The main challenge facing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the full and effective implementation by Parties of their obligations. The main mechanisms for implementation are the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) that, according to CBD Article 6(a), countries are required to prepare. To date, 171 CBD Parties, representing 89% of the Parties, have developed NBSAPs.
From 2008 to 2010, the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies undertook a global assessment of NBSAPs to draw out lessons learned from national experiences in their development, implementation and revision. The assessment put specific focus on the extent to which NBSAPs were successful in integrating biodiversity concerns into sectoral and cross-sectoral policies, including sustainable development strategies, poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs), and national processes to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It also sought to identify obstacles preventing Parties from making progress.
The assessment includes a desk review of relevant NBSAPs, participation in regional NBSAP capacity building workshops and a series of individual country case studies.
The assessment revealed that NBSAPs have been invaluable steps in the implementation process. They have helped to create a better understanding of biodiversity, its value and how to address threats. They have also contributed to filling legal gaps in implementation and extending the coverage of protected areas in many countries.
However, the assessment also revealed that NBSAPs have not been able to seriously affect the main drivers of biodiversity loss and to sufficiently influence the policy beyond the remit of the national agency directly responsible for biodiversity.
These shortcomings are largely attributable to weaknesses in the NBSAP development processes. Those processes were often more technical than political and did not manage to obtain commitment and ownership to biodiversity at the higher political level.
Many NBSAPs are overly ambitious and prescriptive while at the same time lacking a strategy for financing implementation. They often lack time-bound and measurable targets, prioritization and mechanisms for monitoring and review. Only a minority of them provide for sub-national strategies and action plans.
The three objectives of the CBD have received varying levels of attention in NBSAPs. ‘Conservation’ received the most attention, followed by ‘sustainable use’. ‘Equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources’ received the least amount of attention.
The assessment also revealed that second generation NBSAPs are better prepared, better anchored at a higher political level and focus more on mainstreaming and self-reliance.
Included in the assessment is a set of 28 recommendations for the preparation and design of future NBSAPs. The recommendations may serve as guidance for the revision and updating of NBSAPs by 2015, as called for in Aichi Target 17 UNU study