UN Convention on Biological Diversity
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Structure and Agreements
The Convention was established in June 1992. Its objective is to ensure the
conservation of Biological Diversity and the sustainable use of its components. The
Convention also works to promote a fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out
of the utilisation of genetic resources.
The Convention entered into force in December 1993 and by April 1998, 173 parties had
signed up to the Convention, with 12 signatories yet to ratify the agreement.
There are no protocols to the Convention to date, although at the second Conference of the
Parties (COP-2), in November 1995, processes were initiated to develop a protocol on
biosafety. The objective of this draft protocol is to minimise the potential risks posed
by living modified organisms resulting from modern bio-technology. The scope of the
agreement will cover the transboundary movement and transfer of these organisms and will
address both accidental and trade releases. An open-ended working group had been
established with the aim to develop the protocol to a state of completion by 1998.
However, the last meeting so far, held in February 1998 in Cartagena, Columbia, failed to
come to an agreement about the protocol.
Due to the cross-sectoral nature of the issues relating to bio-diversity, the
Convention has close relationships with a number of other UN Conventions. The COP has also
requested that other Conventions work programmes collaborate in order to integrate
bio-diversity. These other UN agencies include the UN Conventions on Climate Change, Desertification, and intergovernmental organisations such as the FAO
and UNESCO. This has resulted in memoranda of co-operation being signed on prescribed
matters between respective secretariats.
Obligations and Follow-Up
Parties to the Convention are contracted to undertake the following provisions:
- to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological
- to integrate the conservation and sustainable use of bio-diversity in to sectoral and
cross-sectoral programmes and policies
- to identify and monitor components of its bio-diversity important of its conservation
and sustainable use
- to identify activities likely to have a significant adverse impacts on the conservation
- to integrate considerations of the sustainable use and conservation of bio-diversity
into national decision making
- to introduce the requirement of environmental impact assessment to proposed projects
likely to adversely effect bio-diversity
- and to adopt economic, social and scientific measures necessary to ensure conservation
The COP is responsible for reviewing the implementation of the Convention, whilst the
parties are obligated to present reports of measures taken in the implementation of the
Convention. These reports should also include details of the effectiveness in meeting the
objectives of the Convention.
For further information on the Convention visit http://www.biodiv.org
For information on the status and ratification of the Convention visit http://www.biodiv.org/conv/RATIFY_date.htm
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
The functions of the Secretariat are:
(a) To arrange for and service meetings of the Conference of the Parties provided for in
(b) To perform the functions assigned to it by any protocol;
(c) To prepare reports on the execution of its functions under this Convention and present
them to the Conference of the Parties;
(d) To coordinate with other relevant international bodies and, in particular to enter
into such administrative and contractual arrangements as may be required for the effective
discharge of its functions; and
(e) To perform such other functions as may be determined by the Conference of the Parties.
The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity is based in Monteral, Canada: