The RTCC biodiversity A-Z

By Tierney Smith
RTCC in Hyderabad

Anyone who has ever tried to follow international negotiations will know it is a minefield of acronyms and complex terminology.

My first experience of this was at the UNFCCC COP17 conference (see what I mean?) in Durban last December.

For those who don’t know, UNFCCC stands for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and COP is short for Conference of the Parties.

After two weeks in Durban I knew what BRICs, AOSIS, AGW-LCA and AGW-KP meant.

But a new lexicon is required for the UN biodiversity talks, which present a similar challenge to the uninitiated. I’ve collated the most popular ACRONYMs and phrases and listed them below.

Just hit Ctrl + F and search the page for whatever you’re looking for. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, leave a comment at the bottom of the story and we’ll add it (within reason!). If you disagree with a definition or we’ve made an error, we welcome your (polite) feedback!

Aichi Targets: Twenty targets that aim to ensure the Strategic Plan on Biodiversity by 2020.

Biodiversity: All life on earth, no matter how small.

CBD: the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

CEE: a country group of states in Central and Eastern Europe.

CHM: the Clearing-House Mechanism is a worldwide network of government and partner organisations aiding information exchange to ensure all governments have access to the information and technologies they need for their work on biodiversity.

COP: Conference of the Parties (most major UN agencies host these on an annual or bi-annual basis).

Ecosystem services: the benefits that humans get from resources and processes of the natural world around us. For example clean water, timber, a habitat for fisheries, and pollination of native and agricultural plants.

GBO: the Global Biodiversity Outlook is the publication of the CBD that assesses the current state of biodiversity and scenarios for the future.

GRULAC: a country group consisting of the Latin American and Caribbean states.

IGO: inter-governmental organisation.

Indicators: a tool to show the state or level of something. At the CBD you will hear about indicators for the biodiversity safeguards of REDD+. These show how much a scheme could adversely impact ecosystems and how to prevent this happening.

JUSCANZ: a country group consisting of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, the US, Switzerland, Andorra, Korea, Mexico, San Marino, Turkey and occasionally Israel (you will have heard of this if you follow the UN Human Rights Council).

ILCs: Indigenous and Local Communities.

ICCAs: Indigenous People and Community Conserved Areas and Territories.

ICNP: the Intergovernmental Committee for the Nagoya Protocol is the interim committee for the protocol set up at the CBD’s COP10 summit. The body will cease to exist when all countries have ratified the agreement and the first meeting of the Parties to the Protocol begins.

Lifeweb: a partnership platform to strengthen the financing for protected areas to conserve biodiversity and address climate change by implementing the CBD’s work.

NGO: non-governmental organisation.

NBSAPs: National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans – the instruments for implementing the Convention at a national level. Each country has to prepare a national strategy. To date 91% of countries have a NBSAP.

Nagoya Protocol: The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) is an agreement under the CBD – established at COP10 in 2010 – which provides the legal framework for sharing the benefits of genetic resources, for example used as medicines, and to ensure that traditional knowledge is respected and communities are rewarded for protecting their resources.

REDD: Reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation – a collaborative initiative within the UN, established in 2008, which aims to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests and offers incentive to communities to conserve their forests. REDD+ goes beyond this and includes the role of conservation and the sustainable management of forests.

Resource mobilisation: Target 20 of the Aichi targets called for resources to be generated to ensure all countries to meet the targets and play their part in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. Targets on such resources have yet to be shared and countries are currently debating on whether targets should be set at this conference or whether more work is needed on the reporting framework for such targets.

SBSSTA: the Subsidiary Body for Science and Scientific Advice – this is an open-ended scientific advisory body to the convention and includes representatives from each country in the relevant field. It meets twice between COPs and provides general assessments as well as answering questions the COP may put to it.

Strategic Plan on Biodiversity: agreed at the COP10 conference in Nagoya, Japan, the Strategic Plan covers the period between 2011 and 2020 and will be the overarching framework on biodiversity, not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but the entire UN system. The Strategic Plan includes the Aichi Targets.

TEEB: The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity study is an international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity and to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation. It aims to draw expertise from the fields of science, economics and policy.

UNEP: United Nations Environment Programme.

WGRI: the open-ended Working Group on the Review of Implementation – this was first adopted in 2002 to aid implementation of the Strategic Plan for the Convention (2002-2010) and now works to ensure effective execution of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2010-2020).

Working Group on Article 8(j): article 8(j) of the convention aims to respect, preserve and maintain the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant to the CBD. The Working group was established in 1998 to ensure this.

Working Group on Protected Areas: established at COP7 this working group supports the Convention’s work on protected areas.

More from COP11:

UN biodiversity talks: week one review from Hyderabad

India urged to ditch damaging sea walls and plant mangroves

Swaminathan: greed drives destruction of India’s environment


Read more on: India | Nature | | |