Protected Area Provisions in CBD

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), adopted in 1992 and currently holding the membership of 188 Parties (187 countries and the European Union) is the most important international legal instrument addressing protected areas, and supporting and fostering national and multilateral efforts in a comprehensive manner. Article 2 of the Convention defines a protected area as “a geographically defined area, which is designated or regulated and managed to achieve specific conservation objectives”. Article 8 of the Convention calls for the establishment of a system of protected areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity. Accordingly, national protected area systems have been developed and maintained as key elements of national strategies to conserve biological diversity. Articles of the Convention concerning protected areas are reproduced in the Box below.

Articles of the Convention concerning protected areas

The term “protected area” is defined in Article 2 of the Convention as “a geographically defined area, which is designated or regulated and managed to achieve specific conservation objectives”. Sub-paragraphs (a), (b), (c) (e) and (m) of Article 8 contain specific references to protected areas and provide that Parties should:

  1. Establish a system of protected areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity;
  2. Develop, where necessary, guidelines for the selection, establishment and management of protected areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity;
  3. Regulate or manage biological resources important for the conservation of biological diversity whether within or outside protected areas, with a view to ensuring their conservation and sustainable use;
  4. Promote environmentally sound and sustainable development in areas adjacent to protected areas with a view to furthering protection of these areas;
  5. Cooperate in providing financial and other support for in-situ conservation, particularly to developing countries.

In addition to the provisions on in-situ conservation, a number of additional articles are relevant to the establishment and management of protected areas. These include in particular:

  • Provisions on sustainable use in Articles 6 and 10, given the fact that protected areas are increasingly places managed for multiple purposes;
  • Provisions on ex-situ conservation (Article 9) and restoration / rehabilitation (Articles 8f and 14.2) to complement on site efforts to protect habitats and species
  • Provisions on tools important for protected area management and planning such as biodiversity monitoring (Article 7) and impact assessment (Article 14);
  • Other provisions including 8(j) on traditional knowledge, Article 11 on incentive measures;
  • Article 12 on research and training and Article 13 on public education and awareness.

The text of the Convention can be accessed here.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme