Chapter 4 Review of Implementation of the Convention


Development and adoption of a national biodiversity strategy is the foundation for implementation of the Convention by Parties. A national strategy will reflect how the country intends to fulfil the objectives of the Convention in light of its specific national circumstances, and the related action plans will constitute the sequence of steps to be taken to meet these goals.

The Convention requires that biodiversity considerations be mainstreamed into all aspects of national planning and that each Party shall integrate consideration of the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources into national decision-making. The requirement to mainstream the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources across all sectors of the national economy and of the policy-making framework is the complex challenge at the heart of the Convention.

Some countries have prior or underlying national frameworks for biodiversity based on elements of biodiversity management such as nature conservation strategies, wildlife policies, national park and protected areas plans and legislation, and have used or adapted these to meet the obligations of Article 6. However, the broad scope of the Convention has meant that many countries, developed and developing, are having to deal with a range of unfamiliar issues and concepts. This is the case both for Parties that are adapting existing frameworks to meet the obligations of the Convention and those that are developing national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs) for the first time. New issues include access to genetic resources and benefit sharing, bioprospecting, biosafety, and protection and application of traditional knowledge. For many Parties such issues are among their highest priorities.

Parties need assistance to develop national biodiversity strategies and action plans, to identify priority actions, to develop the necessary human and institutional capacity, and to obtain appropriate financial support. The Convention recognises that cooperation - between Parties and sources of external support, and between Parties themselves - is essential.

By January 2001, 125 eligible developing countries and countries with economies in transition had had biodiversity enabling activities approved. A number of developing country Parties are preparing their strategies with other resources. Overall, on the basis of the available information, it appears that around one third of the 153 developing countries Parties or Parties with economies in transition have completed the preparation of their national biodiversity strategies and action plans. Of the 26 developed country Parties, it appears that most have developed a national biodiversity strategy or have adapted existing strategies to reflect the measures set out in the Convention.

The absence of a requirement for Parties to inform the Secretariat when national biodiversity strategies have been completed and approved, or to provide a copy of the completed strategy document, has meant that it is not possible to maintain an up-to-date picture of the overall status of strategies. As a way of remedying this, the format for the second national reports includes a requirement that the Party inform the Secretariat of the status of development of its national biodiversity strategy and action plan and, if this has been completed, to provide a copy to the Secretariat. In this way it is hoped that a complete picture can be obtained and that completed strategy documents can be made available through the clearing-house mechanism for consultation by countries that have not yet completed the strategy development process.

Despite the fact that, for many countries, development of a national biodiversity strategy and action plan has been or will be a new experience, requiring new methods and arrangements, it is likely that implementing the strategy will make even greater demands. A key factor that may well determine the extent to which implementation succeeds, rather than the strategy remaining yet another document on the shelf, will have been the real degree to which the development of the strategy has been a country-driven process and not, in the case of developing country Parties, simply a response to the availability of financial support from the GEF.

When Parties reported in 1998, most of the developing countries that had begun work on development of a NBSAP were at a fairly early stage in the process, and as a result many of the reports were of an interim or summary nature. Many developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition did not fully start developing their NBSAPs until late 1997 or early 1998, and some later still.

The NBSAPs of developed country Parties draw heavily on existing plans and strategies. In those developed countries that had not completed their NBSAP in 1998 relevant activities were generally underway. A key task has been to integrate existing efforts (which include policies, law, programmes and guidelines) into the NBSAP process in a meaningful and effective way, avoiding duplication.

Consultation with or participation by stakeholders is taking place in many countries, although the level of actual involvement varies widely. Many Parties are drawing upon advice and experience from elsewhere.

A number of reports refer to cross-border protected areas, where international collaboration can lead to an increase in protection for certain species and habitats, increased opportunities for managers to cooperate and to share experiences, and an increased profile for conservation action. Such cross-border initiatives provide an important means of improving implementation of the Convention, although it is not clear to what extent they are a response to the Convention.

One Party provided information in its national report on the conclusions of a national audit on the management of the natural environment, which identified the need for reform in the distribution of financial resources and in administrative activities. This kind of analysis can be very useful, both as a check on the cost-effectiveness of action being taken, and as a stimulus for cross-sectoral integration.

