Subject : Environment
Chapter : Biodiversity
Topic: The Convention on Biological
Known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is an international legally
binding treaty. The Convention has three main goals:
conservation of biological diversity (or biodiversity);
sustainable use of its components; and
fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic
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. On 22 December 2010, the UN declared the period
from 2011 to 2020 as the UN-Decade on Biodiversity. They, hence, followed a
recom-mendation of the CBD signatories during COP10 at Nagoya in October 2010.
This Material is from General Studies Mains Study Kit for Civil Services
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About the Conventiontc
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 itsCartagena 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
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
Issues under the Conventiontc “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
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 commer-cial and other utilization
of genetic resources with the Contrac-ting 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 govern-ments and/or local communities that provided traditional knowledge
and/or biodiversity resources.
Technical and scientific cooperation.
Education and public awareness.
Provision of financial resources.
National reporting on efforts to implement treaty commitments.
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 containinggenetically
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 Conservationtc
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.
International Bodies Established by the Conventiontc “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 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 Food and Agriculture Organization 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
alienspecies and biodiversity and climate change. The current chairperson of the
SBSTTA is Dr. Senka Barudanovic.
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