Clearing-House Mechanism




As part of its first medium-term programme of work, the COP decided to consider the CHM as a standing item on its agenda (decision I/9). COP 1 decided that a CHM should be established to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation. It also decided that the activities of the CHM should be funded through the regular budget of the Convention as well as from voluntary contributions. (decision I/3, paragraph 6)

COP 2 decided that establishment of the CHM should start with a pilot phase for 1996-97, the implementation of which would be reviewed at COP 3 (decision II/3 paragraph 4). The COP subsequently decided (decision III/4 paragraph 1) to extend the pilot phase until December 1998. The COP has given certain specific guidance as to the nature and content of the CHM (decision II/3 paragraph 4; decision III/4 paragraphs 6, 7; decision IV/2 paragraphs 5, 6, 7) and decided that the Secretariat should act as a focal point (decision II/3 paragraph 5; decision IV/2 paragraph 10(b)).

Informal Advisory Committee

The CHM is assisted in its functioning by an Informal Advisory Committee, constituted and co-ordinated by the Executive Secretary. The committee is to guide and integrate the development of pilot phase activities and endeavour to ensure that all Parties can participate in the CHM (decision III/4 paragraph 10; decision IV/2 paragraph 10(c)).

COP 5 clarified the objectives of the Informal Advisory Committee (decision V/14 paragraph 7) The continuation and mandate of the Informal Advisory Committee, as well as operational procedures, were reviewed at COP 7 (decision V/14 paragraph 9). COP 7 decided to extend the mandate of the Informal Advisory Committee (decision VII/23, paragraph 1) and to review the said continuation and mandate at COP 9.

Independent Review

In 1999 an independent review of the pilot phase of the CHM was undertaken for SBSTTA (decision IV/2 paragraph 10). The review process also developed a strategic plan and longer-term programme of work for the CHM. SBSTTA considered the review and the longer-term programme of work at its fifth meeting and adopted recommendation V/2, which was subsequently considered by COP 5. At its fifth meeting the COP:
  1. noted the report of the independent review of the pilot phase (document UNEP/CBD/COP/5/INF/2)
  2. endorsed a longer-term programme of work for the CHM (contained in document UNEP/CBD/COP/5/INF/4); and
  3. supported the implementation of a strategic plan for the CHM, which will become a component of the strategic plan for the Convention (document UNEP/CBD/COP/5/INF/3) (see section on Article 23)
    (decision V/14 paragraphs 1, 2, 4, 5).


Further to the independent review, the strategic plan proposed 3 goals to guide the further development of the CHM, which were:
  1. cooperation - the promotion and facilitation of scientific and technical cooperation
  2. information exchange - the development of a global mechanism for exchanging and integrating information on biodiversity
  3. network development - the development of the CHM Focal Points and their Partners.

COP 7 requested the Executive Secretary to update the strategic plan of the Clearing-House Mechanism to 2009, in collaboration with the Informal Advisory Committee, for consideration by the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (decision VII/23, paragraph 7(a))

COP 8 adopted the updated strategic plan up to 2010 together with its programme of work (decision VIII/11, annexes I and II). This strategic plan emphasizes how the CHM could contibute to the achievement of the 2010 target. In addition decision VIII/11 also encourages the free and open access to biodiversity information.

At COP 10, the CHM strategy was aligned to the overall Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 (decision X/15). The mission became to contribute significantly to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, through effective information services and other appropriate means in order to promote and facilitate scientific and technical cooperation, knowledge sharing and information exchange, and to establish a fully operational network of Parties and partners.

COP 10 also decided to organize the CHM goals in a way that facilitates follow up by level of implementation:
  1. The central clearing-house mechanism provides effective global information services to facilitate the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.
  2. National clearing-house mechanisms provide effective information services to facilitate the implementation of the national biodiversity strategies and action plans.
  3. Partners significantly expand the clearing-house mechanism network and services.

Cooperation and Partnerships

The COP has highlighted the importance of cooperation with other organisations in the development of the CHM. It invited all organisations to co-operate as active partners in the operation of the CHM (decision II/3 paragraph 8), and welcomed the offer of the FAO to link its information systems to the CHM (decision II/16 paragraph 2). COP 4 instructed the Executive Secretary to improve synergy with regard to information exchange with other biodiversity related conventions and ongoing information initiatives (decision IV/2 paragraph 10(g)). In addition, COP 5 decided that the Informal Advisory Committee shall have the objective of facilitating and encouraging cooperation with other international and regional information networks and initiatives [decision V/14, paragraph 7(e)).

The COP has given substantial guidance, both in its decisions on the CHM and in decisions on thematic areas and other Articles, on the types of information which should be made available through the CHM. This guidance is listed in the references below under the heading "Information to be disseminated through the CHM".

The Executive Secretary, in consultation with the IAC, has been asked to monitor and review the operation of the CHM and report to COP 6 on any recommended adjustments to its operation or to the strategic plan (decision V/14 paragraph 3).

COP 6 requested the Executive Secretary to commission a review to assess the current and potential role of the clearing-house mechanism in promoting technical and scientific cooperation (decision VI/18, paragraph 2). In response to the above, a Memorandum of Cooperation was established with the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre to undertake such an assessment. The assessment is provided to the Conference of the Parties as document UNEP/CBD/COP/7/INF/12. COP 7 called on the Informal Advisory Committee to assess the results of the independent review and to assist the Executive Secretary on measures and actions to be undertaken.


It also recommended that the Executive Secretary update and further develop the clearing-house mechanism toolkit incorporating use of guidelines, best practices and new information formats, protocols and standards (decision VI/18, paragraph 3). COP 7 further requested the Executive Secretary to update the Clearing-House Mechanism toolkit to be used as a meta-toolkit, linking to different existing toolkits with a view to optimize their resources and assist users to choose the most appropriate technology (decision VII/23, paragraph 7(c)).

National CHM

The COP has adopted certain guidance to Parties with regard to the development of the CHM. COP 2 called on Parties that had not already done so to designate their national focal point for the CHM (decision II/3 paragraph 7). COP 4, inter alia,
  • recommended that each Party organise an appropriate multidisciplinary national CHM steering committee or working group (decision IV/2 paragraph 3);
  • recommended that in building up the content of information in the CHM at the national, subregional, and regional level, the following be included: country profiles; biodiversity strategies and action plans; appropriate legislation; scientific and technological information; and financial sources (decision IV/2 paragraph 5(a)); and
  • requested Parties to link their national CHMs to the Secretariat CHM via the internet where possible (decision IV/2 paragraph 6).

As noted above, Annex I to decision V/14 contains further specific guidance to Parties with regard to the development of the CHM. At its sixth meeting, the COP invited Parties to use effectively the central portal of the clearing-house mechanism and to establish or strengthen national, subregional or regional focal points for the clearing-house mechanism, if they have not done so already.


Four clearing-house mechanism regional workshops and two expert meetings were held in 1997 and 1998. The regional workshops were held in October 1997 in Colombia, for the Latin American and Caribbean region; in October 1997, in Hungary, for the Central and Eastern European region, in December 1997, in Malaysia for the Asian region; and in March 1998, in Kenya for the African region. The expert meetings were held in June 1997 in Germany and in July 1998 in Italy. Their purpose was to attain a clear definition of national and regional-level scientific and technical information needs and priorities, as well as modalities to deliver information and evaluate national capacities for the implementation of the Convention. Their main recommendation was that the CHM required a global strategic plan for the implementation of the clearing-house mechanism immediately. This was considered by the fifth meeting of SBSTTA.

Two clearing-house mechanism regional workshops were held in 2001, the first being the African regional meeting on the Biosafety Clearing-House and the Clearing-House Mechanism held in Nairobi, Kenya on 26-28 February, 2001. The Latin America and Caribbean regional meeting on the Clearing-House Mechanism held in Lima, Peru on 7 September 2001 constituted the second regional workshop. An additional Southern Africa regional training workshop on the Commonwealth knowledge network/Clearing-House Mechanism was held in Zomba, Malawi on 26 to 30 November 2001.

COP 6 urged the Executive Secretary to convene additional capacity-building workshops at the national, subregional and regional levels referred to in (decision V/14, decision VI/18, paragraph 4). In support of the above, three clearing-house mechanism workshops were held in 2003, two of which were jointly sponsored. The African regional meeting on the Clearing-House Mechanism was held in Nairobi, Kenya on 31 March to 2 April 2003. The Joint Latin America and Caribbean regional meeting on the Clearing-House Mechanism and the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network was held in Cancun, Mexico on 12-14 August 2003. Finally, the Convention on Biological Diversity Clearing-House Mechanism and European Community Clearing-House Mechanism joint regional meeting for Central and Eastern Europe was held in Prague, the Czech Republic on 9 to 11 September 2003. Also, some workshops on other thematic areas have had a CHM component. Such a CHM component has also been included in the series of workshops on National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs).

Financial Mechanism

At its third meeting, the COP requested the financial mechanism to support the capacity-building in developing countries, including training in information system technologies, and country driven pilot projects to enable developing countries to begin to implement the main features of the pilot phase of the CHM (decision III/4 paragraph 2). It also requested the financial mechanism to implement its revised operational criteria for enabling activities in relation to the CHM to give effect to these activities (decision III/4 paragraph 3). Further guidance to the financial mechanism was adopted by COP 4 and COP 5 (decision IV/2 paragraph 9, decision IV/13 paragraph 5; decision V/13 paragraph 2(f)).

The COP has requested Governments and other bilateral and multilateral funding institutions to provide funding for capacity-building for the implementation of the CHM. It has further requested Governments and financial, scientific and technical institutions to facilitate, including through funding, regional workshops to identify needs and priorities and modalities for implementation of the CHM (decision III/4 paragraphs 4, 5; decision IV/2 paragraph 1).

COP 10 reiterated the need for adequate funding for developing national CHM. In addition it requested the CBD and GEF Secretariat to collaborate to facilitate access to funding for national CHM.