The second half of the 24th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD’s) Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) was conducted in person in Geneva, Switzerland, between 14 and 29 March 2022.  As the first in-person meeting convened by the CBD after the Covid-19 pandemic, and as the final chance to negotiate the finer elements of the CBD’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework before it is presented for consideration at the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) in Kunming, China in September 2022, expectations and trepidation amongst attendants were high.

GOBI had a small yet significant part to play in proceedings, assisting in the coordination and delivery of two scheduled Side Events, both highlighting the progress made over the past decade under two of the CBD Secretariat’s keystone initiatives: (i) implementing the EBSA process and (ii) capacity-building through the Sustainable Ocean Initiative (SOI).  Since both initiatives were launched, GOBI partners have been instrumental in the success of all 15 regional EBSA workshops and associated development and preparatory meetings, as well as having helped deliver 16 SOI capacity-building workshops.

The EBSA Side Event took place on Friday 18 March 2022, providing selected examples of new information that can both inform and strengthen the EBSA portfolio.  Expert interpretation of the EBSA criteria to refine EBSA boundaries was illustrated by a South African national exercise.  The success of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) – information that can feed into the EBSA process – is inspiring similar approaches for marine turtles and sharks and rays.  A compelling scientific case was also made for all hydrothermal vents to be considered as EBSAs.  Unfortunately, a technical glitch at the venue prevented the recording of the Side Event, although the slides used during speaker presentations are available on request.

The SOI Side Event, held on Wednesday 23 March 2022, celebrated 10 years of efforts under the Initiative to increase ocean literacy and capacity of regional, national and sub-national marine management practitioners across the globe, but in particular in and around least developed countries. Following introductory remarks by Jihyun Lee (Director of Science, Society and Sustainable Future Division in the CBD Secretariat), donors and SOI supporters acknowledged SOI’s role to build capacity and catalyse partnerships to achieve global ocean goals.  A SOI Impact Study compiled by the GOBI Secretariat was launched, highlighting the experiences, impressions and lessons learnt from various participants of SOI training events.  SOI experiences were illustrated, reflecting specific national (Cameroon) and regional (Mediterranean) examples, the ‘training of trainers’ workshops and SOI Global Dialogue events.  A recording of the Side Event is available to view via YouTube.

The current state of play after 15 days of negotiation in Geneva is reflected in the CBD press release.