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The Convention on Biological Diversity

Background

In 1992, at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, world leaders agreed on a comprehensive strategy for "sustainable development" -- meeting our needs while ensuring that we leave a healthy and viable world for future generations.

The Convention on Biological Diversity, which was adopted at Rio, is a pact among the vast majority of the world's governments (190 of them) to make sure that as the world continues to develop, the diverse biological resources we need to sustain life on Earth are not used up. This balance is called Sustainable Development.

In the language of the United Nations, a Convention is an international agreement, or treaty, and the governments who sign it are called Parties to the Convention. The three goals of the Convention are:

  1. the preservation of biological diversity
  2. the sustainable use of its components
  3. the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.

These are huge undertakings. Parties not only agree to meet the goals of the Convention when they sign it, but from then on, together, they work out and agree on the ways and means to meet those goals. They make National Plans for their own country and they work together to find ways to preserve biodiversity across regions and worldwide.

Convention of the Parties (COP) and Meeting of the Parties (MOP)

Every two years, representatives from each of the Parties attend international meetings to discuss biodiversity and biosafety issues at the COP and MOP, respectively. Observers representing cities, local authorities, indigenous and local communities, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, press and media and even some youth also attend.

This year was the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, the 7th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the 1st meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing.

They took place in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea. Visit the official COP 12 and COP MOP 7 and COP MOP 1 website to learn more about related issues and special events.

To find out about children and youth events happening around COP, visit the GYBN page.

The Secretariat of the Convention

The Secretariat of the Convention, the coordinating point of the Convention, is in Montreal, Canada. The Secretariat's role is manifold, and includes: organizing meetings, such as the Conference of the Parties; assisting countries in the implementation of the different programmes of work of the Convention; and providing technical expertise. The Secretariat is also responsible for publishing the documentation related to the Convention, such as the CBD Technical Series and guidelines.

5 Things you didn’t know about us:

  1. We have over 100 people working at the Secretariat speaking all the official UN languages (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese) and more!
  2. Geneva, Switzerland was the first home of the Secretariat, before moving its office to Montreal, Canada in July 1996.
  3. We have at least one staff from every continent!
  4. Despite its name, The Cartagena Protocol was actually adopted in Montreal on 29 January 2000 at approximately 5:00 am
  5. The Nagoya Protocol entered into force in October 2014
  6. The United Nations first designated the International Day for Biodiversity 29 December, but has now changed it to 22 May. The first date coincided with the day of entry into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020 and Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The United Nations General Assembly at its 65th session declared the period 2011-2020 to be “the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, with a view to contributing to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for the period 2011-2020” (Resolution 65/161).

The United Nations Decade on Biodiversity will serve to support and promote implementation of the objectives of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Its goal is to mainstream biodiversity at different levels. Throughout the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, governments are encouraged to develop, implement and communicate the results of national strategies for implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity.

To find out more on information, visit our UNDB webpages or see the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 to learn on the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme