A successful outcome of a meeting can be achieved through adequate preparation, undertaken by the meeting organizers and participants alike, throughout the whole process.
Depending on the meeting cycle of each instrument, the Secretariat/Coordinating Unit announces to its Member States details of each meeting through an invitation, as well as disseminating a draft agenda and other relevant information.
The formulation of the draft agenda is a crucial element of the preparation of the meeting as it sets out the objectives. The consultation process on the agenda, which is normally facilitated through the Standing Committee or the equivalent body, provides Member States with the opportunity to bring issues to the attention of the international community.
Member States’ priorities in terms of species, emerging conservation issues and related future policies should be determined through a revision of the national implementation plan (NIP) in preparation of the reporting to the meeting. National reports must in fact be prepared and submitted before the meetings, such as the COP. *
Depending on the instrument and its legal status and procedures, these priorities can be formulated and presented either through formal proposals (i.e. amending the scope of the instrument in terms of species/geographical range or procedural issues and prioritization of its work plan) or by simply informing the Secretariats or Coordinating Units. If there is an issue in which a Member State has a particular interest, consideration could be given to hosting a meeting.
It is important to be well informed about the rules governing the meeting – the Rules of Procedure - such as deadlines for submitting amendments to text of the instrument and its annexes or appendices and draft decisions on emerging issues. For instance, proposals for amendments to the text and appendices of CMS must be submitted to the Secretariat 150 days before the COP while for draft resolutions the deadline is 60 days. Similar provisions and deadlines also exist for most of the Agreements under the CMS, and their MOPs - with some exceptions: for AEWA, for example, the deadline is communicated before each meeting in a notification by the Secretariat.
Consultation at national level, in the context of the established National Consultation Process (where one exists) and/or beyond as deemed necessary, is vital throughout the whole process from the reviewing of the agenda to the formulation of position papers for the meeting. It is crucial to ensure an effective participation of all national stakeholders particularly for the formulation of draft resolutions and species proposals.
Once a national position on a particular issue has been reached, it is recommended that the consultation process is broadened to include other relevant actors in the regional and international spheres. Regional collaborative preparations with states and organizations that work on the same issue, often help to generate political momentum, add impact to the efforts and avoid unnecessary duplication of work. Promoting further dissemination and seeking comments and recommendations of Standing Committees of the instrument and their advisory bodies would also help with making the national constituency with an interest in the instrument aware of the issues and the delegate or delegation would have a well negotiated proposal which would require less discussion and refinement during the meeting.
Some of the CMS instruments have developed their own templates for species proposals which are generally in line with the CMS one. Key elements of the proposal are a description of the range including migration behaviour and routes, quantitative and qualitative data on population, habitats and threats. An important component of the proposal is a brief outline of comments provided by experts and authorities of the Range States.
Resolutions or decisions are structured in preambular paragraphs, operative paragraphs and Annexes. Preambular paragraphs provide background information on the topic and link the decision to existing provisions and processes on the same or a related matter.
An annotated example of a CMS Conference Resolution is attached.
Other Member States can similarly propose new issues and species to be discussed at the meeting. Furthermore, certain items such as budgetary and financial matters are always on the agenda of these meetings and related draft decisions are normally prepared by the Secretariats/Coordinating Units.
It is therefore important that NFPs familiarize themselves with all matters under negotiation, beyond those they propose themselves, and therefore check the meeting documentation available posted on the instruments’ websites.
The determination of a Member State’s position on all matters under discussion at the meeting normally involves a comprehensive coordination process depending on its government structure and national procedures. This is often time-consuming and it is therefore recommended that the NFP oversees this process and ensures that it is started well in advance of the meeting.
It is recommended the preparation of position papers which are very useful tools at the meeting for delegates as they should clearly state proposals for action to be taken. Coordinated positions at the regional level, such as through joint statements or proposals, might be also useful. An agreed regional position may have more weight in negotiations and allow Member States to participate more effectively.
Regional coordination requires that position papers are shared and consultations are held in advance of meetings. Language differences within the regions should be taken into account. Regional coordination meetings are generally financed by the region itself and therefore subject to the availability of funding. Sometimes, these meetings are arranged with the support of the Secretariat/Coordinating Unit. However, with the greater accessibility of electronic means of communication, consultations could be undertaken remotely.
The representation of the government in the meeting needs to be selected strategically depending on the matters to be negotiated and the level of experience required for lobbying for certain positions.
* In case a report is not submitted, the Secretariats/Coordinating Units of the CMS Family will send reminders. An overview of reports submitted (or not) will furthermore be published in the analysis of national reports to CMS, see e.g. of the year 2011, pp 2-3 (Analysis of National Reports to CMS 2011 – UNEP/CMS/CONF.10.11, Annex I).