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Convention on Biological Diversity

CITES, the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 1975 bans commercial international trade in an agreed list of endangered species. The international wildlife trade has caused massive declines in the numbers of many species of animals and plants. The Convention on Biological Diversity, negotiated under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) entered into force in December 1993. 171 countries have ratified the Convention.

The objectives of this Convention are:

  • Conservation of biological diversity

  • Sustainable use of its components

  • Fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources

    The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-1) took place in Nassau 1994.
    The second meeting of the COP was held in Jakarta, Indonesia, 1995.
    Held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1996, took decisions on:

    • Realistic work programme on agricultural biodiversity and a more limited one on forest biodiversity;

    • Agreement to hold an intersessional workshop on traditional knowledge (Article 8(j));

    • Application by the Executive Secretary for observer status to the World trade Organization (WTO) Committee on trade and the Environment;

    Subsidiary body on Scientific, Technical and Technological AdviceThe SBSTTA provides the COP with "timely advice" relating to implementation of the Convention.

    At SBSTTA-1, 1995 in Paris, delegates considered the conservation and sustainable use of coastal and marine biological diversity. At SBSTTA-2, 1996 in Montreal, the agenda covered technical issues such as:

    • monitoring and assessment of biodiversity;

    • approaches to taxonomy; economic valuation of biodiversity;

    • access to genetic resources; agricultural biodiversity; terrestrial biodiversity; marine and coastal biodiversity; biosafety.

    1997 in Montreal, SBSTTA-3 produced recommendations on biodiversity in inland water ecosystems, marine and coastal biodiversity, agricultural biodiversity, forest biodiversity, and biodiversity indicators.

    Ad hoc working group on Biosafety:
    The Ad hoc Working Group on Biosafety (BSWG discussed a range of issues, including:
    • objectives; advanced informed agreement (AIA);
    • notification procedures for transfers of living modified organisms (LMOs);
    • risk assessment; unintentional transboundary movements of LMOs;
    • handling, transportation, packaging and transit requirements;
    • monitoring and compliance.
    1998 in Montreal began negotiation to identify common ground for moving forward and consideration of socioeconomic considerations, general obligations, and liability and compensation. The end result came in January 2000.

    The Cartagena Protocol is the first Protocol negotiated under the CBD, and attempts to prevent genetically modified organism affecting diversity.

    Latest on Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
    The UN agreed in Jan 2000 in Montreal the Cartegena Protocol to control the international trade in GMOs. It is the first Protocol under the Biodiversity Convention. The treaty allows countries to halt imports of GMOs that they fear "may have an adverse effect" on biodiversity or human health. Previously the WTO required safety bans to be backed by scientific evidence. Now the precautionary principle can be used where scientific doubt exists. There will be a global regulatory framework although it has not been decided whether the Protocol takes preference over the free trade rules of the WTO.

  • Workshop on traditional knowledge: The Workshop on traditional Knowledge and Biological Diversity was convened in Madrid, November 1997 to further the implementation of Article 8(j) (In-situ Conservation) of the CBD. Programme elements address:

    • ecosystem approaches integrating conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking account of social, cultural and economic considerations;

    • analysis of influences of human activities, including forest-management practices, on biodiversity and assessment of ways to minimize/mitigate negative influences;

    • methodologies for elaboration and implementation of C&I for forest biodiversity;

    • research and technological priorities from SBSTTA and the review and planning process of the work programme;

    • analysis of measures for minimizing/mitigating the underlying causes of forest biodiversity loss;

    • assessment of ecological landscape models, integration of protected areas in the ecosystem approach and protected areas networks; and advancement of scientific and technical approaches.

    COP-4: COP-4 produced some promising outcomes and a firm, if not solid, platform to move forward.

    The Convention is still addressing its identity crisis as an "umbrella" Convention. It has taken six years to reach a point at which implementation of the CBD is now being given full attention.

    The CBD is starting to influence social, economic and political behavior at the national level and to provide the policy framework for the international community's effort to protect and sustainably use life on earth.

For latest on Convention on Biodiveristy go to http://www.biodiv.org/

© ep@w Publishing Company Ltd. 2000
2002 Edition