I. Core Areas
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which entered into force in December 1993, has three objectives: (i) the conservation of biological diversity; (ii) the sustainable use of its components; and (iii) the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
The Convention provides for a Conference of the Parties (COP), a Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and a Secretariat. Four open-ended working groups have been established by the Conference of the Parties: the Working Group on the Implementation of Article 8 (j) and Related Provisions; the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group on Access and Benefit Sharing; the Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention; and the Working Group on Protected Areas. The Secretariat services the COP and its subsidiary bodies, performs functions assigned to it by the COP relating to the implementation of decisions and coordinates with other international bodies and processes.
Mr. Ahmed Djoghlaf is the Executive Director of the CBD. The COP has initiated work on seven thematic work programmes: addressing marine and coastal biodiversity; island biodiversity; the biodiversity of inland waters; agricultural biodiversity; forest biodiversity; dry and sub-humid lands; and mountain biodiversity. Work has also been undertaken on the following cross-cutting issues: public education and awareness; access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing; traditional knowledge; biological diversity and tourism; incentive measures; liability and redress; sustainable use of biodiversity; technology transfer and cooperation; climate change and biological diversity; alien species; ecosystem approach; the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation; the 2010 biodiversity target; and the Global Taxonomy Initiative.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, another feature of the CBD, entered into force in 2003. The Protocol sets out a comprehensive regulatory system for ensuring the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs), with a specific focus on regulating movements of these organisms across national borders. The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COPMOP), is the governing body of the Protocol. Its primary role is to review as well as to promote implementation of the Protocol.
II. Engagement with External Actors
The practice of the Convention and of its Cartagena Protocol is that stakeholders (including international organizations, NGOs, indigenous and local community representatives and the private sector) are allowed to participate in the work of the Conference of the Parties and its subsidiary bodies, as well as in the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP-MOP). The rules of procedure of the Conference of the Parties provide that stakeholders qualified in the fields relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity may be represented as observers unless at least one-third of the Parties present at the meeting object. Furthermore, they may participate in the proceedings without the right to vote. In order to be able to participate they must register with the Secretariat.
Stakeholders are also allowed to participate in the aforementioned Working Groups as observers. They enjoy full participation in the discussions in expert groups, liaison groups and informal advisory committees. In the Working Group on traditional knowledge, representatives of indigenous and local communities have enjoyed full participation, including in the conduct of the meetings and in decision making.
A number of decisions and activities under the Convention require that Parties interact with stakeholders, including, in particular, indigenous and local communities. Besides NGOs, indigenous peoples and local communities, there are other constituencies that are engaged in some of the activities of the CBD. The private sector is active in a number of areas, including, but not restricted to, access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing.
Furthermore, in the implementation of decisions of the COP and SBSTTA, stakeholders are allowed to participate fully in the work of the many experts, technical and liaison groups that have been established.
The other way civil society can participate in the work of the Convention is through electronic communication tools (discussion fora, listservs, and feedback forms). Forums are established whenever needed on specific topics. The electronic forum on Task Forces on indicators for assessing progress towards and communicating the 2010 biodiversity target is an example of this.
III. Organizational Resources
Stakeholders qualified in the fields relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity wishing to participate in any of the meetings within the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity should contact the Secretariat.
Name: Mr. Neill Pratt
Title: Senior Environmental Affairs Officer, Outreach and Major Groups
Address: 413 St. Jacques Street, Suite 800, World Trade Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2Y 1N9