Global Biodiversity Outlook 1

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


The scope of the Convention means that its effective implementation will require cooperation and coordination with a wide range of other conventions, institutions and processes. These include other biodiversity-related conventions and the other `Rio Conventions' (Table 5.11); many international organizations whose mandates cover issues relevant to the implementation of the Convention (Table 5.2); regional environmental agreements; and non-governmental programmes and networks, including scientific, cooperation and capacity-development processes.

Cooperation has two aspects. The first covers the need to ensure that the development and delivery of policies and programmes by the different instruments, through their secretariats and agencies, is mutually consistent and reinforcing. The second covers the role that these instruments can play in helping ensure that the positions taken and activities undertaken by national governments under the different agreements are coordinated at national level.

Although self-evidently desirable, putting into practice the calls for cooperation made by the Conference of the Parties can be a difficult task. Each convention or agency has its own governing body that will normally need to approve new activities undertaken in response to calls from the Convention to cooperate. These activities are likely to have budgetary or staffing implications and may require changes in ongoing programmes and policies that themselves are often the outcome of protracted and perhaps difficult negotiations within those fora.

Theoretically, the fact that the governing bodies of these other conventions and agencies are composed of Governments, in the same way as the Conference of the Parties, should mean that consistency in decision-making under different instruments and institutions is relatively easy to arrive at. To some extent this is increasingly the case, as more Governments put in place procedures at national level to ensure that their delegations to meetings of different but related bodies present consistent and mutually reinforcing positions at each. In many ways, as this chapter will indicate, significant progress has indeed been made in promoting cooperation among related conventions and processes for the more effective implementation of their objectives.

However at least some governments still sometimes take inconsistent, even contradictory, positions at meetings of different bodies. In part this reflects differing political positions and priorities at the national level, which can only be resolved by the relevant national actors. Often, however, such divergent positions reflect a lack of coordination and sharing of information between the national lead agencies for the different instruments. For example, national delegations to trade negotiations may be unaware of the general obligations the country has assumed by its membership of a multilateral environment agreement or, as may be more often the case, of the precise implications for the country of the decisions and programmes of work adopted by the multilateral environment agreement. In this case the establishment of the necessary domestic consultation machinery - for example, a sustainable development body or a national biodiversity council - will help to identify possible conflicting positions and ways to overcome them.

The Conference of the Parties has requested Parties to promote consistency and coordination in negotiation and implementation. It has called upon national focal points to cooperate with the competent authorities of the Convention on Wetlands, CITES and the Convention on Migratory Species on the implementation of these conventions at the national level to avoid duplication of effort. It has also called upon Parties to coordinate their positions in both the FAO and the CBD.

The more that the relevant convention secretariats and international organizations are able to cooperate at the policy and operational levels, the better they will be able to assist member Governments in promoting such national level coordination for implementation. The results should be greater synergies between measures taken to implement more than one Convention and better integration of biodiversity considerations into other sectors, as required under Article 6(b) of the Convention.

National level coordination has been referred to in chapters 3 and 4. This chapter will provide a picture of cooperative links with other related conventions and processes. It will start with an introduction to these, before providing an overview of cooperation being undertaken for the implementation of the different provisions and work programme of the Convention. The annex to the chapter gives more details of the relevant conventions and processes.


A large number of other international and regional agreements address issues of relevance to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Some of the most directly relevant of these are highlighted here in Table 5.1. Most international and regional agreements aimed at environmental protection require the Parties to undertake a range of similar measures, which offer possibilities for inter-linkages and synergies in implementation. These include, for example, requirements: to gather relevant information, to provide periodic reports, to formulate policies and to design strategies, plans and programmes, to raise public awareness and provide public education.

International and regional agreements whose implementation might benefit from coordination with that of the Convention on Biological Diversity fall into a number of categories, of which the most relevant are:

  • agreements related to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity,
  • agreements related to agriculture, forestry, water resources, the marine environment and fisheries,
  • other agreements arising from the UN Conference on Environment and Development (the `Rio Conventions': UNFCCC and UNCCD, see Table 5.1, in addition to the CBD),
  • agreements and programmes related to trade and intellectual property rights (see Table 5.4).

The Rio Conventions (including the Convention on Biological Diversity) address a number of common substantive and procedural issues: for example, forests are relevant to the implementation of all three agreements. Each of the Rio Conventions calls for capacity-building, scientific and technical cooperation, the development of specific national plans and strategies, and periodic reporting.

Ratification of these different biodiversity-related agreements by States can have costs and benefits. Benefits can include more specific guidance on relevant aspects of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and access to additional (although generally very limited) sources of funding. Costs can include additional reporting requirements and additional specific obligations. In many cases, these agreements require similar steps such as the establishment of protected areas; the regulation of the taking of wild species (or particular species); and the implementation of management measures for specific species or habitats.

Institutional mechanisms for cooperation

The Handbook of the Convention, produced in parallel with this volume, provides a detailed guide to calls made by the Conference of the Parties for cooperation in the implementation of various decisions and of the thematic work programmes. The following section provides only a summary of these and readers are referred to the Handbook for more details.

Almost invariably, when the Conference of the Parties considers an issue in depth, and particularly when it establishes a work programme, it calls on the Executive Secretary to cooperate with relevant international organizations and processes in any work to be carried out. Usually the Conference of the Parties names a number of such organizations and processes, but notes that cooperation should not be confined to these. Basic information on some of the relevant United Nations bodies is presented in Table 5.2. The Executive Secretary has signed a number of memoranda of cooperation with other relevant organizations (Table 5.3).

In some cases a particular organization or initiative is implicitly recognized as a major player in a particular area (e.g. the Global Invasive Species Programme in the implementation of Article 8 (h), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in the implementation of the work programme on agricultural biological diversity). In other cases the Conference of the Parties has specifically invited a particular organization to cooperate as a lead partner in an activity or programmes (e.g. the Ramsar Convention in the implementation of the work programme on biological diversity of inland waters). However, the Conference of the Parties has in no case deferred to any other organization, and has stressed that work programmes addressing these and other issues should be collaborative in nature.

Where joint work programmes with other conventions have been developed, some concern has been expressed because not all Parties to the CBD are parties to the other conventions (see Table 5.1 for the numbers of parties in each of the conventions). The Conference of the Parties has taken pains to stress, however, that no Party to the CBD should be disadvantaged in any such work programme because it is not a party to any other relevant agreement. To date the most advanced joint work programme developed under the auspices of the Convention is probably that with the Ramsar Convention concerning biological diversity of inland waters.

The potential for harmonisation among biodiversity-related conventions

The different biodiversity-related conventions each impose reporting requirements on their parties and also generate significant need for information by their parties. Meeting these can place a substantial burden on governments, particularly those with limited resources. In 1998 the five global biodiversity-related treaty secretariats and UNEP commissioned the World Conservation Monitoring Centre to undertake a Feasibility Study to identify opportunities for harmonising information management between the treaties. In addition to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the other four treaties are the Convention on Migratory Species, CITES, the Convention on Wetlands and the World Heritage Convention.

The Feasibility Study considered approaches towards development of a harmonised information management infrastructure for the treaties within their existing defined mandates. Its purpose was to consider how the secretariats could improve effectiveness and efficiency in gathering, handling, disseminating and sharing information. Subsequently, contracting parties to four of these conventions, including the Conference of the Parties to the CBD, endorsed the move towards increased harmonization of information management and reporting.

At the same time there have been moves to increase synergy amongst the various agreements made at the Earth Summit in 1992, the European Environment Agency is working on a project which aims to streamline reporting systems for the 64 environmental agreements to which the European Community is party, and UNEP GRID Arendal has been working with the Government of Norway on means to make reporting to international environment conventions more efficient.

Also concurrently there has been increased focus on regional seas agreements, and the secretariats of these agreements have met to discuss common concerns, which include promoting “horizontal collaboration and facilitating stronger linkages with global conventions”.

At a workshop in October 2000, comprising representatives of convention secretariats, UNEP, Parties and international organizations, project concepts for testing at both national and international levels with a range of conventions and in different types of countries were developed. Pilot projects will take place and their results will be reviewed in late 2001 or early 2002.


A large number of other international and regional agreements address issues of relevance to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Some of the most directly relevant of these are highlighted here in Table 5.1. Most international and regional agreements aimed at environmental protection require the Parties to undertake a range of similar measures, which offer possibilities for inter-linkages and synergies in implementation. These include, for example, requirements: to gather relevant information, to provide periodic reports, to formulate policies and to design strategies, plans and programmes, to raise public awareness and provide public education.

The text of the Convention clearly indicates that the implementation of its provisions is primarily the duty of the contracting Parties. However, an enormous range of other organizations, both national and international, representing many different sectors of society are playing an active role in assisting Parties in implementation. The following sections provide an overview of illustrative global and regional initiatives organised under the operative Articles of the Convention and within the framework of the thematic work programmes. It is important to stress that this is not a comprehensive list of such initiatives.


The bodies and meetings of the Convention itself are the major mechanism for cooperation of Parties at the global level. These are discussed in detail in Chapters 2 and 3. In order to improve coordination at regional level, four of the five major regional groups (Africa, Asia, Countries with Economies in Transition and Latin America and the Caribbean) have held regional preparatory meetings prior to meetings of the Conference of the Parties.

In March 2000 the first inter-regional meeting - the Intergovernmental Conference `Biodiversity in Europe', held in Riga, Latvia - brought together countries from Western, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia to examine opportunities for closer cooperation and integration of European biodiversity processes and to prepare a pan-European input to the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

A number of regional conventions and programmes cover the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. For example:

  • Seventeen regional seas conventions throughout the world involve cooperation between more than 140 States and territories for shared goals. Most have developed Action Plans, under which the conservation of biological diversity and the establishment of marine protected areas are coordinated.
  • The conservation of biodiversity is one of the programme areas of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), an organization created by Canada, Mexico and the United States of America under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. The Agreement complements the environmental provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The biodiversity programme area consists of three parts: a diagnosis to identify the current state of the conservation of biodiversity in the region, the development of strategies, and the implementation of mechanisms, projects and information management systems. The work plan includes activities such as the Ecosystem Monitoring Initiative, the North American Marine Protected Areas Network and the North American Biodiversity Information Network.
  • The Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD) is implementing the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. This was established in 1997 by the seven countries of Central America, all whom are members of CCAD: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor is a crucial environmental initiative for the region, with a central development concept-integrating conservation and sustainable use of bio-diversity within the framework of sustainable economic development.
  • The South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme embraces regional cooperation in the management of mountain ecosystems, watersheds and coastal resources, and wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation.
  • In the Arctic region, Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States of America work together through the Arctic Council, a high level intergovernmental forum to address the common concerns and challenges faced by the Arctic governments and the people of the Arctic. The Arctic Council runs four programmes, one of which is the Program for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF). CAFF developed in 1997 the Co-operative Strategy for the Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Arctic Region, which focuses on conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of biological resources, participation of local and indigenous people in relevant policies and programmes, and public education and awareness. The strategy will be implemented through the Strategic Plan for the Conservation of Arctic Biological Diversity endorsed by the Arctic Ministers in 1998.

General measures for conservation and sustainable use

Many activities are underway to support the development of strategies, plans and programmes on biological diversity and the integration of the Convention's objectives into relevant sectoral and cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies. As early as 1992, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published the Global Biodiversity Strategy with a detailed list of 85 proposed actions.

In 1993 UNEP published `Guidelines for Country Studies on Biological Diversity' and in 1995 the World Resources Institute published, together with UNEP and IUCN, `National Biodiversity Planning: Guidelines Based on Early Experiences Around the World'. These guidelines were commended by the Conference of the Parties as relevant for implementation of Article 6.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has introduced two programmes specifically to support biodiversity planning projects. The first is Enabling Activities for Biodiversity, which as noted in chapter 3, are activities that prepare the foundation to design and implement effective response measures to achieve Convention objectives. They assist recipient countries to develop national strategies, plans or programs (Article 6) and to identify components of biodiversity together with processes and activities likely to have significant adverse impacts on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity (Article 7).

The second is the Biodiversity Planning Support Programme (BPSP), implemented by UNDP, UNEP and a network of regional partner organizations, which was established to respond to needs recognized by Parties for strengthening national capacity to prepare and implement national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs) in compliance with Article 6. The programme focuses on the gathering and dissemination of relevant technical information for biodiversity planning; exchange of knowledge, expertise and best practice at regional and global levels; and provision of guidance on how to address contemporary thematic issues related to implementation of the Convention in the context of national planning.

The programme has three components that are being implemented at global and regional levels:

  • Information and data gathering to identify key stakeholders and to establish an efficient communications network;
  • Development and distribution of guidelines and best practice documentation based on global experience with the development and implementation of national biodiversity strategies and action plans;
  • Organisation of global and regional workshops for the exchange of experience and expertise, as well as the development and dissemination of guidance on thematic issues related to implementation of the Convention in the context of national biodiversity strategies and action plans.

In 1999 and 2000 regional workshops were held in the Latin America and Caribbean, Southeast Asia, South Asia, South Pacific, East Africa, North Africa, and Northeast and Central Asia regions at which critical elements for the design and implementation of successful national biodiversity strategies and action plans were identified.

In the European region, the `Biodiversity Service' established by a consortium of agencies (UNEP, IUCN, the European Centre for Nature Conservation and the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe) seeks to promote and facilitate implementation of the Convention in Central and Eastern European countries and the Newly-Independent States by providing assistance in implementing national biodiversity strategies and action plans.

Identification and monitoring

Many recent and continuing activities relate to the collection and analysis of information on biological diversity, most of which contribute significantly to implementation of the Convention even if that was not their specific purpose.

Activities at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) include assessment and early warning studies in forest, dryland, freshwater and marine ecosystems, as well as on endangered species and biodiversity indicators. The UNEP/GEF Biodiversity Data Management Project is designed to strengthen the capacity of developing countries in data and biodiversity information management.

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), which has developed from the work of the OECD Megascience Forum Working Group on Biological Informatics established in 1996, will be an interoperable network of biodiversity databases and information technology tools that will enable users to navigate and put to use the world's vast quantities of biodiversity information to produce national economic, environmental and social benefits. The purpose of establishing GBIF is to design, implement, co-ordinate, and promote the compilation, linking, standardisation, digitisation and global dissemination of the world's biodiversity data, within an appropriate framework for property rights and due attribution. The GBIF expected to beginoperations in March 2001.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) holds a range of data sets, such as the World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT), World Information and Early Warning System on Plant Genetic Resources (WIEWS), the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DADIS) and the Global Information System on Forest Genetic Resources (REFORGEN). The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) runs the System-Wide Information Network on Genetic Resources (SINGER). The Convention on Migratory Species, in cooperation with Bonn University, is developing a Global Registry of Migratory Species.

A number of overviews of global biodiversity have been published (see Annex), as well as studies, notably by IUCN and FAO, on of threatened species and breeds. For plants and birds, centres of endemism have been identified on a global scale. Various initiatives have attempted to define key areas for biodiversity, e.g. Conservation International have reported on global hotspots, while the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Global 2000 project has delimited a set of significant eco-regions, holding characteristic species, communities, and environmental conditions.

The Species 2000 programme was established in 1994 by the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS) in cooperation with the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS). Its chief aim is to provide a uniform and validated quality index of names of all known species.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a process designed to improve the management of ecosystems and their contribution to human development by helping to bring the best available information and knowledge on ecosystem goods and services to bear on policy and management decisions. The MA consists of a global scientific assessment as well as catalytic regional, national, and local assessments and aims to build capacity at all levels to undertake integrated ecosystem assessments and to act on their findings. The primary users of the MA will be the international ecosystem-related conventions, national governments, civil society, and the private sector. The MA will provide information and strengthen capacity but it will not set goals or advocate specific policies or practices. It will be policy relevant but not policy prescriptive. It is overseen by a Board bringing together a wide array of stakeholders and an Executive Committee that includes the secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and is closely linked to the CBD process.

Another important initiative related to article 7 is the International Biodiversity Observation Year (IBOY) Programme launched by DIVERSITAS in 1998 with the intention of making 2001 and 2002 breakthrough years in which to dramatically increase communication of findings about the status of biodiversity and its links to human welfare. The IBOY is inspired by the International Geophysical Year of 1957-1958, in which scientists worked together across disciplinary and national boundaries to advance knowledge about the Earth, oceans and atmosphere.

The development of indicators for biological diversity has been undertaken by several organizations, among them the World Resources Institute (WRI), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and UNEP-WCMC. These efforts are closely linked to the discussion of environmental and sustainable development indicators taking place in the OECD and the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD).

Other initiatives are restricted to the regional and sub-regional level. The Dobris Assessment is a comprehensive assessment of the state of Europe's environment with many aspects of biological diversity considered. The European Biodiversity Monitoring Initiative, implemented by the European Centre for Nature Conservation (ECNC) and the European Environment Agency (EEA) will include a harmonised system for monitoring progress on the implementation of biodiversity-related agreements in Europe. The World Bank, in cooperation with WWF, published an assessment of the terrestrial eco-regions of Latin America and the Caribbean. The Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) is an initiative of the Summit of the Americas to provide greater and more useful access to biodiversity information throughout the Western Hemisphere. In eight southern African countries, the GEF is supporting a regional capacity-building project on inventory and monitoring of botanical diversity.

In-situ conservation

Site-based approach

The Conference of the Parties has not yet addressed the issue of protected areas in depth, but will do so at its seventh meeting in 2004. In the interim, the Conference of the Parties has encouraged the Executive Secretary to develop relationships with other processes with a view to fostering good practices in a range of aspects of protected area management. The major thematic work programmes dealing with forests, drylands, coastal and marine biological diversity and inland water biological diversity all include consideration of protected areas. Implementation of each of these work programmes calls for cooperation with other processes, as discussed below. A significant proportion - perhaps 75% - of GEF projects related to biodiversity is associated with protected areas.

In consideration of protected areas in general, the major relevant international processes are the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), the World Heritage Convention (WHC) and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). The fifth World Congress on Protected Areas will take place in Durban, South Africa in September 2003.

Protected areas are major tools for implementing the site-based provisions of Article 8 of the Convention (Maps 20 and 21). IUCN has defined Protected Area Management Categories. Some global mechanisms have developed systems of priority areas, such as the list of wetlands of international importance of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the World Heritage Sites of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention), the Biosphere Reserves of the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and BirdLife International's Important Bird Areas (IBA) programme.

CAFF's Circumpolar Protected Areas Network (CPAN) Strategy and Action Plan contains lists of existing and proposed protected areas in the Arctic (Map 22). The European Community through the Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora requires the member states to designate special conservation areas to provide a coherent European ecological network, called NATURA 2000. On the wider Pan-European level, the Pan European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS) is establishing the Pan-European Ecological Network. In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan, GEF is supporting the Central Asia Transboundary Biodiversity Project that aims to protect the vulnerable and unique biological communities in the West Tien Shan Range through the strengthening and coordination of national policies, regulations and institutional arrangements.

Map 20. World protected areas

Map 21. Sites managed under international protected agreements

Map22. Protected areas in polar regions

The Programme for the Consolidation of the Meso-American Biological Corridor involving Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama is a joint initiative within a region of rich biodiversity, crossing a diverse landscape of approximately 768,990 square kilometres, and containing 8% of the world's known biodiversity. The project, which will receive an allocation of US$11 million from the GEF, builds upon all regional and in-country initiatives to collaboratively form conservation and sustainable use programmes and harmonization of regional policies.

Species approach

The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) has produced Species Action Plans for many threatened plants and animals. The Action Plans assess the conservation status of the species and their habitats and specify conservation priorities. In 1999, the FAO Committee on Fisheries adopted two action plans: the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks and the International Plan of Action for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries.

The Council of Europe, BirdLife International and Wetlands International have published action plans for globally threatened species in Europe. The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) has adopted a number of regional agreements. These include the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS), the Agreement on the Conservation of Seals in the Wadden Sea, the Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (EUROBATS), the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), as well as Memoranda of Understanding concerning conservation measures for marine turtles of the Atlantic Coast of Africa, for the Siberian Crane and the Slender-billed Curlew.

The European Community Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora as well as the Directive 79/409/EEC on the Conservation of Wild Birds establish direct protection regimes for rare and threatened species of plants and animals. Their habitats are supposed to be included in the above-mentioned European ecological network NATURA 2000. Several other international species conservation initiatives exist.

Restoration of degraded ecosystems

In 1991, the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR), consisting of Switzerland, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the European Community, adopted an Ecological Master Plan for the Rhine. The Plan aims at the restoration of the main stream as a backbone of the complex Rhine ecosystem and the protection, preservation and improvement of ecologically important reaches of the Rhine and the Rhine valley. As part of the Plan, the ICPR in 1998 developed an Overall Concept of the Rhine and defined development objectives for the flood plain and the riverbed, with a strategy for implementation. In Botswana, Kenya and Mali, the GEF is funding a project on Management of Indigenous Vegetation for the Rehabilitation of Degraded Rangelands.

Alien species

In 1996 the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), in conjunction with IUCN, CABI and UNEP, launched the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP). GISP has two components: the knowledge base, which comprises ecology, human dimensions, pathways, global change, and present status worldwide; and the new tools component. The latter, co-funded by GEF, includes economic and legal aspects, risk assessment, early warning systems, controls and management, and educational aspects.

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is a multilateral treaty deposited with the FAO, which provides the IPPC Secretariat. One hundred and eleven governments are currently contracting parties to the IPPC, whose purpose is to secure common and effective action to prevent the spread and introduction of pests of plants and plant products and to promote measures for their control. The Convention provides a framework and forum for international cooperation, harmonization and technical exchange in collaboration with regional and national plant protection organizations. It is the organization recognized by the World Trade Organization in the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement) as the source for international standards for the phytosanitary measures (ISPMs) affecting trade.

The FAO has compiled codes of practices to deal with alien species and has developed products, such as the FAO Database on Introductions of Aquatic Species. IUCN has an Invasive Species Specialist Group and is establishing a cross-sectoral programme on invasive species. In addition, IUCN has launched a programme on People and Invasive Species: Dealing with the Human Dimensions of the Problem.

The International Council on the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has established a joint Study Group on Ballast Water and Sediments. The Group's terms of reference include the collection of information on and proposing options for the control of the dissemination of organisms by ballasts of ships.

At a sub-regional level, an assessment of the distribution of alien species is contained in the Third Periodic Assessment of the Status of Environment of the Baltic Sea (1997), produced by the Helsinki Commission on the basis of the Baltic Monitoring Programme. The Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) is implementing a project on invasive species of fish and vascular plants for effective networking among the IABIN countries.

Traditional knowledge

Article 8(j) of the Convention, concerning the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, has created considerable discussion. Indigenous peoples' organizations are involved with the implementation of the provisions of the Convention, and an International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity has met several times. The Indigenous Peoples Biodiversity Information Network (IBIN) is a mechanism to exchange information about experiences and projects and to increase collaboration among indigenous groups.

UNESCO, through its World Commission on Culture and Development, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) held the World Forum on the Protection of Folklore in 1997 in Thailand. UNESCO has also appointed a Special Rapporteur on the Protection of the Heritage of Indigenous Peoples and established an Intersectoral Task Force to deal with matters concerning indigenous and local communities. The World Bank has produced Operational Directive 4.20, which is the Bank's principal policy statement on the relationship between its operations and indigenous peoples.

In July 2000 ECOSOC accepted the recommendation of the Commission on Human Rights that a Permanent Forum for Indigenous People in the United Nations system be established. The Permanent Forum will serve as an advisory body to ECOSOC with a mandate to consider issues within ECOSOC's mandate relating to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The Commission has established a process for elaborating a `Draft United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples'. The UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in August 2000, expressed strong concerns about the impacts of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement on human rights and environment, and on biodiversity-related indigenous knowledge.

The Conference of the Parties has emphasized that further work is required to develop a common understanding of the relationship between Intellectual Property Rights and the relevant provisions of the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and the Convention, particularly as it relates to the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities. It has sought to initiate cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on this issue and a memorandum of cooperation between the secretariat and WIPO is being discussed.