A number of intergovernmental workshops in 1997 and 1998 reviewed regional implementation of the Convention, providing an opportunity for national focal points and others to share experiences. A general conclusion was that biodiversity planning, in the context of the comprehensive scope of the Convention, was a new concept for which there were no prior models or examples of best practice, and for which few methodological tools were available. All countries, notwithstanding differences arising from the specific conditions of each, were engaged in similar learning processes.

Specific problems identified at the start of the biodiversity planning process included:

  • Inadequate political support for crucial aspects of the planning process and for approval of action;
  • Weak legislative base;
  • Inadequate information;
  • Lack of appropriate scientific and technical expertise and experience in biodiversity planning;
  • Lack of institutional coordination within Governments, and between Governments and stakeholders;
  • Difficulties in access to and availability of funding;
  • Direct economic pressure on ecosystems and a lack of national budget allocations;
  • Need for increased public education and awareness;
  • Need for recognition of the long-term nature of the NBSAP process;
  • Complexity of translating a biodiversity strategy into a costed and prioritized action plan;
  • Scarcity of examples of the effective integration of biodiversity considerations into sectoral or cross-sectoral planning.

Action to integrate conservation and sustainable use into other sectors

Most countries recognize the importance of integrating biodiversity into other sectors, in particular agriculture and forestry. Mechanisms, such as land-use planning systems, are widely being put in place to achieve this. It is often difficult to determine to what extent this is a result of the Convention itself. In some regions, for example, Parties have clearly made significant efforts to include all stakeholders in the development of NBSAPs, and it appears that a wide range of sectors and interests are involved in the implementation of action plans. In most cases, a steering or coordination group has been set up, usually under the auspices of the ministry of environment or its equivalent. These groups mainly comprise representatives of the relevant ministries, research institutes and non-government organizations. Some countries mention the involvement of different levels of government, and others stress the involvement of trade, industry and the private sector. At regional level in Western Europe, European Community policy and legislation provides a further potential opportunity to develop intersectoral integration, building on strong national planning processes. Wide dialogue can lead to increased understanding of the Convention among a range of stakeholders, and this can in turn lead to improved integration.

The situation in countries with economies in transition varies widely. In some countries government-appointed commissions are responsible for ensuring integration, including through policy reviews in different sectors to address the links with environmental policy. In other countries activities in different sectors appear insufficiently coordinated. These differences are possibly due to different economic conditions. The development of cross-sectoral responsibility clearly emerges as a key issue, to be addressed through collaborative development of NBSAPs.

A study of key trends in integrating biodiversity into other sectors taken from the reports of Parties in the Pan-European region (Western Europe and countries with economies in transition) indicates that:

  • no single economic sector stood out alone as impacting on biodiversity across the whole of Europe;
  • the key sectors of concern indicated by European countries are agriculture, forestry, fishery, transport, tourism, and water management. Protected areas were highlighted as one of the main approaches to address integration;
  • National Reports generally made reference to a limited number of sectors concerning integration. Few National Reports indicated a wide spectrum of sectors;
  • important sectors for biodiversity, such as mining, coal, oil, chemicals are mentioned only in a few Reports;
  • regional trends appear to exist, with the European Community being most concerned with agriculture although taking an inter-sectorial rather than single sector approach, whilst in the CEE region there is relatively more concern than in Western Europe for forestry.1
In the Latin America and the Caribbean region a process of wide consultation for developing NBSAPs appears to be taking place, with the intention of leading to inclusive and integrated future programmes. Several Parties identify a body responsible for ensuring (or advising on) cross-sectoral integration, nevertheless more can be done in this area.

Several Parties in the Asia region clearly recognize the importance of the NBSAP process in promoting dialogue between diverse stakeholders, and in facilitating the development of a better awareness and understanding of cross-sectoral responsibility. This is an important process, as in many countries there are overlaps of mandate and areas in which there is no clear coordination, while in others there are deficiencies in integration resulting from restrictions inherent in the legislative framework.

