1 Introduction

1.1 Scope of the Study

CONNECT, the European Nature Conservation Research Institutes network, in association with the European Topic Centre on Nature Conservation (ETC/NC) of the European Environment Agency (EEA), has recently completed a contract for the EEA examining progress being made in the 18 EEA Member Countries with regard to national implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, see Box 2). By the time this study began most of the EEA Member Countries (see Map), and the European Union itself, had ratified the Convention, and all had done so by the end of 1996. The EEA’s interest in assessing Member Countries’ progress confirmed links between national obligations under the Convention and the EEA’s work on nature conservation and integrated environmental assessment, and its project IC5 on the state and prospects of International Conventions. The EEA was also anxious to support its Member Countries in coordinating their national follow-up work on the CBD.

The underlying aims of the study were:

  • to stimulate national reporting activities;
  • to provide a forum for exchange of information on national approaches;
  • to gather information for the European Commission relevant to its own follow-up.

A project core team was set up with experts in biodiversity information and integrated assessment, including one directly involved in the planning and implementation of the Convention. The survey of progress centred around a questionnaire sent to official national focal points in all 18 EEA Member Countries, and a subsequent workshop. The survey was supported by the CONNECT and ETC/NC networks of ecological research institutes and nature conservation bodies, covering 14 of the 18 Member Countries, which collaborated in providing in-country commentaries on the responses.

A very good response to the survey questionnaire was obtained, with completed replies received from 16 of the Member Countries. The initial survey results were discussed by a workshop including representatives of the official national focal points to the CBD, research institutes, non-governmental organisations, the EEA and the core team. Problems in the interpretation of some specific questions, which had given rise to variable responses, were overcome by discussion clarification following the workshop and subs clarification.

A full report including the detailed responses to the survey, which had been augmented following the workshop, was delivered to the EEA in December 1996. The current report summarises the national follow-up activities, considers them in the contexts of the EEA’s work on biodiversity assessment and of cross-sectoral issues, and concludes with examples of best practice and an account of problems and difficulties faced by EEA Member Countries in implementing the Convention.

1.2 National Responsibilities under the Convention

In ratifying the Convention, EEA Member Countries became committed to implementation of all its Articles (see Box 2). Specific Articles of greatest interest to the EEA include:

  • Article 6 Development of national strategies, plans and programmes;
  • Article 7 Identification and monitoring of components of biodiversity; identification of adverse impacts, maintenance of suitable data;
  • Article 8 In-situ conservation measures.
Box 2: Summary of the Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention contains 42 Articles and is a legal framework to promote the adoption of all measures aimed at ensuring (i) conservation of biodiversity, (ii) sustainable use of its components, and (iii) the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

Article 6: Develop or adapt national strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and integrate the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies.

Article 7: Identify components of biological diversity important for its conservation and sustainable use, and monitor those components, particularly those requiring urgent conservation measures and those which offer the greatest potential for sustainable use. Identify and monitor processes and activities likely to have significant adverse impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and maintain and organise data derived from monitoring.

Article 8 covers in-situ conservation: Establish a system of protected areas to conserve biological diversity, together with guidelines for their selection, establishment and management. Manage biological resources important for the conservation of biological diversity whether within or outside protected areas; promote the protection of ecosystems and natural habitats and maintain viable populations of species in natural surroundings; promote environmentally sound and sustainable development in areas adjacent to protected areas. Rehabilitate and restore degraded ecosystems; promote the recovery of threatened species; regulate or control risks associated with the use and release of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology which are likely to have adverse environmental impacts; control alien species which threaten biological diversity; maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Support in-situ conservation in developing countries.

Article 9: Promote ex-situ conservation of components of biological diversity, preferably in their country of origin. Establish facilities for appropriate research, and measures for the recovery and rehabilitation of threatened species and their reintroduction into their natural habitats. Manage collections of biological resources from natural habitats for ex-situ conservation purposes so as not to threaten ecosystems and in-situ populations of species. Provide financial and other support for ex-situ conservation facilities in developing countries.

Article 10: Integrate conservation and sustainable use of biological resources into national decision-making; adopt measures for the use of biological resources to avoid or minimise adverse impacts on biological diversity; protect traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use; support local populations to develop and implement remedial action in degraded areas where biological diversity has been reduced; encourage cooperation between governmental authorities and the private sector in developing methods for sustainable use.

Article 11: Adopt economically and socially sound measures that act as incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of components of biological diversity.

Article 12: Take into account the special needs of developing countries for research and training. Establish and maintain programmes for scientific and technical education, training and research for the identification, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and its components.

Article 13: Promote public understanding of the importance of conservation of biological diversity in the media and educational programmes, and cooperate with other states and international organisations in developing educational and public awareness programmes.

Article 14: Introduce appropriate procedures to require environmental impact assessment of proposed projects that are likely to have significant adverse effects on biological diversity and, where appropriate, allow for public participation in such procedures. Promote reciprocal notification and consultation on activities under Contracting Parties’ jurisdiction or control likely to have significant adverse effects on the biological diversity of other states or areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. Notify potentially affected states immediately of imminent danger or damage to biological diversity originating under their own jurisdiction or control. Promote national arrangements for emergency responses to such events, whether caused naturally or otherwise, and encourage international cooperation through joint contingency plans to supplement national efforts.

Article 15: Encourage access to genetic resources for environmentally sound uses by other Contracting Parties; develop scientific research based on genetic resources provided by other Parties (with their full participation), and share the results and commercial benefits of such research and development.

Article 16: Provide and/or facilitate access for and transfer to other Contracting Parties of technologies that are relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity or make use of genetic resources and do not cause significant damage to the environment. Provide access to and transfer of these technologies to the other parties which provide those resources. Encourage the private sector in this aim for the benefit of both governmental institutions and the private sector of developing countries. Cooperate with respect to patents and other intellectual property rights that may have an influence on the implementation of the Convention.

Article 17: Facilitate the exchange of information relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking into account the special needs of developing countries. Include results of technical, scientific and socio-economic research, as well as information on training and surveying programmes, and specialised, indigenous and traditional knowledge.

Article 18: Promote international technical and scientific cooperation in conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and in implementing this Convention through the development and implementation of national policies. Develop and strengthen national capabilities by means of human resources development and institution building, training of personnel and exchange of experts. Promote joint research programmes and joint ventures for the development of relevant technologies.

Article 19: Provide for effective participation in biotechnological research activities by those Contracting Parties, especially developing countries, which provide the genetic resources for such research. Promote access on a fair and equitable basis for Contracting Parties to the results and benefits arising from biotechnologies based upon genetic resources which they provide. Set out appropriate procedures for the safe transfer, handling and use of any living modified organism resulting from biotechnology that may have an adverse effect on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Provide information about the use and safety regulations which are required in handling such organisms, and on the potential adverse impact of the specific organisms concerned to the Contracting Party into which those organisms are to be introduced.

Article 20: Undertake to provide, in accordance with capabilities, financial support and incentives for those national activities which are intended to achieve the objectives of this Convention, in accordance with national plans, priorities and programmes. Developed country Parties should provide new and additional financial resources to enable developing country Parties to meet their agreed full incremental costs of implementing measures which fulfil the obligations of this Convention.

Article 26: Present reports to the Conference of the Parties on measures which have been taken for the implementation of the Convention and their effectiveness in meeting its objectives.

1.3 The Third Conference of Parties

The third session of the Conference of Parties to the CBD, held in Buenos Aires from 4 to 15 November 1996, sought to address implementation in the context of decisions on timetabling adopted at the 2nd COP held in Jakarta one year earlier. Of the many discussions held and decisions adopted, those most relevant to this study are as follows:

  • Several delegations emphasised the centrality of Articles 6 and 8 to the successful implementation of the Convention, and the EU emphasised both in-situ and ex-situ conservation, integration of biodiversity into relevant sectoral policies, and benefit-sharing. Several countries highlighted the UN-Norway Conference on Alien Species and recommended that Parties use its results in their implementation of Article 8(h) (control of alien species). The final decision also highlighted that a central role of the Clearing House Mechanism should be the sharing of experiences and dissemination of information relevant to Articles 6 and 8, and emphasised that the first national reports, to focus on measures taken to implement Article 6, should be submitted no later than 1 January 1998.
  • Debating Article 7, most delegations endorsed the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) recommendations on assessments and assessment methodologies, identification and monitoring, indicators, and capacity building for taxonomy. The EU said development of indicators should be given a high priority. A decision was adopted calling on the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to provide financial resources to developing countries to address the need for capacity building, including taxonomy, to enable them to develop and carry out initial assessment for designing, implementing and monitoring programmes in accordance with Article 7.
  • Input from the CBD to the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests was considered, and numerous delegations supported the formulation of a medium-term programme of work to develop and implement methods for sustainable forest management. SBSTTA’s initial work programme which includes devising methodologies for the development of criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management and analysing the impact of human activity on the loss of forest biological diversity was endorsed. A decision was also taken to provide a report to the 4th COP on the status and trends of biodiversity in inland water ecosystems.
  • Concerning indigenous knowledge, the COP adopted a decision requesting Parties to develop national legislation to implement Article 8(j) (on indigenous knowledge) in consultation with indigenous and local communities, and to include information on this in national reports. The decision also requested background documentation to consider linkages between Article 8(j) and issues such as technology transfer, access, ownership of genetic resources, intellectual property rights, and alternative systems of knowledge protection and incentives.
  • Addressing cooperation between the CBD and other biodiversity-related conventions, reports provided by the Secretariat acknowledged the need to facilitate an exchange of information and experience among related Conventions, harmonise reporting requirements, and coordinate programmes of work. The COP decision called for the Ramsar Convention to act as a lead partner in the implementation of activities under the CBD related to wetlands, urged for national biodiversity plans and strategies to incorporate the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and migratory species and their habitats, and encouraged cooperation with the Conventions on Climate Change and Desertification.


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