The Convention on Biological Diversity, the text of which was agreed in Nairobi ten years ago, is the main instrument that the international community has given itself with which to preserve the fragile web of life on our one and only planet. There are now 183 Parties to the Convention, which has three main objectives: the conservation of biological diversity; the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. These three areas are interdependent, and if the Convention is to be successful, progress in each is essential.
A significant number of accomplishments can be listed at this 10th anniversary of the Convention: a regime for access to genetic resources and equitable sharing of the benefits from their use has been developed and adopted, as have guiding principles to address the problems posed by alien species, an extended programme of work on forest biological diversity, a global initiative on communication, education and public awareness, and a strategic plan for the Convention. Also, in the last ten years, the financial mechanism of the Convention, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), has approved more than US$ 1 billion for biodiversity projects presented by developing countries. Other achievements include the establishment of an effective clearing-house mechanism, the publication of a general assessment of the state of biodiversity and status of implementation of the Convention (the Global Biodiversity Outlook), the increased involvement of local and indigenous communities in the Convention's processes, the adoption of a Protocol on Biosafety (the Cartagena Protocol), among others.
In August of this year, the World Summit on Sustainable Development will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Convention on Biological Diversity will figure prominently among its concerns and areas of decision. Recently, in a speech delivered at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Secretary General of the United Nations declared biodiversity one of the five key areas where concrete results can and must be obtained.
Clearly many nations are making commendable efforts to adhere to the principles contained in the Convention. Still, the threats to species and ecosystems remain ominous and extinctions caused by human activities continue at an alarming rate. This 10th anniversary of the Convention on Biological Diversity is a good opportunity to reflect on ways to achieve a balance between consumption and conservation, between present needs and future well-being. The conservation of biological diversity is a common concern of humankind and an essential feature of the transition to sustainable development.
Celebrations by country parties