Mechanisms for achieving integration vary. Some Parties have established national biodiversity commissions or committees derived from key areas of government, NGOs and the private sector, in order to coordinate or advise on the development and implementation of biodiversity policy. Other Parties have less broad-based mechanisms, with one ministry or group of ministries taking the lead in the development and implementation of biodiversity policy, although other bodies may be able to contribute.2

Many countries recognize the importance of public education and awareness for integrating the objectives of the Convention into other sectors. A general lack of understanding of the importance of biological diversity and the dangers arising from its loss are highlighted in several reports, and a number of Parties state that they are planning activities to address this. Some countries are aware of the opportunities offered by ecotourism for generating revenue for investment in conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and as a method for raising awareness and interest in biological diversity.

Several national reports give the impression that integration is led from one ministry and, in effect, imposed on other sectors in the name of national policy, with the risk that integration is more apparent than real in such cases. On the other hand, it does appear from many reports that there are real and creative efforts to ensure effective integration of biological diversity into other sectors, which is a very positive outcome.

Action to identify and monitor biological diversity and impacts upon it

Effective implementation of the Convention requires identification of the components of biodiversity and the activities that impact on conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and the effective management of this information.

In Latin America, much is known about important components of biodiversity, and the key threats to biodiversity have generally been identified, but there are also significant gaps in knowledge concerning particular regions and components of biological diversity. The status of information systems varies widely, from Parties with very few mechanisms for managing and ensuring access to information, to those that are in the process of developing more integrated information systems that will facilitate the flow of information necessary for effective implementation of the Convention. However, national reports suggest that greater integration and information-sharing is needed, and that most monitoring and information management currently relates to the status of biodiversity rather than threats to it.

Within the small island developing States, information on key components of biodiversity is available, and there is an understanding of some of the major threats, but the information base is known to be incomplete, and the availability of integrated information is a problem. There are also problems because of the relative remoteness of some island areas, which can mean that access to them for assessment and monitoring purposes is restricted.

In Asia, major elements of biodiversity at the species and ecosystem level are generally known, and the main threats to biodiversity are also well documented. However, particularly in the larger countries, this information is often patchy, leaving significant gaps. Action is already under way in a number of these countries to fill information gaps, to address the causes of biodiversity loss, and to continue to monitor the situation.

Within Africa, lack of baseline information is widely identified as an impediment to the effective implementation of the Convention and one that needs to be addressed urgently. Several countries note that national biodiversity units have been or are being set up in order to improve access to information.

In Western Europe, there is significant activity under way to assess and monitor the various elements of biological diversity, including a number of international programmes (eg. bird-ringing and recording). Such work is gradually being complemented and strengthened, and there are moves towards increased integration at national and international levels. However, mechanisms for assessment and monitoring of genetic diversity still lag behind, as they do elsewhere in the world, and should be given more attention.

Those countries with economies in transition often have an excellent information base, based on research and monitoring programmes. It is not clear to what extent these programmes have been augmented or adjusted as a result of ratification of the Convention. There are a number of initiatives under way to increase access to existing information, such as through the UNEP Environment and Natural Resources Information Network programme (assisting countries to develop their information management capacity and reporting ability).

All the developed country Parties have significant amounts of information for biodiversity assessment purposes. A number of countries are developing programmes, targets and indicators for use in monitoring, planning and reporting. These are predominantly at an early stage of development. Some of these programmes are based on further development of work developed for other initiatives, including the review of the implementation of environmental action plans and the statistical information prepared for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).

There are great differences in the state of development of information systems supporting development and implementation of biodiversity conservation policy. Although most countries possess a significant information base, in some areas lack of baseline data is still identified as an impediment to the effective implementation of the Convention, particularly in Africa, and improved coordination of information management is often required. National information networks are under development in a number of countries. There is commonly need to reduce duplication of effort and increase compatibility between such systems.

