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Biodiversity-related Conventions

Introduction

Seven international conventions focus on biodiversity issues: the Convention on Biological Diversity (year of entry into force: 1993), the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (1975), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (2004), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (1971), the World Heritage Convention (1972) and the International Plant Protection Convention (1952).

Each of the biodiversity-related conventions works to implement actions at the national, regional and international level in order to reach shared goals of conservation and sustainable use. In meeting their objectives, the conventions have developed a number of complementary approaches (site, species, genetic resources and/or ecosystem-based) and operational tools (e.g., programmes of work, trade permits and certificates, multilateral system for access and benefit-sharing, regional agreements, site listings, funds).

The seven biodiversity-related conventions

CBD Convention on Biological Diversity
The objectives of the CBD are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from commercial and other utilization of genetic resources. The agreement covers all ecosystems, species, and genetic resources.

CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
The CITES aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Through its three appendices, the Convention accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000 plant and animal species.

Please note that the International University of Andalusia offers a Master's Degree Course on CITES and CBD Implementation

CMS Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
The CMS, or the Bonn Convention aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. Parties to the CMS work together to conserve migratory species and their habitats by providing strict protection for the most endangered migratory species, by concluding regional multilateral agreements for the conservation and management of specific species or categories of species, and by undertaking co-operative research and conservation activities.

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
The objectives of the Treaty are the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security. The Treaty covers all plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, while its Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing covers a specific list of 64 crops and forages. The Treaty also includes provisions on Farmers' Rights.
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (popularly known as the Ramsar Convention)
The Ramsar Convention provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The convention covers all aspects of wetland conservation and wise use, recognizing wetlands as ecosystems that are extremely important for biodiversity conservation in general and for the well-being of human communities.
WHC World Heritage Convention (WHC)
The primary mission of the WHC is to identify and conserve the world's cultural and natural heritage, by drawing up a list of sites whose outstanding values should be preserved for all humanity and to ensure their protection through a closer co-operation among nations.
IPPC International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
The IPPC aims to protect world plant resources, including cultivated and wild plants by preventing the introduction and spread of plant pests and promoting the appropriate measures for their control. The convention provides the mechanisms to develop the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs), and to help countries to implement the ISPMs and the other obligations under the IPPC, by facilitating the national capacity development, national reporting and dispute settlement.
The Secretariat of the IPPC is hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

A guide to the contents of each convention’s website is available here

While each convention stands on its own—with its own specific objectives and commitments—inter-linkages between the issues each addresses, and potential complementarities in their monitoring and implementation processes, provide a basis for cooperation. With the target of achieving by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss, set by the Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and later endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and incorporated into the Millennium Development Goals, the need to promote cooperation among the biodiversity-related conventions while reducing duplication of effort has become increasingly relevant.

The governing bodies of each Convention have set out specific mandates for cooperation among the biodiversity-related conventions. In line with these mandates, reference to cooperation is made in a number of decisions from these governing bodies, and has led to the development of memoranda of cooperation and joint work programmes between the conventions.

These provisions have resulted in a wide range of cooperative activities being undertaken by the Conventions in support of shared goals.

To further enhance cooperation, a Biodiversity Liaison Group comprising the executive heads of the seven biodiversity-related conventions was established in 2002 and recently updated in 2014. Options for advancing cooperation have been put forward at the meetings of the Biodiversity Liaison Group and other meetings.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme