Below are selected excerpts of decisions of the Conference of the Parties relevant to marine and coastal biodiversity. For the complete decision texts, please click on the relevant decision.
At COP 14, in decision 14/9
, Parties welcomed new sets of areas described as ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) from two regional EBSA workshops in the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and in the Baltic Sea. Parties also welcomed the report of the Expert Workshop to Develop Options for Modifying the Description of Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas, for Describing New Areas, and for strengthening the Scientific Credibility and Transparency of this Process, held in Berlin from 5 to 8 December 2017. COP was unable to agree on a set of modalities to modify EBSAs and describe new EBSAs (through means other than CBD regional workshops). Therefore, COP requested the Executive Secretary to continue work to identify such modalities and to submit them to a future meeting of SBSTTA and COP, taking into account the set of modalities annexed to the decision. Parties also took note of an addendum to the terms of reference of the informal advisory group on EBSAs.
Also at COP 14, in decision 14/10
, the COP urged Parties to: increase their efforts to avoid, minimize and mitigate the impacts of marine debris, to conduct further research on its impacts, and emphasized the need to remove it; address the potential impacts of deep-seabed mining; and protect biodiversity in cold-water areas. The COP requested the Executive Secretary to continue to compile and synthesize information on the impacts of anthropogenic underwater noise and on experiences with the application of marine spatial planning. The COP also welcomed the capacity-building and partnership activities being facilitated by the Executive Secretary through the Sustainable Ocean Initiative in collaboration with partners, including the Global Dialogue with Regional Seas Organizations and Regional Fishery Bodies.
At COP 13, in decision XIII/12
, Parties welcomed a new set of areas described as ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) from regional EBSA workshops in the Seas of East Asia, the North-West Indian Ocean and the North-East Indian Ocean. Parties also discussed means to enhance scientific methodologies and approaches to the description of EBSAs, and ways and means to incorporate new scientific information into the EBSA descriptions.
Also at COP 13, in decision XIII/11
, Parties adopted the voluntary specific workplan for biodiversity in cold-water areas within the jurisdictional scope of the Convention, which contains actions to maintain and enhance the resilience of ecosystems in cold-water areas and enhance understanding of ecosystems in these areas.
In decision XIII/9
on marine spatial planning and training initiatives, Parties encouraged the application of marine spatial planning (MSP) and requesting further technical work by the Secretariat in synthesizing lessons-learned in MSP, and calling for further capacity-building work under the Sustainable Ocean Initiative.
In decision XIII/10
, Parties took note of voluntary practical guidance on preventing and mitigating the impacts of marine debris on marine and coastal biodiversity and habitats, which contains actions needed to enhance understanding of the scale and impacts of marine debris, improve waste management and recycling, reduce the production and consumption of plastics, increase production of environmentally friendlier materials and support an enabling environment for these actions.
Finally, in the same decision (decision XIII/10)
, Parties requested the Secretariat to continue its work on the compilation, synthesis and dissemination of experiences and scientific research on the adverse impacts of underwater noise on marine and coastal biodiversity
At COP 12, in decision XII/22
, Parties welcomed the reports of the second set of regional workshops for describing ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs), held in seven regions: Southern Indian Ocean, Eastern Tropical and Temperate Pacific, North Pacific, South-Eastern Atlantic, Arctic, North-West Atlantic, and Mediterranean. Parties also requested the Executive Secretary to include the summary reports of these workshops in the EBSA repository
, and to submit them to the General Assembly of the United Nations and particularly its Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, as well as to Parties, other Governments and relevant international organizations. Parties also requested the Executive Secretary to present the reports to the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects. Parties also requested the Executive Secretary to continue to facilitate the description of areas meeting the criteria for EBSAs through the organization of additional regional or subregional workshops where Parties wish workshops to be held;
Also at COP 12, Parties adopted decision XII/23
addressing key threats to marine biodiversity, namely anthropogenic underwater noise and ocean acidification, and encouraged action to enhance knowledge regarding these threats and to mitigate their impacts on marine and coastal biodiversity. In the same decision, Parties invited relevant organizations to advance their work on enhancing methods and tools for marine spatial planning. Parties also requested additional capacity-building workshops and partnership activities within the framework of the Sustainable Ocean Initiative to address priority issues identified for respective regions concerning the achievement of Aichi Biodiversity Targets in marine and coastal areas.
In the same decision, Parties also adopted priority actions to achieve Aichi Biodiversity Target 10 for coral reefs and closely associated ecosystems, focused on enhancing the resilience of these important ecosystems and facilitating the achievement of Target 10. Some of the actions include reducing land-based pollution, promoting sustainable fisheries and improving the design of marine protected area networks for coral reefs, implementing poverty-reduction programmes for reef-dependent coastal communities, and developing socioeconomic incentives for coral reef conservation.
At COP 11, decision XI/17
, Parties welcomed the reports of the first two regional workshops for describing ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs), held in the Western South Pacific and in the Wider Caribbean and Western Mid-Atlantic, pursuant to decision X/29, paragraph 36.
Parties requested the Executive Secretary to include the summary reports of this first series of EBSA workshops in the EBSA repository
and to submit them to the United Nations General Assembly so that they could be considered by relevant UN processes linked to the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, in particular the United Nations General Assembly Working Group, which is considering the development of an international agreement for biodiversity conservation in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction. Parties also requested the Executive Secretary to organize additional regional or subregional EBSA workshops where Parties wish workshops to be held.
Also in decision XI/17, Parties to the Convention called for more research into the potential adverse effects on marine and coastal biodiversity of underwater noise from ships and highlighted the growing concern on the adverse effects of marine litter. Parties also recognized the growing impacts of climate change on coral reefs and agreed, that overcoming this challenge would require significant efforts. Decision XI/17 also contained a call to fisheries management bodies to play a stronger role in addressing the impacts of fisheries on biodiversity. The series of agreements at COP 11 on oceans and coasts built on the commitment countries made at the United Nations Rio+20 summit in June to protect and restore marine ecosystems and to maintain their biodiversity.
At COP 10, in decision X/2
, the Parties adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, with its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. While all 20 targets apply to the programme of work on marine and coastal biodiversity, targets 6 (on fisheries), 10 (on coral reefs) 11 (on marine and coastal protected areas) are particularly relevant.
Also at COP 10, in decision X/29
, the Parties conducted an in-depth review of the progress made in the implementation of the programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity, took note of progress made and noted with concern that these efforts have not been able to prevent the serious decline in marine and coastal biodiversity and ecosystem services. This wide-ranging decision included requests to the Executive Secretary to, inter alia:
- compile and synthesize available scientific information on anthropogenic underwater noise and its impacts on marine and coastal biodiversity and habitats (paragraph 12);
- organize a series of regional workshops to facilitate the description of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) through application of scientific criteria in annex I of decision IX/20 (the “EBSA criteria”) (paragraph 36);
- establish a repository for scientific and technical information and experience related to the application of the EBSA criteria (see www.cbd.int/ebsa) and to develop an information-sharing mechanism (paragraph 39);
- organize a joint expert meeting to review the impacts of unsustainable fishing (paragraph 53);
- facilitate the development of voluntary guidelines for the consideration of biodiversity in environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental assessments in marine and coastal areas;
- prepare a report on the progress made in the implementation of the specific work plan on coral bleaching, adopted in decision VII/5;
- compile and synthesize available information on experiences and use of marine spatial planning and an invitation to Parties and other Governments to increase their efforts to apply related tools;
- organize an expert workshop to identify ways to accelerate progress on the establishment and effective management of marine protected areas;
- convene an expert workshop on the role of marine biodiversity and ecosystems in climate change adaptation and mitigation;
- develop a series of joint expert review processes to monitor and assess the impacts of ocean acidification (paragraphs 64 and 66).
The decision also included, for example, a request to Parties to ensure that ocean fertilization activities do not take place until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities (paragraph 59).
At COP 9, in decision IX/20
, the Parties requested the Executive Secretary to compile and synthesize scientific information on the potential impacts on marine biodiversity of both direct human-induced ocean fertilization to sequester CO2 and ocean acidification. The COP also adopted scientific criteria for identifying ecologically or biologically significant marine areas in need of protection and scientific guidance for designing representative networks of marine protected areas and took note of the four initial steps to be considered in the development of representative networks of marine protected areas. Furthermore, the COP decided to convene an expert workshop to provide scientific and technical guidance on biogeographic classification systems and on the identification of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction in need of protection.
