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226. It was also identified earlier that there was a need for the scientific community to go beyond the presentation of scientifically unambiguous statements of status and trends, and engage more actively in policy analysis facilitating the creation of new and innovative policy alternatives along with expression of the implications of those alternatives where that is possible. There is therefore also a need for a more systematic approach to ensuring capacity at all levels to interpret and broker knowledge in the interface between science and policy. This would suggest that: 126

227. To some extent such needs are being addressed by existing institutions such as ICSU (see Annex J) and the MA and its follow-up strategy (see Annex B). Interdisciplinarity and knowledge brokering are also key elements of the proposed GRAME and UNEP’s proposed science strategy. However, many of these efforts have been ad hoc and one off, and are limited in scope or resources, and a more systematic approach to build capacity building on interdisciplinarity and knowledge brokering is needed. 126

B.11.1 The North-South capacity divide 126

228. There are many institutions, programmes and processes supporting capacity building in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, including UNDP, the World Bank, UNEP and FAO, GEF and a wide range of other multilateral and bilateral development assistance agencies, most of the MEAs, as well as some assessment processes. For example: 127

229. Many of these and other capacity-building efforts relate to strengthening of abilities also relevant for the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Other initiatives include the work of ICSU and the MA follow up strategy referred to in the previous section. However, despite these efforts, there remain significant gaps in capacity relevant for the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services in developing countries, and the capacity divide continues to be a severe obstacle to equitable participation of developing countries and those with economies under transition in the processes relevant to the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services. 127


230. According to a review of a representative sample of completed National Capacity Self Assessments (NCSAs), a significant number of developing countries continue to lack among other things the personal and institutional capacity: 127

231. The analysis of existing capacity-building efforts suggests that the gaps related to capacity for building and effectively using the science in policy setting and decision making rest at least in part on: 127

232. The pronounced lack of capacity in developing countries has considerable implications for the effectiveness of the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Not only does this affect the decision making processes at the national level, and ability to, for example, fully and effectively implement MEAs at the national level (see for example Annex U on CBD national biodiversity strategies and action plans), it also reduces national potential to contribute to the common knowledge base, and potentially also to fully participate in scientific advisory bodies and process at regional and global levels. 128

233. More profoundly, in an international governance system that aims to rely on scientific knowledge to make political claims through scientific advisory bodies and processes, developing country can be disadvantaged with respect to the expression and negotiation of their environmental perspectives and interests. Given that the legitimacy of the global environmental processes seems to be a major concern of many developing countries, this underlines the absolute importance of ensuring an equitable capacity of all relevant stakeholder and knowledge holders. 128

A. International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity consultative process 191


234. Following the International Conference Biodiversity: Science and Governance held January 2005, in Paris, France, an international consultation process was launched to assess the need, scope and possible forms of an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB). An Executive Secretariat was established, and an Executive Committee and an International Steering Committee, including representatives of a range of key stakeholders, were appointed to guide and support the process. 191

235. Between February 2006 and November 2007, the consultative process included six regional meetings, case studies, briefings, presentations and discussions at numerous other scientific and policy meetings, written input from a wide range of other sources, and dialogue with a number of stakeholders. The final statement that was delivered by the International Steering Committee in November 2007, identifies the following needs: 191

A.1. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment follow-up process 192



1. Following completion of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) in 2005, and taking account of the recommendations of two independent evaluations of the MA conducted in 2006 and 2007, a global strategy for follow-up to the MA has been developed in 2007 by a group of interested partner organizations. 192

237. Both evaluations reported that the MA’s technical objective of assessing the capacity of ecosystems to support human well-being proved both innovative and far-reaching. The emphasis on ecosystem services and their significance for human well-being was widely recognized as having made a major contribution to linking biodiversity conservation with poverty alleviation. However, the evaluations also concluded that, at that time, there was little evidence that the MA had had a significant direct impact on policy formulation and decision-making, especially in developing countries. The main reasons were identified as being: 192


238. The Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) considered the implications of the MA for the work of the Convention (decisions VIII/9 and IX/15), and, inter alia, requested the Executive Secretary, and invited Parties and other Governments, to contribute actively to the implementation of the global strategy for follow-up to the MA aimed at addressing knowledge gaps, promoting sub-global assessments, promoting application of the MA framework, methodologies and findings, and outreach. 192

239. Addressing the identified needs, this strategy provides a roadmap to operationalize the MA. The strategy offers a common framework for partner organizations to enhance their collaboration in the implementation of MA related activities thereby maximising their impact in a coordinated and coherent manner. Guided by the findings of the evaluations and the discussions at the CBD COP, the MA follow-up process has elaborated a detailed strategic approach pursuing a four objective ‘global strategy for turning knowledge into action’: 192

240. The institutional arrangements established to ensure the implementation of the strategy foresees: 193

241. So far the following has been achieved: 193

242. The COP of the CBD also viewed the use and impact of the SGAs in the MA. Further lessons learned specific to SGAs were identified. Main lessons learned are: 193

243. The following activities are underway to support the completed, ongoing and new SGAs and address the lessons learned from the original set of SGAs: 194

A.2. The Assessment of Assessments and the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the state of the Marine Environment 195


1. In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg recommended the establishment of a Regular Process under the United Nations for the global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects. This was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) later in 2002 (Resolution 57/141). 195

244. In 2005, the UN General Assembly launched the “Assessment of Assessments” (AoA) as a preparatory stage towards the establishment of the “Regular Process.” Resolution 60/30 called for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Steering Group to oversee the execution of the AoA and a Group of Experts to undertake the actual work. It invited UNEP and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO to serve as lead agencies for the process, to provide secretariat services and to coordinate the work. 195

245. The AoA is a review of the global marine assessment landscape for the purposes of determining possible options and a framework for a Regular Process. Its final report provides, along with the Summary for Decision Makers, a thorough review of existing marine and coastal environmental assessments, at global and regional levels, includes a critical analysis of the assessments with a view to identify best practises, thematic and geographic gaps, capacity-building needs, and establishes a framework and options (with rough budgets) for the Regular Process. 195

246. The AoA concluded that although assessment capacity is strong in many regions, there is a clear need for continued efforts to develop greater expertise and infrastructure around the globe in the technical aspects of marine assessment. In addition, five major areas that need immediate, concerted and ongoing attention are: 195


247. Accordingly, the fundamental building blocks of the first cycle of the proposed Global Reporting and Assessment of the Marine Environment (GRAME) (2010-2014) include: 195

248. The AoA/GRAME process is currently in a very advanced and critical phase, with an Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole 31 August - 4 September 2009. The ad hoc Working Group of the whole is to consider best practices and institutional options (see para 14 above) for the Regular Process and recommend a path forward to meet the commitment Resolution 54/141. The ad hoc Working Group plans to submit its proposals to the UN General Assembly in October 2009, for inclusion in the annual Oceans Resolution of UNGA. 195

A.3. Increasing coherence within the UN and environmental governance 196



1. Recognising missed opportunities for synergy, and the potential for duplication of effort, a number of intergovernmental processes and reviews within the UN system have been addressing ways and means to increase coherence both within the UN and its activities, and within the governance landscape. Given that many of these activities need to be informed by science these discussions and related actions are relevant to this gap analysis. 196

2. In 2001 the UN Secretary-General established the Environment Management Group as a UN system-wide coordination body on environment and human settlement.  Its membership consists of the specialized agencies, programmes and organs of the United Nations including the MEA secretariats. While the EMG is neither a scientific body nor a decision making body it is in a position to facilitate and promote greater cooperation, including on science-policy issues. 196

249. The UN is also seeking greater coherence in its activities at the national level, through the development and implementation of UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF) which help to focus the activities of UN agencies, programmes and organs at the national level, and the Delivering as One pilot projects which are testing more coordinated approaches. While these plans and activities relate to nationally defined priorities, increased coherence in action inevitably requires increased coherence in the use of science in decision making. 196


250. In paragraph 169 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome, Governments agreed to explore the possibility of a more coherent institutional framework for environmental activities in the UN system by improving the key areas of concern including: enhanced coordination; improved policy advice and guidance; and strengthened scientific knowledge, assessment and cooperation. All these issues are directly relevant to steps to improve the science-policy interface. 196

251. The Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building adopted in 2004 aims to strengthen the capacity of Governments of developing countries and countries with economies in transition, at all levels, to inter alia develop national capacity for using science in decision-making with respect to environmental management. 196

252. Finally in order to support many of these activities there has been a recognition of the need to strengthen the scientific base of UNEP so that it is better placed to provide support at both national and international levels. 196

253. Discussion on increasing coherence in both the UN system and international environmental governance is likely to continue for some time, and its final outcome cannot be predicted. However it can be assumed that emphasis will remain on the need for greater coherence, that improvements in the ways in which science can be used to support decision making will continue to be recognised as a key issue, and that improvements in delivery and use of such information now will be important for whatever governance landscape exists in the future. 196

A.4. Summary table on the scientific advisory bodies and processes of the Rio conventions 197

Summary table on the scientific advisory bodies and processes of the global biodiversity-related conventions 200

Summary descriptions of the scientific advisory bodies and processes for the global biodiversity-related conventions and Rio conventions 205

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) 205


1. Article 25 of the Convention establishes SBSTTA “to provide the Conference of the Parties and, as appropriate, its other subsidiary bodies with timely advice relating to the implementation of the Convention” and anticipates that the body will be multidisciplinary, and “shall comprise government representatives competent in the relevant field of expertise”. The following tasks: (a) Provide scientific and technical assessments of the status of biological diversity; (b) Prepare scientific and technical assessments of the effects of types of measures taken in accordance with the provisions of this Convention; c) Identify innovative, efficient and state-of-the-art technologies and know-how relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and advise on the ways and means of promoting development and/or transferring such technologies; (d) Provide advice on scientific programmes and international cooperation in research and development related to conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; and (e) Respond to scientific, technical, technological and methodological questions that the Conference of the Parties and its subsidiary bodies may put to the body. 205

2. COP 5 recognized the need to improve the quality of scientific, technical and technological advice provided to the COP and to undertake sound scientific and technical assessments on issues critical for the implementation of the Convention. The COP requested SBSTTA to continue to improve the way it conducts its work, and asked SBSTTA to identify and develop methods for undertaking or participating in scientific assessments, to undertake a limited number of pilot scientific assessment projects, and to identify and regularly update assessment priorities and information needs (decision V/20). In response, SBSTTA 6 and SBSTTA 9 addressed assessments, and SBSTTA 8 considered a draft strategic plan for the subsidiary body. 205


3. COP 7 tasked the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention (WGRI) with a review of the impacts and effectiveness of existing processes under the Convention, including SBSTTA (decision VII/30). Following the 1st meeting of WGRI, COP 8 endorsed a consolidated modus operandi for SBSTTA. The consolidated modus operandi identifies strategic ways and means of improving the quality of scientific, technical and technological advice of SBSTTA as follows (decision VIII/10): 205

Improving the scientific, technical and technological inputs into SBSTTA meetings by, inter alia: (a) Strengthening relationships with the scientific and technical community through: (i) providing material about the work of the Subsidiary Body in a format that is accessible and relevant to the scientific and technical community; (ii) Actively disseminating the results of the work of the Subsidiary Body through scientific literature, both as reporting items and scientific papers, as reviewed and approved by the Conference of the Parties; (iii) Participating in, and contributing to, the scientific and technical components of other biodiversity-related processes; (iv) Using other bodies as a bridge between the Subsidiary Body and the scientific and technical community in relation to work programmes; (v) Engaging the scientific community in scientific assessments. 205


Improving the scientific, technical and technological debate during SBSTTA meetings by, inter alia: (a) Raising delegates’ awareness about, and encouraging informal debate on, key issues through the provision of scientific and technical publications, keynote speakers, poster sessions, round-table debates and other side events during meetings of the Subsidiary Body; (b) Identifying other opportunities to prepare delegates, particularly those with limited experience, for the discussions on scientific and technical matters; (c) Dedicating sufficient time to the consideration of results of scientific and technical assessments.  205


4. COP 8 also discussed the handling of new and emerging issues, and in decision VIII/10 added to the list of functions that SBSTTA carries out “identify new and emerging issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity”. 205

5. The modus operandi of SBSTTA allows for the establishment of a relatively limited number of Ad Hoc Expert Groups (AHTEGs) on specific issues identified by the COP to ‘provide scientific and technical advice and assessments. The establishment of AHTEGs is guided by the following: 205

6. To date AHTEGs have reviewed and reported on a wide range of issues based on terms of reference usually prepared by SBSTTA and agreed by COP. These issues are as follows: inland water biodiversity, marine and coastal protected areas; mariculture; forest biodiversity; biodiversity of dry and sub-humid lands; genetic use restriction technologies; biological diversity and climate change; in-depth review of the implementation of the programme of work on forest biodiversity; mountain biodiversity; integrated marine and coastal area management; protected areas; technology transfer and scientific and technical cooperation; gaps and inconsistencies in the international regulatory frameworks in relation to invasive alien species; indicators for assessing progress towards the 2010 target; and island biodiversity. Based on SBSTTA recommendations, the COP has frequently welcomed and made extensive use of AHTEG reports. 206

7. Each in depth review of an issue by SBSTTA is informed by a document prepared by the Secretariat summarising the status and trends in biodiversity, and providing an overview of the drivers and the impact of measures taken. Even when no AHTEG has taken place, these documents are based on consultations, and undergo review by key experts. 206


8. The original modus operandi of SBSTTA included the compilation of rosters of experts in the relevant fields of the Convention, with the following purpose: “The experts on the rosters are invited to make available, upon request of the Executive Secretary, Parties or other countries and relevant bodies, their specific expertise in order to contribute to the further development of the scientific, technical and technological issues of the work programme of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Such requests could entail, inter alia, peer reviews, questionnaires, clarifications or examinations of scientific, technological and technical issues, specific contributions to the compilation of documents, participation in global and regional workshops and assisting in connecting the Convention-process to international, regional and national scientific, technical and technological processes” (decision IV/16). However, through decision VIII/10, the COP decided to discontinue the use of the roster of experts. 206

9. In summary, the Convention has taken up the challenge of improving the quality of scientific, technical and technological advice provided to the COP, and of undertaking sound scientific and technical assessments on issues critical for the implementation of the Convention. There have been several suggestions for improving the workings and operations of SBSTTA, including the endorsement of a consolidated modus operandi. SBSTTA and COP have drawn extensively on the reports of AHTEGs, which comprise experts nominated by Parties and selected by the Executive Secretary in cooperation with the SBSTTA Bureau. The use of a roster of experts in relevant fields of the Convention was discontinued in favour of the more flexible mechanism of Party nominations of experts for AHTEG meetings and other purposes. 206

10. However, despite all efforts, in the closing session of SBSTTA 13 in 2008, concerns were expressed at the failure to make significant progress, and one Party expressed “disappointment that despite the scientific and technical advice mandate of SBSTTA, there had been very little focus on scientific and technical issues during the thirteenth meeting” and that “SBSTTA must refocus its work to deal with scientific, technical and technological issues in order to fulfil its mandate” (report of SBSTTA 13, document UNEP/CBD/COP/9/3). 206

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and its Plants and Animals Committees 207



11. CITES has two scientific committees, the Animals Committee and the Plants Committee. The membership of the Animals and Plants Committees consist of: i) a person chosen by each of the North American and Ocean geographic regions; ii) two persons chosen by each of the African, Asian, Central and South American and the Caribbean, and Europen regions; and iii) a specialist on zoological nomenclature (Animals Committee) and a specialist on botanical nomenclature (Plants Committee) appointed by the Conference of the Parties who would be ex-officio and non-voting; 207

12. The Plants and the Animals Committee were established through resolution Conf. 6.1. Both committees were subsequently re-established; the latest resolution in this regard is resolution Conf. 11.1 (Rev. CoP14), which agreed the terms of reference for both committees that they should carry out the following with respect to wildlife trade: 207

13. Document SC54 Inf. 4 and SC54 Inf.5, describe the evolution of the terms of reference of the committees and of the duties and responsibilities of the committee members, together with the results achieved, resources and support available to the committees and a comparison with practices in other biodiversity related multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). 207


14. There have been several moves to merge the two Committees (CoP12, CoP14), but Parties have always been strongly opposed to this. CoP13 adopted a process to review the Scientific Committees. COP 13 directed the Standing Committee to determine a process for the review of the scientific committees and to proceed with the review. The Standing Committee established an External Evaluation Working Group to undertake the review. The External Evaluation Working Group recognised that the scientific committees were achieving a generally high level of performance in the high-priority tasks assigned to them and often with very limited resources or a reliance on voluntary effort. They made the following recommendations to the Standing Committee for the Review of the Scientific Committees (CoP14 Doc 12): 207




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