CITES’ Contribution to the New Strategic Biodiversity Plan 2011-2020 and Aichi Biodiversity Targets

by John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES

(first posted on www.iisd.org on 9 September 2011)

We need “all hands on deck” to deliver on the Strategic Plan and Aichi Biodiversity Targets!

Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 provided us with a stark reminder of the challenges that lie ahead in achieving the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The reality is there is no one convention or organization that can alone address the challenges ahead – we need “all hands on deck”!

Mr John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES at CBD CoP10

One of the most powerful outcomes from the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10, October 2010) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture, Japan, was the Parties’ decision to adopt an inclusive Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and to set biodiversity targets, known as the Aichi Targets, which seek to speak to the entire system.

The first High-level Retreat of  biodiversity-related conventions

In September 2010 the Secretariats of five biodiversity-related conventions participated in a Retreat held near Geneva. The Retreat was an initiative of the Executive Director of the CBD in response to requests by other convention Secretariats for a joint meeting before the UN General Assembly’s High-level Event on Biodiversity and COP 10.

There were a number of outcomes from the Retreat, but I would like to focus upon two that were agreed by all five secretariats:

  • the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011- 2020 to be adopted at CBD COP 10 could serve as a useful framework that is relevant for all biodiversity-related conventions, taking into account their already-existing strategies related to biodiversity and the independence of their governing bodies; and
  • revised and updated national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs) should be able to cover the full range of activities needed to implement all of the biodiversity-related conventions.

Four of the biodiversity-related convention Secretariats carried this message to COP 10 through an agreed joint intervention to the High-level segment of COP 10’s Plenary session. The delivery of such a joint statement was a first in the history of the CBD, and we are most grateful to the Government of Japan for making it possible.

The joint statement included the following points:

  • “Each of the conventions…has a very specific mandate, and while they may be more targeted in scope than the CBD, they contribute towards achieving the same objectives of supporting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
  • …while we may have unique histories and mandates, and in some cases different Parties, we are joined by a common objective of supporting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and by a collective desire to see more effective implementation of conventions at the country level, including through making best use of NBSAPs.
  • States have already invested significant time, effort and financial resources into the negotiation, ratification and implementation of each biodiversity-related convention….We need to recognize and learn from this vast body of experience…as we continue to build on the scientific, legislative, administrative, and other capacities that have been progressively built to implement these conventions over the past 40 years.
  • We believe that the adoption of an inclusive strategic plan with robust and relevant targets that enables the reality of each country to be reflected through their NBSAPs, will contribute towards more coherent and effective on-the-ground action.”

The outcomes from COP 10 in Nagoya

In this context, important outcomes from the Nagoya COP 10 include decisions that:

  • urge Parties and other Governments to support the updating of NBSAPs and the mainstreaming of biodiversity at the national level, taking into account synergies amongst biodiversity-related conventions in a manner consistent with their respective mandates;
  • urge Parties to consider close collaboration at the national level between the focal points for the CBD and for other relevant conventions…and request the Executive Secretary to consider ways to assist Parties to reflect the full range of activities of all biodiversity-related conventions in the revision of NBSAPs; and
  • invite Parties and Governments to involve national focal points of all of the biodiversity-related agreements, as appropriate, in the process of updating and implementation of the NBSAPs and related enabling activities.

The outcomes of the High-level Retreat, the joint statement delivered at CBD COP 10, and the outcomes of COP 10 reflect a new era of cooperation amongst the biodiversity-related convention Secretariats – one that fully respects the autonomy of each governing body, and has its sights firmly fixed on more effective ‘on-the-ground’ implementation of the Conventions.

CITES contribution towards the Strategic Plan and Aichi Biodiversity Targets

CITES ensures that international trade in listed species (over 34,000) is legal, sustainable and traceable. The CITES trade-related measures, combined with solid science and strong enforcement, have regulated millions of wildlife-related transactions crossing the ports and airports of the world since 1975. Many of these transactions have contributed to the decrease of poverty in rural areas heavily dependent on wildlife through improved wildlife management. CITES is a leading provider of primary data on sustainable use of biodiversity.

The effective implementation of CITES will be indispensable in meeting the Aichi Targets, and in particular will contribute towards the achievement of Targets 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, 17, 18, 19 and 20.

The CITES Secretariat has actively followed through on its engagement in the September 2010 Retreat and COP 10 by, amongst other things: developing a Guide for Parties that wish to consider the inclusion of their CITES national and regional actions in the revised and updated NBSAPs; active participation in several regional NBSAP meetings; supporting the celebration of the UN International Decade of Biodiversity in Geneva; and co-Chairing the MEA Information and Knowledge Management Initiative.

At its 61st meeting, in August 2011, the CITES Standing Committee initiated a process to determine how to incorporate the Aichi Targets in the CITES Strategic Vision 2008-2013 (in line with CITES COP decision 15.10), and whether to extend the Vision to 2016, 2019 or 2020. The results of this process will be presented to the 62nd Meeting of the CITES Standing Committee, in July 2012.

Moving ahead

Decisions of COP 10, especially in relation to NBSAPs, coupled with actions such as those taken by the CITES Standing Committee, and the funding available through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and countries such as Japan, provide an unprecedented opportunity for more coherent and effective implementation of each country’s particular biodiversity commitments ‘on-the-ground’.

We now need to support countries in bringing different convention focal points together in the revision and implementation of NBSAPs, and to link these plans to other processes such as the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).

This is where our energy and attention should be focused as we move forwards – on enhancing national and local efforts for more effective and coherent ‘on-the-ground’ implementation of all of the biodiversity-related conventions.

And it is through such a collective effort that we will have the best chance of delivering on the Strategic Plan achieving the Aichi Targets.

Photo: John E Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES, delivering a joint statement on behalf of the Ramsar, WHC, CMS and CITES Secretariats at CBD COP 10.