Also at COP 9, in its decision on biodiversity and climate change (decision IX/16, section c)
, Parties requested the Executive Secretary to bring the issue of ocean fertilization to the attention of the Joint Liaison Group
and recognized the current absence of reliable data covering all relevant aspects of ocean fertilization. The COP further requested Parties to ensure that ocean fertilization activities do not take place until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities.
The conservation and sustainable use of high-seas biodiversity, specifically deep seabed genetic resources beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, was taken up at COP 8 (decision VIII/21)
, when Parties noted that hydrothermal vent, cold seep, seamount, coldwater coral and sponge reef ecosystems contain genetic resources of great interest for their biodiversity value and for scientific research as well as for present and future sustainable development and commercial applications, and recognized an urgent need to enhance scientific research and cooperation. The COP requested the Executive Secretary to further analyse and explore options for preventing and mitigating the impacts of some activities to selected seabed habitats.
In decision VIII/22
, the COP recognized the importance of integrated marine and coastal area management (IMCAM) for reaching the 2010 target and requested the Executive Secretary to compile and analyse case studies on the implementation of IMCAM and to provide lessons learned for the consideration of the SBSTTA.
In decision VIII/24
, on protected areas, the COP expressed its deep concern over the range of threats to marine ecosystems and biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, and recognized that marine protected areas are an essential tool to help achieve conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in these areas. The COP also recognized that the CBD has a key role in supporting the work of the United Nations General Assembly with regard to marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction, by focusing on provision of scientific and, as appropriate, technical information and advice and requested the Executive Secretary to synthesize the best available scientific studies on priority areas for biodiversity conservation in these areas; refine, consolidate and, where necessary, develop further scientific and ecological criteria for the identification of marine areas in need of protection, and biogeographical and other ecological classification systems; and collaborate in the further development of spatial databases containing information on these areas.
The COP also decided to convene a scientific expert workshop on ecological criteria and biogeographic classification systems, which was held in the Azores, Portugal, in October 2007 (the final report of which is available here
Based on the recommendations of SBSTTA, COP 7 adopted decision VII/5
. Annex 1 to this decision contains the elaborated programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity. The structure (prorgamme elements) of the programme of work remains the same as it was in decision IV/5, except for the addition of enabling activities designed to assist Parties to overcome obstacles to implementation. Activities in the programme of work adopted in decision IV/5 that have been completed have now been removed. New material on marine and coastal protected areas, mariculture, high seas biodiversity, and coral bleaching has been added, including an update to the specific work plan on coral bleaching. In addition, relevant activities from the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development have been incorporated into the programme of work.
Based on the recommendations of SBSTTA, COP 6 adopted decision VI/3
. This decision took note of the progress made in the implementation of the programme of work, including the integration of coral reefs into programme element 2.
The decision also requested the Executive Secretary to continue facilitating the implementation of the specific work plan on coral bleaching, as contained in annex II to SBSTTA recommendation VI/2 and the work plan on physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs, as contained in annex I thereto, setting priorities as appropriate, with special emphasis on small island developing States and the least developed States, in active collaboration with the International Coral Reef Initiative and its partners, the Regional Seas Programmes of the United Nations Environment Programme, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and other relevant organizations.
In addition, decision VI/3 invited the Executive Secretary to continue developing further the work plan on physical degradation and destruction of coral reefs as contained in annex I to SBSTTA recommendation VI/2.
Finally, the decision invited the Executive Secretary to strengthen collaboration with Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans. COP also recognized the need for support through the financial mechanism for implementation of the coral reef work plans.
The implementation of the programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity, adopted in decision IV/5, was reviewed by SBSTTA 8 in March 2003. In the resulting recommendation VIII/3, SBSTTA stressed that the programme elements of the programme of work still correspond to global priorities, and although much progress had been made, the programme of work had not yet been fully implemented. Therefore, SBSTTA recommended that the Conference of the Parties extend the time period of the programme of work by an additional six years, and that an elaboration of the programme of work be undertaken by the Executive Secretary in accordance with paragraph 2 of recommendation VIII/3 A for the consideration of the Conference of the Parties at its seventh meeting.
