-screening of live animal species in international trade.
Analysis and Lessons Learned: Among those MEAs that have directly addressed the issue of invasive alien species, the CBD has taken the lead in the number of decisions and amount of substantive guidance that it has delivered. The CBD has also developed mechanisms to collaborate with other MEAs including through an International Liaison Group, joint work plans and informal communications between Secretariats. These relationships have helped other MEAs streamline their work, as witnessed by recommendations of the Ramsar Convention’s STRP to assess how existing guidance from the CBD, IUCN and GISP can be adapted to the wetlands context, as well as by the decision within CITES to leave the bulk of substantive work on the topic to the CBD. Thus, input that expert groups like GISP, IUCN and ISSG have had into the CBD process through the development of technical information fed into CBD recommendations and decisions has been disseminated to other MEAs. It should also be recognized that bodies like the CBD’s liaison group and AHTEG, and Ramsar Convention’s Working Group on Invasive Species, which incorporate experts from Parties, have provided scientific input into the broader Convention bodies.171
Key lessons learned include:
Use of specialized groups within the CBD and Ramsar have provided a means for input by national experts appointed by Parties, as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental experts;
MEAs, particularly the CBD, the Ramsar Convention and CITES, have welcomed and benefited from the input of external scientific experts and organizations;
Use of specialized groups and external experts roughly correlates with the production of more information documents and formal background documents;
Input by specialized groups has generally been guided by priorities identified by convention processes, thereby reflecting an interest in furthering implementation; and
The efficacy of that advice largely depends on frameworks within or across conventions that clearly delineate how they can be applied at the international, regional and/or national level (e.g., input into guiding principles, guidelines or standards vs. issue specific tools/methodologies).
Introduction to National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans
Article 6 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) requests Parties to develop national strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity or adapt for this purpose existing strategies, plans or programmes which shall reflect, inter alia, the measures set out in this Convention relevant to the Contracting Party concerned. In accordance with this, the Conference of the Parties (COP), in decision III/9, reaffirmed the great importance of the development and implementation by all Parties of national strategies, plans and programmes in accordance with Article 6 of the Convention and produced specific guidance to Parties for developing and implementing National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) (decisions II/7, III/9, IX/8, among others).
Through decision VI/26, the COP adopted the Strategic Plan of the Convention. The Plan contains goal 3: National biodiversity strategies and action plans and the integration of biodiversity concerns into relevant sectors serve as an effective framework for the implementation of the Convention. Two objectives relevant to NBSAPs accompany the goal: 3.1: Every party has effective national stragies, plans and programmes in place to provide a national framework for implementing the three objectives of the Convention and to set clear national priorities; 3.4: The priorities in national biodiversity strategies and action plans are being actively implemented, as a means to achieve national implementation of the Covention, and as a significant contribution towards the global biodiversity agenda. Clearly, NBSAPs have been recognised as a key mechanism for implementing the CBD.
As of July 2009, 166 of the 191 Parties to the CBD have developed NBSAPs.172 A detailed review of NBSAPs has been undertaken by the second meeting of the Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention (WGRI 2) in 2007. Since January 2008, the CBD Secretariat has undertaken 12 regional and subregional capacity development workshops on implementing NBSAPs and mainstreaming biodiversity, in 11 regions and subregions.
A number of documents have been providing guidance to the development of NBSAPs. Miller & Lanou (1995)173 presented models for national biodiversity planning. Regarding the science-policy interface, they noted a number of scientific obstacles from the review of early experiences of national biodiversity planning: lack of research on biodiversity’s role in ecosystems; lack of sufficient scientific and economic data; lack of trained biosystematists; lack of information-management capacity; and duplication of scientific efforts. Among the institutional obstacles identified was the lack of communication between the scientific community and policy-makers. The authors suggest an illustrative biodiversity planning process that includes representatives of academic and research institutions. Those would play a major role at various stages of the development process for the national biodiversity strategy, including, among others, biodiversity assessment (inventory of biodiversity; valuation of biodiversity) and the setting of objectives and targets for the components of biodiversity.
Prescott et al (2000)174 developed a biodiversity planning matrix, which includes 15 topics that the planning process would need to consider. They suggest specific scientific input for the theme of conservation of natural resources, which could be envisaged to support the identification of pressures and impacts, setting objectives or directions and develop indicators.
