Chapter 5 Global Implementation of the Convention and Cooperation with other Conventions and Processes

Annex to Chapter 5

Table 5.1 Global biodiversity-related conventions
Name Scope
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat
(Convention on Wetlands or Ramsar Convention)
All aspects of wetland conservation and wise use. Parties are required to list at least one wetland of international importance for special management and protection
Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage
(World Heritage Convention)
To define and conserve the world's 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 cooperation among nations. Parties pledge to conserve the sites situated on their territory, some of which may be recognized as World Heritage. Sites may be of importance as cultural heritage or natural heritage or both.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Protects wildlife against over-exploitation and prevents international trade from threatening species with extinction. Parties act by banning commercial international trade in an agreed list of endangered species (Appendix-I listed species) and by regulating and monitoring trade in others that might become endangered or whose trade needs to be regulated to ensure control over trade in Appendix-I species (Appendix-II listed species).
Convention on Migratory Species (Bonn Convention) Aims to protect migratory species and their habitats. Parties cooperate in research relating to migratory species and provide immediate protection for species listed in Appendix I of the Convention. For those species listed in Appendix II, Parties are required to endeavour to conclude `range State' agreements on their conservation and management; a number of such agreements have been concluded.
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
Contains a comprehensive codification of the principles and rules relating to the seas. UNCLOS establishes rights and obligations relating to navigation, the conservation and use of marine resources, and the protection of the marine environment. Relevant aspects include obligations relating to marine living resources, and exploitation of the living resources of the Exclusive Economic Zone.
Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (Straddling Fish Stocks Agreement) Objective is to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. Emphasises the precautionary approach, the protection of the marine biodiversity and the sustainable use of fisheries resources. The Agreement is not yet in force. As of August 2001 there were 59 signatories and 29 ratifications or accesssions; 30 ratifications or accessions are required before the Agreement enters into force.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol aim to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at safe levels. Parties are required to inventory their sources and sinks of greenhouse gases and to formulate policies and measures to mitigate and/or adapt to the effect of climate change. Developed country Parties are required to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases to their 1990 level by the year 2000. The Kyoto Protocol establishes further reduction commitments for developed country Parties.
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries experiencing serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa (UNCCD - Desertification Convention) Through action programmes the Convention aims to ensure improved management of dryland ecosystems and of development aid flow. National Action Programmes (NAPs) will address the underlying causes of desertification and drought and seek to identify preventative or remedial measures. These will be complemented by subregional and regional programmes (SRAPs, RAPs), particularly when transboundary resources such as lakes and rivers are involved. The Convention places strong emphasis on local participation in decision-making.

Note: `Date' is date of agreement, `Entry' is year in which agreement entered into force, `Parties' is number of Party States in August 2001.

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Table 5.2 United Nations bodies and agencies relevant to implementation of the CBD
The General Assembly of the United Nations
The General Assembly has invited the Executive Secretary to report on progress in implementation of the Convention to each annual session. It has adopted a series of resolutions on the Convention. At its forty-ninth session (1994) it declared 29 December, the date of the Convention's entry into force in 1993, as the International Day for Biological Diversity. At its fifty-fifth session (2000), at the request of the Conference of the Parties, it changed the date to 22 May, the date of the adoption of the Convention in 1993. A Special Session of the General Assembly held in June 1997 adopted a Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 prepared by the Commission on Sustainable Development. The General Assembly invited the Conference of the Parties to provide input to the Special Session. The General Assembly has also invited the Secretariat to assist with preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (the ten-year review of progress in implementing the outcomes of the 1992 Earth Summit), to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in September 2002 and to report on progress made in implementation of the Convention.
CSD - The Commission on Sustainable Development
The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED and to monitor and report on implementation of the Earth Summit agreements at the local, national, regional and international levels. The CSD is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), with 53 members. A number of the themes of this programme of work of the Commission for 1998-2002 are of direct relevance to implementation of the Convention (e.g. freshwater resources, oceans and seas, agriculture, forests, tourism) and both the Conference of the Parties and the Secretariat have provide input to the CSD discussions on these themes.
EMG - The Environmental Management Group
The Environmental Management Group (EMG) was established by the UN General Assembly at its fifty-third session and is chaired by the Executive Director of UNEP, who reports directly to the UN Secretary-General. The EMG focuses on environment and human settlement issues, in the context of the linkages between environment and development. The most important goal of the EMG is to achieve effective coordination and joint action in key areas of environmental and human settlements concern. The Executive Secretary participates in the EMG.
FAO - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
The Food and Agriculture Organization was founded in October 1945 with a mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations. It offers direct development assistance, collects, analyses and disseminates information, provides policy and planning advice to governments and acts as an international forum for debate on food and agriculture issues. FAO is active in land and water development, plant and animal production, forestry, fisheries, economic and social policy, investment, nutrition, food standards and commodities and trade. A specific priority of FAO is encouraging sustainable agriculture and rural development. It has 180 Member Nations plus the EC (a Member Organization). Of particular relevance to the Convention are the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) and the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (IU). The CGRFA is a permanent intergovernmental forum whose objectives are to ensure the conservation and sustainable utilization of genetic resources for food and agriculture, as well the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use, for present and future generations. Its mandate covers all components of agro-biodiversity of relevance to food and agriculture. The International Undertaking is the first comprehensive international agreement dealing with plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and was adopted by the FAO Conference in 1983. It is monitored by the CGRFA. In 1992 Agenda 21 called for the strengthening of the FAO Global System on Plant Genetic Resources, and its adjustment in line with the outcome of negotiations on the Convention on Biological Diversity. In adopting the agreed text of the Convention in May 1992, countries requested that outstanding matters concerning plant genetic resources, in particular a) access to ex situ collections not addressed by the Convention, and b) the question of Farmers's Rights be addressed within FAO's forum. The negotiations for the revision of the International Undertaking in harmony with CBD started in November 1994 and are expected to be completed in 2001. The Conference of the Parties has affirmed its willingness to consider a decision that the revised International Undertaking become a legally binding instrument with strong links to both FAO and the Convention.
UNCTAD - The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body, UNCTAD is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly in the field of trade and development. It is the focal point within the United Nations for the integrated treatment of development and interrelated issues in the areas of trade, finance, technology, investment and sustainable development. UNCTAD's main goals are to maximize the trade, investment and development opportunities of developing countries, and to help them face challenges arising from globalisation and integrate equitably into the world economy. It tries to meet these goals through research and policy analysis, intergovernmental deliberations, technical cooperation, and interaction with civil society and the business sector. As of August 2001 there were 191 member States. UNCTAD has developed the BIOTRADE Initiative aimed at stimulating trade and investment in biological resources to further sustainable development in line with the objectives of the Convention (see page [**] above).
UNDP - The United Nations Development Programme UNDP is the United Nations' principal provider of development advice, advocacy and grant support. Its core programmes focus on the countries that are home to 90 percent of the world's extremely poor people. Its mission is to provide its clients -- the developing countries - with knowledge-based policy advice on the entire range of issues that pertain to reducing poverty, building institutional capacity, and managing the challenges of globalisation. A key UNDP area is energy and environment policy, where its mission is to promote environmentally sound development policies to improve the livelihoods of the poor, sustain economic growth and protect the global environment. This includes strengthening policies and institutions for the development of clean, affordable energy and the sustainable management of natural resources including water, land and biodiversity. UNDP is one of the Implementing Agencies of the Global Environment Facility and is assisting over seventy-five Parties with the development of their national biodiversity strategies and action plans, as well as with other biodiversity projects.
UNESCO - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO was founded in 1945. Its main objective is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms that are affirmed by the Charter of the United Nations. UNESCO performs five principal functions: prospective studies; the advancement, transfer and sharing of knowledge; standard-setting action; provision of expertise to Member States through technical cooperation; exchange of specialized information. As of August 2001 it had 188 Member States. The World Heritage Convention, the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) operate under the aegis of UNESCO. UNESCO and the Secretariat are cooperating in the development of a global initiative on biological diversity education and public awareness.
UNEP - The United Nations Environment Programme
The mission of UNEP is to be the principal United Nations body in the field of the environment. The core elements of its mandate are environmental monitoring, assessment, information and research, including early warning; enhanced coordination of environmental conventions; development of environmental policy instruments; freshwater; technology transfer and industry; and support to Africa. UNEP provides the secretariats of a number of international agreements, including the CBD. It is an Implementing Agency of the Global Environment Facility.

Table 5.3 Partners with memoranda of cooperation with the CBD
Memorandum of Understanding with the Conference of the Parties
  • Council of the Global Environment Facility
Memoranda of Understanding with the Secretariat
  • The Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitats (Ramsar Convention)
  • The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
  • The Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
  • The Secretariat of the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention) and its Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW)
  • The World Bank
  • The Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • The UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
  • The Secretariat of DIVERSITAS
  • The Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD)
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • The Secretariat of the Permanent Commission of the South Pacific
  • The Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
  • The Council of Europe and UNEP as Joint Secretariat of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS)
  • The Council of Europe as Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention)
  • The Coordinating Unit of the Mediterranean Action Plan
  • IUCN - World Conservation Union

Table 5.4. Agreements and programmes related to trade and intellectual property rights
World Trade Organization (WTO).
The WTO is the international body dealing with the rules of trade between nations. The WTO had 142 members as of August 2001. At its heart are the WTO agreements, the legal ground-rules for international commerce and for trade policy. The agreements have three main objectives: to help trade flow as freely as possible, to achieve further liberalization gradually through negotiation, and to set up an impartial means of settling disputes. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is the principal rule-book for trade in goods. The Uruguay Round also created new rules for dealing with trade in services, relevant aspects of intellectual property, dispute settlement, and trade policy reviews. Through these agreements, WTO members operate a non-discriminatory trading system that spells out their rights and their obligations. Two themes appear regularly in discussions on the subject in the WTO: the broader relationship between trade liberalization and the environment; and more specifically how the trade rules - which WTO members negotiated and agreed - relate to environmental protection policies and to international environmental agreements. The principal forum for discussing these issues in the WTO is the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE), which consists of all WTO members. Agreements relevant to implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity include:
  • the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
  • the Agreement on Agriculture (Agriculture Agreement)
  • the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement)
  • the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement)
  • the Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs Agreement).
The TRIPs Agreement sets minimum standards for intellectual property protection and requires members of the WTO to provide intellectual property rights regimes. Although patent protection can be excluded for animals and plants, and for “essentially biological processes”, an effective system of plant variety protection must be provided (Art. 27(3)(b)). The Council of TRIPs, the main body responsible for monitoring the operation of TRIPs, began a review of the implementation of the whole Agreement in 2000. The Conference of the Parties has asked Executive Secretary to seek observer status with the Council of TRIPs; however this status has not yet been granted.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
WIPO is the United Nations agency established to promote the protection of intellectual property world-wide through co-operation among States, and to administer various treaties dealing with legal and administrative aspects of intellectual property. In addition, WIPO provides assistance to developing countries in relation to the development of intellectual property protection. As of August 2001, there were 177 Member States. In 1998 WIPO established its Programme on Global Intellectual Property Issues (Main Programme 11). Of particular relevance to the Convention are the following sub-programmes:
Intellectual Property Rights for New Beneficiaries: the main objectives of this sub-programme are to identify the intellectual property needs and expectations of indigenous and local communities, and to initiate pilot projects for new approaches to the creation, protection, use and management of intellectual property rights. A number of activities are envisaged under this sub-programme, including studies on current approaches and Roundtables on Indigenous Intellectual Property to facilitate an exchange of views among policymakers and indigenous peoples.
Biological Diversity and Biotechnology: the main objective of this sub-programme is to examine the links between the intellectual property aspects of biotechnology and the conservation, use and benefit-sharing of biological resources. Expected results of the sub-programme are enhanced awareness of the role of intellectual property in implementing the Convention, and promotion of projects for documenting traditional knowledge, laying the foundation for sharing benefits arising from the use of such knowledge.
International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV)
UPOV was adopted in 1961 to encourage innovation in plant breeding by providing exclusive rights for plant breeders in plant varieties which they have developed. UPOV has since been revised three times, most recently in 1991. The 1991 amendments, which entered into force in April 1998, broaden the scope of protection marking a shift towards more patent-like protection. In particular, the 1991 UPOV removed the automatic “farmers' privilege”, which allowed farmers to use saved seed from a protected variety for replanting on the farm (but not for commercial purposes) without the breeders' authorisation. Parties to UPOV may still, within their national legislation, allow farmers to use such material within “reasonable limits”, subject to safeguarding the legitimate interests of the plant breeder. Such provisions may be challenged by the plant breeder if legitimate interests are at stake. The 1991 UPOV also restrict the use of protected varieties by other breeders to develop new varieties. As of August 2001 there were 47 Contracting Parties to UPOV.

Table 5.5 The World Commission on Dams
World Commission on Dams (WCD) was established in 1998 following the growing concerns about the ecological and social impacts of large dams. The mandate of the WCD was to: review the development effectiveness of large dams and assess alternatives; develop a framework for assessing options and decision-making processes for water resources, energy services and development; and develop internationally-acceptable criteria and guidelines for planning, designing, construction, operation, monitoring, and decommissioning of dams.

The WCD conducted detailed reviews of eight large dams in Turkey, Norway, the United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Thailand, Pakistan, Brazil and South Africa. It also prepared country reviews for India and China, as well as a briefing paper on Russia and the Newly Independent States. A survey of 125 large dams was also undertaken, along with 17 thematic reviews on social, environmental and economic issues; on alternatives to dams; and on governance and institutional processes. It received 947 submissions and hosted four regional consultations in Colombo, São Paulo, Cairo and Hanoi where the Commissioners listened to people's individual experiences. All these inputs formed the core of the WCD Knowledge Base that served to inform the Commission on the main issues surrounding dams and their alternatives.

The Commission's report `Dams and Development' was issued in November 2000. One of the conclusions is that large dams have led to the loss of forests and wildlife habitat and the loss of aquatic biodiversity of upstream and downstream fisheries. The Commission found that efforts to counter the ecosystem impact of large dams had met with limited success.

The Report argues that by negotiating outcomes through multi-criteria analysis -- technical, environmental, economic, social and financial -- the development effectiveness of water and energy projects will be improved, unfavourable projects will be eliminated at an early stage, and the options chosen will be what key stakeholders agree best meets the needs in question. In order to achieve this new framework for decision-making, the Commission provides specific recommendations and responsibilities for key stakeholders in the debate. These reflect lessons learnt and offer guidance as to how a consensus on optimal use of water and energy resources can be achieved. One such guiding parameter is environmental flow requirements to sustain aquatic ecosystems.

Table 5.6 Forests under the Commission on Sustainable Development
Intergovernmental Panel on Forests

At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, forests were among the most controversial issues being considered. The prevailing North-South polarization concerning forests did not permit agreements beyond the text of the “Non-legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of All Types of Forests,” the so-called “Forest Principles,” and Chapter 11 of Agenda 21 “Combating Deforestation.” By contrast, the “Post-Rio” period 1992-1995 was one of confidence building and emerging North-South partnerships, enabling the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), at its third session in April 1995, to establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF), to continue the intergovernmental forest policy dialogue.

The mandate of the IPF was for a two year period (1995-97) and with a programme of work involving several complex and politically sensitive issues grouped into the following five categories:

  1. Implementation of forest-related decisions of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development at the national and international levels, including an examination of sectoral and cross-sectoral linkages;
  2. International cooperation in financial assistance and technology transfer;
  3. Scientific research, forest assessment and the development of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management;
  4. Trade and environment in relation to forest products and services;
  5. International organizations and multilateral institutions and instruments, including appropriate legal mechanisms.

The Informal, High Level Interagency Task Force on Forests (ITFF)

Following the establishment of the IPF in April 1995, an informal, high level Interagency Task Force on Forests (ITFF) was set up in Geneva in July 1995 to coordinate the inputs of international organizations to the forest policy process. The ITFF members include the following organizations: Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO); Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); United Nations Department for Social and Economic Affairs (UN/DESA); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); and the World Bank.

