|Type||Multilateral environmental agreement|
|Context||Environmentalism, Biodiversity conservation|
|Drafted||22 May 1992|
|Signed||5 June 1992 – 4 June 1993|
|Location||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil |
New York, United States
|Effective||29 December 1993|
|Condition||Ratification by 30 States|
|Depositary||Secretary-General of the United Nations|
|United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity at Wikisource|
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treaty. The convention has three main goals: the conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity); the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources. Its objective is to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and 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. The United States is the only UN member state which has not ratified the convention. It has two supplementary agreements, the Cartagena Protocol and Nagoya Protocol.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty governing the movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the CBD and entered into force on 11 September 2003.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity is another supplementary agreement to the CBD. 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 Nagoya Protocol was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, and entered into force on 12 October 2014.
2010 was also the International Year of Biodiversity, and the Secretariat of the CBD was its focal point. Following a recommendation of CBD signatories at Nagoya, the UN declared 2011 to 2020 as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity in December 2010. The convention's Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, created in 2010, include the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
The meetings of the parties to the convention are known as Conferences of the Parties (COP), with the first one (COP 1) held in Nassau, Bahamas, in 1994 and the most recent one (COP 15) held in Kunming, China.
The notion of an international convention on bio-diversity was conceived at a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity in November 1988. The subsequent year, the Ad Hoc Working Group of Technical and Legal Experts was established for the drafting of a legal text which addressed the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, as well as the sharing of benefits arising from their utilization with sovereign states and local communities. In 1991, an intergovernmental negotiating committee was established, tasked with finalizing the convention's text.
A Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1992, and its conclusions were distilled in the Nairobi Final Act. The convention's text was opened for signature on 5 June 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio "Earth Summit"). By its closing date, 4 June 1993, the convention had received 168 signatures. It entered into force on 29 December 1993.
The convention recognized for the first time in international law that the conservation of biodiversity 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 which demands 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 banned some forms of geoengineering.
As of 1 December 2019, the acting executive secretary is Elizabeth Maruma Mrema.
The previous executive secretaries were:
Cristiana Pașca Palmer (2017–2019), Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias (2012–2017), Ahmed Djoghlaf (2006–2012), Hamdallah Zedan (1998–2005), Calestous Juma (1995–1998), and Angela Cropper (1993–1995).
Some of the many issues dealt with under the convention include:
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, the main organs are:
The CBD Secretariat, based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, operates under UNEP, 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.
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. It provides assessments of the status of biological diversity and of various measures taken in accordance with Convention, and also gives recommendations to the Conference of the Parties, which may be endorsed in whole, in part or in modified form by the COPs. As of 2020[update] SBSTTA had met 23 times, with a 24th meeting taking place in Geneva, Switzerland in 2022.
In 2014, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity established the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) to replace the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Review of Implementation of the convention. The four functions and core areas of work of SBI are: (a) review of progress in implementation; (b) strategic actions to enhance implementation; (c) strengthening means of implementation; and (d) operations of the convention and the Protocols. The first meeting of the SBI was held on 2–6 May 2016 and the second meeting was held on 9–13 July 2018, both in Montreal, Canada. The third meeting of the SBI will be held in March 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. The Bureau of the Conference of the Parties serves as the Bureau of the SBI. The current chair of the SBI is Ms. Charlotta Sörqvist of Sweden.
As of 2016, the convention has 196 parties, which includes 195 states and the European Union. 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, because ratification requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate and is blocked by Republican Party senators.
The European Union created the Cartagena Protocol (see below) in 2000 to enhance biosafety regulation and propagate the "precautionary principle" over the "sound science principle" defended by the United States. Whereas the impact of the Cartagena Protocol on domestic regulations has been substantial, its impact on international trade law remains uncertain. In 2006, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the European Union had violated international trade law between 1999 and 2003 by imposing a moratorium on the approval of genetically modified organisms (GMO) imports. Disappointing the United States, the panel nevertheless "decided not to decide" by not invalidating the stringent European biosafety regulations.
Implementation by the parties to the convention is achieved using two means:
National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) are the principal instruments for implementing the Convention at the national level. The Convention requires that countries prepare a national biodiversity strategy and to ensure that this strategy is included in planning for activities in all sectors where diversity may be impacted. As of early 2012, 173 Parties had developed NBSAPs.
The United Kingdom, New Zealand and Tanzania carried out elaborate responses to conserve individual species and specific habitats. The United States of America, a signatory who had not yet ratified the treaty by 2010, produced one of the most thorough implementation programs through species recovery programs and other mechanisms long in place in the US for species conservation.
Singapore established a detailed National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. The National Biodiversity Centre of Singapore represents Singapore in the Convention for Biological Diversity.
In accordance with Article 26 of the convention, parties prepare national reports on the status of implementation of the convention.
Main article: Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, also known as the Biosafety Protocol, was adopted in January 2000, after a CBD Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety had met six times between July 1996 and February 1999. The Working Group submitted a draft text of the Protocol for consideration by Conference of the Parties at its first extraordinary meeting, which was convened for the express purpose of adopting a protocol on biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity. After a few delays, the Cartagena Protocol was eventually adopted on 29 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 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.
Main article: 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.
Main article: 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 was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, and entered into force on 12 October 2014. The protocol is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and 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. It thereby contributes to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
Also at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held from 18 to 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, a revised and updated "Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, 2011-2020" was agreed and published. This document included the "Aichi Biodiversity Targets", comprising 20 targets that address each of five strategic goals defined in the plan. The strategic plan includes the following strategic goals:
Upon the launch of Agenda 2030, CBD released a technical note mapping and identifying synergies between the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. This helps to understand the contributions of biodiversity to achieving the SDGs.
A new plan, known as the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), is being developed to guide action through 2030. A first draft of this framework was released in July 2021, and its final content is being discussed and negotiated as part of the ongoing COP 15 meetings. The draft framework includes a number of ambitious goals, including a commitment to designate at least 30 percent of global land and sea as protected areas (known as the "30 by 30" initiative). Reducing agricultural pollution and sharing the benefits of digital sequence information have arisen as key points of contention among Parties.
There have been criticisms against CBD that its implementation has been weakened due to resistance of Western countries to the implementation of pro-South provisions of the Convention. CBD is also regarded as a case of a hard treaty gone soft in the implementation trajectory. The argument to enforce the treaty as a legally binding multilateral instrument with the Conference of Parties reviewing the infractions and non-compliance is also gaining strength.
Although the convention explicitly states that all forms of life are covered by its provisions, 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. 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.
Scientists working with biodiversity and medical research are expressing fears that the Nagoya Protocol is counterproductive, and will hamper disease prevention and conservation efforts, and that the threat of imprisonment of scientists will have a chilling effect on research. Non-commercial researchers and institutions such as natural history museums fear maintaining biological reference collections and exchanging material between institutions will become difficult, and medical researchers have expressed alarm at plans to expand the protocol to make it illegal to publicly share genetic information, e.g. via GenBank.
William Yancey Brown, when with the Brookings Institution, suggested that the Convention on Biological Diversity should include the preservation of intact genomes and viable cells for every known species and for new species as they are discovered.
A Conference of the Parties (COP) was held annually for three years after 1994, and thence biennially on even-numbered years.
The first ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in November and December 1994, in Nassau, Bahamas.
The second ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in November 1995, in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The third ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in November 1996, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The fourth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in May 1998, in Bratislava, Slovakia.
The First Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties took place in February 1999, in Cartagena, Colombia. A series of meetings led to the adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in January 2000, effective from 2003.
The fifth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in May 2000, in Nairobi, Kenya.
The sixth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in April 2002, in The Hague, Netherlands.
The seventh ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in February 2004, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The eighth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in March 2006, in Curitiba, Brazil.
The ninth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in May 2008, in Bonn, Germany.
See also: Nagoya Protocol
The tenth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place in October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan. It was at this meeting that the Nagoya Protocol was ratified.
2010 was the International Year of Biodiversity and the Secretariat of the CBD was its focal point. Following a recommendation of CBD signatories during COP 10 at Nagoya, the UN, on 22 December 2010, declared 2011 to 2020 as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.
Main article: 2012 Hyderabad Biodiversity Conference
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.
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 in October 2014 for the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 12).
From 6–17 October 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. The meeting achieved a total of 35 decisions, including a decision on "Mainstreaming gender considerations", to incorporate gender perspective to the analysis of biodiversity.
At the end of the meeting, the meeting adopted the "Pyeongchang Road Map", which addresses ways to achieve biodiversity through technology cooperation, funding and strengthening the capacity of developing countries.
The thirteenth ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place between 2 and 17 December 2016 in Cancún, Mexico.
The 14th ordinary meeting of the parties to the convention took place on 17–29 November 2018, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference closed on 29 November 2018 with broad international agreement on reversing the global destruction of nature and biodiversity loss threatening all forms of life on Earth. Parties adopted the Voluntary Guidelines for the design and effective implementation of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Governments also agreed to accelerate action to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, agreed in 2010, until 2020. Work to achieve these targets would take place at the global, regional, national and subnational levels.
Main article: 2022 Kunming Biodiversity Conference
The 15th meeting of the parties, taking place in Kunming, China, was originally scheduled for 2020, but was postponed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the start date delayed for a third time, the convention was split in two sessions. A mostly online event took place in October 2021, where over 100 nations signed the Kunming declaration on biodiversity. The theme of the declaration was "Ecological Civilization: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth". Twenty-one action-oriented draft targets were provisionally agreed in the October meeting, to be further discussed in the second session; an in-person event that was originally scheduled to start in April 2022, but rescheduled to occur online August 29-September 9, 2022.
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