Based on the Argentinean experience, Fernández (1998)175 provided guidance for national-level biodiversity action plans. He includes authorities that establish policies in the field of science in the list of institutions that may be invited to participate in the biodiversity planning process. As an example of actions under an action plan, the author mentions scientific research programmes run by the State or universities, which incorporate new priorities related to the Biodiversity Convention. Academics are named as participants for national workshops that elaborate a draft biodiversity action plan.
None of these guidance documents for NBSAP development lend a strong role to scientists and academia. Other stakeholders, such as government agencies, indigenous groups, business and NGOs, play a more prominent role. Accordingly, basing the NBSAP on scientific evidence does not feature in these guidance documents.
In decision IX/8, the COP provided further guidance to Parties on developing, implementing and revising their NBSAPs. The COP stressed, among others, the need to take into account the ecosystem approach; to highlight the contribution of biodiversity to poverty eradication, national development and human well-being; and to identify the main threats to biodiversity. It asked to identify relevant stakeholders from all major groups for each of the actions of the NBSAPs and to strengthen the contribution of the scientific community in order to improve the science/policy interface to support research-based advice on biodiversity.
Stakeholders and organizations involved relevant for the science-policy interface
The synthesis and analysis of obstacles to implementation of NBSAPS: Lessons learned from the review, effectiveness of policy instruments and strategic priorities for action, presented at the second meeting of the Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (WGRI-2), identified the lack of effective partnerships as a high or medium-level obstacle to the implementation of the Convention (UNEP/CBD/WG-RI/2/2/Add.1). The review named insufficient stakeholder involvement as a lesson to be learned from the experience with NBSAPs and marked a mechanism to facilitate continued consultation with all stakeholders including, among others, academia, as priority action at the national level.
CBD document UNEP/CBD/COP/9/14/Rev.1 reviewed the implementation of the Convention and its Strategic Plan and made specific reference to implementation of the NBSAP-related goals of the Strategic Plan. It found that stakeholder consultations have been a major part of NBSAP preparation, However, the range of stakeholders involved is often not adequate to ensure effective ownership of NBSAPs or to ensure mainstreaming of biodiversity beyond the environment community. It was also found that effective communication programmes are lacking from many NBSAPs. On the other hand, the above-mentioned regional and sub-regional NBSAP workshops revealed that the need for wide stakeholder participation in the development and implementation of NBSAPs is widely understood.
It is beyond the scope of this case study to review the available NBSAPs for the level of participation of stakeholders such as academia and the scientific community. It is assumed that the lack of adequate involvement of stakeholders in the development of NBSAPs extends to the scientific community. This assumption is further confirmed by further weaknesses as reviewed below.
Lack of scientific input to NBSAP development and implementation
UNEP/CBD/WG-RI/2/2/Add.1 found for least developed countries a lack of scientific research capacities, together with the loss of traditional knowledge and the underutilisation of existing scientific and traditional knowledge, as challenges to implementing the CBD. The document states specifically that NBSAPs frequently suffer from a lack of knowledge and understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem services, including a lack of awareness of the economic value of biodiversity, and a lack of application of the ecosystem approach. Emerton (2001)176 identified insufficient involvement of economists as one of the challenges and constraints to using economic tools and measures in NBSAPs.
All these findings confirm that NBSAPs have suffered from insufficient scientific input, with an impact on the quality with which issues have been addressed in many NBSAPs. This refers to some key aspects of implementation of the CBD, such as the ecosystem approach and the economic valuation of biodiversity. Both issues have increasingly been recognised as key elements for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use,177 and the deficiencies recognised for NBSAPs mirror general challenges to the implementation of the Convention (see UNEP/CBD/WGRI/2/INF/1/Add.1 and UNEP/CBD/COP/9/14/Rev.1).
Lessons learned and needs for the science-policy interface in development and implementation of NBSAPs
The reviews of experiences on the science-policy interface in the process of development and implementation of NBSAPs, as undertaken by the documents and workshops mentioned above, have drawn a number of lessons relevant for the science-policy interface in the development and implementation of NBSAPs.