The legacy of the IPF: Over a hundred proposals for action

The two years of intensive work of the IPF resulted in over one hundred negotiated proposals for action on a number of issues related to sustainable forest management (SFM) including national forest programmes, forest assessment, criteria and indicators, traditional forest related knowledge, underlying causes of deforestation, etc. Matters requiring further consideration - either because consensus could not be reached or because further analysis was required - included issues related to finance and transfer of technology, trade and environment, and institutions and legal instruments.

Endorsements of the Proposals for Action of the IPF

The intergovernmental policy dialogue on forests and the proposals for action of the IPF have stimulated a number of initiatives and activities around the world. These initiatives have been further encouraged by a number of references to the outcome of the IPF and endorsement of the Panel's proposals for action by major international and intergovernmental fora.

The Establishment of the IFF as the Successor to the IPF

The outcome of the Panel was endorsed by the fifth session of the CSD in April 1997 and by the 19th Special Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGASS) in June 1997. However, in view of the remaining outstanding issues, UNGASS recommended a continuation of the intergovernmental policy dialogue on forests. In July 1997 ECOSOC decided to establish the ad hoc open ended Intergovernmental Forum on Forests under the CSD with a mandate to:
  1. Promote and facilitate the implementation of the proposals for action of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) and review, monitor and report on progress in the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forest;
  2. Consider matters left pending and other issues arising from the programme elements of the IPF process;
  3. Consider international arrangements and mechanisms to promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
The Intergovernmental Forum on Forests met four times between October 1997 and February 2000 and recommended that ECOSOC establish an international arrangement on forests. In October 2000 ECOSOC established the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) to promote the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end. The UNFF would promote the implementation of internationally agreed action on forests, at the national, regional and global levels, to provide a coherent, transparent and participatory global framework for policy implementation, coordination and development, and to carry out functions, based on the Rio Declaration, the Forest Principles, Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the IPF and the IFF, in a manner consistent with and complementary to existing international legally binding instruments relevant to forests. ECOSOC also invited UN and other relevant international and regional organizations to form a collaborative partnership on forests (CPF) to support the UNFF and recommended that this build on a high-level, informal group such as the Inter-Agency Task Force on Forests.

The United Nations Forum on Forests

At its first session (June 2001), the UNFF approved its multi-year programme of work:

  • Second session (March 2002) it will consider: Combating deforestation and forest degradation; forest conservation and protection of unique types of forests and fragile ecosystems; rehabilitation and conservation strategies for countries with low forest cover; rehabilitation and restoration of degraded lands; promotion of natural and planted forests; concepts, terminology and definitions. At its third session;
  • Third session: Economic aspects of forests; forest health and productivity; maintaining forest cover to meet present and future needs;
  • Fourth session: Traditional forest-related knowledge; forest-related scientific knowledge; social and cultural aspects of forests; monitoring, assessment and reporting, concepts and terminology and definitions; criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management;
  • Fifth meeting: Review of progress and consideration of future actions; the parameters of a mandate for developing a legal framework on all types of forests; the effectiveness of international arrangements on forests.

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests

The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) was established in April 2001, following the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). It is based on the six-years' experience of the Interagency Task Force on Forests (ITFF) and initial membership of the CPF comprises the eight members of the ITFF (see above). The mission of the CPF is to support the work of the UNFF in the promotion of the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests and in the strengthening of political commitment to this end. The secretariats of the GEF and the UNCCD have also joined the CPF.

Table 5.7 The Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
The Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was adopted at the International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources in Leipzig, Germany in 1996. The Plan is meant as a contribution to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity and a significant step towards global food security. The aims of the Global Plan are:

  • To ensure the conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) as a basis for food security
  • To promote sustainable utilisation of PGRFA
  • To promote a fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of PGRFA, recognising the desirability of sharing equitably benefits arising from the use of traditional knowledge, innovations and practices relevant to the conservation of PGRFA and their sustainable use
  • To assist countries and institutions responsible for conserving and using PGRFA to identify priorities for action.
  • To strengthen, in particular, national programmes, as well as regional and international programmes, including education and training, for the conservation and utilisation of PGRFA and to enhance institutional capacity.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme