Scientific Linkages and Complementaries between
the Conventions on Climate Change, Biological Diversity, Desertification
and the Forest Principles
Alexander L. Alusa
Atmosphere Unit United Nations Environment Programme
P. O. Box 30552, NAIROBI, Kenya
2. Description of the Rio Instruments
3. The Scientific Linkages
4. The Scientific Relationships Between the
At the UNCED in Rio de Janeiro four important environmental instruments
were agreed by 156 nations and the European Union: The United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD) and
the Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and
Sustainable Development of all Types of Forests (Forest Principles). That
these four accords were agreed at the same time was in itself an important
milestone in the history of environmental movement. Important because while
the Instruments were separate they underscored the need to address these
specific and important environmental issues.
But there is an even more important element about these instruments;
they all recognize the interelated nature of issues and were based on scientific
assessments which emphasize linkages between disciplines and the significance
of addressing environmental issues in an integrated manner. Indeed, Sustainable
Development by definition requires that issues be addressed holistically
to ensure that one solution to one environmental concern does not introduce
The three Conventions and the Forest Principles represent international
concerns on a variety of environmental issues. While these concerns appear
at first somewhat unrelated, there are considerable similarities and complementaries
at the legal level and linkages at the scientific level. The legal similarities
and complementaries will be handled by a different companion paper at this
workshop. The purpose of this paper is to examine the scientific links
between issues on climate change, biodiversity, desertification and forests
and how these links might inform policy makers in implementing the Rio
instruments in an integrated, cost effective manner at the national, regional
and global level.
The paper will draw on the known assessments by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, (IPCC) the Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA)
UNEP's assessments on desertification under the United Nations Plan of
Action to Combat Desertification (PACD) (1992) and FAO's (1991) assessment
of Status and Trends of World's Forests indicate the obvious scientific
linkages. It will also identify existing scientific arrangements within
the instruments and how these institutional arrangements might be exploited
to facilitate synergy between the Conventions. A limited analysis of the
economic, social and moral imperatives that formed the basis for these
legal instruments will also flagged.
The conclusions will propose a way forward, not in a prescriptive manner,
but options that Parties and the scientific community might wish to explore
as a way forward. The emphasis here will be to draw on what we know about
scientific linkages between the various fields and how the instruments'
own provisions could provide an avenue for an integrated approach in implementing
the instruments in future.
2. DESCRIPTION OF THE RIO INSTRUMENTS
The UNFCCC, the CBD, the CCD and the Forest Principles were agreed in
Rio for one simple reason: they were necessary for the sustainable management
and use of our natural resources for the benefit of future generations.
These instruments derived their strengths from assessments carried out
by many scientists. These assessments suggested that the manner in which
man was utilizing existing resources was both untenable and unsustainable.
They noted that Climate Change would have impacts that would vary from
region to region and country to country and would depend on the country's
capacity to respond and adapt to the changes. It was particularly observed
that the impacts would be felt most severely in the developing countries
[IPCC, 1990(a)]. The GBA noted that species had been made extinct as a
result of human activities in the last few millennia and that the primary
causes underlying the loss of biodiversity were demographics, economics,
institutional and technological factors (UNEP 1995). The Desertification
Convention recognizes that the implementation of the UNFCCC, the CBD and
related environmental conventions [UNEP 1996 (d)] is significant in combating
desertification. It also recognizes the need to combat desertification
in order to improve the lot of developing countries, particularly the least
developed among them. The Forest Principles recognize the central role
of forests (all types of forests) to the conservation of biological diversity,
sequestration of carbon and avoidance of desertification.
In this section we examine the scientific basis for the various Rio
- instruments including the socio-economic motivation to negotiate the
2.1 The Climate Convention
The issue of climate change was brought to the fore in the mid and early
eighties when, through a series of meetings organized in part by the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Villach and Bellagio, it was recognized
that the emission of GHG at ever increasing rates was potentially deleterious
to the atmospheric environment (WMO, 1985). In response to the identified
problem, UNEP in collaboration with WMO, set up an Advisory Group on Greenhouse
Gases (AGGG) with the purpose of advising the Chief Executives of both
UNEP and WMO on the issue of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities
and implication for the climate system. Progressively, it became clear
that the issue of climate change required a clear assessment by a body
of scientists beyond the limited group (AGGG) advising the Chief Executives.
Consequently, UNEP in association with the WMO, established the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which was required to make assessments on
the science of climate change, the socio-economic consequences of such
a climate change and the formulation of realistic response strategies for
the management of the climate issue.
The IPCC (1990), in its first assessment report, pointed out that climate
change would occur if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases into
the atmosphere continued at the 1990 rates and that the consequences would
be a rise in sea level and adverse impacts on socio-economic systems. Response
options were identified for possible implementation by policy makers.
Specifically, the IPCC [1990 (a,b,c,) & 1992] observed that the
global mean surface temperature had increased by between 0.3 and 0.6°C
since the late 19th Century; and that regional changes in climate had been
identified. There were at that time, however considerable scientific uncertainties
regarding our ability to attribute the observed changes to human activities.
The Second World Climate Conference (SWCC) reviewed the IPCC first assessment
report and recommended a number of activities, notably monitoring, observations
and research programmes to address the uncertainties (Jaeger and Ferguson
1991). Of particular concern was the assessments by the working group on
Climate Impacts that climate change would impact more severely on developing
countries because they are already under stress [IPCC, 1990 (b)].
The Ministerial Section of the SWCC recommended that an international
climate regime be negotiated. This particular recommendation was made because:
(i) the IPCC had observed that the consequences of climate change were
severe indeed and that the impacts on socio-economic systems would require
that action be taken then to address the issue to forestall an irreversible
commitment to climate change.
(ii) a number of key equity issues had arisen from the IPCC observations
that the countries that would be impacted most severely were the developing
countries, whereas they had done least to bring about climate change.
(iii) The IPCC [1990 (c)] had also established that there were measures
at national, regional and global levels which, while helping to tackle
climate change could yield other benefits and so a climate change regime
would provide a level playing ground especially sincmitigation measures
could introduce unfair competition in the market system.
2.2. Convention on Biological Diversity
The UNEP Governing Council in its Decisions 14/2 and 15/36 recognized
the need for concerted international action to protect biological diversity
on earth by inter alia, the implementation of existing legal instruments
and agreements in a coordinated and effective way and the adoption of a
further appropriate international legal instrument, possibly in the form
of a framework convention. With these decisions, the seeds were sown for
a convention on biological diversity.
An Ad hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity was
established and held its first session in Geneva in November 1988 and the
second one was held in 1990 also in Geneva. The significant point here
is that it was the group of experts in the field of biodiversity that were
meeting to advise on the elements of a new international legal instrument.
This particular expert group also recommended the preparation of a number
of studies as a means of responding to specific issues in the process of
developing the new instrument. To assist in the preparation of more accurate
estimates of the total costs of global biological diversity conservation
needs, the UNEP contacted nine developing and developed countries (Brazil,
Federal Republic of Germany, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nepal, Peru, Poland,
Uganda, Zaire) with regard to initiating country studies to determine approximate
conservation sites and conservation needs that have not been met. In the
meantime, the Ecosystems Conservation Group (ECG) (FAO, UNESCO, IUCN and
UNEP) continued to actively consider the matter of draft elements for consideration
in the new legal instrument on biological diversity. Although the scientific
basis that supported the proposed elements for inclusion in CBD were assessed
in the Global Biodiversity Assessment (UNEP 1995) after the agreement on
CBD, some of the scientists involved in this assessment were the same ones
that played a major role in the group of experts meetings preceding the
The important point here is that the need to conserve biological diversity
had been flagged by an expert group on the basis of scientific knowledge
of the trend in loss of biological diversity. The GBA provided a detailed
characterization of biodiversity, its magnitude, distribution, generation,
maintenance and loss. It assessed the basic principles, inventory and monitoring
of biodiversity and measures for conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable
use of its components.
The key findings of the assessment are that while biodiversity is a
vital resource for all humankind it was being destroyed by human activities
at unprecedented rates. Without immediate action future actions would be
restricted. Again, science informed the negotiating process and provided
the critical justification for an additional legal instrument. This is
particularly significant because other legal instruments addressing the
conservation of some aspects of biodiversity existed, but the Group of
Experts suggested that a more comprehensive legal instrument was necessary.
2.3. The Convention to Combat Desertification
In 1977, a United Nations Conference on Desertification (UNCOD) was
convened in Nairobi, Kenya to produce an effective, comprehensive and coordinated
programme for solving the problem of desertification. UNCOD was preceded
by extensive, global, regional and local studies and consultations involving
many Scientists' decision makers and relevant institutions all over the
world (UNEP 1991). The UNCOD recommended the United Nations Plan of Action
to Combat Desertification (PACD). However the implementation of PACD was
severely hampered by limited resources while assessments made in 1984,
1987 and 1989 by UNEP indicated that desertification continued to spread
and indeed the Brundtland report (Our Common Future 1988) observed
that it had become one of the most serious environmental and socio-economic
problems of the world.
The various assessments by UNEP continued to point out that desertification
results from complex interactions among physical, chemical, biological,
socio-economic and political problems, that were local, national and global
in nature. There was considerable limitations on account of lack of data,
but what little data existed showed that:
(i) the largest degraded rangelands were in Asia followed by Africa
(ii) the greatest areas of degraded irrigated lands were in drylands
(iii) major areas of degraded soils are confined to semi-arid and arid
In addition to these assessments UNEP(1992) produced a World Atlas of
Desertification (UNEP 199). The assessments, the resultant Atlas and the
persistent pleas by countries affected by desertification and the socio-economic
implications of desertification and its environmental impact persuaded
countries to negotiate a Convention to Combat Desertification. We see again
that assessments in this case, even when greatly hampered by lack of data
pointed to the need for an international treaty. Table 1. gives the status
of desertification in the world as established by a series of assessments
Table 1. Status of desertification in the world (UNEP - 1992).
||% of total drylands
|1. Degraded irrigated lands
|2. Degraded rainfed croplands
|3. Degraded rangeland [soil and vegetation
|4. Drylands with human-induced soil degradation
|5. Degraded rangelands [vegetation degradation
without recorded soil degradation
|6. Total degraded drylands [4+5]
|7. Non-degraded drylands
|8. Total area of drylands excluding hyper-arid
2.4. The Forest Principles
The Forest Principles while not legally binding, contribute
significantly to the proper management, conservation and sustainable development
of forests. As stated in the preamble, the principles point to the need
for a holistic examination of forest issues in the larger context of environment
What is the scientific basis for this concern on forests
that gave rise to the Forest Principles? As discussed earlier, many assessments
- climate change, biodiversity, and desertification have been carried out.
All of these assessments point to the significant role of forests in climate
change, habitat maintenance for biological diversity and forestalling land
degradation and desertification.
Studies [IPCC 1990 (a,b,c), 1995 (a,b, c)] indicate that
conversion of forest land to agricultural land releases carbon into the
atmosphere through burning and decay. Regrowth of forests withdraws carbon
from the atmosphere and stores it again in trees and soils. Estimates show
that there is a net flux of carbon into the atmosphere as a result of land
use changes of 1.7GtC/yr + 30%. Disturbed forest (e.g as a result
of forest fires) tend to become a net carbon source into the atmosphere.
Such disturbances have been associated with warming. Climate change can
therefore affect forests' capacity to store carbon.
Changes in forest cover also influence the surface albedo
and can affect local and regional climates besides compromising the quality
of soils and encouraging soil erosion by both wind and water leading to
land degradation and/or desertification.
Forests are important habitats for many species. The GBA
has made a strong pitch for the conservation of habitats in different biomes
(UNEP, 1995). Specifically it is observed that "in continental terrestrial
ecosystems, the most important mechanism for loss of biodiversity is the
loss, fragmentation and degradation of habitat" (UNEP, 1995). It is
clear therefore that forests as habitats for biodiversity need protection
hence the Forest Principles.
It should be noted parenthetically that the original idea
was for a forest treaty and the Principles were a compromise between two
divergent views on whether or not a need existed for a treaty on forests.
These concerns were rooted in the by some that a binding legal instrument
would greatly hinder the exploitation of forests as a natural resource
of states, while there were those who felt that the present rate of deforestation
would lead to climate change, desertification and loss of biological diversity
and hence the need to control the rate of deforestation through an international
treaty. There was, indeed another school which felt that the provisions
of the UNFCC, the CBD and the CCD would lead to a sustainable exploitation
of forests and therefore an international treaty on forests appeared superfluous.
3. THE SCIENTIFIC LINKAGES
We have seen that scientific assessments informed the
negotiating processes for the Rio instruments and that the assessments
included an estimate of the socio-economic implications of climate change,
biodiversity loss, desertification and deforestation. A general characteristic
of the assessments is that they recognize the scientific linkages between
the various disciplines. Indeed the very composition of experts with different
backgrounds was an acknowledgement of interdisciplinary nature of the issues
under review. The assessments are a summary of extensive experimental,
theoretical (modelling work for example) and observational studies carried
out by research groups, individual scientists and international research
programmes. The development of General Circulation Models (GCMs) for climate
studies mainly by Universities and research centres in the north, the activities
under the World Climate Research Programme under the auspices of the World
Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Council of Scientific
Unions (ICSU), the ecosystems research carried out by many scientists the
world over and the systematic studies on the effects of climate change
on forests and the feedbacks into climate, the assessments of desertification
under the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification, have all formed the
basis for the assessments. Any attempt to discuss scientific linkages in
a paper of this length can hardly scratch the surface of the depth of knowledge
available. This section will therefore only give, where appropriate instructive
examples of scientific linkages.
