Biodiversity body 'lacks science'

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), is an international treaty that was adopted in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. The Convention has three main goals:
  1. conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity);
  2. sustainable use of its components; and
  3. fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
The Convention on Biological Diversity is currently the most important international political instrument dealing with the increasing threat of biodiversity loss. Almost every country in the world is party to the convention, and the work of implementation shapes the political process with respect to biological resources worldwide.

Swedish researchers have launched a scathing attack on the scientific credentials of the official scientific board advising the convention, warning that its effectiveness is being undermined by the increasing dominance of politicians and professional negotiators.

The researchers write in a letter published in Conservation Biology this month (Laikre et al. Conserv. Biol. 22, 814–815; 2008):
...the scientific board of the convention—the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA)—is increasingly being politicized, effectively halting scientific discussion and progress, strongly limiting the quality of recommendations that will be taken to the decision-making biannual Conference of the Parties (COP). We stress the urgent need to improve the scientific input and influence in the CBD process.
Conservation scientist Michael Stocking of the University of East Anglia, says:
...the nomination system is “the core of the problem, in that these tend to be government nominees … not scientists who are up to date with the literature”. Countries that fund the CBD will have to insist on change for it to actually happen, says Stocking, who is vice-chair of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel for the Global Environment Facility, which administers the funding for the CBD.
The letter in Conservation Biology closes with this plea:
We urge our colleagues in science to become familiar with the current work of the convention. Find out who represents your country in the scientific body, provide your scientific input on the issues dealt with to those representatives, and stress the need for a scientific advisory function for CBD implementation within your country. Colleagues in the United States need to voice the importance of their country becoming a party to the CBD, thereby sharing the responsibility to secure and maintain biodiversity globally. The voices of conservation biologists worldwide are badly needed—please get involved in the CBD process now!

1 comment:

Simon Mustoe (AES) said...

In Australia, one problem is the how threatened species and biodiversity are considered one and the same. This came out in the recent survey of EIANZ members.

Biodiversity management is a critical part of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) and its management should be a consideration in everything we do.

We assume that biodiversity management only applies to places where there would be immediate direct benefit to a threatened species, which denies the application of one of the core tenets of ESD in most cases.

The system of environmental management in Australia right now suffers from a lack of basic policy understanding. We need to move away from arbitrary species-focused management (even if species are used as indicators and triggers) to consider more inherently "ecological" issues at the landscape-scale e.g. structure, function and composition.

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