The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the first global agreement to cover all aspects of biological diversity including genetic resources, species and ecosystems. It is also the first to recognize that the conservation of biological diversity is ‘a common concern of humankind’ and an integral part of sustainable development.
Because of this worldwide concern, over 150 countries, including the UK, signed the Convention on Biological Diversity at Rio de Janeiro, South America in 1992.
The CBD has three main objectives:
Decision making for the CBD is by the Conference of the Parties (COP), which currently meets biennially to review progress in the implementation of the Convention and to decide on work programmes to achieve its objectives.
The 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD will take place from the 18 to 29 October, In Nagoya, Japan. The COP10 meeting will coincide with the celebration of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity, as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly.
Each signatory to the CBD have agreed to develop national strategies, plans and programs for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and to share resources to help implement such programmes.
They are also required to undertake action to implement the thematic work programmes on ecosystems (such as on forest and agricultural biodiversity) and a range of cross-cutting issues which have been established to take forward the provisions of the Convention. To date the COP has adopted programmes of work in seven thematic areas, as well as 17 cross cutting initiatives.
For more information on the Convention on Biological Diversity and its programmes, please visit the CBD website.
In April 2002, the Parties to the Convention committed themselves to achieve by 2010 ‘a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.’
The 2010 Biodiversity Target was subsequently endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the United Nations General Assembly at the 2005 World Summit. The Summit also highlighted the essential role of biodiversity in meeting the Millennium Development Goals , especially the targets to halve the incidence of poverty and hunger by 2015. It recognized that the Convention is the key international instrument on biodiversity.
The CBD 2010 target followed on from a target to halt biodiversity loss in Europe which was agreed by European leaders at Gothenburg in 2001.
The UK Government ratified the Convention in June 1994. Responsibility for the UK contribution to the Convention lies with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) who promote the integration of biodiversity into policies, projects and programmes within Government and beyond.
In 1994 the Government launched the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP), a national strategy which identified conservation priorities over the next 20 years, and established key principles for future biodiversity conservation.
To compliment the UK BAP, separate biodiversity strategies have been published to address biodiversity issues in each country of the UK.
The UK has also identified a number of national focal points to coordinate the implementation of the Convention's thematic work programmes and cross-cutting issues.
Find out more about UK implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (Defra).