Event recap: 21st meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity

Montreal's Palais des Congrès was the site of a recent scientific meeting on biodiversity. Photo: Jamie McCaffrey
Future Earth had a large presence at this meeting in Montreal, which featured discussions on cities and biodiversity, wild meat and more.

Future Earth representatives recently attended the 21st meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-21) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), convened from 11 to 14 December 2017 at the Palais des Congrès in Montreal, Canada. SBSTTA is an open-ended, intergovernmental scientific advisory body that provides the Conference of the Parties (COP) with advice around the implementation of the convention. This meeting brought together civil society groups, technical experts and government officials from around the world.

SBSTTA provides assessments of the status of biological diversity and the types of measures taken in accordance with the provisions of the CBD and responds to inquiries from the COP. The body’s efforts are congruent with Future Earth’s mission to accelerate transformations to global sustainability through research and innovation.

This year, the SBSTTA considered the following items during its plenary session:

  1. Scenarios for the 2050 vision for biodiversity and the links between the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  2. Guidance for achieving a more sustainable wild meat sector;
  3. Biodiversity and human health;
  4. Biodiversity mainstreaming in the energy, mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing industries, and in the health sector, which will be the main topic of the next COP in December 2018;
  5. Tools for evaluating the effectiveness of policy instruments for the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity;
  6. The fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5);
  7. New and emerging issues.

Read the final recommendations and comments for CBD/SBSTTA-XXI/1, CBD/SBSTTA-XXI/2, CBD/SBSTTA-XXI/3, CBD/SBSTTA-XXI/4, CBD/SBSTTA-XXI/5, CBD/SBSTTA-XXI/6 and CBD/SBSTTA-XXI/7.

See the full report from Future Earth on SBSTTA-21 here.

Representatives from Future Earth participated in a number of activities during the SBSTTA, highlighting Future Earth’s contribution to several areas of the CBD work programme. Future Earth co-hosted a side event at the meeting, which featured a project on biodiversity and cities launched by the Urban Knowledge-Action Network. Future Earth also signed a memorandum of understanding with the CBD Secretariat, strengthening the collaboration between the two groups. 

Future Earth community and CBD

Future Earth attended SBSTTA as an accredited observer organisation with a delegation that gathered representatives from the Future Earth Secretariat and two Global Research Projects:  bioDISCOVERY and OneHealth.

Memorandum of Understanding

At the third plenary session of the meeting, Cristiana Paşca Palmer, Executive Secretary of CBD, and Future Earth’s Anne-Hélène Prieur-Richard signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly strive to achieve the Aichi biodiversity targets and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Read the full story.

“The discussions of the post-2020 period will be about transitions of socio-ecological systems and will require that we all harness the opportunities provided by disruption. Our work with Future Earth will ensure that as we move forward towards the 2050 vision of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, we are guided by the best available science from around the world,” Pasca-Palmer said.

Participants talk about biodiversity and the spread of cities during a side event organised by Future Earth and partners. Photo: Paula Monroy

Side events

Future Earth co-organised two side events: 1) “Natural Systems for Sustainable Cities: Mainstreaming biodiversity into urban infrastructure development,” which took place on 13 December; and 2) “Connecting Health and the Environment to Achieve the SDGs” on 14 December.

The first event was a panel that introduced a newly-launched project called Integrating Nature for Urban Sustainability. This project aims at making the consideration of biodiversity and natural ecosystems better integrated into urban design and planning to ensure cities around the world can meet global targets for sustainability and human wellbeing.

This event was organised in collaboration with the CBD Secretariat, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and The Nature Conservancy. It was well attended, and discussion with member countries started on how to mainstream this issue in the work of the Convention. It also contributed to a SBSTTA report on mainstreaming biodiversity in the transport sector that will be discussed at the next COP.

The second event was a panel about the increasing demand for shared learnings, greater knowledge and cross-sectoral collaboration around the process of implementing integrated approaches to ecosystem and human health research and action. Hosts of this event included CBD Secretariat, Ecohealth, Future Earth and the World Bank.

The panel discussion focused on how to engage policy-makers at global and national levels, considering the SBSTTA audience, and also how to support practitioners and researchers looking to make connections across the realms of environment and health.