Article 8(j) and related provisions

Article 8(j) and related provisions
Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate: (j) Subject to its national legislation, respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and promote their wider application with the approval and involvement of the holders of such knowledge, innovations and practices and encourage the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such knowledge, innovations and practices. Article 8(j) (In-situ conservation) Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate: (c) Protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements. Article 10(c) (Sustainable use of components of biological diversity) 2. Such exchange of information shall include exchange of results of technical, scientific and socio-economic research, as well as information on training and surveying programmes, specialized knowledge, indigenous and traditional knowledge as such and in combination with the technologies referred to in Article 16, paragraph 1. It shall also, where feasible, include repatriation of information. Article 17(2) (Exchange of information) 4. The Contracting Parties shall, in accordance with national legislation and policies, encourage and develop methods of cooperation for the development and use of technologies, including indigenous and traditional technologies, in pursuance of the objectives of this Convention. For this purpose, the Contracting Parties shall also promote cooperation in the training of personnel and exchange of experts. Article 18(4) (Technical and scientific cooperation)

Decision IV/9 of the Conference of the Parties invited Governments and others to provide the Executive Secretary with case studies and other relevant information to support the discussions of the Open-ended Inter-sessional Working Group on Article 8(j) and related provisions of the Convention.

Interaction between traditional and other forms of knowledge relating to the conservation of and sustainable use of biological diversity is an important issue for the successful implementation of the Convention. The validity and potential impact is recognized in Article 8(j) of the Convention. Reference to traditional knowledge is found in an increasing number of decisions from the first to the fifth meetings of the Conference of the Parties, reflecting the growing recognition of its status as an essential component of implementation of the Convention. This incremental growth in reference to traditional knowledge reflects the growing understanding of Parties of its intrinsic importance and the need to address issues such as mechanisms for cooperation, consent, benefit-sharing and conservation. These are important components of the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and the effective participation of indigenous and local communities in the implementation of the Convention.

At the national level, recognition of and respect for indigenous rights and cultures may have the potential to promote the sharing of the benefits of traditional knowledge. In advance of any such sharing it is essential that mechanisms, such as national legislation and international instruments, be developed and implemented in cooperation with indigenous and local communities to protect the inherent rights and `ownership' of the holders of such knowledge. The lack of confidence within indigenous and local communities towards many such instruments has led to a general recognition that sui generis regimes may be worth exploring where current laws and agreements cannot be effectively used. At present intellectual property laws such as geographical indicators and trademarks, as well as certain aspects of common law, are being explored with respect to the collective traditions and values of indigenous and local communities. A number of countries have acknowledged their constitutional obligations to recognize and affirm existing aboriginal and treaty rights that may constrain compliance with international instruments in areas such as fishing and forestry.

Incorporation of the traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities in development and resource management decision-making processes emerges as an issue of considerable importance. Access to information is a very sensitive issue, and ethical guidance for the conduct of research in indigenous communities is needed. The relationship between representatives of indigenous communities and holders of traditional biodiversity-related knowledge may require further examination, specifically with respect to matters of prior informed consent and the collective nature of indigenous knowledge. More countries should provide case studies and related information on this so as to share experience on how to reach the respect and value of traditional biodiversity-related knowledge in order to meet the principles contained in Article 8(j) and related provisions.

Protected areas

Virtually all reports from every region stress the importance of protected area systems in national programmes for implementing conservation, and the action to be taken as part of the national biodiversity strategy and action plan is identified. It is in general essential to ensure that:

  • protected area systems cover the full range of biodiversity adequately,
  • legislation, enforcement and management are effective (including sufficient human and financial resources),
  • protected areas are integrated with the wider region, and
  • all stakeholders are involved in the establishment and management of protected areas.

International protected area initiatives and trans-frontier protected areas are effective means of encouraging and extending national action. For example, within the countries of the European Union and those countries seeking to apply for membership, particular emphasis is placed on development of the networks of protected areas established under European Community legislation. This international network of nationally designated sites (Natura 2000) aims to protect core areas for all species and habitats of European significance. Elsewhere in Europe and beyond, the Bern Convention is encouraging the development of a parallel network of core areas called the Emerald Network.

In the wider Pan-European region, including the Russian Federation and the Central Asian republics, there is a programme for development of a Pan-European Ecological Network as part of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy. The aim of this programme is to build on the series of core areas with a series of buffer zones, corridors and other protected areas that between them ensure the efficient conservation of all biodiversity and landscape elements of Pan-European significance. Networks of this sort are already under development in many of the countries with economies in transition, as well as some of the countries of Western Europe and parts of North America.

Among Pacific small island states the GEF has been supporting development of an approach to the establishment and management of conservation areas that involves local stakeholders effectively and takes full account of the complex land tenure systems in these countries. With one or two GEF-supported conservation areas in each country, it is hoped that the lessons learnt will be repeated elsewhere, strengthening conservation in the Pacific islands, and making it more relevant to local people.

Consistent with the ecosystem approach, there is an increased emphasis on the relationship between protected areas and the surrounding lands in many other countries too, coupled with uptake of a bioregional approach to protected areas establishment, and an increase in the involvement of local peoples. The GEF is supporting a range of protected areas projects that are making significant moves in this direction.

Protected areas are a critical component of the measures that will ultimately determine how effectively countries are implementing the Convention. However, the issue of protected areas has not been fully addressed by the COP to date, except as one tool in a range of tools for implementing conservation and sustainable use in particular ecosystems. Various organizations, led by the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, are starting to draw together lessons learnt in protected areas establishment and management for the World Parks Congress in 2002; this will in turn provide major input to the SBSTTA and COP discussions on protected areas in 2004.

Sustainable use

Sustainable management agreements between purchasing companies and local inhabitants can provide the basis for avoiding illegal take and over-harvesting, and generate greater benefits for local communities from commercial use. The CAMPFIRE programme in Zimbabwe is an example of community-based natural resource management. It seeks to demonstrate that with appropriate incentives, wildlife is a viable land-use option in ecologically marginal areas.

For successful establishment and implementation of an agreement it is essential that the participation is broad-based and takes into account the traditional structure of the communities where relevant. All stakeholders need to be involved in the process to ensure acceptance and ownership. However, there is a need to differentiate between producing and non-producing communities and carefully allocate the revenues according to the contributions made to the project as well as the costs incurred. Such an effort will be successful in establishing a clear link between producer (defined by cost) and benefit.

All available case studies demonstrate that sustainable use has positive impacts on the conservation of the species harvested as well as on support species. The greatest benefit from sustainable use approaches will not be in the form of tangible and measurable outputs such as equipment and money, but rather the catalysing role that this type of activity plays in coupling conservation needs with the needs of communities

Incentive measures

Decision III/18 of the Conference of Parties calls for Parties to provide the Executive Secretary with case studies on incentive measures, and the experience demonstrated by these case studies was used to inform discussions at the third meeting of the COP.

Effective incentive measures for the sustainable management of biological diversity are recognised as an important priority. A series of recent meetings have specifically focused on the use of economics and incentive measures for biodiversity management, and case studies originating from some of these efforts have provided valuable input to discussion. Several conclusions can be drawn:

  • Successful design and implementation of incentive measures requires consideration of socio-cultural factors; while economic factors are highly significant, they are not the only determinants of biodiversity management outcomes;
  • Opportunities to implement incentive measures are country-specific; each having a unique institutional environment defining opportunities for, and constraints on, policy measures;
  • Involvement of the private sector is facilitated by a participatory approach; this sector becomes increasingly committed to conservation and sustainable use when their concerns are taken seriously and incorporated into policy.

Successful incentives for conservation and sustainable use arise from a combination of measures incorporating economic, social, cultural and legal factors. Improving biodiversity management involves successfully changing patterns of human behaviour, and in designing new incentive measures the implementing agency must take concerted action on the legal, social, and enforcement fronts simultaneously. Two approaches can be taken to creation of incentives. Formal constraints are written instruments that provide a legally enforceable framework for the economic and social activities of a society; these include laws, government policies (including economic measures) and property rights. Social constraints are unwritten rules that govern everyday human behaviour in economic and social exchange. Cultural norms, social conventions, traditions and taboos are all social constraints which stem from belief systems, and compliance with them is by convention.

Environmental impact assessment

Decision IV/10 of the Conference of Parties called for Parties to provide the Executive Secretary with case studies relating to environmental impact assessment (EIA), and the experience demonstrated by these case studies was used to inform discussions at the fourth meeting of SBSTTA. Six countries responded to this call, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Namibia and Oman, as well as UNEP and the World Bank.

An environmental impact assessment process is in place in many countries, and is often a legal requirement. However such processes often fail to incorporate biological diversity considerations in full, and even if they are included these considerations may subsequently be regarded as low priority in comparison with economic and development considerations.

On the other hand, work on biological diversity and impact assessment is being undertaken by Parties and relevant organisations. Examples include the workshop on biological diversity and impact assessment in Central Africa, held in Cameroon in March 1999, and the European Directive on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, substantially modified in 1997. Impact assessment was analysed at the seventh meeting of the COP of the Convention on Wetlands (San Jose, May 1999); at the sixth meeting of COP of the Convention on Migratory Species (Cape Town, November 1999); and at the twelfth meeting of the COP of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (Nairobi, April 2000).

The case studies and other information submitted to the Executive Secretary in 1999 were not sufficient, either in number or in their degree of detail, to reach definitive conclusions about the present status of incorporation of biodiversity considerations into environmental impact assessments. The report was therefore considered as an initial step in covering the issue, with the expectation that further information and analysis would lead to the development of guidelines on the incorporation of biological diversity considerations into EIA.

On the basis of the case studies reviewed by the Executive Secretary, the following preliminary conclusions can be drawn:

  • Impact assessments on biological diversity should address actual and potential effects of development activities and projects on ecosystems, species and genetic resources, as well as effects on functional performance and resilience of natural habitats and ecosystems.
  • The value of Strategic Environmental Assessments is highlighted. These consider the overall environmental policy context instead of focusing on individual projects and/or resources and should address conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and ecosystems.
  • The lack of adequate scientific data on the status and trends of biological diversity, including information regarding threatened and endangered species and their habitats, constitutes a serious limitation in carrying out such assessments.
  • Continuous monitoring is required through baseline/benchmark data and indicators, to provide early warning of potential threats, and to measure impacts on biological diversity, ecosystem processes and interactions. This should address both specific and cumulative environmental effects resulting from human activities.
  • Some adverse impacts may be wide ranging and have effects beyond the limits of particular ecosystems or national boundaries. Environmental management plans and strategies should therefore consider regional and transboundary impacts, and provide the basis for consistent and integrated approaches. These plans and strategies may be backed up by legislation and incentive measures, including measures to restore or rehabilitate ecosystems and to recreate habitats and biological resources.
  • Proposed programmes and projects that may have a potential negative impact on biological diversity should be systematically screened from the earliest stage of the proposal and through all subsequent stages of the development process. Such assessments should provide early warning of incipient problems rather than assessing damage at a stage where it may already be irreversible.
  • In all stages of the assessment process, the involvement of interested and affected stakeholders should be ensured, including governmental bodies, the private sector, research institutions, indigenous and local communities and non-governmental organisations, through the use of participatory approaches.
  • There is an urgent need for capacity building, including the development of local expertise in rapid assessment methodologies, techniques and procedures, to permit, at the very least, the identification of impacts of major importance on biological diversity.
A number of countries in Africa and Central Europe have also referred to the need to develop procedures for addressing agricultural biological diversity in environmental impact assessments.

Access and benefit sharing

The Conference of the Parties, through a series of decisions, has requested Parties to provide information to the Executive Secretary on a number of issues related to access and benefit-sharing, including developments of national, regional and sectoral administrative and policy measures and case studies on access and benefit sharing arrangements. On the basis of this information, the Executive Secretary is to facilitate an exchange of information among Parties and to help inform subsequent discussions of the COP.

In order to implement the Convention efficiently, measures are required for regulating not only the provision of genetic resources, but also the commitments of the user. As the provider and user may be from different countries, they may well be subject to different legal, administrative and policy systems. This has important implications for agreements and their development.

As more and more access legislation is being enacted at the national level, there is a need for mechanisms to help harmonize efforts to implement the Convention framework at the national and regional levels, and to ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits. Guidelines need to be developed and adopted based on the best practices developed by those countries that have set up legislation, including administrative regulations and other administrative and policy measures. Countries choose a variety of mechanisms to introduce access measures into their national law, including new stand-alone laws or additions to existing law relating to biodiversity or specific sectors such as fisheries, forestry or protected areas.

