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The Convention on Biological Diversity

In a nutshell

The Earth's biological resources are vital to our economic and social development but human activities are taking a toll on many animal and plant species. A legal framework exists for countries all over the world to protect biodiversity together: the Convention on Biological Diversity.

What is the Convention on Biological Diversity?

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) stems from the growing recognition that biological diversity is an asset of tremendous value to present and future generations across the world.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) tasked experts to prepare an international legal instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. They were to take into account "the need to share costs and benefits between developed and developing countries" as well as "ways and means to support innovation by local people".

The text of the Convention was adopted on 22 May 1992 in Nairobi and was opened to signature on 5 June 1992, during the Rio "Earth Summit". Within a year, it had received 168 signatures. It entered into force on 29 December 1993.

The Convention on Biological Diversity meets every two years. Its website offers more information about the CBD and how it works, as well as all the available documents, for every meeting since the first Conference of the Parties.

In accordance with Article 6 of the Convention, Parties have to develop national biodiversity strategies or action plans (NBSAPs).

What is the global biodiversity framework?

At the 10th Conference of the Parties in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, the 193 Parties to the Convention agreed on a ten-year global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 to combat biodiversity loss over the next decade and defined 20 concrete targets, known as the Aichi targets, in order to achieve this overall objective. The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU and help stop global biodiversity loss by 2020. It reflects the commitments taken by the EU in 2010, within the international Convention on Biological Diversity

Parties have to regularly report on progress towards the targets:
5th EU report to CBD submitted in 2014 on mid-term progress towards the 2020 targets;
6th EU Report to CBD submitted in 2019 on final assessment of progress towards the 2020 targets.

“The European Union has published its 6th Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The main messages are that wetland, coastal and agricultural ecosystems, amongst others, are increasingly threatened across the EU from pressures such as land-use change, over-exploitation, pollution, invasive alien species and climate change. Although in general biodiversity trends are not good, there have been some success stories for many species and habitats thanks to the implementation of the EU nature legislation."

"The EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 has also led to the strengthening of knowledge around ecosystems and ecosystem services within the EU, improved action around themes such as invasive alien species, and increased contribution to combating biodiversity loss at international level. Future decision-making both public and private needs to more accurately reflect the natural wealth of biodiversity and its contribution to the wellbeing of the EU’s economy and society. These issues will need to be adequately addressed in the post-2020 biodiversity frameworks.”

Sharing nature's genetic resources

During the Nagoya conference, the CBD Parties also adopted a new international Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation (the ABS agreement).

The commitments of this new agreement, known as the Nagoya Protocol, are reflected in the new EU ABS Regulation ((EU) No 511/2014), adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 16 April 2014.

Interinstitutional documents related to the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol:

Further information

  • In 2000, Parties to the CBD adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, seeking to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living genetically modified organisms (GMOs), taking into account human health. Find out more about the EU approach to GMOs.
  • The EU supports and implements many other international agreements protecting global biodiversity.

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