Convention on Biological Diversity

Title: The Convention on Biological Diversity

Category: International Treaty

Date: 1992

References: [Full text]

General Description:


The overall objectives of the Convention were to establish a means for the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.


The Convention has global coverage. Each signatory has responsibility for the conservation and sustainable use the biological diversity with in its own nation. Signatories also have a responsibility to manage their national processes and activities which may threaten biological diversity, regardless of where their effects occur.

Signatories must co-operate in the implementation of the Convention, particularly on matters of mutual interest, for example shared ecosystems and areas beyond national jurisdiction such as the oceans.

National action

A fundamental aspect of the Convention is the requirement for implementation through national strategies, plans and programs, and the integration of conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into plans, programs and policies for sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and forestry and for cross-sectoral matters such as land use planning and decision making.

Identification and monitoring

Enhancing knowledge and understanding of biological diversity and the impacts on it are important measures addressed in the Convention. Signatories are required to identify (for example, through surveys) and monitor important ecosystems, species and genetic components of biological diversity, as well as processes and activities that have or are likely to have significant adverse impacts on biological diversity. Countries are then able to determine their priorities with regard to conservation and sustainable use measures which need to be undertaken.

In-situ & Ex-situ conservation

In-situ conservation is the conservation of ecosystems, natural habitats and species in their natural surroundings. Signatories are required to give emphasis to in-situ conservation through a broad range of actions, including the establishment and management of protected areas; conservation and sustainable use of biological resources within and outside protected areas; promotion of environmentally sound and sustainable development in areas adjacent to protected areas; rehabilitation and restoration of degraded ecosystems; control of alien species and genetically modified organisms; protection of threatened species and populations; and regulation of damaging processes and activities.

While the Convention emphasised the importance of in-situ conservation, it also acknowledges that ex-situ measures also have an important role to play. Ex-situ conservation means conservation outside natural habitats, for example in zoos, botanic gardens and seed banks. Parties are to take ex-situ measures, while ensuring that ecosystems and natural populations of species are not threatened.

Sustainable use

Various measures are to be undertaken by signatories to promote sustainable use of biological diversity. These include integrating consideration of the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources into national decision-making; adopting measures for the use of biological resources which avoid or minimise adverse impacts on biological diversity; supporting local populations to develop and implement remedial action in degraded areas; and encouraging co-operation between governmental authorities and the private sector in developing methods for the sustainable use of biological resources.

Minimising adverse impacts

Signatories must introduce appropriate procedures for environmental impact assessment of projects, programs and policies that are likely to have significant adverse effects on biological diversity. The Convention also provides for the notification of activities which are likely to significantly damage biological diversity and the promotion of emergency response arrangements.

Capacity building

Effective global action requires the expansion of national capacities, particularly in developing countries, for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. In this regard the Convention provides for national and international action on research, training, the exchange of public information, and scientific and technical co-operation with emphasis on building national capabilities through human resource development and institution building. Provisions for encouraging public understanding of the significance of biological diversity and the measures required for its conservation are also included. Technology transfer of this and other pertinent information is an important aspect of ensuring the convention meets its objectives.

Institutional arrangements

The Convention establishes a number of institutional arrangements necessary to ensure effective implementation. The Conference of the Parties is the key decision-making body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Convention and has a major role in funding matters. Signatories are required to submit reports on measures taken for the implementation of the Convention and their effectiveness in meeting the objectives of the Convention. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice is to provide the Conference of the Parties with advice relating to the implementation of the Convention, including the status of biological diversity and the effectiveness of measures taken to give effect to the Convention. It also has a major role in identifying technologies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity suitable for transfer to developing countries.

Pertinence to Agriculture: Biodiversity, Special Environmental Sites, Conservation, Sustainability

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