One message common to all case studies is the need to establish a clear institutional setting and a legal and policy framework which is favourable for multidisciplinary arrangements. In most cases where specific access legislation has been developed, countries have decided to establish a committee at the national level, including stakeholders from all levels of society. Biodiversity prospecting is a multidisciplinary and complex field, and the cooperation of a range of sectors in society is required in order to develop effective regulations.

Because the chances of a drug being developed from any one collection of genetic material is relatively low, benefit-sharing mechanisms with immediate incentives are important, rather than ones based only on potential future royalties. Basic needs of the local inhabitants are crucial in creating incentives for protecting natural resources, and the extended period required for the development of products (particularly so when dealing with potential pharmaceutical products) means that long-term relationships are important. In some cases, measures are in place to set up joint research programmes involving institutions in the provider and user countries. In order to allow countries to negotiate effectively with international companies, a register of experts upon which communities can draw has been proposed. In general, scientists, development workers, and local community representatives will lack commercial and legal experience to negotiate agreements without competent legal counsel. Communication in the host country language is needed to satisfy the requirement for informed consent.

Financial and human resources

Many Parties clearly recognize that they are in the early stages of a process that will bring changes and add new tasks to the programmes of their agencies. Training in new skills is identified as a future need in many counties, particularly in areas such as biotechnology and biosafety. In other more traditional areas, such as taxonomy, there are always shortages of skills in particular areas.

The national reports from many Parties in Latin America, Asia, and Africa identify a common need for additional financial and human resources in order to help implement the Convention, lack of these being a major constraint to implementation, particularly in Africa. Most countries in these three regions already receive support from the GEF for the development of strategies and action plans, and other international support is also being provided through bilateral and multinational development assistance. Only two Parties refer in their reports to funding biodiversity through debt-for-nature swaps.

Within Western Europe, the human and financial resources available for implementation of NBSAPs are generally good. Further financial resources are identified as being required in several countries, but innovative approaches to raising revenue and sponsorship are being explored, particularly with the private sector. In some parts of Europe, significant funds are available through the EC, where structural funds and the Cohesion Fund can be used to finance activities that support biodiversity conservation.

The availability of resources varies widely in those countries with economies in transition, and most of the countries are seeking outside assistance, both financial and technical, in at least some areas of activity. Such support varies from specific projects, such as managing protected area systems or developing biodiversity information management, to a much more wide-ranging requirement for capacity building. In most cases the GEF is supporting the development of NBSAPs.

A review of GEF biodiversity enabling activities was completed in late 19993, based on interviews and review of key documents as well as visits to 12 countries: Argentina, Belize, Cameroon, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Gabon, Kenya, Mexico, Poland, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe. Additional case studies were commissioned in India, Nepal and the Philippines. Broader reviews were commissioned for enabling activities in two regions, the Arab States, and the South Pacific Islands.

An overall finding of the review was that most countries appear to have undertaken a worthwhile and cost-effective national biodiversity planning process, or are in the process of doing so. Most of the NBSAPs reviewed during the assessment were well-informed and impressive documents, containing what appeared to be reasonable assessments of current biodiversity strategies and trends. Given that the stated objectives of enabling activities are extremely ambitious and set a very high standard for any country to achieve, it may be more realistic to think of these as helping set the stage for national biodiversity planning.

Significant progress in biodiversity planning has indeed been made by many countries, but the development and implementation of national biodiversity plans which can make a real difference to current rates of biodiversity loss, and the commitment and capacity to implement such plans, are still some way in the future.

Seven national reports submitted to the Secretariat by developed country Parties contained figures on their biodiversity funding. Some of these contained information on specific environmental funding programmes of which biodiversity is an integral part. Examples include the Austrian Global Environment Cooperation Trust Fund administered by the World Bank, the Belgian Special Programme for Africa operated through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Darwin Initiative established by the United Kingdom, the Phare and Tacis programmes developed by the European Commission, and the French Global Environment Facility (FGEF).

However, most national reports did not provide quantitative information regarding financial support to biodiversity, and the lack of a standard mechanism for compiling information on international support for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use makes assessment of its extent difficult.

