2.4 Conclusions and Recommendations from the Workshop

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2.4 Conclusions and Recommendations from the Workshop

Identification of criteria for success of the Convention and measurement of success

The ultimate criterion for success will be the reversing of all adverse trends, whilst steps towards that goal concern implementation of the various Articles of the Convention in order to meet its targets: conservation, sustainable use, and equitably sharing the benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources. Sustainable use, such that there is no decline of biodiversity, must be defined and identified, and the benefits must be shared among all stakeholders. There is no mechanism to ‘police’ whether minimum standards have been reached, other than peer pressure from other contracting parties.

The key questions in this process are:

  • how do we measure which actions have led to success?
  • what actions are the most effective?
  • can we hope to conserve all biodiversity, or just reduce the rate of loss?
  • should we focus on endemic species, or on endangered species?
  • are indicators useful, and if so, which?

A working group at the workshop identified a list of necessary implementation steps which contracting parties should aim to achieve by the year 2000 (Box 4).

Box 4:

Necessary implementation steps by 2000

Article 6

  • identify in the strategy and action plan which sectors should take responsibility for each action, and the national mechanism for evaluation of results;
  • ensure there are funds and human resources to implement the plans.

Article 7

  • list priority components of biodiversity;
  • establish a mechanism for monitoring components (as far as possible);
  • monitor general activities which are detrimental to identified components.

Article 8

Greater knowledge is the key to implementation of this Article.
  • actions should not only cover protected areas: there is a need to know to what extent biodiversity inside and outside protected areas is covered;
  • establish a risk analysis system for genetically modified organisms (GMOs);
  • establish action plans or mechanisms for the prevention, control or eradication of alien species;
  • establish mechanisms to involve indigenous peoples.

Article 9

  • establish ex-situ conservation of endemic species which cannot be conserved in-situ;
  • clarify the position regarding species found only in other countries.

Article 10

  • show what sustainable use mechanisms are in place as set out by the government;
  • show how traditional sustainable use of biological resources has been encouraged by the government.

Article 11

  • identify adverse financial incentives and change them to positive ones that encourage biodiversity.

Article 12

  • demonstrate what already exists, and what is going to be done to maintain and improve research and training levels;
  • give evidence of a contribution to educational training for the specific needs of developing countries, showing what is available and making an assessment of needs.

Article 13

  • include a programme to promote public awareness and understanding in the national strategy.

Article 14

  • EIAs should include impacts on biodiversity and the processes by which these occur;
  • state for what areas and what type of accidents and emergencies (and with which countries) joint contingency plans have been established.

Article 15

  • achieve progress in international understanding of access to genetic resources.

Article 16

  • state progress to foster technology transfer, including training and capacity building;
  • evaluate technology needs in developing countries.

Article 19

  • undertake a parallel process for biotechnological research between providers and users of genetic resources.

Article 20

  • state Governmental contributions to the Global Environment Facility (GEF);
  • ensure that contributions are paid on time.

Recommendations on links between knowledge on biodiversity status and trends and the effectiveness of the Convention

  • Scientists must bridge gaps in understanding with decision-makers:

Scientists always want to know more about a subject, but politicians need to make the decisions. Scientists must translate their information into a form which can be used and understood by administrators, but must accept that decisions often have to be made with incomplete data. The precautionary principle should apply, and information provided by NGOs can sometimes fill the gap between the needs of scientists and politicians. There is a need for standardised forms and guidelines of criteria and indicators to give to policy makers, and these should be reviewed and updated regularly. In addition, protection of species, habitats and sites must be compatible with sustainable use and economic viability. Threshold limits (e.g. "critical loads", critical size of habitats) for irreversibility of impacts need to be defined.

  • EEA Member Countries should not rely on a limited range of legislative instruments and conservation principles:

Reliance on the Habitats Directive and Birds Directive (for those EEA Member Countries which are also EU Member States) is not adequate to cover the need to gain knowledge on all aspects of biodiversity. For instance, "hotspots" (areas of high species diversity) will not cover all biodiversity, and some biotopes which are naturally poor in species are still important. Selection of the best from several comparable areas may cover a full range of overall diversity, but will not necessarily be reliable.

  • EEA Member Countries must establish baselines:

Baselines containing reference information are necessary in order to detect and assess trends (cf. resilience and stability of systems). A functional approach within the landscape ecology context is also necessary, particularly for assessing what constitutes sustainable use. The problem of scale should be noted.

  • Adapt incentive schemes:

Today, traditional agricultural/land use systems are rarely economically sustainable without government subsidies of one form or another (e.g. tax incentives, grants, tourism, premium of value of products). Incentive measures need to be adapted, and moral or ethical commitment can assist such re-thinking.

Initiatives that are related to these recommendations include:

  1. EUROSTAT's environmental indicators project,
  2. OECD's economic incentives for maintaining biodiversity,
  3. the EEA's monitoring methodology and ecological regions map,
  4. the EU Biodiversity Strategy, under development,
  5. Sweden's "Natural Step", where the logic of a dynamic system is used in the context of sustainable use.

Recommendations on the approach to cross-sectoral integration of biological diversity issues

  • The problem:

The environment has slipped down the political agenda in many EEA Member Countries, because job creation and competitivity are seen as top priorities, and so environment ministries are generally in a weaker bargaining position than in around 1990. Even where a coordinated approach is achieved, there is a need to be sure that it delivers tangible action rather than political window-dressing. The CBD is seen in a negative light by some "development-led" sectors: it stops their initiatives, and threatens their independent action. Other sectors defend themselves against CBD considerations by claiming that the EU determines their actions. Conservation agencies see sustainable development clauses of the Convention as a threat, so they do not lobby for action. Subsidies, and sometimes policies, in other sectors produce effects contrary to the aims of the CBD.

  • Two levels of approach:

At the top level, the approach might possibly involve Heads of State in the CBD process, for example by inviting them to the Conference of the Parties if it could be held at the same time and place as some other Heads of State meeting. At the EU level, the Commission should compile a list of major subsidies by sector, so as to identify where they exacerbate rather than alleviate threats to biodiversity, and examine new legislation in all sectors, to check that it is consistent with CBD and should thus in future avoid adopting subsidies which have adverse effects on biological diversity.

Member Countries should exploit any high level opportunity to achieve a cross-sectoral approach, but the main thrust should be taken at the local level, where the relevance of the Convention is more easily described and owned. Emphasis on the local level will also take advantage of efforts invested in Agenda 21. For example, an injection of small amounts of funding can achieve a greater impact on local farmers than can governments in striving to alter the CAP. Agriculture is seen as a major threat to CBD principles, and positive incentives are required (as in Environmentally Sensitive Areas) rather than merely the negative stopping of subsidies. Other sectors should not be threatened, but their budgets should be used to achieve the aims of the CBD by adapting their policies, and they should be encouraged to do this because otherwise they will eventually lose out when their adverse impact on nature takes effect.

Box 5: Key areas of responsibility for each sector (depending on national / regional administrative structures)
Agriculture Administration of control/incentive mechanisms in commercial crop and stock husbandry
Fishing Sustainable use of natural biodiversity. Impacts of fish farming on natural biodiversity Sustainable use of natural biodiversity

Impacts of fish farming on natural biodiversity

Forestry Sustainable use of natural biodiversity

Impacts of plantation forestry on natural biodiversity

Hunting Sustainable use of natural biodiversity
Tourism and recreation Sustainable use of biodiversity mainly at the level of habitats/biotopes
Education Investment in the future to assure a commitment to biodiversity in subsequent generations
Development Administration of control/incentive mechanisms
Transport Administration of development mechanisms
Energy and resource conservation Administration of control/incentive mechanisms
Land owners Form groups, mainly to lobby the administrative levels above, and also at local level
'Green' NGOs Act as lobby groups with the potential to influence from the level of individual site owner/manager all the way through to national government
  • Positive approaches must include:

Language: there is a need to communicate with sectors using a common language. Scientific elitism is regarded with suspicion by administrators and land owners/users. There is a need to educate, and convince, administrators in many sectors as to the relevance of biological diversity to their economic activities and their impacts on biological diversity.

Mutual Benefits: positive actions for biological diversity should identify mutual benefits for all relevant sectors. Nobody should be a loser, although it may take some efforts to convince the less informed sectors.

Further information on the concept of integrated environmental assessment of biological diversity and its relevance to the results of the survey is contained in Annex 1.

European Environment Agency (EEA)
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