Institutions Envisioned by the Convention on Biological     Diversity and the Challenge of Implementation                 ...
Abstract       This paper reviews the inadequacies that challenge the goals of the CBD. In particular,the paper highlights...
Introduction       Within the past 15 years there have been increasing interests and efforts in protectingand maintaining ...
supporting southern conservation efforts as well as make conservation measures more enticingfor the third world and develo...
UN Earth Summit: A Framework for Global Conservation       As the brainchild and main outcome of the 1992 UN Conference on...
which fall under the authority of the Executive Secretary, include divisions of social, economicand legal matters; scienti...
CBD, the working groups often can provide support and information to communities at a sub-national level.                 ...
fundraising mechanism as a result of the first COP; however 14 years later it is now importantfor the CBD to provide a pro...
conservation goals in order to facilitate development and economic growth, in some casessimply to keep the country from fa...
important. It becomes a challenge for policy makers to implement CBD’s goals in places thatcannot successfully implement p...
enormous impact on the national agriculture production, would definitely promote moreefficient practices throughout the co...
in order to achieve a collective sense of sustainable development. However, the BrundtlandReport only goes so far as recog...
it was recognized that there were indeed states that were in need of more assistance thanothers, completely unconsidered w...
Conclusion       The Convention on Biological Diversity is continuously adjusting its agenda in order toconfigure its shor...
many of the third world and developing countries choose the route of development andeconomic growth and forgo any attempt ...
Bibliography:Aguilar, Soledad, Aaron Laur, Rebecca Paveley, and Elsa Tsioumani. 2008. “United Nations        Activities”. ...
Soutullo, Alvaro, Monica De Castro, and Vincente Urios. 2008. “Linking Political and       Scientifically Derived Targets ...
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Institutions Envisioned by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Challenge of Implementation

  1. 1. Institutions Envisioned by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Challenge of Implementation Michael Patrick MacDonald University of Vermont Pols 259- International Environmental Politics Professor Robert Bartlett April 8th, 2009
  2. 2. Abstract This paper reviews the inadequacies that challenge the goals of the CBD. In particular,the paper highlights the improper funding mechanism that attempts to assist countries withconservation projects. The paper also reflects the notion that it is necessary for the CBD toprovide more incentive for developing and third world nations to reach the goals set by the CBDinstead of rejecting the goals and opting for intrusive development projects. The paper isanalyzed through a number of lenses. First, the CBD needs to consider the asymmetry of wealthdistribution around the globe in order to fully grasp the challenges that face it. The Conventionalso neglects the general fundamental challenge that faces most International Institutions; thenotion that broad structural changes can be ignored in favor of minor organizationalrestructuring. Without a broad change in global thinking in terms of biological conservation andwithout a proper internal funding mechanism, many challenges will continue to face the CBDover time. 2
  3. 3. Introduction Within the past 15 years there have been increasing interests and efforts in protectingand maintaining sustainable levels of biodiversity at a global level. At varying levels oftrepidation, scientists, policymakers, NGOs, and the general public have all made theconservation of biodiversity a key issue that, at the international level, has become one of themost pressing topics of discussion. Agreed upon by 150 nations at the Earth Summit in 1992,the Convention on Biological Diversity set up the framework for a collaborative global effort inmaintaining healthy levels of biodiversity. Starting as a way to define biodiversity and toestablish a system for dealing with conservation matters, the CBD has grown to encompass awide range of goals with substantial global backing. Although the CBD has done well inproviding a proper definition of biodiversity and biodiversity conservation, there are stilldiscrepancies within the institution of the CBD. In particular, the CBD fails to adequatelyaddress the difference in challenges that face the global north and the global south in reachingthe goals of the CBD. In order for the CBD to successfully accomplish its goals of a globalcommunity of biodiversity conservation, it must address the lack of interest from the north in 3
  4. 4. supporting southern conservation efforts as well as make conservation measures more enticingfor the third world and developing countries of the world. There are many leading concepts and theories that can be applied towardsunderstanding the difficulties that currently face the Convention on Biological Diversity. Whilethese ideas are not exclusive to the goals of the CBD, they provide much needed insight into thegeneral failures of institutions that are shaped and run similar to how the CBD functions. Thereis a wide range of general institutional problems that can be applied to understanding themishaps within the execution of the CBD’s goals. At the core of these issues is the inherentNorth-South inequality that makes it difficult for much international consensus. The globalNorth, which is made up of the world’s wealthiest, developed, countries plays dictator andsponsor to the issues that often ravage the South. The South, which is made up of the rest ofthe world’s developing and third world states, is then apportioned to comply with the decisionsof the North with ‘equal’ but not proportional say. To further congest the problem at hand,organizations will often opt for minor adjustments in replacement of much needed institutionalframework change. While it is absolutely important for International Organizations toconstantly make minor adjustments in regards to their agendas as an effort to respond to theconstant changing nature of the planet, minor organizational changes will not suffice inaccomplishing much of a difference. In the case of the CBD, there are systemic institutionalflaws that ail the Organization, and without thoughts of more major or broader change the CBDitself will likely be ever hindered in its ability to fulfill the very goals it has set. 4
  5. 5. UN Earth Summit: A Framework for Global Conservation As the brainchild and main outcome of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment andDevelopment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is seen as amechanism for a change in thinking of how to approach issues surrounding conservation. Priorto the Earth Summit, an alternative name for the conference, the focus on conservation fellwithin the realm of ensuring specific species’ safety and conserving land based solely on theneed of a species, on a species to species basis. In contrast, the CBD shifted the global line ofconservation thinking to be in line with the thought that the protection of a region’s speciesdiversity is of the most concern (DeSombre 2006, 58). The agreement, in general, not onlysupports the notion of regional biodiversity conservation but also includes guidelines forsustainable biological resource use and sharing information about the use of genetic resources,such as those from the biotechnologies industry (DeSombre 2006, 59). These basic goals of theconvention are indeed rather broad and encompass the overarching goals of the agreement.The conservation policies themselves fall within the jurisdiction of the states, in essenceallowing the CBD to act as a catalyst for national institutional change as well as a forum forpositive discussion about conservation strategies and implementations. In order to provide an ongoing source of global direction and governance for the goalsestablished by the convention, the United Nations, in part lead by UNEP, set up a secretariat inan effort to help manage and facilitate the goals of the CBD. The secretariat’s Office of theExecutive Secretary, currently headed by Executive Secretary Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf from Algeria,manages the overall functions of the CBD. The remaining divisions of the secretariat, all of 5
  6. 6. which fall under the authority of the Executive Secretary, include divisions of social, economicand legal matters; scientific, technical and technological matters; biosafety; implementationand technical support; and resource management and conference services (Secretariat 2009).The secretariat, which has its headquarters located in Montreal, Canada, has the main focus ofpreparing and servicing the Conference of Parties (COP), the CBD’s official meetings that takeplace approximately every two years (DeSombre 2006, 59). The COP provides a proper forumfor member parties to discuss the current topics dealing with biodiversity and conservation aswell as a means to set the global agenda for international conservation policy. The parties thatattend the COP consist of 191 nations that have agreed to work towards accomplishing,collectively, the international policy goals of the CBD. In order to attend the COP as a party, acountry has to ratify the CBD, accede to it (if the country did not sign the treaty during the timeof signing), approve, or accept the treaty (Secretariat 2009). Signing the treaty and becoming aparty to the CBD are not one in the same. For example, the United States signed the conventionback in 1993 but never ratified it within its government and therefore is not a party to theconvention. Conversely, Montenegro, a country which at the time of signing period was still apart of Serbia, is a party by means of secession when it separated from Serbia in 2006. Alongwith the COP, the CBD secretariat organizes and facilitates five other convention bodies: theScientific Body, Working Group on the Review of Implementation, Working Group on Accessand Benefit Sharing, Working Group on Article 8(J) (a working group that focuses on indigenouscommunities), and a Working Group on Protected Areas (Secretariat 2009). These workinggroups generally act as the COP’s research base and allows for an interim update on theconvention’s goals. Although the working groups do not work directly with the parties to the 6
  7. 7. CBD, the working groups often can provide support and information to communities at a sub-national level. Field(s) of Dreams: Current Agenda of the CBD Due to the nature of the CBD’s history, its structure, and the fact that the COP meetsevery couple of years, it seems as though there have been very few topics that the regime hascovered during its existence. While it may be true that there have only been nine COP meetingsspanning a total of 14 years, the CBD has indeed been able to cover quite a bit of ground interms of setting an international agenda for conservation issues. Disregarding the first ordinarymeeting of the conference of parties in 1994 which simply discussed the general futuredirection of the CBD and established the GEF as the interim funding source, the COP hascovered a range of issues including sustainable use of biodiversity, biosafety, agriculturalbiodiversity, traditional and indigenous knowledge, access to genetic resources, and technologytransfers (Secretariat 2009). These are of course by no means the entire list of topics coveredby the COP but they do show a good representation of what the CBD brings to the forefront ofthe international conservation agenda. In the two most recent meetings, the 2006 COP in Curitiba, Brazil, and the 2008 meetingin Bonn, Germany, review of the funding mechanisms of the CBD has been a topic of discussion(Tsioumani 2008, 222). While this topic may not seem as the most pressing in the realm ofglobal conservation efforts, the discussion about the CBD’s funding ability is rather high ininternational importance. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was deemed the interim 7
  8. 8. fundraising mechanism as a result of the first COP; however 14 years later it is now importantfor the CBD to provide a proper funding mechanism to fuel their increasing scope of issues onits agenda. As the Review of Implementation of Articles 20 and 21 from the 9th Conference ofParties states, the CBD regime finds it concerning that there is a lack of funding to help inreaching the goals of the convention (Review 2008). Also outlined in the Review is theimportance for parties to recognize the overall cost that would occur with increasingbiodiversity loss, and that it encourages more of a north-south, as well as south-south,cooperation in resolving the key issues facing biological diversity. This is a key step for the CBD, but it is by no means a solution to the funding issues ofthe CBD. For one, the dependency of the CBD on GEF funding is already quite high. In theReview the CBD requests that the GEF not only continue their present funding role in existingCBD projects but to also continue giving financial resources to parties in order to help reach theCBD’s main goals (Review 2008). In order for the CBD to properly function however, it will benecessary for internal fundraising and funding mechanisms to be in place. An institution withsuch specific goals as the CBD needs to have a proper, reliable and constant source of fundingto promote its own agenda. The CBD’s goals can only get so far with exclusively outside helpfrom the GEF. The CBD’s lack of funding particularly effects the global South, where many of theplanet’s conservation projects occur, particularly those that focus around protection ofbiodiversity. It is imperative that the South receives relatively large amounts of funding in orderto meet the goals of the CBD. Without proper funding the South is likely to disregard 8
  9. 9. conservation goals in order to facilitate development and economic growth, in some casessimply to keep the country from failing. Although the North has to come up with very similaramounts of money in order to go through with the conservation projects that are necessary tomeet the CBD’s goals, the Northern countries cannot only afford to fund many of the projectsthemselves and forgo further development practices, but they also often have necessaryconservation infrastructure already in place. One example of a Southern nation facing the challenges of biodiversity conservation isthe case of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a country that is located at a latitude close to theequator, therefore contains a vibrant jungle landscape. This landscape is home to a wide rangeof species and the landscape is also in serious threat due to increasing human activities.Bangladesh is not a wealthy nation by any means, so practices of development are seen asimportant in boosting the nation’s global status. Here, conservation projects that look atprotecting key biodiversity zones for the region are pushed aside, due to their costs, in favor ofdevelopment projects that aim to boost the state’s economy. Currently, Bangladesh is facingincreasing temperature and rising air pollution levels, two issues that seem to be moreimportant to address for the government than conservation matters set out by the CBD (Alam2008, 3). Not only does Bangladesh see their development and economic growth as moreimportant than conservation challenges, but they also face other environmental challenges thatshow a more immediate impact than what will be the cause of decreasing biodiversity. WhileBangladesh faces unique challenges within the country, this occurrence is not limited to theregion. Throughout the various Southern countries, the political agenda is full with economicissues and human health matters, so conservation plans simply are not seen as the most 9
  10. 10. important. It becomes a challenge for policy makers to implement CBD’s goals in places thatcannot successfully implement policies that tackle other, more recognized, issues. Another case of a developing country facing the difficulties of prescribing to the goals ofthe CBD is that of the Middle Eastern State of Oman. While Oman is wealthy by comparison inregards to much of the rest of the world’s developing nations, the state is by no means adeveloped nation or a regional hegemon. The nation’s shrinking oil reserves pale in comparisonto its wealthier neighbors, beyond which there is not much for the people of Oman to rely on asa driving economic force. Being that Oman is primarily a desert region, agriculture makes up aslittle as 1% of the country’s economic output and they rely quite a bit on imports to make upfor the lack of an agricultural infrastructure. In an increasingly intricate global