Mechanisms for sharing national experience

The compilation and analysis of case studies is central to several areas of work of the Convention. Although it was requested that national reports should include case studies, and several calls for case studies have been made in COP decisions, it is evident that this information has not been provided in a consistently structured manner, and many Parties have not reported on the issues at all. Experience to date suggests that additional means to encourage and assist Parties to respond to requests for case studies are needed. Workshops can be a particularly useful mechanism to elicit reports, and the support of international organizations can be valuable. Particular efforts may be needed to support the preparation of case studies for the least developed countries and other small island developing countries.

Improving the availability and comparability of case studies, and encouraging their preparation and submission, will promote sharing of experience and analysis of lessons learned. The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties took a step in this direction by endorsing an outline for case studies on alien species.

At its second meeting, the Conference of the Parties requested Parties to organize a national clearing-house mechanism steering committee, gave advice on the content of information to be placed in the national CHM, and requested Parties to link national CHM's to the Convention's website through the Internet, where possible. By early 2001 the clearing-house mechanism network had 137 national focal points or `participating nodes' responsible for coordinating CHM activities at the national level. Fifty national clearing-house mechanisms had been linked to the Convention's website, twenty from developed country Parties and thirty from developing countries or countries with economies in transition. However the information suggested by the COP in 1995 (country profiles, national biodiversity strategies and action plans, appropriate legislation, scientific and technological information, and financial sources) has broadly speaking not yet been made available through these mechanisms..

Many developing country Parties have received funding through the GEF's biodiversity enabling activities for the establishment of their national clearing-house mechanism. The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties considered the independent evaluation of the pilot phase of the clearing-house mechanism, which had included seeking the views of Parties, and supported the implementation of the proposed strategic plan for the clearing-house mechanism. It identified a series of measure to be undertaken by Parties in the period 2001-2002. Chief amongst these were measures to establish or strengthen:

  • National directories of scientific institutions and experts working on specific thematic areas of the Convention and to make these available through the clearing-house mechanism;
  • A national baseline of existing scientific and technical cooperation initiatives relevant to the implementation of the Convention;
  • National clearing-house mechanisms.

Implementation of policies and actions across international borders

Many international initiatives exist bringing national Governments together for planning and implementing activities of potential relevance to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. This is dealt with in more detail in the following chapter, but it is important to recognize here the strong influence that international agreements and programmes have on national action.

International legislation Within the European Union, and even beyond its boundaries amongst those countries aspiring to membership, national action is strongly influenced by EC policies and legislation (directives and regulations). For example, the EC Birds Directive and the EC Habitats Directive mentioned earlier require member States to identify and adequately manage protected sites for certain listed species - countries can be taken to court and fined for inadequate implementation of these directives.

Information collection and management The European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are amongst organizations requesting information from national organizations in standard formats, and in doing so providing leadership in promoting and harmonizing approaches to information collection and management. Within the western hemisphere region, the 1996 Summit of the Americas called for the establishment of an Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) to promote compatible means of collection, communication and exchange of information relevant to decision-making. Similar efforts to develop better application of information within regions and themes can be found in other parts of the world.

Coordinated programmes The countries of the Arctic region (Canada, Denmark, Finland Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States) are collaborating at an intergovernmental level on sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. Within the context of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and the Circumpolar Protected Areas Network (CPAN) national actions are being undertaken as part of a coordinated international programme.

Mutual interest The countries around some of the major rivers have a clear interest in jointly defining controls relating to water use and pollution, which also have implications for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. This provides a strong influence on national action. Examples would be the agreements covering the Danube or Rhine rivers crossing Europe.

1 Drucker, Graham and Damarad, Tatsiana. (2000). Integrating Biodiversity in Europe: A Review of Convention on Biological Diversity General Measures and Sectoral Policies. Tilburg (Netherlands). European Centre for Nature Conservation. page 20
2 Types of bodies established in the Pan-European region include: inter-ministerial or departmental committees, biodiversity steering groups, national commissions for biodiversity, experts committees, national biodiversity forums, sustainable development roundtables, interdisciplinary working groups, sustainable development commissions, national environment and sustainable development commissions. (Drucker and Tamarad (2000), table 5).
3 GEF (1999)

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme