2.2 Analysis of Results

General Approach by Member Countries

The survey asked whether a national biodiversity coordinating body, assembly or committee had been established to follow up the Convention. Establishment of such a body was not required by the Convention, but was an approach adopted by many Contracting Parties. Furthermore, the survey asked whether national strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity had been developed or were planned, and whether it was intended to adapt an existing strategy.

Ten out of 17 countries had a formal biodiversity coordinating body (see Figure 2), but most countries had no clearly identifiable budget. The terms of reference for the coordinating body were, for example, ‘to implement the objectives of the Convention’ (Finland), ‘development of a national strategy’ (Austria), ‘implementation and coordination’ (Netherlands); ‘developing costed targets …’ and ‘recommending ways ...’ (UK). The exception was Ireland, where the terms of reference were ‘to consider the implications of the Convention for Government Departments’. Most countries intended to adapt or use existing legislation in order to meet obligations under the Convention, where possible.

Article 6 General Measures for Conservation and Sustainable Use

Five countries had national strategies in place at the time of completing the survey, and of the 10 which were developing strategies all but two expected these to be completed by the end of 1997. Most countries intended to use legislation already in place. Only three countries already had national action plans in operation, five were developing them, and the remainder stated this as a future priority (see Figure 2). All sixteen countries had integrated, or intended to integrate, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans. Environment, agriculture, forestry and fisheries and aquaculture were the sectors perceived to be have the greatest priority in this respect (see Figure 3).

Figure 2: National strategies and plans

Figure 3: Government sectors integrated into sectoral or cross-sectoral plans

In drawing up national strategies and plans, Contracting Parties are required to consult widely. In the survey, respondents were asked for the names and roles of prominent major groups or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) participating in the development of biodiversity action plans. It appeared that the interests of business and industry had been given greater priority than (for example) farming and fishery interests. However, as might be expected, environmental NGOs and the scientific and technological community were the most widely involved (see Figure 4). The amount of governmental financial support to national biodiversity efforts of the groups and NGOs involved was extremely variable. All but two of the sixteen countries had made a financial commitment, although five countries were unable to put an absolute value on their contribution.

Figure 4: Major official groups and NGOs participating in development of action plans

Article 7 Identification and Monitoring

Only two countries had yet to identify components of biodiversity (see Figure 5) for which it was important to consider issues of conservation and sustainable use, and in both of these countries work was in progress. In the other countries this activity generally took the form of drawing up lists of key species and habitats, or red lists of species. Only one country reported a red list of habitats, and one was undertaking a "hotspots" analysis to determine greatest needs.

Monitoring systems had been set up or were being planned where such components were identified, and these generally focused either on species or habitats requiring urgent conservation measures, or on species or habitats which have a "high profile" in terms of public awareness. More extensive biodiversity monitoring programmes had yet to be implemented in most countries. All countries either had monitoring programmes in place or planned to evaluate processes or activities likely to have adverse impacts on certain components of biodiversity. However, in most cases, these impacts had not been compared with the overall status and trends in biodiversity. Most countries made use of indicators of biodiversity or impacts in their monitoring programmes, but little information was supplied concerning the monitoring programmes per se. In many cases it was intended to store information collected in computerised databases, sometimes linked to geographical information systems, but there was little agreement over the systems and format best suited to the task. The setting of specific targets for maintaining biodiversity was seen to be a useful tool in meeting obligations under the Convention, but the setting of these targets had been approached in a wide variety of ways. Nine countries were developing targets to some extent.

Figure 5: Identification and monitoring of components of biodiversity Type of components identified

Article 8 In-situ Conservation

Not all aspects of Article 8 were examined in the survey, but from the replies received it was apparent that the majority of countries had made considerable progress towards meeting their obligations (see Figure 6). The establishment of protected areas was frequently linked to the requirements under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives and to the consequent establishment of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, or to other previously existing protection schemes. Least progress had been made towards meeting obligations under Article 8 (h) and (j): measures to control alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species, and securing indigenous practices and knowledge relevant to biological diversity. Fifteen countries had legislation for the protection of threatened species, and eight countries had an identifiable budget for in-situ conservation.

Nine countries reported implementing either eight or nine of the possible measures under Article 8, but others reported that they had implemented only one and two respectively (Figure 7).

Figure 6: In-situ conservation measures implemented

Figure 7: Numbers of in-situ conservation measures implemented (Maximum 9)

Article 9 Ex-situ Conservation

All but three countries either had existing measures, or had plans to incorporate measures concerning ex-situ conservation in their national action plans. The conservation measures included tended to be specific to a particular group of organisms within a particular country, for example, fish, trees or agricultural grain, and to take the form of gene banks or breeding programmes. In general, action plans promoted the extension and development of existing programmes (see Figure 8), for example, establishing and maintaining research facilities, measures for the recovery, rehabilitation or reintroduction of threatened species, or managing collections of biological resources from natural and semi-natural habitats. In five countries support was also given to ex-situ conservation facilities in developing countries. None of the respondents were able to supply details of a budget allocation: nine countries gave no response to the financial part of the question, while the remaining four were either unable to supply details at the time, or could not separate out this component.

Figure 8: Ex-situ conservation activities reported

Article 10 Sustainable Use of Components of Biological Diversity

This Article requires inter alia that Contracting Parties should integrate consideration of the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources into national decision making, and that governments and the private sector should be encouraged to cooperate in developing methods for sustainable use.

In most (12 out of 16) countries such cooperation was encouraged, particularly with respect to agricultural activities and forestry (see Figure 9), but cooperation was only linked in any way to sectoral plans in six countries. Criteria for sustainable use of biological resources had been established in six countries, and were planned in two others. These criteria concerned forestry in three countries, and aquatic systems in another. One country noted the need for indicators of sustainability.

Figure 9: Parts of the private sector involved in development of sustainable use

Article 11 Incentive Measures

All but two countries had, or were developing, specific socio-economic measures to act as incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources (for example, environmental subsidies, agri-environment measures, farming subsidies), but very few were able to give an actual cost of these measures. The majority of these incentives were in the areas of agriculture and forestry. Several countries mentioned subsidies to encourage more "nature-friendly" farming methods, sometimes linking this with the EU agri-environment regulation 2078/92/EEC. Two countries mentioned funding to provide compensation for damage caused by large predators. In both Belgium and Germany the measures were being taken at the regional rather than federal level.

Article 12 Research and Training

Contracting Parties are required to establish and maintain programmes for scientific and technical education, and training for the identification, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and its components. Six countries had set up such programmes specifically to meet their obligations under the Convention, while three others were in the process of modifying existing programmes. In two cases existing programmes had been modified already, while in two further countries existing training programmes were deemed to be sufficient to meet obligations. Only two countries were able to give an actual cost of setting up such programmes. Mechanisms to encourage research and cooperation in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity existed or were being developed in 14 out of 15 countries (one did not respond to this question), but only seven included mechanisms to promote international cooperation. The needs of developing countries in this context were specifically taken into account by ten countries, but in most cases little information was provided as to the mechanisms involved.

Article 13 Public Awareness and Education

Respondents were asked whether education and public awareness was being promoted regionally, nationally or internationally as part of their plans or strategies. This aspect received a high priority within each of the responding countries (with the possible exception of one which did not reply to this question). All except one intended to promote public awareness nationally, but only five countries regionally. International cooperation on this issue had a lower priority, with only four countries giving a positive answer. It was unclear from several countries’ responses whether these public awareness programmes had been strengthened as a result of the Convention or had already been in existence.

Article 14 Impact Assessment and Minimising Adverse Impacts

In all sixteen countries procedures for environmental impact assessment were already in place, usually being required by Acts of Parliament (for the Flemish region only in Belgium). Only four countries specifically mentioned the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment (85/337/EEC), although all EU Member States were required to implement this Directive. Species, habitats or ecosystems were the most frequently cited components of biodiversity involved, and all countries used public participation such as public enquiries in assessment procedures. While 13 countries stated that they were planning, or already had introduced, means to take environmental consequences of their programmes and policies into account in their planning procedures, there was little information and no examples of how this was to be effected. Most countries were not taking any action on subsidies which have adverse environmental consequences: these were being identified and would be phased out to a greater or lesser extent in three countries; the issue was being actively considered in one other country.

Considering procedures for notifying neighbouring states of immediate dangers to their biological diversity, responses given by many of the countries (with one exception) suggested that they were unaware of the UN-ECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention of 1991), although all EEA Member Countries (except Liechtenstein) are parties to this Convention. This meant that the national responses probably underestimated the real situation. Eight countries specified that they had emergency response procedures to deal with activities or events which presented an imminent danger to biodiversity within their own borders, often relating specifically to oil spills. 11 countries indicated that they had arrangements in place with other countries for exchange of information concerning cross-border impacts on biodiversity (many specifically for aquatic ecosystems, such as shared rivers, estuaries or marine waters) and noted formal arrangements under ECE Conventions. Eight of these countries had some kind of formal agreements for notifying other states of immediate danger to their biological diversity, particularly with respect to oil spills, while others were considering this issue or the use of informal procedures.

Article 15 Access to Genetic Resources

The aim of this Article is to encourage access to genetic resources for other Contracting Parties, and to share the results of scientific research based on genetic resources. Four countries stated that they currently controlled access (with a further specific instance of control regarding endangered species), but only two of these did not intend to relax such controls to comply with the requirements of the Convention. Two countries, however, stated that they had measures to promote the equitable sharing of research results and benefits arising from the commercial and other utilisation of genetic resources. Two further countries had proposals for future measures. Seven countries had, or soon would have, joint programmes with other states for research on genetic resources, particularly with respect to commercial crop plants. Three of these seven responses specifically mentioned research involving developing countries.

Article 16 Access to and Transfer of Technology

Access by other states to technologies relevant to conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity or genetic resources was promoted in the public sector by eight countries, and six countries had cooperation with developing countries (for example, through aid programmes). Only two countries, however, had measures that required the private sector to cooperate with government institutions in this respect, or with the private sector in developing countries; one further country had voluntary agreements.

Article 17 Exchange of Information

Nine countries facilitated exchange of information relevant to conservation and biological diversity, or intended to do so; four countries specifically cited the Clearing House Mechanism to be set up under the Convention (the pilot phase of which has been extended to December 1998). Five of the other countries had not yet elaborated such plans and two did not respond to the question. Of the nine countries which responded positively, eight included exchange of the results of technical, scientific and socio-economic research, as well as information on training and surveying programmes, specialised knowledge, indigenous and traditional knowledge.

Article 18 Technical and Scientific Co-operation

Respondents were asked about their governments’ plans for provisions to promote international technical and scientific cooperation in the field of biological diversity. The ten countries which gave a definite response all gave positive replies concerning their obligations for at least some of the five parts(1) of Article 18. Cooperation in the field of biodiversity through national and international institutions and through the training and exchange of expertise was given the highest priority. Of the remaining six countries, three were unable to respond to the question since plans had not been finalised, one made no national response while two did not make any response to this question at all.

Article 19 Handling of Biotechnology and Distribution of its Benefits

Regulations for the safe transfer, use and handling of living modified organisms resulting from biotechnology which may have adverse effects on biological diversity had been incorporated into the national plans of seven countries; by specific Acts in three cases and by implementation of EU Directives in four. Four more countries had plans under development. Five had no regulations or did not respond to the question. Where regulations existed, a register of information concerning these organisms was kept, or (in one country) was in preparation. Where regulations were under development, three countries had no register as yet, but one country did keep records of organisms notified or approved.

Article 20 Financial Resources

Because of the cross-cutting nature of many of the issues concerning biodiversity, many countries were unable to identify specific budgets for follow-up activities. Only six countries were able to give a figure for their support and incentives for the follow-up of the Convention, (Article 20, part 1). There were differences in respondents’ interpretation of the survey concerning this, and some amounts given related to internal administrative costs rather than the cost of the measures themselves. Nine countries stated that they had provided new or additional funds to enable developing countries to meet their obligations under the Convention, eight of which specifically cited their contributions under the Global Environment Facility. However of the nine, only four were able to estimate actual cash figures. Two countries did not respond to the question.

Article 26 Reports

Under the agreed reporting arrangements of the Convention, there is a requirement on governments to report on the measures they have taken to implement the provisions of the Convention. Although no party had yet formally to submit such a report, a list of associated relevant reports was compiled from the responses to the survey. There were differences in the amount of detail supplied by each country concerning such publications: 10 countries had already published a total of 36 plans and reports, while 10 countries were planning reports, mostly to be published in 1997 as part of their obligation to report to the Conference of the Parties (some countries being in both categories).

1: Development and implemantation of national policies with other Contracting Parties; strengthening national capabilities in other/developing countries by means of human resource development and institution building; development of indigenous and traditional technologies; training of personnel and exchange of experts; establishment of joint research programmes and joint ventures.



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