economic system,these factors are greatly compounded and put Oman in the precarious position of decidingwhether to support further traditional development practices or to shift the shift the system ofthinking to one that regards conservation as a means for sustainable development growth. Similar to the case of Bangladesh, Oman has alternative pressing issues that are oftenregarded politically as more important than biodiversity conservation. Although Omancomparably is not as biodiverse as its developing tropical counterparts, the misconception thatbiodiversity conservation does not need to be considered in the region simply enflames thepolitical neglect. As the country attempts to shift from relying on the increasingly unreliablefuture in oil production, some suggest that developing sustainable infrastructure that wouldpromote better agricultural practices and conserve the regions biodiversity could be key inreinventing the economic structure (Ghazanfar 2008, 466). Such a transition, although not an 10
  11. 11. enormous impact on the national agriculture production, would definitely promote moreefficient practices throughout the country and would set an example for neighboring nations tofollow. More importantly, perhaps, is that such practices can be implemented around the globeand are perhaps better suited for success in other circumstances. L’Analyse: Top-Down From Montreal to Those Afflicted Implementing biodiverse conservation measures, while rightfully enticing and applicableto some situations, is unfortunately no more than a pipe dream for many countries. From theperspective of the country in implementing the change, often is the case that the powers at besimply cannot commit to most forms of change. Politically, due to difficulty in passinglegislation, lack of significant resources that would be required in such a shift, or a dynamicgovernmental structure that is subject often to authority change, government leaders oftenhave their hands tied. These challenges do not even touch upon the problem of governmentcorruption that occurs throughout the developing world or the proliferation of failed states. These challenges that are presented at the national and sub-national level are exactlywhy International Organizations and Regimes like the Convention on Biological Diversity havebeen established. Inherent in their nature, IO’s aim to create goals that will accomplish thedaunting tasks that single nations cannot deal with on their own. In the case of definingsustainable development through the Brundtland Report, there was an important part of theestablishment part missing. When setting out the parameters of sustainable development, thereport suggests that there are certain needs that have to be addressed in the developing world 11
  12. 12. in order to achieve a collective sense of sustainable development. However, the BrundtlandReport only goes so far as recognizing these needs. Left out of the process was actually thinkingthrough the problems, devising a proper definition of what threatens the developing world, andsetting the framework for possible action (Elliott 2004, 164). This same issue has been a vitalflaw in the way the CBD has operated since its inception. For one, the CBD has run on theassumption that biodiversity can be seen as a commodity. For example, the CBD often willprotect biodiverse regions in order to gain further knowledge about the region and theinteraction of species. State actors are those that are often called upon to conduct suchresearch, allowing the larger actors to ‘collect’ protected species, while the local people thatoften rely on the wealth of conserved species have to abide by the regulations of theconvention (Park 2008, 18). In essence, the individuals simply watch the more powerful stateflex its influence- the very state that likely had a say in developing the regulation in the firstplace- while the powerless local population is left to scratch its collective head. Furthering the maladies of the CBD is also something entirely out of its control andsomething that was never intended to be an issue that would face the CBD in reaching the goalsit set forward 14 years ago. Absolutely apparent in the current global system is the asymmetryof wealth distribution amongst countries; a minority of nations simply hold the majority ofwealth and resources. The trade of goods, the participation in global summits and theinvolvement in international agreements all reflect this asymmetrical distribution (Park 2008,63). This is completely out of the reach and scope of what the CBD’s goals are, however it is anunfortunate burden that the CBD is forced to face. When framed in 1992, the CBD ran on theassumption that all nations had the same ability to protect species and conserve land. Although 12
  13. 13. it was recognized that there were indeed states that were in need of more assistance thanothers, completely unconsidered went the notion that overcoming challenges to conservationin poor developing nations would be exponentially more difficult than overcoming the samechallenges in a developed nation. The asymmetry has even deeper of an impact when thelocation of the CBD’s Secretariat is considered. The headquarters for the CBD are currentlylocated in Montreal, Canada, a member of the G8 and one of the world’s most influentialnations. With such an established top-down system to begin with, the fact that the CBD islocated among the world’s elite does not give much hope to the developing world. The CBD’s response to this, not breaking the typical symptom based solution style ofgovernance that most International Organizations follow, is often to play around