Stronger involvement of science in the development of NBSAPs: The reviews stated that scientists should be invited from the early stages of NBSAP development to contribute to the development of the Strategy, in particular in the following areas: the ecosystem approach; understanding the role of biodiversity in supporting human well-being and contributing to sustainable development and the alleviation of poverty; and economic valuation of biodiversity. It can be concluded that scientists should participate in developing monitoring schemes for the implementation and effectiveness of NBSAPs as well as in their review.
Strengthen the knowledge base for the scientific evidence for NBSAPs: The Regional Capacity Development Workshop for Europe on National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans and Mainstreaming of Biodiversity, held in 2008 in Germany178, recommended developing the evidence base for NBSAPs to strengthen data collection and management, to develop indicators to track the status of biodiversity and ecosystem services and publicise the results, and to use independent scientific review of NBSAP implementation. The review of NBSAPs by the Working Group on Review of Implementation recommended strengthening national Clearing-House Mechanisms to promote scientific and technical cooperation with other Parties, and lending the CBD Clearing-House Mechanism a role in promoting exchange of experiences and lessons learned among countries (UNEP/CBD/WG-RI/2/2/Add.1).
Reinforce communication efforts: The need for improved communication of the NBSAPs, including the process of its development and review, to a range of stakeholders has been stressed. The stakeholders would include the scientific community in order to give them a better sense of ownership of the NBSAP and to secure their contribution. Communication, it was stated, should be strategic, evidence-based and target-group oriented and communication plans should be concrete and include short and long-term goals.
The example of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD)
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is currently developing a mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries (REDD) for inclusion in the next climate agreement in 2012. This case study focuses on the science-policy interface of biodiversity, ecosystem services and REDD.
Although REDD is clearly connected to biodiversity issues, it has been developed first and foremost as an emissions reduction mechanism under the UNFCCC. There are two main ways in which biodiversity and ecosystem services are relevant to the REDD debate:
REDD is a mechanism that deals specifically with the ecosystem service of climate regulation, and aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by reducing deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries.
Although REDD is designed primarily as mechanism for climate change mitigation, there are significant biodiversity and ecosystem benefits (‘co-benefits’) that can be gained through reducing deforestation. There may also be some risks to biodiversity conservation arising from REDD.
The science-policy interface for these two aspects of REDD and biodiversity/ecosystem services will be considered separately, whilst recognising that there is some level of overlap between the two.
The climate regulatory role of biodiversity (forest)
The UNFCCC has a well established reputation for the use of science in the development of climate policy. This science is delivered by the IPCC, which has established itself as the authoritative source for climate change related information, and periodically provides this information through a Summary for Policymakers and a full report. The strength of the IPCC at the science-policy interface is its credibility and relevance, although criticisms have been levelled over the inability of the process to provide updated information at intervals shorter than a 5-6 year time period.
The IPCC has played a significant role in the development of REDD, which was first proposed as an agenda item under the UNFCCC by Papua New Guinea in 2005, following information reported in the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR). The case for such a mechanism gained credibility under the UNFCCC when the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC 4AR) again highlighted forest loss as a large source of greenhouse gas emissions, and reduction of those emissions as a cost-effective mitigation option. This contributed to the inclusion of REDD in the Bali Action Plan at COP 13 in December 2007179. Since then, there has been a proliferation of policy relevant research in this field, and the REDD debate has been informed by processes outside of the IPCC, such as through reports commissioned by National Governments, environmental organisations, and the UNFCCC.
COP 13 mandated the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) to discuss approaches to stimulate action for REDD, and to provide methodological guidance. Some aspects of REDD, such as Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of emissions, and the establishment of Reference Levels (RLs) against which to measure emissions reductions, require significant scientific input. The preference of SBSTA to base its conclusions on scientific evidence have been made clear through the following actions:
a workshop has been convened to discuss MRV at the request of the COP;180
an expert meeting has been convened on RLs181 at the explicit request of SBSTA;
input from groups/expert meetings outside the UNFCCC process has been welcomed;
the debate on REDD has been influenced by this scientific input; and
the use of IPCC guidance and guidelines is recommended.182
In turn, the scientific community has organised meetings and provided SBSTA with information on specific, identified topics such as the availability and accuracy of remote sensing techniques for biomass monitoring.