3.1 Climate, Biodiversity and Forests
The linkages between climate and forests has been extensively
discussed in the IPCC [1990 (a,b,c), 1996 (a,b,c)] assessments. Widespread
deforestation converts forest trees into carbon dioxide and reduces the
vegetative cover for CO2 storage. It alters local and regional
climate. Specifically, by removing vegetative cover, deforestation reduces
the water retention capacity of the soil and increases soil erosion. Studies
by Myers (1988) suggest that widespread deforestation appeared to dry up
climates of surrounding areas in selected regions. The sustainable use
of forests would among other things help keep in equilibrium balance atmospheric
concentration of carbon.
Policy makers need to understand the other side of the
coin that is, how forest tree species might be affected by predicted climate
change important for conservation of biodiversity. Recent work by Sykes
et al (1996) would appear to shed light on this issue. Using a bioclimatic
model to determine the potential distribution of north European tree species
he finds that as winters warm various tree species, areal coverage expand
and contract appropriately. More significantly they find that the expected
future rate of warming is much faster than the past climate variabilities.
In particular, they observe that the time required for major tree taxa
to establish new equilibrium distribution is between 100 and 1500 yrs.
Because climate change is expected to occur much faster, a disequilibrium
between species distribution will occur as climate changes. This suggests
that climate change would not only have a direct impact on distribution
of species, but that given the higher rate of warming species could become
extinct leading to loss of biodiversity. The conservation of forests is
important for climate change and critical for sustenance of biodiversity
while at the same time a higher rate of change of climate poses a threat
both to the habitats of species, (forests for example) and species diversity.
There are global scale biogeophysical feedbacks into climate.
Specifically, changes in ecosystem structure and function will affect climate.
For example the exchange of water and energy between the land surface and
the atmosphere is controlled by vegetation. Vegetation structure will influence
surface albedo, roughness length, canopy conductance and rooting depth.
Climate change will also impact on biodiversity of small and large animals.
Fish populations, for example, are influenced by many elements of their
natural environments (UNEP 1994) during each phase of their life cycle.
Change, no matter how subtle, in key environmental variables such as temperature,
salinity, strength of upwelling, greatly affect abundance (and diversity)
distribution and availability of fish populations. To the extent that sea
level is expected to rise, and to the extent that climate change will affect
wind fields over the oceans and therefore strengths of currents and upwelling,
there is a linkage between diversity of fish and climate change.
As climate change will impact on the productivity of grasses
in a particular ecosystem habitat for wildlife, it will affect wildlife
biodiversity especially large animals. Increased surface temperature which
may result in reduction in land vegetation cover will affect soil microbial
diversity due to enhanced exposure to higher temperatures.
3.2 Desertification and Climate
The relationship between desertification and climate resembles
the proverbial chicken and egg problem. The array of impacts of climate
on land and the implications of degraded land surface for the climate system
are many. We shall site but only a few examples.
It should be noted that the Convention to Combat Desertification
makes specific reference to areas experiencing serious drought and/or desertification.
In order to provide a substantive scientific document
for understanding the important interaction of climate and drought with
land degradation and desertification, UNEP and WMO decided to jointly prepare
a comprehensive report on current knowledge of these interactions. Profs.
Williams and Balling undertook to do this in collaboration with other scientists
and have produced a credible assessment of the state of knowledge of the
interactions (Williams and Balling 1996). They find that humans do impact
on surface characteristics and atmospheric composition of various dryland
regions. Such impacts include, breakdown on soil structure, reduction in
soil moisture retention, increased surface runoff, reduction in species
diversity, increase in aerosol and trace gas emissions from burning etc.
In response to such human impacts on drylands, climate
is greatly influenced via energy balance of both the surface and atmosphere
of the earth. The change in albedo affects the amount of solar radiation
absorbed by the surface and changes in soil moisture levels affect the
portion of energy used in evaporation and transpiration processes. Changes
in surface roughness influence wind speeds and turbulence which have a
bearing on evapotranspiration. Atmospheric composition will affect atmospheric
temperature profiles and influence capacity to generate precipitation on
Considerable modelling work, notably that of Charney (1975)
and Charney et al (1975, 1977) has been carried out on the biogeophysical
feedback mechanisms that could initiate and reinforce drought in sub-Saharan
Africa because of vegetation depletion. The removal of vegetation increases
surface albedo, decreases net shortwave radiation, decreasing the relative
emission of longwave radiation. These processes reduce net radiation at
the surface and transfer to the atmosphere. These changes would induce
subsidence and suppress convention. In other words, hinder the development
of precipitation leading to droughts and desertification.
4. THE SCIENTIFIC RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE INSTRUMENTS
It is necessary to examine the Rio Treaties to assess
the extent to which provisions for specific actions at the scientific level
can be exploited to evolve synergistic approach in the implementation of
the instruments. No suggestion will be made here to introduce any new policy
issues. What we seek to explore is how, in implementing the existing provisions
in the Rio instruments we could encourage cost effective integrated policy
approaches at the national, regional and global levels. In other words,
we seek to highlight the extent to which provisions in the Rio treaties
allow for interdisciplinary efforts in addressing specific issues and what
mechanisms need to be put in place at the various levels to fulfil the
spirit and letter of these provisions.
4.1 The Subsidiary Bodies for Scientific and Technological
Article 25 of the CBD, provides for the establishment
of a Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice
(SBSTTA). The UNFCCC provides, under article 9 for a Subsidiary Body for
Science and Technological Advice. The CCD in its article 24 established
a Committee on Science and Technology.
All these bodies have a number of common elements:
- they all are required to be multidisciplinary
- they are open to all Parties to the Conventions
- the representatives of the Parties are required to be
competent in the relevant fields of expertise
- they are required to provide scientific and technical
assessments, and to provide advice on scientific programmes and international
cooperation in research and development.
These common elements suggest that the negotiators already
appreciated the need for synergy which is why there is emphasis on multidisciplinary
group of experts in the various fields. They also recognized that selection
of representatives by the Parties to these Bodies should be on the basis
of expertise so that the advise is given by informed body of experts with
a proven scientific and/or technical/technological track record. Indeed
the wordings in the CBD and UNFCCC are so similar that one is tempted to
believe that some element of synergy had started to take root during the
The major problem, and the task before this workshop is
how the different Scientific and Technical Advisory Bodies which receive,
as they must, instructions from different Conferences of Parties can develop
synergies at the working level so that they can catalyse similar synergies
at the national and regional levels. The real question is at what levels
should such synergies start? In many developed countries considerable consultations
take place across disciplines and national consultative mechanisms are
advanced and in place. The situation in many developing countries, however,
is far from satisfactory. Efforts must therefore be made to encourage these
synergies in the developing countries.
Given the differences, there is a case for a two pronged
approach in developing synergies. For those countries where synergies are
evident at the national level, these should be infused upwards into regional
and global initiatives. For countries where national coordination mechanisms
remain weak, global level synergistic efforts could assist, and indeed
catalyse synergies at the regional and national levels.
The basic problem at the global level is whether or not
the Conferences of Parties (CoP's) are willing to encourage, at the operational
levels, synergies in implementing the provisions of their respective conventions.
There is suggestive evidence however, that this is the case at least from
the CoP of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
In its decision II/4, the Conference of the Parties invited
the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to liaise with the Commission
for Sustainable Development to organize an open-ended intergovernmental
workshop on the study of the relationships between the Convention on Biological
Diversity and other related international Conventions on related issues
taking into consideration existing studies and the expertise available
in non governmental organizations and relevant institutions. Financial
constraints and poor response to UNEP's request for support from donor
governments have made it difficult to implement this decision.
The decision however, left it open to the judgement of
others as to what constituted "related Issues", "related
fields" and "Conventions related to the CBD". In its latest
decision III/21 during its 3rd meeting, the CoP of CBD was a lot more specific
in its instructions on the type of corporation and with whom.
For these initiatives to have the effect they are capable
of having, similar initiatives need to be introduced by the Conferences
of the Parties to the other two Conventions. The reason simply is that
whereas the subsidiary body of the CBD and its secretariats have got their
mandate, the other subsidiary bodies and secretariats have no such mandate
to relate to the other subsidiary bodies. Indeed decision III/21 operative
Paragraph 9 asks for just that.
Having said that, there appears to be a window for cooperation
with regard to providing advice on scientific programmes, international
cooperation in research and development. We shall discuss this later, but
suffice here to state that such a cooperation does not necessarily empower
a subsidiary body of one convention to liaise with and collaborate with
a subsidiary body of another. Such collaboration would need to be further
elaborated by a CoP as provided for in say Article 9(3) of UNFCCC, and
25(3) of CBD.
4.2 Provision for Monitoring, Observation, Research
Article 5 of the UNFCCC, Article 7 & 12 of the CBD,
and Article 17 of the CCD all make reference to the need for Parties to
develop and strengthen, national regional and international research capabilities
and to support intergovernmental programmes and networks or organizations
in their observation and monitoring programmes. These provisions allow
the convention secretariats under the guidance of their CoPs to liaise
with international organizations in matters related to research, monitoring,
systematic observation and networking in order that new knowledge, technologies
can be brought to the attention of the CoPs for further refinements of
the provisions of the conventions.
As pointed out earlier, there appears to be a window here
for cooperation between the Subsidiary Bodies for Science and Technological
Advice to get involved in work outside the Convention itself. Specifically,
in as much as these bodies are required to assess the state of the science
and technology, there is a need for linkage between them and the scientific
community. Indeed we have already seen that under the UNFCCC, the Subsidiary
Body for Science and Technological Advice has requested the IPCC, an assessment
body, to carry out specific assessments and provide inputs to assist in
elaborating a possible protocol under the Berlin Mandate. But, it did so
after a specific mandate (the Berlin Mandate) from the Conference of the
But cooperation and collaboration between convention entities
and the scientific community, the international organizations is fully
mandated, as pointed above, by specific provisions of the conventions.
Since these provisions call for Parties to initiate action, it is necessary
that such action be coordinated and synergized at the national level first.
Activities related to climate change should be integrated with activities
related to conservation of biological diversity, and those related to combating
desertification. such synergy can be developed if, at the national level
a Committee on Global Change is put in place as is the case in some developed
countries. Such a committee could have multidisciplinary sub-committees
on climate change, desertification and biological diversity.
The Convention to Combat Desertification has a specific
article (Art. 25) on networking of institutions, agencies and bodies. The
UNFCCC in Article 5 calls upon the Parties to "promote access to,
and exchange of data and analyses thereof obtained from areas beyondnational
jurisdiction" while the CBD in its Article 18(3) calls for the establishment
of a clearing house mechanism to promote and facilitate technical and scientific
cooperation. The need for coorperation is very basic to the Forest Principles.
Specifically Principle 12(a) calls for the strengthening of scientific
research, forest inventories and assessments through effective modalities
such as international cooperation.
Only through networking at the national, regional and
international levels can knowledge be freely shared, taken full advantage
of, and duplication avoided. Indeed, assessments can only be effective
if the scientific community is fully informed of scientific and technical
work, no matter how modest, going on all over the world at the national,
regional and global levels.
any similarities and complementarities exist between the
three Rio Treaties and the Forest Principles and we have established that
their negotiations were informed by a variety of assessments carried out
by the international scientific community. To address the concern these
instruments seek to reddress requires collaboration and cooperation among
many different disciplines at national, regional and international levels
and indeed these have been acknowledged by all the instruments in their
There is a need to develop synergies between the instruments
in terms of their implementation at the national, regional, and global
levels. To do so effectively it is proposed that: A two pronged approach
be used to address the issues:
(i) where synergies and integrated approach to issues
covered by the instruments already exist, as is the case in some developed
countries, these examples be infused upwards into the regional and international
(ii) that at the international levels, efforts be made
to enhance collaboration and cooperation between the existing Subsidiary
Bodies for Scientific and Technical Advice and collaboration with international
monitoring, observational, and research and development programmes in order
to catalyse integrated approaches at the regional and national levels.
At the national level, National Global Change Committees
be put in place with multidisciplinary sub-committees on climate change,
biological diversity and desertification.
A sine qua non for meaningful assessments necessary
to inform Parties to the various conventions is a proper exchange of data,
information and a comprehensive networking of institutions, scientists,
agencies and bodies as provided for in the Convention to Combat Desertification.
A possible coordinating mechanism should be explored by
the respective Conferences of the Parties empowering their respective Secretariats,
or Subsidiary Bodies, as appropriate, to liaise with each other with a
view to developing and strengthening cooperation and synergies in the implementation
of the conventions at various levels.
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