As the specialized UN agency responsible for the promotion of intellectual property worldwide, WIPO was mandated in 1998 to undertake exploratory groundwork in order to provide an informed and realistic analysis of the intellectual property aspects of traditional knowledge and folklore protection.

The primary mandate of this exploratory program is to research the implications of developments in the field of traditional knowledge for the intellectual property system, so as to enable WIPO to maintain its capacity to serve the interests of all its Member States. The work in the 1998-99 biennium was therefore focused on issue-identification and the assessment of the intellectual property needs of various stakeholders in the field of traditional knowledge.

In the 2000-2001 biennium the exploratory work is focused on the development of practical activities designed to test current approaches to, and future possibilities for, managing the interfaces between intellectual property protection and TK. The work also seeks to facilitate dialogue between relevant stakeholders, provide training and information, and examine other specific issues identified during 1998 and 1999. In particular, WIPO will organize intellectual property training workshops for TK stakeholders and conduct case studies and pilot projects regarding the interfaces between IP and TK.

Since 2000, WIPO's activities on intellectual property and TK extend beyond the exploratory program into WIPO's cooperation for development, training and technical assistance programs. In October 2000 the WIPO General Assembly established an Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, whose main purpose is to facilitate discussions among member states on access to genetic resources and benefit sharing, protection of traditional knowledge (whether or not associated with those resources), and the protection of the expressions of folklore. The first session of the Intergovernmental Committee place in May 2001.

Issues related to traditional knowledge and access to genetic resources are also being addressed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) The Commission on Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities of UNCTAD's Trade and Development Board convened an Expert Meeting on Systems and National Experiences for Protecting Traditional Knowledge, Innovations and Practices in October 2000. The UNCTAD Secretariat worked closely with the secretariats of other intergovernmental organizations, in particular the secretariats of the CBD and WIPO, in preparing the meeting, which considered systems for the protection of traditional knowledge and benefit sharing, harnessing traditional knowledge for trade and development, and capacity building needs.

Ex-situ conservation

Until recently most conservation efforts of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, apart from work on forest genetic resources, have concentrated on ex-situ conservation, particularly seed genebanks. Plant collecting and ex-situ conservation, especially in botanical gardens, have a long history dating back several hundred years. Beginning in the 1960s, the FAO strongly promoted ex-situ conservation of crop genetic resources. Great emphasis was placed on germplasm collecting during the 1970s and 1980s and it is now estimated that existing global ex-situ collections contain approximately six million accessions.

This total includes many working collections of plant breeders as well as collections established specifically for long-term conservation. About one-tenth of these accessions are maintained within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system, while the remainder are stored in regional or national genebanks.

Ex-situ collections consist of seed genebanks, field genebanks and in vitro collections. Species with orthodox seeds are stored in seed genebanks, whilst the other two methods are used mainly for vegetatively propagated crops, species with seeds that cannot be dried and stored for long periods, perennial species that produce small amounts of seed (e.g. some forage species), and species that have long life cycles (e.g. trees). It is estimated that seed storage accounts for about 90% of total accessions held ex-situ.

Almost 700 of the 1,500 botanical gardens worldwide have germplasm collections for the conservation of ornamental species, indigenous crop relatives and medicinal and forest species. Of these, 119 conserve germplasm of cultivated species - including landraces and wild food plants - and other non-cultivated species for local use. Such species are frequently lacking in other ex-situ germplasm collections and botanical gardens therefore play an important complementary role in ex-situ collection systems.2

In 1989, the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture called for the development of The International Network of Ex Situ Collections under the Auspices of FAO, in line with Article 7.1(a) of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources, because of lack of clarity regarding the legal situation of the ex situ collections.

Twelve centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) signed agreements with the FAO in 1994, placing most of their collections (some 600,000 accessions) in the International Network. Through these agreements, the Centres recognised the “intergovernmental authority of FAO and its Commission in setting policies for the International Network”. They have agreed to hold the designated germplasm “in trust for the benefit of the international community”, and “not to claim ownership, or seek intellectual property rights, over the designated germplasm and related information”. The Regional Collections of the International Coconut Genetic Resources Network (COGENT) were brought into the Network in 1998.

The CGRFA has stated that the Agreement provides and interim solution, until the revision of the International Undertaking has been completed. The Commission has noted that “the final form of the Agreements would depend on the outcome of the negotiations for the revision of the International Undertaking, and that the Agreements might need to be revised in the light of that outcome”.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and its members, more than 450 institutions in 100 countries, are implementing the Botanic Gardens Conservation Strategy for plant conservation. One of BGCI's achievements is a database of rare plants held in over 300 collections. Similarly, the World Zoo Organization comprises 132 leading zoological institutions and 14 regional or national zoo associations and, in collaboration with the IUCN Species Survival Commission's Captive Breeding Specialist Group, has developed the World Zoo Conservation Strategy.

The World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC) represents the majority of ex situ microbial resource centres. Five hundred of these, with more than 250,000 cultures of all kinds, are listed in its World Data Centre for Microorganisms (WDCM). The objectives of the WFCC are the overall support of the activities of microbial resource centres, the promotion of a world network for information and communication, and the exchange of microbial genetic resources. The International Mycological Institute (IMI), funded by CABI, draws its collection of 19,000 fungi and 2,000 bacteria from 130 countries. The collection is available to depositor countries, academics and industry.

There are many regional ex situ collections such as gene banks. For example, the Plant Genetic Resources Centre of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Zambia, established with the assistance from Nordic countries, is a network providing long-term storage of the southern African countries' plant accessions.

Annex 1 provides a list by country types of institutions holding ex-situ collections.

Sustainable use of components of biological diversity

Consideration of the sustainable use of biological resources, as one of the three objectives of the Convention, should be an integral part of most of the activities undertaken under the Convention. It is more or less explicitly addressed in each of the thematic work programmes (eg. as one of the five thematic issues identified under the Jakarta Mandate on marine and coastal biological diversity) and features in most of the operative Articles of the Convention.

To date, however, consideration by the Conference of the Parties of sustainable use as a separate issue has been largely confined to an assessment, made at COP5, of the relationship between biological diversity and tourism. The Conference of the Parties decided to participate in the international work programme on sustainable tourism development under the Commission on Sustainable Development, in particular with a view to contributing to international guidelines for activities related to sustainable tourism development (see page ).

Other processes and organizations that are directly concerned with issues of sustainable use include CITES, TRAFFIC, the IUCN SSC Wildlife Trade Programme, the IUCN Sustainable Use Initiative and FAO (notably with regard to fisheries and timber).

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development and IUCN in 1997 published a guide for the private sector on business and biodiversity. The guide's aim is to explain why business should be involved in the biodiversity debate and to suggest how it can participate. A similar guide to the biodiversity negotiations has been prepared by the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA).

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) launched the BIOTRADE Initiative at the third meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 1996. The mission of BIOTRADE is to stimulate trade and investment in biological resources to further sustainable development, in line with the three objectives of the CBD. The BIOTRADE Initiative seeks to enhance the capability of developing countries to produce value-added products and services from biodiversity for both domestic and international markets. It is an integrated programme consisting of three complementary components: the BIOTRADE country programmes, market research and policy analysis, and Internet services. One of the recent BIOTRADE projects is Programme Bolsa Amazonia, which was launched during the UNCTAD Partners for Development Summit in Lyon in 1998, through a partnership between the non-governmental organization POEMAR and UNCTAD. The overall objective of Programme Bolsa Amazonia is to 'promote the sustainable use of Amazonia's natural resources through the establishment of an efficient network of economic relationships between organised, agro-extractive small holders of Amazonia and local, national and international companies with social and environmental responsibility, and interested in the sustainable use of biodiversity to benefit present and future generations and to guarantee a dignified livelihood in the region'.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organisation founded in 1993 to support environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests. It is an association of representatives from environmental and social groups, the timber trade and the forestry profession, indigenous people's organisations, community forestry groups and forest product certification organisations from around the world. The FSC is introducing an international labelling scheme for forest products, which provides a credible guarantee that the product comes from a well managed forest. All forest products carrying the FSC logo have been independently certified as coming from forests that meet the internationally recognised FSC Principles and Criteria of Forest Stewardship. In this way FSC provides an incentive in the market place for good forest stewardship.