However, REDD is still under negotiation, and as a negotiated mechanism, much depends upon political feasibility. Although the UNFCCC makes good use of scientific information, the outcomes do not always reflect this science due to the number of other factors that must be taken into consideration. The extent to which scientific information on issues such as MRV and RLs feeds through the negotiating process is likely to go some way towards determining the success of the mechanism. This requires the scientific community to continue to feed clear messages into the policy process, while remaining aware of the political implications of these messages; and for policy makers to remain receptive to scientific input.
REDD and ‘co-benefits’
The opportunities for (and risks to) biodiversity and ecosystem services from REDD have not received so much attention. The implementation of REDD, by maintaining biodiversity-rich tropical forests, should have significant biodiversity and ecosystem service benefits. There may also be some risks; for example, a successful REDD mechanism may lead to increased conversion pressures on low-carbon forests and non-forest ecosystems, with consequent threats to the biodiversity of those systems183.
The link between science and policy is not as strong in this case for a number of reasons:
Even though policy makers might be aware of the issues surrounding REDD and biodiversity, many question the relevance and legitimacy for discussion or inclusion under the UNFCCC, which deals specifically with climate change issues
Scientists and environmental organisations have for the most part been feeding biodiversity information into the REDD discussions on an ad hoc basis, with different messages coming from different organisations, which has an impact on the credibility of the information. Clear messages have only been put forward relatively late in proceedings
Scientific understanding of the relationship between carbon, biodiversity, and ecosystem services is not well developed.
However, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Biodiversity and Climate Change has recently been providing the UNFCCC with guidance on the linkages between biodiversity and climate change by reviewing the recent science on this topic (including REDD related information).
The CBD AHTEG has promoted a dialogue between scientists and policy makers, and produced a coordinated message from a number of different actors. For example, the AHTEG established that careful consideration is required over the rules and definitions regarding plantation forest and natural forest to ensure that REDD does not create perverse incentives to replace natural forests with plantations. The AHTEG has emphasised that this would not only be bad for biodiversity, but that it could also reduce the mitigation capacity of forests, in part by reducing their resilience to climate impacts. The eventual impact of the work of the AHTEG is not yet known, as its work is still ongoing. Nevertheless, text recognising the importance of promoting co-benefits from REDD, including biodiversity, has been put forward to UNFCCC COP 15 as draft text for a decision184.
The main purpose of the CBD AHTEG is to feed into the UNFCCC process, but it should be emphasised that there is also scope for science to influence policy at the national scale. REDD will have to be implemented at the national scale, albeit within an international framework. Countries may therefore choose to incorporate biodiversity and ecosystem service considerations into REDD strategies if they have the relevant information available. This suggests that the scale at which science can best influence policy needs to be carefully assessed, and an appropriate audience targeted.
As REDD is an ongoing process, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions on the strengths and weaknesses of the science-policy interface. However, some observations can be made. With regard to the climate regulatory role of biodiversity, there has been a large degree of interaction between scientists and policy makers, to the extent that scientists have engaged in policy relevant research, and have had some success in feeding this into the formulation of the REDD mechanism. In terms of biodiversity as a ‘co-benefit’ of REDD, the science has been less influential. Many REDD policy makers question the relevance of biodiversity information, and scientists have put conflicting messages across on an ad hoc basis. However, the CBD AHTEG has highlighted the importance of developing a coherent approach for bringing clear and relevant messages to discussions from a legitimate source. The extent to which the science is reflected in the final negotiated REDD agreement remains to be seen.
Fisheries Management and Biodiversity
Fisheries are the largest source of anthropogenic impacts on the marine environment. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s most recent assessment185 tells us that fisheries annually generate 85 billion dollars, employ 200 million people and supply at least 15 percent of the animal protein used for human consumption. They also point out that 28% of fish stocks are currently overexploited or collapsed, while 52% are fully exploited.
Fisheries threaten biodiversity in a number of ways. Biological extinction from directed fishing pressure is rare because fishing becomes unprofitable before biological extinction is threatened, but depleted species may easily be caught by fisheries directed at other species. Overfishing increases vulnerability to extinction from other sources, such as habitat destruction186. Bycatch of untargeted species is a global problem. Beyond non