Call for contributions to [square brackets]


         Submissions due 5 May 2014 

[square brackets] is a newsletter produced jointly by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) (  and the CBD Alliance (

The newsletter aims to facilitate timely dialogue among civil society stakeholders on cutting edge biodiversity issues, from both policy (advocacy and decision-making) and practical (implementation) perspectives. The 8th edition was published in October

We invite short articles from members of civil society all over the world (including NGOs, social movements, indigenous organizations and representatives, local communities).

The new edition of [square brackets] will be published to coincide with the Eighteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 18), being held 23-28 June 2014 in Montreal, Canada.

Specifically, we are interested in receiving articles related to sustainable development, the poverty/biodiversity linkage and issues to be addressed at SBSTTA 18, including:

·       Global Biodiversity Outlook: Mid-term review of progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets

·       Marine and coastal biodiversity

·       Invasive alien species

·       New and emerging issues: synthetic biology

·       Incentive measures: obstacles encountered in implementing options identified for eliminating, phasing out or reforming incentives harmful for biodiversity

·       Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

Articles will be selected and edited by an editorial board comprising representatives of indigenous and non-governmental groups and staff from the SCBD.

Potential contributors are advised to review guidelines for articles appended below.     

Please send submissions electronically to:

Guidelines for Articles

Length: Approximately 800 words

Topics: We seek submissions on the CBD issues of concern to the civil society, both at the national and global levels, particularly in relation to sustainable development and the forthcoming Eighteenth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice.

Photos: Photos that are of publishable quality are most welcome. Please note that photos should be sent as image files and not placed in Word documents. They can be sent as jpeg, tiff, or psd. Photos should be sent in the largest size available; please do not reduce the size of images before sending.

Tone: Articles must be written in a constructive and analytical manner and contribute to a deeper understanding of the issue.  Contributions must not identify or target particular Parties on issues under negotiation. Opinions are more than welcome, but total coverage of topics in the newsletter will aim to present diverse and balanced viewpoints and arguments that enable readers to formulate their own informed opinions.

Style: Please note that the newsletter follows a similar style to popular publications. If possible, please keep sentences and paragraphs short; and use simple language, bearing in mind that for a large number of readers English is not their first language.


Convention on Biological Diversity:

CBD Alliance:

Non-Governmental Organizations / [square brackets]:





Letter about organization SBSTTA 17

During the SBSTTA 17 session, a different organization format was used. While the original idea of the Secretariat was to depolitisize SBSTTA and to bring in more expert and civil society voices, there were several problems with the real implementations.

12 CBD Alliance members sent a common letter on the issue to the executive secretary, which can be found hereunder.


Mr. Braulio Ferreira De Souza Dias,
Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity
413, Saint Jacques Street, suite 800
Montreal QC H2Y 1N9


                                                                                                                                   November 8th, 2013


Ref: On the organization of SBSTTA 17


Dear Dr. Dias

While thanking you for your interest in seeking ways to enhance the meaningful input from civil society, we, the undersigning members of the CBD Alliance, are writing you to share our thoughts on both the positive and negative lessons of the new way of organization for the SBSTTA session. We feel this discussion is important in order to maintain the tradition of open, transparent and democratic process in CBD meetings. We wish to contribute in this debate in a positive and constructive manner.

In the first place, we acknowledge that different kinds of organization have indeed the potential to give CSO experts the possibility to provide real and meaningful inputs to the sessions, and to strengthen implementation processes. We appreciate the efforts of Secretariat to search for new ways to improve preparatory processes and discussions, and the need to strengthen SBSTTA. However, in this particular case, the results were not totally as expected.

It has to be recalled that CBD itself is an international political instrument and the recommendations and conclusions that are the result of the SBSTTA process are defined not only by scientific, but also by legal, socio-economic and political issues. Therefor the process of reaching these recommendations is inherently a political process, and due time and adequate settings need to be given to it. This includes the possibility to negotiate in a setting with translation, and counting with previously prepared draft recommendations. Furthermore, late night negotiations tend to be difficult for small delegations, as well as for civil society, taking into account the same persons attend during the day and during the night.

While we understand this wasn’t the intention of the secretariat, we are concerned that the experiment on the organization of the SBSTTA 17 session de facto reduced the participation of civil society organizations. We were not in the possibility to intervene on the specific points, only so at the end of the sessions, at some point this was even reduced to one-minute interventions, which do not have the potential to give any real input. We also noted a lack of broad participation in the preparatory process for the agenda of SBSTTA, e.g. the CBD Alliance was not consulted on speakers for the panels. 

We also express our concern that the rules of procedure that is characteristic of multilateral negotiations are strictly adhered to, which is the only means to ensure that all Parties have equal opportunities for participation in CBD deliberations, and any significant change in the conduct of the proceedings is debated by the statutory decision bodies of CBD.

We further feel that there was a lack of clarity on the linkages between pre-SBSTTA processes, the definition of the agenda for SBSTTA and the actual negotiations on the conclusions of the session 

While we are interested in learning more about including results of side events into the negotiation process, we also want to call for caution, as this may become a way of lobbying issues into the texts by those by those who can afford attractive side-events. Pre-prepared conclusions could so be entered into the negotiations as “results” from side events, some of which may not have any broader support than one stakeholder’s opinion.

We reiterate that we appreciate the efforts of the secretariat to search for new ways to organize the SBSTTA sessions in a more constructive and participative way. We are wishful to cooperate in the thinking on how to organize future sessions. Furthermore, we offer, as a CBD Alliance, our expert knowledge and our important touch-base connections to the local level, to give inputs, in the form of prepared documentation, written inputs and/or expert expositions whenever the discussion topics are prepared well in advance.


Please accept the assurances of our highest consideration,


S. Faizi
Chairperson CBD Alliance

On Behalf of:

  • Fundación para la Investigación y Desarrollo Social (FIDES), Ecuador
  • Practical Action, United Kingdom
  • International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Germany
  • Japan Civil Network for United Nations 
Decade on Biodiversity"
  • USC Canada
  • Organisation des Laïcs Engages du Sacré-Cœur pour le Développement de Kimbondo (RCP-Network / OLEDD-NGO), Congo
  • Ole Siosiomaga Society (OLSSI), Samoa
  • Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN), Argentina
  • Indian Biodiversity Forum
  • Biofuelwatch, United Kingdom
  • Natural Justice, South Africa
  • ETCgroup, Canada

Letter about prohibition Dodo Award

During the meeting of SBSTTA 17, the CBD Alliance wished to hold a Dodo Award ceremony. Upon respectfully informing the secretariat on the upcoming event, we received a prohibition to hold it within the venue. 

The ceremony was held anyway, right outside the venue, you can see the pictures here.

As this prohibition is contrary to standing practice, the CBD Alliance wrote a letter to the Executive Secretary request to allow CBD Alliance the continuation of the tradition on Dodo awards ceremonies in the future meetings.

Find the full letter below:



Mr. Braulio Ferreira De Souza Dias,
Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity
413, Saint Jacques Street, suite 800
Montreal QC H2Y 1N9


                                                                                                     November 5th, 2013



Ref: Ceremony for the Dodo award


Dear Dr. Dias,


With respectful greetings, we are writing to you concerning an incident at the last month’s SBSTTA 17 meeting in Montreal. As is customary, civil society groups attending the negotiation as part of the CBD Alliance had intended to hold a small informal ceremony for attendees on Thursday 17th October at the end of the day to award a “Dodo Award”. We were surprised and very disappointed when, upon respectfully informing the secretariat, the CBD Alliance was told that the secretariat had decided not to allow this ceremony from taking place inside the ICAO venue in Montreal.

 As you know, the “Dodo Award” ceremonies, along with “Captain Hook Award” ceremonies, have been a longstanding, colorful and much-welcomed  tradition in the CBD, and have up till now always been allowed to be held in the meeting venues. Similar practice is recurrent in the UNFCCC, with the ‘Fossil of the day’ awards, held on a daily basis during all sessions, including COPs, Work Group sessions, SBSTA and SBI.

 These awards are a way to alert countries and delegates that they are being watched by civil society and in our experience are greatly enjoyed by delegates to liven up proceedings. The ceremony is normally held in a public place inside the venue, but it never interrupts negotiation sessions, and is always respectful of the delegates. The ceremony does not involve any kind of disruption or security threat for the ongoing meetings. In some cases, when it is applicable, we also do the Dodo awards in pressrooms.

 You may also note that no Party has ever objected to the Dodo award ceremony being held, though there were objections to the final results only. Those who had such objection often met with us to explain their version of the story, which fact only underlines the recognition the award has assumed.

 Therefore, we request you allow CBD Alliance the continuation of the tradition on Dodo awards ceremonies in the future meetings of CBDA and that in the future there will be no in principle objection for the CBD Alliance to organize Dodo awards, or similar, as was common practice in the past.


Assuring you of our highest consideration,





Chairperson, CBD Alliance


Visa rejections: Letter to Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs

At the current meetings of WG8J and SBSTTA in Montreal, at least 5 delegates could not be present due to a rejection to give the necesarry visas by Canadian Embassies. 

The CBD Alliance sent a letter to the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, which is reproduced hereunder.


La Paz, 4th October 2013


Honourable John Baird
Minister of foreign affairs


Ref: multiple visa problems impeding legitimately accredited participants of CBD meetings to enter Canada

Your Excellency,

The Alliance on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD Alliance), which brings together civil society, including indigenous peoples, local communities and non governmental organizations, with the objective of giving positive inputs to the CBD process, sends you its sincere greetings.

It is with great concern that we write you, because at least 5 members of civil society, who were legitimately accredited to the CBD meetings from 7th till 18th of October (back to back meetings of Work Group on art 8J and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific Technical and Technological Advice), were rejected their visas by the Canadian Embassies in their countries.(*)

This fact is not only prejudicial to the personal lives and projects of the persons involved, it is also contrary to the basic agreements for a host country of a convention to the United Nations. Specifically in the case of the Convention on Biodiversity, the participation of indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society in general is crucial to its decision-making. Many of them live directly dependent on the customary use of biodiversity and its regeneration, and consequently do not have many private monetary resources.

Unfortunately, it is precisely the lack of private monetary resources that is often stated by the Canadian Embassies as the reason to refuse visas, even when evidence is shown of financial support for this trip. This criteria applied universally would lead to the exclusion of one of the principal stakeholder groups to the CBD, rendering the Convention less democratic. Furthermore, it is noted that visa denial is part of a pattern Canada is following.

It is generally acknowledged that the CBD processes of decision-making must especially promote the "wider application" of "knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles" with their "approval and involvement". Therefor, again, the presence of authentic representatives of such groups is paramount.

Furthermore, we would like to recall Canada on the Head Quarter Agreement that was signed with the CBD (Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity Concerning the Headquarters of the Convention Secretariat, E101442 - CTS 1996 No. 28, Articles). This is an unconditional commitment on the part of the host country, as required by the UN system, in order to ensure universal UN events; its breaching calls for remedial action by the statutory bodies of CBD. Article 8 is very relevant in this case:

Art 8: Access to the premises of the secretariat

8.1 The competent Canadian authorities shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the premises of the secretariat or representatives of Parties to the Convention, observers, experts on missions, or other persons invited by the secretariat thereto on official business.

8.2 Visas, where required, for persons referred to in paragraph 1, shall be issued by the government free of charge and as promptly as possible.

While the above mentioned persons were impeded to travel to Canada, to exercise their legitimate right to participate in the meetings that shape the rules that will define their livelihoods, we also want to stress that all participants coming from developing countries, suffer the breaching of art 8.2, as in all cases a fee for applying to the visa is requested.

Therefore, we respectfully call on you to closely supervise the Canadian embassies, and make sure that all legitimate participants of the CBD are granted their corresponding visa, as well as to make sure that no fees are required for visa applications of participants of the CBD meetings in Canada.

Please receive the reassurance of our highest esteem,


Nele Marien
Coordinator CBD Alliance
On behalf of the CBD Alliance
CBD Alliance



(*) Names and details known to CBD Alliance, CBD Secretariat and Canadian Ministry of Foreign