In a similar fashion, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is working for sustainable marine fisheries by introducing a certification scheme. The MSC, founded by the multinational company Unilever and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in 1996, now operates independently and has succeeded in bringing together a broad coalition of supporters from several organisations around the world with a stake in the future of the fishing industry. It spent its first two years developing an environmental Standard, through a major international consultation programme with key fishery stakeholders around the world. The year 2000 saw the launch of its first certified products and supermarkets, especially in the USA and UK, are preparing for the arrival of labelled products. There is increasing interest from the fishing industry around the world in winning the use of the MSC logo.

The Marine Aquarium Council is a global network of marine ornamental collectors, industry, hobbyists, conservation and government organizations and public aquariums. Its mission is to conserve coral reefs and other marine ecosystems by creating standards and education and certifying those engaged in the collection and care of ornamental marine life from reef to aquarium.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has developed policies on the sustainable use of several sectors. The Wildlife Sector strategy, for example, aims to develop long-term approaches to community-oriented wildlife management that are socially and politically acceptable, ecologically viable, profitable and sustainable.


Many organizations have been involved with guidelines on sustainable tourism. In 1992, the World Tourism Organization, UNEP and IUCN jointly published guidelines on the development of national parks and protected areas for tourism. The World Conference on Sustainable Tourism in Lanzarote in 1995 adopted the Charter for Sustainable Tourism. In 1997, the International Conference of Environment Ministers on Biodiversity and Tourism in Berlin, Germany adopted the Berlin Declaration on Biological Diversity and Sustainable Tourism. UNEP drafted a set of guiding principles on sustainable tourism and has started a multi-stakeholder consultation process on them. With the World Tourism Organization and UNESCO, UNEP is involved in the Tour Operator Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development. This initiative is designed to address community and industry concerns about the impact of tourism on the environment. In conjunction with the Ecotourism Society, UNEP is working on the Marine Ecotourism Guidelines Project.

Regionally, the Council of Europe in 1994 adopted recommendations for sustainable tourism, while a number of workshops further explored the relationships between tourism and biodiversity: a Workshop on Sustainable Coastal Tourism in 1995 by the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, a Workshop on Marine Biodiversity in the Caribbean in 1998, an International Conference on Sustainable Tourism in Small Island Developing States and other Islands in 1998 (UNEP and the World Tourism Organization), and regional workshops to evaluate the feasibility of introducing the Blue Flag scheme in the Asia Pacific region (1999) and in the Caribbean region (1999) by UNEP, the Foundation for Environmental Education in Europe, the World Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism.

Incentive measures

The OECD has produced a number of tools supporting the implementation of incentive measures for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. These include publications such as Saving Biological Diversity: Economic Incentives (1996) and the Handbook of Incentive Measures for Biodiversity: Design and Implementation (1999). The OECD Expert Group on the Economic Aspects of Biological Diversity has analysed the experience of OECD member countries with incentive measures and has made the resulting case-studies available to the Convention's Conference of the Parties.

IUCN has developed a Biodiversity Economics website that provides policymakers and the wider public with up-to-date information on business, finance, incentives, trade, assessment and valuation.

Research and training

Established in 1991, DIVERSITAS is a partnership of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, formed to promote scientific research on biodiversity. The goal of DIVERSITAS is to provide accurate scientific information and predictive models of the status of biodiversity and sustainability of the use of the Earth's biotic resources, and to increase worldwide capacity for biodiversity science. DIVERSITAS is co-sponsored by the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), UNESCO, the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS).

The mission of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system is to contribute to food security and poverty eradication in developing countries through research, partnership, capacity building, and policy support. It promotes sustainable agricultural development based on the environmentally sound management of natural resources and has five major research thrusts: Increasing Productivity, Protecting the Environment, Saving Biodiversity, Improving Policies, and Strengthening National Research.

The Southern African Botanical Diversity Network (SABONET) is a capacity-building network of southern African herbaria and botanic gardens with the objective of developing local botanical expertise. The ten countries participating in SABONET are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe; these countries cover an area of some 6 million square kilometres. SABONET's objectives are to develop a strong core of professional botanists, taxonomists, horticulturists and plant diversity specialists within the ten countries of southern Africa, competent to inventory, monitor, evaluate and conserve the botanical diversity of the region in the face of specific development challenges, and to respond to the technical and scientific needs of the Convention on Biological Diversity. SABONET is a GEF project, implemented by UNDP. South Africa's National Botanical Institute (NBI) is the Executing Agency, responsible for the overall management and administration of the project.

The European Community in 1996 established an ad hoc European Working Group on Research and Biodiversity. The Working Group has identified research topics of common concern, such as threats to biological diversity, values of biological diversity, and indicators and monitoring.

Public education and awareness

The main partner of the Convention for implementing Article 13 on the global level is UNESCO. In 1994, UNESCO launched the project Educating for a Sustainable Future. The organization has produced a range of educational material on biological diversity, e.g. a series of wall charts in English and French, aimed at teachers and students attending institutes of secondary and tertiary education. UNESCO is closely cooperating with other organizations such as FAO, the International Council of Scientific Unions, DIVERSITAS, the Man and Biosphere Programme, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and IUCN. The IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) is a global network of 250 education and communication experts in environmental and sustainable development education and communication.

The Secretariat of the CMS Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (EUROBATS) co-sponsors the annual European Bat Festival and the annual European Bat Night, which is celebrated in August in many European countries. The Biodiversity Conservation Centre and the 'B12' Coalition of Experts on Biodiversity Conservation for Eastern Europe and Northern Asia have produced a brochure Pan-European Biodiversity Conservation for children and ministers - Vision from the East.

Impact assessment and minimising adverse impacts

The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) was established in 1980. Its members are researchers, practitioners and users of various types of impact assessment from all parts of the world. Training programmes are held regularly in conjunction with IAIA international conferences. In cooperation with IUCN, IAIA has established a biological diversity task force.

UNEP provides advisory services to governments on the development of EIA legislation, and has published on EIA legislation in the Compendium of Environmental Laws of African Countries, and reported on the harmonization of EIA legislation in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda).

The Environmental Assessment (EA) Sourcebook Update of the World Bank (1997) provides an introduction to the policy framework for protection and enhancement of biological diversity. It also outlines the relevant project contexts where biological diversity may be adversely impacted or, conversely, projects, which offer opportunities for conserving or enhancing biological diversity and guidelines for integrating biological diversity concerns into EA.

The document Guidelines for Environmental Assessments and Traditional Knowledge is a report from the Centre for Traditional Knowledge to the World Council of Indigenous People, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Environment Canada. It is aimed at presenting how indigenous people, governments and the private sector can work together to ensure that development projects and environmental assessments properly respect and acknowledge indigenous knowledge and the people who hold it.

Several examples of regional requirements for environmental impact assessment exist: e.g. under the 1991 UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention), the 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, and the European Community Directive 85/337 on Environmental Impact Assessment (1995) in connection with the Directive 97/11/EC. Some regional banks have taken account of biodiversity conservation and use in their operational policies and/or practice. At the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), for example, all operations are subjected to environmental screening and, on the basis of this exercise, may be subject to environmental impact assessment and/or environmental audit.

Access to genetic resources

Many activities have taken place in support of implementation of Article 15. International discussions have been carried out to address the issue of access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing, for example in the 1998 workshop “Towards Best Practices for Access to Genetic Resources” in Cordoba, Spain and under the auspices of the CBD during the first meeting of the Expert Panel on Access and Benefit-Sharing in October 1999, in San José, Costa Rica. The 0World Federation for Culture Collections (WFCC) is developing operational guidelines for access and benefit-sharing procedures through the Microorganisms Sustainable Use and Access Regulation International Code of Conduct (MOSAICC) project. Providers of material to the International Mycological Institute (IMI) have to prove that the necessary Prior Informed Consent procedures have been applied. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Centres provide a framework for a global system for multilateral exchange of genetic resources important for food and agriculture. Around 150,000 germplasm accessions from CGIAR collections, and 500,000 samples of improved materials, are distributed by the Centres each year, the large majority going to developing countries.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and the International Association of Botanic Gardens started a project in 1997 designed to meet the access and benefit-sharing requirements of the Convention. It involves 17 botanic gardens from 15 countries around the world, and is coordinated by the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG), Kew, UK and funded by the UK Department for International Development. Project priorities are to develop a harmonised approach and to produce model material transfer agreements for the acquisition and supply of genetic resources. The RBG has produced a manual on the repatriation of information from ex situ institutions to countries of origin.

