Decision on coral bleaching at CBD SBSTTA

West Jordan jwest at
Fri Feb 4 19:14:49 EST 2000

Greetings coral-listers,

This week, a coalition of governments, agencies, and NGOs successfully used
the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) process to generate new
priority focus on, and greater impetus for immediate response measures to,
the problem of coral bleaching, its links to climate change, and in
particular its ecological  and socio-economic impacts on affected countries.

The Subsidiary Body on Science, Technology, and Technological Advice
(SBSTTA) to the CBD, in its Fifth Meeting 31 January-4 February, reviewed
the information and recommendations of an expert's paper on: coral
bleaching, its affects on biodiversity, and consequent socio-economic
impacts.  A decision on coral bleaching was adopted in plenary Friday
afternoon, reflecting only minor changes to the chair's text introduced on
Thursday evening. The SBSTTA recommendations to the Conference of the
Parties (COP) to the CBD are: 

1 -- to fully integrate coral bleaching into the marine and coastal
programme of work under the Jakarta Mandate 
2 -- to liaise and cooperate with GCRMN, ICRI, FCCC, Ramsar, GIWA in
developing an action plan 
3 -- that climate change is "a primary cause of coral bleaching" and
warrants remedial action by the FCCC 
4 -- to urge parties to identify and implement a number of responses to
coral bleaching 
5 -- to direct the World Bank and other funding bodies to mobilize resources
for this effort

The expert's paper on coral bleaching was the product of an Expert
Consultation on Coral Bleaching that was convened by the Secretariat of the
CBD on 11-13 October 1999 in Manila, Philippines.  The workshop was
sponsored by Sweden, France, IUCN (The World Conservation Union), ICLARM
(International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management), and the U.
S. Department of State.  The conclusions of the workshop focused on 4
themes: information-gathering, capacity building, policy development and
implementation, and financing. These conclusions were then presented to the
SBSTTA-5 meeting in Montreal this week.Ê  For full text of the document, go

An informational, luncheon side event on coral bleaching was hosted on the
first day of the SBSTTA by IUCN, the National Wildlife Federation, and the
U. S. Department of state.  The purpose of this Consultation on Coral
Bleaching was to review information on bleaching and to facilitate
consideration of proposed actions for the Convention process.Ê NESDIS data
on SSTs (sea surface temperatures) were presented by Al Strong of NOAA,
followed by general discussion of the bleaching problem and its link to
climate change.  For an interview with the IUCN/NOAA/National Wildlife
Federation Team, go to:

Following adoption of the technical body's decision this week, the Parties
to the Convention will meet in May at CBD COP-5 to review the conclusions
and formally decide on next steps.
For a story on the SBSTTA-5 debate by the Parties on the subject of coral
bleaching, go to: 

Jordan M. West, Ph. D.
Marine Science Advisor
IUCN-US Office
1630 Connecticut Avenue, NW - Third Floor
Washington, DC 20009 USA
phone: +1 202 387-4826
fax: +1 202 387-4823
e-mail: jwest at
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