needs of farmers and indigenous and local communities (activity 3 of programme element 2 of decision V/5 ); and

(c) Support institutional frameworks and policy and planning mechanisms for the mainstreaming of agricultural biodiversity in agricultural strategies and action plans, and its integration into wider strategies and plans for biological diversity (activity 1 of programme element 4 of decision V/5).

Sustainable production and use of biofuels

In decision IX/2 on agricultural biodiversity: biofuels and biodiversity the Conference of the Parties agreed that biofuel production and use should be sustainable in relation to biological diversity. The Conference of the Parties recognized the need to promote the positive and minimize the negative impacts of biofuel production and its use on biodiversity and the livelihoods of indigenous and local communities and agreed on activities for doing so including:

  • The development and application of sound policy frameworks for the sustainable production and use of biofuels;
  • Research and monitoring of the positive and negative impacts of the production and use of biofuels on biodiversity and related socio-economic aspects, including those related to indigenous and local communities;
  • Strengthened development cooperation with a view to promote the sustainable production and use of biofuels;
  • Encouraging the private sector to improve social and environmental performance of the production of biofuels.

In preparation for consideration of this item by SBSTTA-14 and COP-10, the Conference of the Parties encouraged Parties and other Governments, indigenous and local communities, and relevant stakeholders and organizations to share their experiences on the development and application of tools relevant to the sustainable production and use of biofuels, in relation to promoting the positive and minimizing the negative impacts on biodiversity, taking into account their full life-cycle as compared to other fuel types. The Conference of the Parties also called upon Parties, other Governments, the research community, and invited other relevant organizations to continue to investigate and monitor the positive and negative impacts of the production and use of biofuels on biodiversity and related socio-economic aspects, including those related to indigenous and local communities.

In paragraph 12 of decision IX/2, the Conference of the Parties requested the Executive Secretary to convene regional workshops on the sustainable production and use of biofuels. The purpose of these workshops was to consider ways and means to promote the positive and minimize the negative impacts of the production and use of biofuels on biodiversity, taking into account relevant guidance from the Convention.

Accordingly, workshops were held in October, November and December 2009, for, respectively, Latin America and the Caribbean (see report here), Asia and the Pacific (see report here), and Africa (see report here). The three workshops brought together a total of 89 experts representing 55 Parties to the Convention. The workshop for Latin America and the Caribbean developed a draft conceptual framework for ways and means to minimize the negative and maximize the positive impact of biofuel production and use on biodiversity, which was subsequently developed further by the Asia and the Pacific and Africa workshops. The latter workshop called for the development of a toolkit of approaches, tools, guidance and technical support that should be developed in collaboration with competent partners. The reports of these workshops were considered by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice at its fourteenth meeting. The recommendations were considered by the Conference of the Parties at its tenth meeting in 2010.

In decision IX/5 , paragraph 2(b), the Conference of the Parties also invited Parties, other Governments, and relevant international and other organizations to address both, direct and indirect, positive and negative impacts that the production and use of biomass for energy, in particular large-scale and/or industrial production and use, might have on forest biodiversity and on indigenous and local communities, also taking into account the components of the decision IX/2 on biofuels and biodiversity relevant to forest biodiversity, reflecting varying conditions of countries and regions.

In decision X/37, the Conference of the Parties recognized the need for the continuing improvement of policy guidance and decision making to promote the positive and minimize or avoid the negative impacts of biofuels on biodiversity, and impacts on biodiversity that affect related socioeconomic conditions. For this purpose, Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations are encouraged to:

  • Address gaps in scientific knowledge;
  • Improve scientific, environmental and socio-economic research and assessments;
  • Conduct open and transparent consultation, with the full and effective participation of the concerned indigenous and local communities; and
  • Share best practices.

The Conference of the Parties noted the rapid pace of development of new technologies that enable conversion of biomass into a broader and more flexible range of fuels. However, biofuel technologies may also result in increased demand for biomass and aggravate drivers of biodiversity loss, such as land use change, introduction of invasive alien species and resource over-consumption.

The potential for biofuel technologies to make a positive contribution to mitigating climate change and generating additional income in rural areas was also acknowledged. The Conference of the Parties is also noted the potential positive and negative impacts of the production and use of biofuels on the conservation and customary use of biodiversity by indigenous and local communities, and the consequences for their well-being.

In decision X/37, Parties were invited to:

  • Develop, national inventories so as to identify areas of high biodiversity value, critical ecosystems, and areas important to indigenous and local communities; and
  • Assess and identify areas and, where appropriate, ecosystems that could be used in, or exempted from, the production of biofuels;

In paragraph 11, the Executive Secretary was requested to:

  • Compile, analyse and summarize information on tools for voluntary use, including on available standards and methodologies to assess direct and indirect effects and impacts on biodiversity of the production and use of biofuels, in their full life cycle as compared to that of other types of fuels, and impacts on biodiversity that affect related socio-economic conditions;
  • Carry out this work taking into account the work of, and in collaboration with, relevant partner organizations and processes;
  • Disseminate and facilitate access to the summarised information on tools through the clearing-house mechanism and other relevant means.

In Paragraph 12, the Executive Secretary was requested to compile information on gaps in available standards and bring it to the attention of relevant organizations and processes. Progress will be reported at sixteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 16).

In Paragraph 14, Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations were invited to submit experiences and results from assessments of the impacts of biofuel production and use on biodiversity and impacts on biodiversity that affect related socioeconomic conditions. The experiences submitted can be found at the Responses to Notifications page. The Executive Secretary will report on these submissions to SBSTTA 16, in addition to reporting on ongoing work of relevant partner organizations and processes.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme