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Convention on Biological Diversity

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Title: Convention on Biological Diversity  
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Subject: Biodiversity, Biodiversity Indicators Partnership, Sustainable development, Environmental governance, Sustainable forest management
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Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Convention on Biological Diversity

Convention on Biological Diversity
  Parties to the convention
  Signed, but not ratified
Signed 5 June 1992
Location Rio de Janeiro
Effective 29 December 1993
Condition 30 ratifications
Signatories 168
Parties 196
Depositary Secretary-General of the United Nations
Languages Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treaty. The Convention has three main goals:

  1. conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity);
  2. sustainable use of its components; and
  3. fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources

In other words, its objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It is often seen as the key document regarding sustainable development.

The Convention was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993.

2010 was the International Year of Biodiversity. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is the focal point for the International Year of Biodiversity. At the 2010 10th Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October in Nagoya, Japan, the Nagoya Protocol was adopted.[1] On 22 December 2010, the UN declared the period from 2011 to 2020 as the UN Decade on Biodiversity. They, hence, followed a recommendation of the CBD signatories during COP10 at Nagoya in October 2010.


  • About the convention 1
  • Issues under the convention 2
  • Cartagena Protocol 3
  • Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 4
  • Parties 5
  • International bodies established by the convention 6
  • Country implementation 7
    • National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) 7.1
    • National Reports 7.2
  • Executive secretary to the convention 8
  • Nagoya Protocol 9
  • Meetings of the parties to the convention 10
    • 1994 COP 1 10.1
    • 1995 COP 2 10.2
    • 1996 COP 3 10.3
    • 1998 COP 4 10.4
    • 1999 EXCOP 1 10.5
    • 2000 COP 5 10.6
    • 2002 COP 6 10.7
    • 2004 COP 7 10.8
    • 2006 COP 8 10.9
    • 2008 COP 9 10.10
    • 2010 COP 10 10.11
    • 2012 COP 11 10.12
    • 2014 COP 12 10.13
    • 2016 COP 13 10.14
  • Criticism of the Convention 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • Further reading 14
  • External links 15

About the convention

The convention recognized for the first time in international law that the conservation of biological diversity is "a common concern of humankind" and is an integral part of the development process. The agreement covers all ecosystems, species, and genetic resources. It links traditional conservation efforts to the economic goal of using biological resources sustainably. It sets principles for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, notably those destined for commercial use. It also covers the rapidly expanding field of biotechnology through its Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, addressing technology development and transfer, benefit-sharing and biosafety issues. Importantly, the Convention is legally binding; countries that join it ('Parties') are obliged to implement its provisions.

The convention reminds decision-makers that natural resources are not infinite and sets out a philosophy of sustainable use. While past conservation efforts were aimed at protecting particular species and habitats, the Convention recognizes that ecosystems, species and genes must be used for the benefit of humans. However, this should be done in a way and at a rate that does not lead to the long-term decline of biological diversity.

The convention also offers decision-makers guidance based on the precautionary principle that where there is a threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat. The Convention acknowledges that substantial investments are required to conserve biological diversity. It argues, however, that conservation will bring us significant environmental, economic and social benefits in return.

The Convention on Biological Diversity of 2010 would ban some forms of geoengineering.[2]

Issues under the convention

Some of the many issues dealt with under the convention include:

  • Measures and incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
  • Regulated access to genetic resources and traditional knowledge, including Prior Informed Consent of the party providing resources.
  • Sharing, in a fair and equitable way, the results of research and development and the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization of genetic resources with the Contracting Party providing such resources (governments and/or local communities that provided the traditional knowledge or biodiversity resources utilized).
  • Access to and transfer of technology, including biotechnology, to the governments and/or local communities that provided traditional knowledge and/or biodiversity resources.
  • Technical and scientific cooperation.
  • Coordination of a global directory of taxonomic expertise (Global Taxonomy Initiative).
  • Impact assessment.
  • Education and public awareness.
  • Provision of financial resources.
  • National reporting on efforts to implement treaty commitments.

Cartagena Protocol

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety of the Convention, also known as the Biosafety Protocol, was adopted in January 2000. The Biosafety Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.

The Biosafety Protocol makes clear that products from new technologies must be based on the safe and requires exporters to label shipments containing genetically modified commodities such as corn or cotton.

The required number of 50 instruments of ratification/accession/approval/acceptance by countries was reached in May 2003. In accordance with the provisions of its Article 37, the Protocol entered into force on 11 September 2003.

Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

In April 2002, the parties of the UN CBD adopted the recommendations of the Gran Canaria Declaration Calling for a Global Plant Conservation Strategy, and adopted a 16-point plan aiming to slow the rate of plant extinctions around the world by 2010.


One hundred and ninety-five states and the European Union are parties to the convention.[3] All UN member states—with the exception of the United States—have ratified the treaty. Non-UN member states that have ratified are the Cook Islands, Niue, and the State of Palestine. The Holy See and the states with limited recognition are non-parties. The US has signed but not ratified the treaty,[4] and has not announced plans to ratify it.

International bodies established by the convention

Conference of the parties: The convention's governing body is the Conference of the parties (COP), consisting of all governments (and regional economic integration organizations) that have ratified the treaty. This ultimate authority reviews progress under the Convention, identifies new priorities, and sets work plans for members. The COP can also make amendments to the Convention, create expert advisory bodies, review progress reports by member nations, and collaborate with other international organizations and agreements.

The Conference of the Parties uses expertise and support from several other bodies that are established by the Convention. In addition to committees or mechanisms established on an ad hoc basis, two main organs are:

Secretariat: The CBD Secretariat. Based in Montreal, it operates under the United Nations Environment Programme. Its main functions are to organize meetings, draft documents, assist member governments in the implementation of the programme of work, coordinate with other international organizations, and collect and disseminate information.

Subsidiary body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA): The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). The SBSTTA is a committee composed of experts from member governments competent in relevant fields. It plays a key role in making recommendations to the COP on scientific and technical issues. 13th Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-13) held from 18 to 22 February 2008 in the marine biodiversity, invasive alien species and biodiversity and climate change. The current chairperson of the SBSTTA is Dr. Senka Barudanovic.

Country implementation

National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP)

"National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) are the principal instruments for implementing the Convention at the national level (Article 6). The Convention requires countries to prepare a national biodiversity strategy (or equivalent instrument) and to ensure that this strategy is mainstreamed into the planning and activities of all those sectors whose activities can have an impact (positive and negative) on biodiversity. To date [2012-02-01], 173 Parties have developed NBSAPs in line with Article 6."[5]

For example, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Tanzania have carried out elaborate responses to conserve individual species and specific habitats. The United States of America, a signatory who has not yet ratified the treaty,[6] has produced one of the most thorough implementation programs through species Recovery Programs and other mechanisms long in place in the USA for species conservation.

Singapore has also established a detailed National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. The National Biodiversity Centre of Singapore represents Singapore in the Convention for Biological Diversity.

National Reports

In accordance with Article 26 of the Convention, Parties prepare national reports on the status of implementation of the Convention.

Executive secretary to the convention

The current executive secretary is Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, who took up this post on 15 February 2012.[7] Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf was the previous executive secretary.

Nagoya Protocol

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity[8] is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity. It provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. The Protocol was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Aichi Province, Japan, and entered into force on 12 October 2014. Its objective is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.[9]

Meetings of the parties to the convention

1994 COP 1

The first ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in November and December 1994, in Nassau, Bahamas.[10]

1995 COP 2

The second ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in November 1995, in Jakarta, Indonesia.[11]

1996 COP 3

The third ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in November 1996, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.[12]

1998 COP 4

The fourth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in May 1998, in Bratislava, Slovakia.[13]

1999 EXCOP 1

The First Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties took place in February 1999, in Cartagena, Colombia.[14]

2000 COP 5

The fifth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in May 2000, in Nairobi, Kenya.[15]

2002 COP 6

The sixth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in April 2002, in The Hague, Netherlands.[16]

2004 COP 7

The seventh ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in February 2004, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.[17]

2006 COP 8

The eighth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil.[18]

2008 COP 9

The ninth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in May 2008, in Bonn, Germany.[19]

2010 COP 10

The tenth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan.[1]

2012 COP 11

Leading up to the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) meeting on biodiversity in Hyderabad, India 2012, preparations for a World Wide Views on Biodiversity has begun, involving old and new partners and building on the experiences from the World Wide Views on Global Warming.

2014 COP 12

The twelfth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention takes place October 2014, in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. Webcasting:

Under the theme, “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development,” thousands of representatives of governments, NGOs, indigenous peoples, scientists and the private sector gathered in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea for the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity(COP 12)

From October 6–17, 2014, parties discussed the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which are to be achieved by the end of this decade. The results of Global Biodiversity Outlook 4, the flagship assessment report of the CBD informed the discussions.

The conference gave a mid-term evaluation to the UN Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020) initiative, which aims to promote the conservation and sustainable use of nature.

At the end of the meeting, participants adopted the "Pyeongchang Road Map," which addresses ways to achieve biodiversity through technology cooperation, funding and strengthening the capacity of developing countries. (Source

2016 COP 13

The thirteenth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention takes will take place December 2016 in Cancun, Mexico

Criticism of the Convention

Although the convention explicitly states that all forms of life are covered by its provisions,[20] examination of reports and of national biodiversity strategies and action plans submitted by participating countries shows that in practice this is not happening. The fifth report of the European Union, for example, makes frequent reference to animals (particularly fish) and plants, but does not mention bacteria, fungi or protists at all.[21] The International Society for Fungal Conservation has assessed more than 100 of these CBD documents for their coverage of fungi using defined criteria to place each in one of six categories. No documents were assessed as good or adequate, less than 10% as nearly adequate or poor, and the rest as deficient, seriously deficient or totally deficient.[22]

See also


  1. ^ a b Welcome to COP 10
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Meeting Documents
  11. ^ Meeting Documents
  12. ^ Meeting Documents
  13. ^ Meeting Documents
  14. ^ Meeting Documents
  15. ^ Meeting Documents
  16. ^ Meeting Documents
  17. ^ Meeting Documents
  18. ^
  19. ^ Welcome to COP 9
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^

This article is partly based on the relevant entry in the CIA World Factbook, as of 2008 edition.

Further reading

External links

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) website
  • Text of the Convention from CBD website
  • Ratifications at depositary
  • Country Profiles from CBD website
  • The Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) web site, an "information exchange mechanism" established by the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety under the CBD
  • Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 a publication of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Reviews trends in biodiversity loss and responses developed under the Convention.
  • Biodiversity Synthesis Report (PDF) by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA, 2005) responds to CBD information requests
  • COHAB Initiative Biodiversity, the CBD and the Millennium Development Goals
  • 'Terminator' seed technology and the Convention on Biological Diversity – Kootenay Co-op Radio's Deconstructing Dinner
  • Panos London Seeds of Change, a non-profit organisation which works with the media to stimulate debate on key global issues.
  • 4th Global Environment Outlook, also known as GEO4.
  • Turf Battles: Politics Interfere with Species Identification: Scientific American
  • – NGO info and strategy site for COP10, the 10th Conference of Parties to the CBD in Nagoya, Japan from Oct 18~29, 2010
  • National Biodiversity Centre, Singapore
  • We've been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened: The so-called summit in Japan won't stop anyone trashing the planet. Only economic risks seem to make governments act by The Guardian
  • Case studies on the implementation of the Convention from BGCI website with links to relevant articles
  • Introductory note by Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, procedural history note and audiovisual material on the Convention on Biological Diversity in the Historic Archives of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law

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