14 December 2016: On Wednesday, 14 December, during the UN Biodiversity Conference, Working Group I (WG I) addressed draft decisions under the Cartagena Protocol on the roster of experts, cooperation with other conventions, the Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH), socioeconomic considerations and third assessment and review. Under the Nagoya Protocol, WG I discussed draft decisions on cooperation with other conventions, the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Clearing-House and the financial mechanism.

On cooperation with other conventions under the Nagoya Protocol, delegates debated a request to the Secretariat to share information with the World Health Organization (WHO) on implementation of the Protocol, in particular Article 8(b) on special considerations for cases of present or imminent emergencies that threaten or damage human animal or plant health. Following discussion and consultations, a compromise was reached to request the Secretariat to share with WHO relevant information on national implementation of the Protocol, including its Article 8(b), provided by parties in their national reports. On a study to identify what constitutes a specialized international ABS instrument under the Protocol, following informal consultations, delegates agreed to request a study on criteria and a possible process for recognizing a specialized ABS agreement, although the provision remains bracketed pending discussions in other groups.

Working Group II (WG II) addressed a draft decision on ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs). Delegates considered bracketed paragraphs on practical options for enhancing scientific methodologies and approaches for the description of areas meeting the EBSA criteria, and on the establishment of an informal advisory group for EBSAs. They also discussed: a request to the Secretariat to organize an expert workshop, including on ways and means to ensure scientific credibility of the EBSA process, such as scientific peer review, and to make the workshop’s report available for peer review by parties; and national exercises to describe areas meeting the EBSA criteria or other relevant compatible and complementary nationally or intergovernmentally agreed scientific criteria. Discussions on this issue are continuing in a Friends of the Chair group.

Contact groups and Friends of the Chair groups convened to address: Article 8(j); risk assessment of living modified organisms (LMOs); mainstreaming; synergies; capacity building; the financial mechanism; and sequence information on genetic resources. The contact group on sequence information on genetic resources discussed a non-paper, including two separate draft decisions. Participants discussed: terminology used; a paragraph on considering, at COP 14, the implications of the use of sequence information on genetic resources for fair and equitable benefit-sharing arising from genetic resource utilization; an invitation to parties and others to submit views, for a compilation and analysis to be prepared by the Secretariat; and a meeting of a regionally balanced expert group to convene and submit its recommendations, prior to COP 14. [IISD RS Coverage of the UN Biodiversity Conference]

On Wednesday, the Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) convened under two themes: ‘Mainstreaming Equality and Social Inclusion’; and ‘Planetary Health: Strengthening the Science-Policy Interface for Sustainable Development.’ The first session discussed how to maximize opportunities for participatory and inclusive sustainable development and included national perspectives from Mexico and Botswana. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, discussed examples and opportunities for advancing inclusive and equitable agendas at the national and international levels.

Another session provided a platform for reflecting on linking community-level initiatives to national action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the ground up, with a global overview on knowledge and gaps, as well as presentations on local-level initiatives.

Presentations were also made on key messages from three global reports on environment and health, while a following session showcased innovative cross-sectoral work on the dimensions of planetary health. An informal round-table discussion addressed: local engagement; agrobiodiversity, food security and nutrition; land-use change and infectious disease emergence; and ‘nature-based solutions’ to support human health. [IISD RS Coverage of the Rio Conventions Pavilion]

Many side events met throughout the day. One event focused on diverging ABS laws in provider and user countries and efforts to negotiate a fair and equitable benefit sharing agreement on stevia. Panelists highlighted, inter alia: the report, ‘The Two Worlds of Nagoya,’ which focuses on temporal, traditional knowledge and “import loophole” discrepancies between the European Union ABS framework and emerging laws in provider countries on how these countries implement the Nagoya Protocol; the report, ‘Stevia, the path to a benefit sharing agreement,’ which provides evidence that indigenous peoples have been using stevia as a sweetener for hundreds of years, and notes that patent applications for the use of steviol glycosides “exploded” when it became clear they would be allowed for use in Europe and the US; and inadequate ABS regulations in user countries drive protective counter measures in provider countries.

Another event addressed the extent to which the Plan of Action on Customary Sustainable Use (CSU) of Biological Diversity, adopted by the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been implemented, and provided case studies and recommendations for further implementation. Panelists identified the priority tasks of the CBD’s CSU plan; highlighted findings on the incorporation of CSU in National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plans (NBSAPs); lamented that when indigenous territories become protected areas and under regulation of environment ministries, indigenous communities lose their identity, autonomy and traditional use of resources; noted the challenge of legally registering groups in order to ensure their access to funds; shared reflections from a workshop on collective action in biodiversity conservation held in June 2015 in Guatemala; and noted recent International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) policy on developing more guidance on best practices for indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas.

Another event highlighted a partnership between the CBD Secretariat and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to make progress in achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 1 on Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA), and saw the signing of a memorandum of understanding for four-year joint activities on this issue. Panelists stressed, inter alia: that “we will fail” to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets unless a significant portion of the population is aware of why biodiversity matters; the need to spread awareness about CEPA, noting it is not just about wildlife, but about clean water, pure air, food and a stable climate; and the need for more effective communication on biodiversity conservation in order to convince policymakers to provide adequate funding. One panelist described a media project called ‘Global Nature,’ which illustrates successful models of biodiversity and climate change projects through a range of media material, including interactive graphics and multimedia web reports that are suitable for schools.

Various other side events also convened to discuss: conservation management efforts in Belize, Indonesia and Taiwan, which have developed through community outreach and participation; challenges posed by industrial agriculture on honeybees, wild-pollinator bee populations and livelihoods of local communities, and ecological and organic farming as alternatives to chemical pesticides and fertilizers; case studies illustrating how local communities have maintained or created land-use systems that sustain biocultural diversity and foster dynamic processes of adaptation and restoration; and the Asian BCH collaboration that unites Asian countries through a common goal of full compliance with the Cartagena Protocol. [IISD Reporting Services Coverage of Side Events]