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The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is an international legally binding treaty that was adopted in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. 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 Janeiromarker on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993.

2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is the focal point for the International Year of Biodiversity.

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.

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.
  • 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 precautionary principle and allow developing nations to balance public health against economic benefits. It will for example let countries ban imports of a genetically modified organism if they feel there is not enough scientific evidence the product is safe and requires exporters to label shipments containing genetically altered 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 sixteen point plan aiming to slow the rate of plant extinctions around the world by 2010.


192 - Afghanistanmarker, Albaniamarker, Algeriamarker, Angolamarker, Antigua and Barbudamarker, Argentinamarker, Armeniamarker, Australia, Austriamarker, Azerbaijanmarker, Bahamasmarker, Bahrainmarker, Bangladeshmarker, Barbadosmarker, Belarusmarker, Belgiummarker, Belizemarker, Beninmarker, Bhutanmarker, Boliviamarker, Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, Botswanamarker, Brazilmarker, Brunei Darussalammarker, Bulgariamarker, Burkina Fasomarker, Burmamarker, Burundimarker, Cambodiamarker, Cameroonmarker, Canadamarker, Cape Verdemarker, Central African Republicmarker, Chadmarker, Chilemarker, People's Republic of Chinamarker, Colombiamarker, Comorosmarker, Democratic Republic of the Congomarker, Republic of the Congomarker, Cook Islandsmarker, Costa Ricamarker, Côte d'Ivoiremarker, Croatiamarker, Cubamarker, Cyprusmarker, Czech Republicmarker, Denmarkmarker, Djiboutimarker, Dominicamarker, Dominican Republicmarker, Ecuadormarker, Egyptmarker, El Salvadormarker, Equatorial Guineamarker, Eritreamarker, Estoniamarker, Ethiopiamarker, European Union, Fijimarker, Finlandmarker, Francemarker, Gabonmarker, The Gambiamarker, Georgiamarker, Germanymarker, Ghanamarker, Greecemarker, Grenadamarker, Guatemalamarker, Guineamarker, Guinea-Bissaumarker, Guyanamarker, Haitimarker, Hondurasmarker, Hungarymarker, Icelandmarker, Indiamarker, Indonesiamarker, Iranmarker, Iraqmarker, Irelandmarker, Israelmarker, Italymarker, Jamaicamarker, Japanmarker, Jordanmarker, Kazakhstanmarker, Kenyamarker, Kiribatimarker, Kuwaitmarker, North Koreamarker, South Koreamarker, Kyrgyzstanmarker, Laosmarker, Latviamarker, Lebanonmarker, Lesothomarker, Liberiamarker, Libyamarker, Liechtensteinmarker, Lithuaniamarker, Luxembourgmarker, Republic of Macedoniamarker, Madagascarmarker, Malawimarker, Malaysiamarker, Maldivesmarker, Malimarker, Maltamarker, Marshall Islandsmarker, Mauritaniamarker, Mauritiusmarker, Mexicomarker, Federated States of Micronesiamarker, Moldovamarker, Monacomarker, Mongoliamarker, Montenegromarker, Moroccomarker, Mozambiquemarker, Namibiamarker, Nauru, Nepalmarker, Netherlandsmarker, New Zealandmarker, Nicaraguamarker, Nigermarker, Nigeriamarker, Niuemarker, Norwaymarker, Omanmarker, Pakistanmarker, Palaumarker, Panamamarker, Papua New Guineamarker, Paraguaymarker, Perumarker, Philippinesmarker, Polandmarker, Portugalmarker, Qatarmarker, Romaniamarker, Russiamarker, Rwandamarker, Saint Kitts and Nevismarker, Saint Luciamarker, Saint Vincent and the Grenadinesmarker, Samoamarker, San Marinomarker, São Tomé and Príncipemarker, Saudi Arabiamarker, Senegalmarker, Serbiamarker, Seychellesmarker, Sierra Leonemarker, Singaporemarker, Slovakiamarker, Sloveniamarker, Solomon Islandsmarker, South Africa, Spainmarker, Sri Lankamarker, Sudanmarker, Surinamemarker, Swazilandmarker, Swedenmarker, Switzerlandmarker, Syriamarker, Tajikistanmarker, Tanzania, Thailandmarker, Timor-Lestemarker, Togomarker, Tongamarker, Trinidad and Tobagomarker, Tunisiamarker, Turkeymarker, Turkmenistanmarker, Tuvalumarker, Uganda, Ukrainemarker, United Arab Emiratesmarker, United Kingdommarker, Uruguaymarker, Uzbekistanmarker, Vanuatumarker, Venezuelamarker, Vietnammarker, Yemenmarker, Zambiamarker, Zimbabwemarker


Andorramarker, Holy See, Somaliamarker and United Statesmarker.The USmarker has signed, but not ratified the treaty. Somalia are scheduled to acceed to the treaty in December 2009.

International bodies established by the convention

Conference of the Parties (COP):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 Montrealmarker, 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. Thirteenth Meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-13) held from 18 to 22 February 2008 in the FAO at Rome, Italy. SBSTTA-13 delegates met in the Committee of the Whole in the morning to finalize and adopt recommendations on the in-depth reviews of the work programmes on agricultural and forest biodiversity and SBSTTA’s modus operandi for the consideration of new and emerging issues. The closing plenary convened in the afternoon to adopt recommendations on inland waters biodiversity, marine biodiversity, invasive alien species and biodiversity and climate change. The current chairperson of the SBSTTA is Dr. Asghar Mohammadi Fazel.

Country implementation

National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP)

Most of the Parties have established National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) to implement the convention.

For example, the United Kingdommarker, New Zealandmarker and Tanzania have carried out elaborate responses to conserve individual species and specific habitats. The United States of Americamarker, a signatory who has not yet ratified the treaty, 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.

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 Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf, who took up this post on 3 January 2006.

See also


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

External links

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