A number of companies, such as Glaxo Wellcome, Novo Nordisk, Xenova, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Shama Pharmaceuticals have developed policies or guidelines on the acquisition of genetic resources in line with the Convention.

The International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) are a programme jointly sponsored by the United States National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development. The programme currently funds five groups working in eight countries in Latin America and Africa. Its main focus is the establishment of an integrated programme for the discovery of biologically active plants for drug development, especially for tropical diseases, biodiversity conservation, and at the same time ensuring that local communities and source countries derive maximum benefits for their biological resources and their intellectual contribution. This is sought by active involvement of universities, traditional healers and NGOs.

Several regions and subregions are developing a regional approach to the implementation of Article 15. It is most advanced in the Andean Region - Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela - where in 1996 the Commission of the Cartagena Accord, known as the Andean Pact, introduced The Common System on Access to Genetic Resources whose objective is to regulate access to the genetic resources of the member states. The Scientific, Technical and Research Commission of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) is developing a Declaration and Draft on Community Rights and Access to Biological Resources with the objective to ensure that local communities continue to control their natural resources and knowledge and to develop a Draft African Convention on Genetic Resources. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has started a process to draft the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Access to Genetic Resources.

The GEF is supporting projects aimed to implement Article 15, such as Participatory Management of Date Palm Plant Genetic Resources in Oases of the Maghreb and Regional Studies for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in the Amazon. In 1999, the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) ran a survey of biodiversity-related new world holdings in museums and private collections in Europe.

In its definition of the scope of agricultural biodiversity, adopted at its fifth meeting, the Conference of the Parties notes that genetic resources for food and agriculture are a dimension of agricultural biodiversity and include:

  • Plant genetic resources, including pasture and rangeland species, genetic resources of trees that are an integral part of farming systems;
  • Animal genetic resources, including fishery genetic resources, in cases where fish production is part of the farming system, and insect genetic resources;
  • Microbial and fungal genetic resources.

The Conference of the Parties has noted that the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources has a crucial role to play in implementation of the Convention (see page ) and has expressed its wish that the revision of the International Undertaking in harmony with the Convention be concluded as soon as possible. In recognition of the special nature of agricultural biodiversity, and the need for specific solutions, Governments negotiating the revision of the International Undertaking are developing a Multilateral System of Access and benefit-sharing for plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, for the crops essential for food security, in regard of which countries are interdependent. Both the FAO Conference and the Conference of the Parties have requested countries preparing general access legislation to leave room for the Multilateral System.

Access to and transfer of technology

The private sector is a key player in the use of genetic resources and is likely to become even more so in the future. The main form this has taken in recent years is the involvement of international drug firms in prospecting for new biochemical compounds. In most developing countries, private firms' participation in biodiversity-related activities is still limited because of the lack of appropriate incentives. However, a number of developing country institutions are beginning to engage in various forms of technology partnerships with public research and development institutions and private-sector firms from industrialised countries.

Exchange of information and technical and scientific cooperation

The Conference of the Parties determined that the clearing-house mechanism to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation should be developed as a decentralized mechanism in close cooperation with relevant international organizations as active partners. A number of regional biodiversity information networks have come into being through other processes and can contribute to the objectives of the Convention's clearing-house mechanism.

The Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) is an intergovernmental initiative intended to promote greater coordination among Western Hemisphere countries in collection, sharing, and use of environmental information. The proposal to develop IABIN was an element of the final “Hemispheric Plan of Action” adopted by the leaders of South, Central, and North American nations in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia in December 1996 at the Summit on Sustainable Development. The Action Plan included a commitment that the parties would `seek to establish an Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network, primarily through the Internet, that will promote compatible means of collection, communication and exchange of information relevant to decision-making and education on biodiversity conservation as appropriate, and that builds upon such initiatives such as the Clearing House Mechanism provided for in the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Man and the Biosphere Network (MABNET Americas) and the Biodiversity Conservation Information System (BCIS), an initiative of nine IUCN programs and partner organizations.'

The North American Biodiversity Information Network (NABIN) is an initiative of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), an international organization created by Canada, Mexico and the United States under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC). NABIN will assist institutions and agencies that collect, manage or use biodiversity data collaborate to provide more effective information access throughout North America. It also be linked to other national and international initiatives, such as the Canadian Biodiversity Information Network (CBIN), the US National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), Mexico's Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (Conabio), the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN), as well as the Convention's clearing-house mechanism, thereby participating in a worldwide biodiversity information system.

The European Community Biodiversity Clearing-House Mechanism is being developed by the European Environment Agency (EEA), under the guidance of a steering committee consisting of representatives of the eighteen EEA member countries, the European Commission and intergovernmental bodies, including the Convention secretariat. The mechanism was launched in early 2000.

Biosafety Clearing-House

The establishment of the Biosafety Clearing-House, required under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, will involve substantial global efforts in scientific and technical cooperation and information exchange and a number of intergovernmental organizations active in biosafety and/or information-exchange issues are contributing to the development of its pilot phase. These include the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), World Bank, Global Environment Facility (GEF), International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Handling of biotechnology and distribution of its benefits

Prior to the adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in January 2000, a number of different institutions developed guidelines on biosafety:

  • In 1991, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) issued a Voluntary Code of Conduct for the Release of Organisms into the Environment.
  • The OECD Safety Considerations for Biotechnology, published in 1992, set out general principles and criteria for safe large-scale production and small-scale experimental field research in biotechnology.
  • The UNEP International Technical Guidelines on Biosafety in Biotechnology adopted in 1995 were designed to act as guidance during the development of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and to complement it after its conclusion.
  • The FAO draft Code of Conduct on Biotechnology aims to promote the use of biotechnologies for the conservation and sustainable utilisation of plant genetic resources.

Regional guidelines include two directives of the European Union, one (Directive 90/219/EEC, as amended by Council Directive 98/81/EC) which regulates the contained use of GMOs for research and industrial purposes, and the other (Directive 90/220/EEC) which put sin place a step-by-step approval process on a case-by-case assessment of the risks to human health, animal health and the environment before any GMO or product consisting of or containing GMOs can be released into the environment or placed on the market. A new Directive (2001/18/EC) on the deliberate release of GMOs was adopted by the European Parliament in February 2001 and will enter into force on 17 October 2002.3

In 1991, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture issued Guidelines for the Use and Safety of Genetic Engineering Techniques or Recombinant DNA Technology and Guidelines for the Release into the Environment of Genetically Modified Organisms.

Financial resources

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) serves as the institutional structure operating the financial mechanism of the Convention. Through January 2001, the GEF had allocated US$1.3 billion to 416 biodiversity projects and enabling activities, matched by US$2.3 billion in co-financing. A list of biodiversity projects funded through the GEF is contained in Annex 3.

There is some indication from reports published by bilateral agencies that they have taken biodiversity into account in their regular development-cooperation operations, and that some have initiated specific programmes to support biodiversity activities or provided funding to nature conservation projects. It also appears that the regional development banks have, in different ways, taken account of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in their operational policies and/or practice. What continues to be lacking however is reliable and comparable information about the flow of financial resources to eligible from multi- and bilateral donors and lenders for the purposes of the Convention.

Some United Nations agencies have been involved in funding biodiversity activities and projects. For example, UNESCO has provided support for activities some of the 125 countries that participate in the Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme. The FAO has spent at least US$ 190 million on biodiversity field programme projects since 1992, of which US$ 147 million relate to genetic resources. The United Nations University supports a number of ongoing biodiversity projects, and UNIDO has undertaken biotechnology-related projects.

Many intergovernmental organizations and NGOs have successfully mobilised financial resources from the donor community for biodiversity activities. A number of organizations, such as the Council of Europe, the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), have provided funding to support a range of biodiversity activities. The European Union has established a number of funding instruments, which are entirely or partly devoted to conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, such as LIFE-Nature and the budget lines Environment in Developing Countries and Tropical Forests; PHARE, set up to support central and eastern European countries, including grants to adapt their environmental legislation to EU standards; and TACIS, which fosters the development of links between the EU and the newly independent states, including environmental and nature conservation projects.

National reporting

As noted above, steps are underway to test ways to harmonise the reporting requirements (in terms of content and timing) of biodiversity-related agreements. This is a cooperative effort involving the secretariats, countries that have volunteered to take part, UNEP and other international organizations.


A large number of other international and regional agreements address issues of relevance to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Some of the most directly relevant of these are highlighted here in Table 5.1. Most international and regional agreements aimed at environmental protection require the Parties to undertake a range of similar measures, which offer possibilities for inter-linkages and synergies in implementation. These include, for example, requirements: to gather relevant information, to provide periodic reports, to formulate policies and to design strategies, plans and programmes, to raise public awareness and provide public education.

Marine and coastal biological diversity

A wide range of organizations and initiatives are undertaking activities that support implementation of the Jakarta Mandate. UNEP operates several relevant programmes, including the Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA), the Regional Seas Programme, and the Global Plan of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities. The Straddling Fish Stocks Agreement (see Table 5.1) is not yet in force but could to play a major role in the future management of marine fish stocks. The FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries is especially relevant. IUCN has mobilised expertise in the identification and selection of criteria for marine and coastal protected areas establishment and management. UNESCO and its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) work on integrated marine and coastal area management and marine and coastal protected areas. In 1996, UNESCO launched the Coastal Regions and Small Island Initiative.

The Conference of the Parties has asked the Secretariat, in consultation with the United Nations Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, to carry out a study of the relationship between the Convention and Convention on the Law of the Sea with regard to the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources on the deep seabed in preparation for future consideration by SBSTTA of issues relating to bio-prospecting of genetic resources on the deep seabed. Initial analysis of the relationship between the two conventions suggests that:

  • CBD and UNCLOS complement each other with regard to the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources of the deep seabed within national jurisdiction;
  • CBD and UNCLOS complement each other with regard to marine scientific research involving genetic resources in the International Seabed Area, since the CBD has competence in terms of the content and scope of the research, while UNCLOS, because of the location of the research, has competence in the regulation of the conduct of the research;
  • There is a lacuna, and thus a possible need to develop a regime for prospecting, exploration and exploitation for commercial purposes of genetic resources in the International Seabed Area.

The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) is an informal mechanism that allows representatives of over eighty developing countries with coral reefs to sit in equal partnership with major donor countries and development banks, international environmental and development agencies, scientific associations, the private sector and non-governmental organizations to identify strategies to conserve the world's coral reef resources. ICRI has three operational networks: the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), and the International Coral Reef Information Network (ICRIN).

A wide range of regional mechanisms supports the global efforts of the Jakarta Mandate. This includes the Regional Seas Conventions, many of which have taken measures to integrate conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into their operations, such as the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea (Helsinki Convention), the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR Convention), and the UNEP Regional Seas Programme with further nine regional conventions. Of these, 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 have issued Regional Guidelines for Integrated Planning and Management of Coastal and Marine Areas in the Wider Caribbean Region and a database of wider Caribbean Marine Protected Areas. In the North Sea region, the International Conference on the Protection of the North Sea establishes regional consensus and cooperative action while in the Wadden Sea, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands cooperate through the Joint Declaration on the Protection of the Wadden Sea. SPREP has adopted a Strategic Action Programme for International Waters of the Pacific Islands Region. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources is specifically applying the precautionary approach in its operations.

Inland water biological diversity

At its fourth meeting, the Conference of the Parties welcomed the recommendations on strategic approaches to freshwater management of the Commission on Sustainable Development and urged Parties and Governments to (a) include information on the biological diversity of inland waters when providing voluntary national communications and reports on actions further to the recommendations of the Commission on Sustainable Development; and (b) consider inland water biological diversity in the agenda of subsequent meetings held to further the recommendations of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

At the same meeting it also encouraged the implementation of the Joint Work Plan with the Convention on Wetlands as a framework for enhanced cooperation between the Conventions and, at its fifth meeting, welcomed and endorsed the second joint work plan (2000-2001) between the two conventions which, amongst other activities, includes a River Basin Initiative.

Other relevant initiatives include:

  • Wetlands International assesses freshwater biodiversity in several regions, sets up regional and national wetland programmes and action plans, and offers a variety of guidelines, manuals and information material.
  • The UNEP Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) will develop an integrated view of inland and marine waters.
  • UNEP-WCMC, in collaboration with the IUCN Species Survival Commission, has provided a preliminary global overview of freshwater biodiversity, with an analysis of priorities for basin protection.
  • The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Worldwatch Institute have published an overview of the major watersheds of the world.
  • The IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management has launched the initiative The Biodiversity of Inland Water Systems: Trends and Options for Improved Conservation and Management.
  • The World Water Council (WWC), established in 1994, has included freshwater biodiversity as a key component of its Long Term Vision for Water Life and the Environment.
  • Activities carried out by the International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), including FishBase and the establishment of the International Network on Genetics in Aquaculture.
  • DIVERSITAS has proposed a number of research components on inland water biological diversity.
  • The report of the World Commission on Dams concluded that large dams have led to the loss of forests and wildlife habitat and to the loss of aquatic biodiversity of upstream and downstream fisheries. It found that efforts to counter the ecosystem impact of large dams had met with limited success. (See Table 5.5 in the annex to this chapter).

Many projects supported by the GEF focus on conservation and sustainable use of inland water biological diversity. For example, in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, UNDP and UNEP implement the GEF project Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity in the Eastern Rift Valley Lakes, which aims to develop and implement a Strategic Action Programme on systems of conservation areas and the sustainable use of resources.

Forest biological diversity

The second meeting of the Conference of the Parties adopted a statement from the Convention to the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) (see Table 5.6 in the annex to this chapter) which affirmed the desire of the Conference of the Parties to contribute to the IPF and to establish a dialogue with it on issues related to forests and biological diversity. In order to ensure coordinated input from the United Nations system to the IPF process, an informal Inter-Agency Task Force on Forests (ITFF) was formed, with the Secretariat of the Convention as a member and responsible for the IPF programme element on traditional forest-related knowledge.

Following the IPF Proposals for Action, a range of activities focus on the development of criteria and indicators, namely the International Tropical Timber Organization's (ITTO) work on criteria and indicators associated with trade and the productivity of tropical forests, and the Centre for International Forestry Research's (CIFOR) project on the application of criteria and indicators across different ecoregions, with respect to forest dwellers and community forestry. Several of the CGIAR centres, for example the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), are involved in forestry-related research.

The FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 (FRA 2000) reviewed the state of the world's forests at the end of the millennium and was divided into three main areas: assessment based on existing information, remote sensing survey, and special studies. The FRA 2000 was the most comprehensive, reliable and authoritative baseline survey of forest resources at the global level, providing a broad range of up-to-date information on the world's forest resources. The results of FRA 2000 are available both as printed reports and on the World Wide Web in the form of country profiles, synthesis reports and global maps.

Lessons learned from FRA 2000 and past assessments will provide the basis for the development of new and better ways of generating reliable information on the world's forests. The FRA programme will continue to seek more accurate and objective information for future global surveys, for example through increased use of sampling at the global level and capacity building in countries where there is a need to improve their forest inventories.

FRA 2000 results showed that many developing countries still require financial and technical support to conduct forest inventories. The scarcity of comparable multiple-date inventories illustrated the need for many of these countries to develop better mechanisms to monitor change in their forest cover. There was also a need for industrialized countries to improve their national assessments through the implementation of continuous forest inventories. Both improved and expanded surveys (i.e. beyond traditional timber inventories) will provide much of the information needed to help countries manage their forests sustainably.

The World Bank and WWF have formed the Alliance for Forest Conservation and Sustainable Use which is aiming to achieve three targets by 2005: 50 million hectares of new forest protected areas; 50 million hectares of existing, but highly threatened, forest protected areas secured under effective management; and 200 million hectares of the world's production forests under certified sustainable management.

Many regional initiatives focus on the development of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management: the Helsinki process for boreal, temperate and Mediterranean-type forests in Europe; the Montreal process for temperate and boreal forests outside of Europe; the Tarapoto proposal for the Amazon region; the UNEP/FAO-initiated processes for dry-zone Africa and the Near East; and the FAO/Central American Commission on Environment and Development-initiated Lepaterique process for Central America.

The GEF is supporting many projects with a focus on forest biological diversity, such as Conservation Priority-Setting for the Upper Guinea Forest Ecosystems in West Africa and Development of a Regional Strategic Action Programme for the Environmental and Biodiversity Resources of the Ecosystems of the Congo Basin. In the western African Rift Valley, the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS) is implementing a project on Networking and Awareness Raising for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Albertine Rift Montane Forests.

`Addressing the Underlying Causes of Deforestation and Forest Degradation' was a joint initiative of governments, NGOs, Indigenous Peoples' Organizations, Afro-American organizations, grass-root organizations, intergovernmental agencies, farmers' cooperatives, trade unions and representatives of business and industry met to analyse the underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation. Seven regional and one Indigenous Peoples' Organizations workshops were held in 1998 and 1999, as well as a global workshop in 1999 in San José. Building on 40 case studies, the major underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation were identified as: land tenure, resource management and stakeholder participation; trade and consumption; international economic relations and financial flows; and valuation of forest goods and services. The final document contains the case studies and recommendations for action.

Agricultural biological diversity

The Convention's work programme on agricultural biological diversity is being implemented in close cooperation with the FAO. The FAO Conference has adopted the International Plant Protection Convention, the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources. The FAO assists with the implementation of the 1996 Global Plan of Action on Plant Genetic Resources (see Table 5.7 in the annex to this chapter) and the Global Strategy on the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources, and also hosts the Global IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Facility.

The International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture seeks to 'ensure that plant genetic resources of economic and/or social interest, particularly for agriculture, will be explored, preserved, evaluated and made available for plant breeding and scientific purposes'. In 1993, the FAO Conference requested the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) to negotiate a revised International Undertaking in harmony with the CBD; to considerate access on mutually agreed terms to plant genetic resources, including ex situ collections not addressed by the CBD; and the realisation of Farmers' Rights. In June 2001 the CGRFA adopted the text of a revised International Undertaking. This will be considered at the Thirty-First Session of the FAO Conference in November 2001. When adopted the revised International Undertaking (IU) will establish a new and binding framework for cooperation in the area of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. The objectives of the IU 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' (Article 1.1). These objectives will be attained by closely linking the IU to the FAO and to the Convention (Article 1.2). The IU establishes a Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-sharing and a list of crops covered under the Multilateral System.

A number of relevant conferences have been held, including:

  • The CBD, FAO, Government of the Netherlands Technical Workshop on Farming Systems Approaches for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Agricultural Biological Diversity and Agro-Ecosystems (Rome, 1997);
  • The FAO, University of São Paulo and Brazilian National Council for Research and Technology Development Workshop on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Pollinators in Agriculture - with an Emphasis on Bees (São Paulo, 1998);
  • The FAO, CBD, Government of the Netherlands Workshop on Sustaining Agricultural Biodiversity and Agro-ecosystem Functions (Rome, 1998); and
  • The FAO-Netherlands Conference on the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land (Maastricht, 1999).

Many intergovernmental organizations, such as CABI and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and NGOs, such as the International Association of Plant Breeders and Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), are involved with the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in agricultural activities.

Much of the work on agricultural biological diversity under the Convention to date, in particular with regard to the development of the work programme, has been undertaken in cooperation with FAO.

The Secretariat is collaborating with the World Trade Organization in examining the impacts of trade liberalization on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

Biological diversity of dry and sub-humid lands

The main partner agency for implementation of the Convention's programme of work on dryland, Mediterranean, arid, semi-arid, grassland and savannah ecosystems is the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. The CCD is developing a wide range of activities, including regional, subregional and national action programmes.

FAO has many dryland-related programmes on the conservation, sustainable use and assessment of crop, grassland, forest and livestock genetic resources. UNEP has promoted many programmes to combat desertification and to support the conservation of dryland biodiversity. UNESCO operates the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme, which promotes the integrated conservation and sustainable use of resources, with many MAB sites being located in drylands.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funds a large number of agricultural development investment projects aimed at reducing poverty in marginal areas, including drylands. It also promotes research through its technical grants programme, and hosts the Global Mechanism for the CCD.

The CGIAR international agricultural research centres house large ex situ collections of germplasm of dryland crops, and have well-developed breeding programmes for them. Two centres have a mandate that focuses specifically on drylands: the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Research areas include improvement of on-farm water use efficiency, management and rehabilitation of rangelands, and management and nutrition of small ruminants, such as sheep and goats. The centres cooperate with a range of other organizations. Examples include the recently started GEF-funded project on conservation and sustainable use of dryland agrobiodiversity in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Palestinian Authority, and the Desert Margins Programme, which aims at developing integrated national, subregional and international activities to develop sustainable natural resource management options to combat land degradation and loss of biodiversity.

To date, there are three sub-regional action programmes under the CCD. The Maghreb Subregional Action Programme to Combat Desertification, the Subregional Action Programme to Combat Desertification for West Africa and Chad, and the Subregional Action Programme to Combat Desertification in Southern Africa. They aim to coordinate and integrate the efforts of the countries of the region, as well as intergovernmental and NGOs, and to establish coherent mechanisms for the sustainable use of the joint natural resources. A specific objective is to support the National Action Programmes under the CCD of the states of the region.

The programme of work on the biological diversity of dry and semi-humid lands is the most recent of the thematic work programmes to be established by the Conference of the Parties, having been adopted at COP5. The decision envisages the development of a joint work programme involving the CBD, the CCD and other relevant organizations.


A large number of other international and regional agreements address issues of relevance to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Some of the most directly relevant of these are highlighted here in Table 5.1. Most international and regional agreements aimed at environmental protection require the Parties to undertake a range of similar measures, which offer possibilities for inter-linkages and synergies in implementation. These include, for example, requirements: to gather relevant information, to provide periodic reports, to formulate policies and to design strategies, plans and programmes, to raise public awareness and provide public education.

Substantial work supporting the implementation of the objectives, articles and work programmes of the Convention is going on worldwide. Many of these projects and programmes were initiated by the Convention, but many more arose from existing initiatives or were started independently from the Convention process. The Convention has already played a role in coordinating biodiversity-related activities, for example through the Global Environment Facility as the main global funding mechanism for biodiversity. This role could be enhanced through more information being provided directly by the existing initiatives dealing with biodiversity issues to the Conference of the Parties. At the same time, the Convention, through Parties and its bodies, offers the potential to influence existing activities related to conservation and the use of natural resources, to better integrate aspects of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and benefit-sharing into their operations.

Many initiatives in support of the Convention have gained in efficiency through regional cooperation. Regional strategies and action plans for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and for equitable benefit sharing are important mechanisms for achieving the Convention's objectives. The Conference of the Parties has emphasized the functions of sub-regional and regional processes in promoting implementation of the Convention at the regional, sub-regional and national levels. A key element is capacity development at regional and national levels. Initiatives such as the Biodiversity Planning Support Programme, the Global Biodiversity Forum and the GEF-UNDP Capacity Development Initiative4 are significant in this respect.

1 All the tables referred to in the text of this chapter are located in the annex to the chapter (next page)
2 This introduction is drawn from section 3.1 of the FAO report `The state of the world's plant genetic resources for food and agriculture' (1998).
3 European Union `Questions and answers on the regulation of GMOs in the EU'. Memo/00/27. Brussels, 24 July 2001.
4 The Capacity Development Initiative (CDI) is a strategic partnership between the United Nations Development Programme and the GEF Secretariat to produce a comprehensive approach for developing country-level capacities needed for addressing challenges of global environmental action in areas of biodiversity, climate change, and land degradation.