SBSTTA also considered the outcomes of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Marine and Coastal Protected Areas and the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Mariculture, which resulted in sections B and C respectively of recommendation VIII/3. SBSTTA recommended that these sections be incorporated into the elaborated programme of work.
COP 5 reviewed progress in the implementation of the work programme, encouraging the Executive Secretary and SBSTTA to complete the implementation of decision IV/5 as soon as possible, and added a work element on coral reefs, specifically on coral bleaching, to be integrated into programme element 2 (marine and coastal living resources), with a minimum three-year time schedule. It further endorsed the results of the Expert Consultation on Coral Bleaching, held in Manila from 11 to 13 October 1999, and included them as an annex to the decision. The annex contains priority areas for action on coral bleaching under four headings: information-gathering; capacity-building; policy development/implementation; and financing. The work plan on coral bleaching was to take into account recommendations in this annex decision V/3
COP 5 also made suggestions for further action in each of the existing programme elements and approved the terms of reference and duration of work specified for the ad hoc technical expert groups on marine and coastal protected areas and mariculture, as contained in annex II to SBSTTA recommendation V/14, with slight modification (decision V/3, paragraph 15). It also invited UNESCO to continue its strong involvement with the work programme and asked the Executive Secretary to coordinate with the secretariats of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, with a view to exploring further collaboration, including the development of joint work programmes.
COP 5 further noted in the relevant decisions that work on the following issues should be incorporated into the thematic work programmes, including that for marine and coastal biological diversity: impact assessment, incentive measures, implementation of Article 8(j), and public education and awareness (decision V/15 paragraph 4; decision V/16, paragraph 8; decision V/17, paragraph 5; decision V/18, section I, paragraph 1(a)).
Based on the SBSTTA recommendations, COP 4 adopted decision IV/5
on the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity. Its annex contains the programme of work arising from decision II/10. Sections II and II also specifically address the issue of coral bleaching and related biodiversity loss, and the special needs and considerations of small island developing States in implementation of the work programme.
COP 4 urged Parties to propose projects that promote implementation of the programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity when requesting assistance through the financial mechanism. It has also urged Parties, countries, relevant organizations and donor agencies to contribute to the implementation of specific elements of the work programme.
COP 2, in 1995, subsequently adopted decision II/10
on the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity, supporting some of SBSTTA's recommendations, subject to additional conclusions by COP on the recommendations of SBSTTA 1 on scientific, technical and technological aspects of the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity (as set out in annex I to decision II/10). Decision II/10 provided guidance on the process to be utilized to develop a work programme on marine and coastal biological diversity, and on key substantive elements of the work programme. It also provided guidance to the Parties in relation to marine and coastal biological diversity, and provisions on cooperation with related conventions and relevant international and regional organizations. In particular, it requested the Executive Secretary to prepare for SBSTTA a study on the bio-prospecting of genetic resources of the deep seabed in consultation with the secretariat of UNCLOS II/10, paragraph 12.
Also at COP 2, the Ministerial Statement on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity referred to the new global consensus on the importance of marine and coastal biological diversity as the "Jakarta Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity". The Ministerial Statement reaffirmed the critical need for the COP to address the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity, and urged Parties to initiate immediate action to implement COP decisions on this issue Ministerial Statement.
Decision II/10 instructed the Executive Secretary to provide to SBSTTA, in accordance with annex II to the decision, advice and options for recommendations to COP in further elaborating the recommendations of SBSTTA. This annex also referred to annual reports to SBSTTA to be produced by the Executive Secretary to the Convention, as part of further work of the Secretariat on marine and coastal biological diversity. The first report was to include a three-year work plan.
In accordance with decision II/10, the Executive Secretary established a roster of experts on marine and coastal biological diversity, on the basis of country input; and, drawing from the roster, convened the first meeting of the Group of Experts on Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity (Jakarta, March 1997). The outcome of this meeting provided the basis for the elaboration by the Executive Secretary of a three-year programme of work on marine and coastal biological diversity. This programme of work was considered and amended by SBSTTA 3 recommendation III/2.
Marine and coastal biological diversity was an early priority for the COP. At its first meeting, the COP requested SBSTTA to advise on scientific, technical and technological aspects of the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity (decision I/7)
Accordingly, the first meeting of SBSTTA produced recommendation I/8 on scientific, technical and technological aspects of the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biological diversity.