COP 1 decided that the modus operandi of SBSTTA should be considered at the first meeting of SBSTTA 1 (decision I/7, paragraph 1 (d)). COP 2 endorsed recommendation I/1 of SBSTTA on the modus operandi, and requested SBSTTA to keep this under review with a view to improving its functioning on the basis of experience gained (decision II/1, paragraphs 2, 3). SBSTTA 2 reviewed its modus operandi at its second meeting and, in recommendation II/11, advised certain revisions. COP 3 noted this recommendation and decided to consider it further at COP 4 as part of the longer-term review of the programme of work and the operations of the COP and subsidiary organs (decision III/2, paragraph 2). In decision IV/16, COP 4 adopted a revised modus operandi of SBSTTA (decision IV/16, paragraph 11; annex I).

In decision V/20, the COP adopted further conclusions relating to improving the operations of SBSTTA. It decided that meetings of SBSTTA should take place every year (so that there will be two meetings of SBSTTA between each ordinary meeting of the COP) (decision V/20 III, paragraph 17). It adopted a further amendment to the modus operandi of SBSTTA, to allow SBSTTA to establish ad hoc technical expert groups and adopt terms of reference for them under the guidance of the COP(decision V/20 III, paragraph 21).

COP 5 recognized that there is a need to improve the quality of scientific, technical and technological advice provided to the COP, and to undertake sound scientific and technical assessments on issues critical for implementation of the Convention. It requested SBSTTA to continue to improve the way it conducts its work (decision V/20 III, paragraphs 25, 26), and asked SBSTTA to identify and develop methods to undertake or participate in scientific assessments, and to identify and regularly update assessment priorities and information needs (decision V/20 III, paragraph 29).

COP 6 requested the SBSTTA to prepare proposals for the improvement of the quality of its advice (decision VI/27, paragraphs 6-8).

COP 8 endorsed the consolidated modus operandi of the SBSTTA, as contained in annex III of decision VIII/10.

COP 9, in decision IX/29 II, provides additional elements to the consolidated modus operandi, and guidance on the procedure for the identification of new and emerging issues.

COP 10 requests the SBSTTA to take into account the need to focus its work, in particular, on the scientific and technical aspects of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 (Decision X/12).

Decision XI/13 A requests the SBSTTA to continue implementing decision VIII/10 and X/12 and provides suggestions for further actions to improve the effectiveness of SBSTTA.

In preparation for SBSTTA-16, the Secretariat prepared document (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/16/2) containing an assessment of the effectiveness of SBSTTA in meeting its mandate. The eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties reviewed this document and requested the Executive Secretary, in decision XI/13 B, to identify scientific and technical needs related to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.