Japan Biodiversity Fund

Voluntary Peer Review

The overall objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Voluntary Peer Review process is to support Parties to improve their individual and collective capacities to implement the Convention more effectively through the preparation and implementation of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs).

In 2015, further to Decision XII/29 of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, the JBF organized an Informal Working Group comprised of 17 experts nominated by Parties from different regions to develop a methodology, in a participatory fashion, for the Voluntary Peer Review (VPR) process under the Convention. Several meetings of the Informal Working Group were organized by the JBF for this purpose. The resulting methodology was tested by Parties in Ethiopia and India in 2015 and 2016, respectively, before being piloted in November 2017. Three countries have been reviewed under the pilot phase to date, including Montenegro, Sri Lanka, and Uganda in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively. The pilot phase was led and implemented by the JBF Team, with the intention to transfer the now mature methodology to the Monitoring Unit of the SCBD. To keep Parties and other stakeholders informed and to share results as well as stimulate Parties to volunteer to be reviewed, the JBF organized and implemented side-events on the VPR during COP12, COP13, and COP14.

As stated above, the pilot phase of the VPR methodology was successfully implemented in Montenegro, Sri Lanka, and Uganda. The overall outcomes for the participating countries and reviewers are as follows:

The VPR in Montenegro was successful in observing and making recommendations on a large number of technical, institutional, biodiversity-related issues and processes at national and lower levels, including on links to related international processes. It also offered significant mutual learning opportunities. Reviewers learned not only from the assessment of Montenegrin policy, but also from contrasting Montenegrin experiences with their domestic ones. The experiences are also particularly useful for the reviewers from the countries that may host the next VPR.
Montenegro appreciated being a part of the VPR process. It has helped the country to better understand the status of implementation of its national biodiversity strategies. Learning from the experiences of other countries was considered a useful tool to achieve sustainable development in the country. The VPR process also assisted in enhancing transparency in activities related to the development of the NBSAP and similar programs.

Following the setup of the country’s NBSAP, the review in Sri Lanka and the resulting review report were structured around the following five national strategic objectives:
  1. Ensuring long-term conservation for biodiversity;
  2. Promoting the sustainable use of biodiversity;
  3. Conservation of agri-biodiversity;
  4. Promotion of the equitable sharing of benefits from biodiversity; and
  5. Improving human wellbeing through the restoration and enhancement of key ecosystems.

The following four cross-cutting issues were also addressed:
  1. Sharing of data;
  2. Awareness, communication and outreach;
  3. Budget; and
  4. A mainstreaming strategy for implementing partner agencies.
The VPR process also provided a valuable opportunity to enhance skills in relation to identifying gaps and prioritizing NBSAP targets according to existing financial and human resources. The experience gained through VPR also served to improve the process of peer review and will assist in carrying out future VPRs in other countries.

Uganda found that VPR process was very beneficial in terms of institutional capacity enhancement (awareness, experience-sharing and lessons learned, especially among the Local Governments), knowledge transfer and application of VPR knowledge, the country’s commitment through the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, realization of the importance of evidence-based budgeting for and financing of biodiversity conservation, and the importance of inclusiveness and a multi-stakeholder (sectoral, institutional and disciplinary) approach in the NBSAP process and implementation.

For more details, please visit the VPR homepage.