Introduction

The genes, species and ecosystems that comprise biological diversity provide resources and services that are essential to mankind. All sectors of world society affect this diversity to a greater or lesser extent, whether through direct exploitation of resources or the indirect impact of other activities. Different cultures and societies use, value, and protect these resources and services in a variety of ways. Their capacity to manage and benefit from biological diversity also varies considerably, because of location, state of development and differential access to the information and technology needed.

On 5 June 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, more than 150 states signed the Convention on Biological Diversity, acknowledging the sustainable management of the world's living resources to be one of the most urgent issues of the modern era and expressing their commitment to address this collectively.

The treaty is a landmark in the international community's approach to environment and development as, unlike previous treaties focusing on a specific theme or sector, it adopts an holistic approach to the conservation and sustainable use of the Earth's entire wealth of living organisms.

The Convention recognizes the need for a multi-sectoral approach to ensure that biological diversity is conserved and used sustainably, the importance of sharing information and critical technologies, and the benefits that can accrue from use of biological resources.

Since the Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted in 1992, 180 countries and one regional economic integration organization have ratified or otherwise acceded to it, and it has become one of the most significant international agreements. It has resulted in major activity at both national and international levels, and in the increased coordination of cross-sectoral action within and between countries. It has also led to the release of substantial international funds to support developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook

The second meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in 1995 called for production of a periodic report, to be called the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO). This report is the first edition of the series.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook will provide a brief summary of the status of biological diversity, and report on the steps being taken by the global community to ensure that the objectives of the Convention are met. These objectives are: that biological diversity is conserved, that it is used sustainably, and that the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources are shared equitably between those who develop products and services from such resources and the countries and communities where these resources originate.

There is an increasingly accessible body of literature on world environmental issues, and a number of recent comprehensive studies on global biological diversity are available.1 The GBO is not a new assessment of the status and trends of global biodiversity, but draws on existing assessments in order to illustrate the urgency of the issues relating to the loss of biodiversity, and how the Convention - through implementation by Parties of its thematic and cross-cutting programmes of work and through cooperation with other bodies - seeks to address these issues, thereby providing a basis for sustainable development in all countries.

The concept of `biodiversity' and the importance of arresting its decline are ideas increasingly familiar to decision-makers and those concerned with environmental issues. It is, however, much less clear to many people, not directly involved in the intergovernmental process or unfamiliar with the specialist literature, just how the international community sets about addressing these problems, and how international commitments can be turned into concrete action at all levels. The aim of the GBO is to provide this overview, by focusing on the extent and effectiveness of responses adopted by the global community, and the measures being implemented at national and international levels in the context of the Convention.

Specifically, the Conference of the Parties recommended that the GBO include:

  • A brief summary of the status and trends of biological diversity at global and regional level;
  • A presentation on the implementation of the decisions of the Conference of the Parties and the recommendations adopted by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA);
  • An analysis of the global and regional trends in the implementation of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity on the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources;
  • An overview of the cooperation with other biological diversity related conventions and intergovernmental processes;

A summary of the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity at the national level on the basis of the information contained in national reports to be submitted by Parties in accordance with Article 26 of the Convention.

In preparing for development of the GBO, the Executive Secretary constituted an advisory group of experts to help guide the process of developing the report and to review it. The advisory group helped in refining the advice of the Conference of the Parties and provided guidance to the Secretariat on drafting the present report.

The aims and audience of the GBO

The aim of the GBO is to provide a tool for use by Contracting Parties and other stakeholders to:

  • review progress made by the Convention toward its three objectives,
  • identify barriers to implementation,
  • help set priorities for implementation, and
  • communicate progress and advocate needs to decision-makers.

The audience of the GBO is principally the key players in implementation of the Convention, and other decision-makers and planners, in both the public and private sectors, who need to take account of the objectives and programmes of the Convention and the obligations on Parties, in such sectors as trade, finance, agriculture, fisheries and industry.

The GBO is organized into six chapters, covering the following key issues:

Chapter 1 reviews the status and trends of global and regional biodiversity, and the threats to that diversity, drawing upon existing assessments.

Chapter 2 covers the Convention, its context and related processes, describing how it was developed, how it works, and how it is implemented.

Chapter 3 analyses COP decisions and SBSTTA recommendations, looking in particular at programmatic areas and crosscutting issues, finance and other services in support of implementation (including the financial mechanism), and the role of the CBD institutions in implementation.

Chapter 4 reviews implementation of the Convention at the national level, drawing on the first round of national reports, as well as case studies submitted by Parties to the Secretariat, biodiversity country studies and national biodiversity strategies and action plans.

Chapter 5 looks at global and regional trends in the implementation of the Convention, including a discussion of global and regional activities that support implementation of the Convention, and an overview of cooperation with other biodiversity-related conventions and processes, including scientific and technical cooperation.

Chapter 6 concludes the report with an assessment of prospects and outlook, deriving from the preceding chapters, providing an objective summary, and identifying possible priority issues and targets for the future.


1 See Annex 4

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme