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,
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