with theorganizational structure of the CBD itself. Unfortunately for the developing world, in the yearsof the convention’s existence, not much has resulted from the minor adjustments. Rather thantinker with the structural flaws, which are inherent in the system, the institutional system itselfneeds to be adjusted (Najam 2005, 241). For the CBD, such institutional change would be torestructure itself to consider the North’s greater influence over the South in all of the world’sissues and come up with a solution that will empower the South by involving, but not angering,the North. Along with this restructuring would need to be a more dependable funding source,one that considers the extreme difficulty of meeting conservation standards in some of themost biodiverse regions in the world that also recognizes the dichotomy of issues thatchallenge the South as compared to the North. Some biodiversity issues require a differentapproach to funding than others, whether it is found within the North or South, and the Northneeds to be looked at differently than the South altogether. 13
  14. 14. Conclusion The Convention on Biological Diversity is continuously adjusting its agenda in order toconfigure its short-term goals to align with what the international community sees as importantto biodiversity. Recently, the CBD has put a slight emphasis on the importance of developing aproper internal funding mechanism, however the effort has not been good enough. In thefourteen years of its existence, the CBD regime has depended on the GEF for funding CBDsupported projects around the globe. In order for the CBD to further the progress in meeting itsgoals, the CBD will need a viable source of money that it can control itself. Perhaps more importantly, the CBD needs to improve the incentive for nations to reachthe CBD goals. As of now, the goals are simply stated as somewhat of an overarching agenda forthe entire international community. For example, the success of many Scandinavian cities toimplement sustainable urban practices is celebrated as a pan-global solution (Elander 2005,291). It is lovely to think that successful means can be translated elsewhere but there are otherfactors that often need to be considered. Basically overlooked are the economic and politicaldiscrepancies between many of the countries in the global North and the global South. For theNorth, it is seemingly easier for nations to address the conservation measures put forward bythe CBD. The North has more in terms of resources to deal with biodiversity, and for the mostpart does not have as many zones where biodiversity is at a high level. On the contrary, theSouth has quite a bit of diversity in terms of species, including much of the world’s jungles.Without a proper resource base, and with a poor mechanism for funding through the CBD, 14
  15. 15. many of the third world and developing countries choose the route of development andeconomic growth and forgo any attempt to reach the goals of the CBD. In order to change theways of the global system of conservation, the CBD must add more of an incentive for the lesserprivileged nations in order to get their commitment to conservation. 15
  16. 16. Bibliography:Aguilar, Soledad, Aaron Laur, Rebecca Paveley, and Elsa Tsioumani. 2008. “United Nations Activities”. Environmental Policy & Law 38(3): 114-125.Alam, Mahbubul, A. Z. M. Manzoor Rashid, and Yasushi Furukawa. 2008. “Policy Implications and Implementation of Environmental ICTPS in Developing States: Examples from Bangladesh.” Electronic Green Journal 26: 1-11.Baker, Susan. 2003. “The Dynamics of European Union Biodiversity Policy: Interactive, Functional and Institutional Logics.” Environmental Politics 12(3): 23-41.Cullen, Zoe. 2008. “Biodiversity and the Bottom Line.” Oryx 42(4): 481-481.DeSombre, Elizabeth R. 2006. Global Environmental Institutions. New York: Routledge.Elander, Ingemar, Elisabet Lundgren Alm, Bjorn Malbert, and Ulf G. Sandstrom. 2005. "Biodiversity in Urban Governance and Planning: Examples from Swedish Citites.” Planning Theory and Practice 6 (3): 283-301.Elliott, Lorraine. 2004. The Global Politics of the Environment. 2nd ed. New York: New York University Press.Ghazanfar, Shahina A. 2008. “Conservation in Developing Countries.” Turkish Journal of Botany 32(6): 465-469.Herkenbath, Peter. 2008. Convention on Biological Diversity: 9th Conference of the Parties. Paper presented at the Oryx, Bonn, Germany.Najam, Adil. 2005. "Neither Necessary, Nor Sufficient: Why Organizational Tinkering Will Not Improve Environmental Governance." In A World Environment Organization: Solution or Threat for Effective International Environmental Governance? Frank Biermann and Steffen Bauer ed.: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.Park, Jacob, Ken Conca and Matthias Finger, ed. 2008. The Crisis of Global Environmental Governance: Towards a New Political Economy of Sustainability. New York: Routledge."Review of Implementation of Articles 20 and 21." 2008. In Convention on Biological Diversity 9th Conference of Parties. Bonn, Germany.Secretariat, Convention on Biological Diversity. 2009. Convention on Biological Diversity 2009 [cited March 1st 2009]. Available from http://www.cbd.int/. 16
  17. 17. Soutullo, Alvaro, Monica De Castro, and Vincente Urios. 2008. “Linking Political and Scientifically Derived Targets for Global Biodiversity Conservation: Implications for the Expansion of the Global Network of Protected Areas.” Diversity & Distributions 14(4): 604-613.Tsioumani, Elsa. 2008. “United Nations Activities.” Environmental Policy & Law 38(5): 220-248. 17

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