Synergies between Conventions

During the meetings with the Focal Points for the 3 Rio Conventions, several have indicated to require a clearer view on the synergies between the conventions. The current brief reacts to this request.

The Rio conventions (Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA)) were presented at the UNCED convention in 1992 for a specific topic: the UNFCCC for the combat of climate change (adaptation to the negative effects of climate change and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions), the UNCCD for the combat of desertification and land degradation and the CBD for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Each convention secretariat worked out a set of guidelines for countries to use to implement the conventions and fulfill the obligations and requirements under the conventions. The Global Environment Facility was identified as the main financing facility for projects within the convention subjects, as well as the funding agency for the so-called Enabling Activities. The latter were capacity building activities for countries that had ratified the conventions, but that lacked certain capacities for an appropriate implementation. Examples are the NBSAP support under the CBD, the National Communications support, NAPA, NAMA and NAP under the UNFCCC and the NAP-CLD under the UNCCD. Each of these Enabling Activities has led to an improved convention implementation in the party countries. However, during the implementation of the Enabling Activities, it was also recognized that there were certain topics that were surpassing the specific mandates of the conventions, more touching upon overall governance of sustainable development, environment and natural resources, and others that were found to have a high duplication risk between the Enabling Activities, like the need for baseline information, awareness raising, etc.

Each of the Conferences of the Parties (COP) to the Rio Conventions has underlined the need for enhanced collaboration among the conventions. The convention bodies have frequently emphasized the importance of synergy at both the national and local levels. For example, the UNFCCC COP has affirmed that there is a need for enhanced cooperation between the UNFCCC, the CBD and the UNCCD, with the aim of ensuring the environmental integrity of the conventions and promoting synergies under the common objective of sustainable development. The SBSTA to the UNFCCC reiterated the “importance of promoting synergy at the national and local levels where implementation of the various conventions occurs, recognizing that this can lead to increased efficiency and can help avoid duplication”. According to the SBSTTA to the CBD, “the primary motivation for cooperation is to promote synergies at the national and local levels, where conventions are implemented. Efforts to promote synergies should be designed in accordance with national circumstances and priorities with a view to achieving sustainable development”. The UNCCD COP, at its fifth session, underlined the need for action at the national and local levels, noting that concerted action makes a significant difference at those levels. Noting the distinct mandates and independent status of each convention, the need for improved coordination and cooperation among the Rio Conventions has been recognized as a means to capture synergy, reduce areas of potential conflicts between activities taken by Parties to fulfil the provisions under each agreement, avoid duplication of efforts, and use resources more efficiently[1].

To assist countries in identifying the latter issues and offer an opportunity to remedy them, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded the first National Capacity Self-Assessments (NCSA). The vision was to help countries find the best way to frame resources by first determining their own capacity development needs to implement conventions related to biodiversity, climate change, desertification, and other global challenges. The UNDP-GEF NCSA Guidelines refer to synergistic issues and capacity needs that are common to the efforts in the country to address the concerns of the three conventions, or which cut across the efforts.


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