International conventions on Biodiversity

International conventions on Biodiversity

In the previous post we learned about Climate Change and vulnerability  This post introduces readers to the different international biodiversity conventions and accords. These international conventions, treaties, and agreements have influenced Indian legislation and policymaking.


  1. Introduction
  2. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  3. CBD in India
  4. The Nagoya Protocol
  5. Agenda 21


The biological resources of the Earth are critical to humanity's economic and social growth. There is a growing understanding that biological diversity is a worldwide asset of enormous importance to current and future generations. However, the threat to species and ecosystems has never been greater than it is now. Human-caused species extinction continues at an alarming rate today.

Biological diversity, often known as biodiversity, refers to the diversity of all species on Earth. Biodiversity appears on three levels:
  1. Species diversity which refers to the numbers and kinds of living organisms;
  2.  Genetic diversity which refers to the genetic variation within a population of species; 
  3. Ecosystem diversity which is the variety of habitats, biological communities and ecological processes that occur in the biosphere.
The current biodiversity is the consequence of more than 3.5 billion years of evolutionary history, created by natural processes and, to some extent, by human impact. Biodiversity constitutes the web of life, of which humans are an intrinsic part and completely reliant. Biological variety is the earth's natural capital, influencing all life. Biological resources provide humanity with food, medicines, energy, and many industrial products.

The consequences of biodiversity loss have been felt all around the world. Everyone agrees that people from all countries must work together to maintain and conserve biodiversity for the sake of humanity. International conventions aid in bringing governments and peoples together to work together to achieve this goal .

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

In November 1988, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) organised the Ad-Hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity to investigate the need for a worldwide biological diversity agreement. Soon after, in May 1989, it established the Ad Hoc Working Group of Technical and Legal Experts to draught an international legal instrument for biological diversity protection and sustainable use. The experts were to address "the need to share costs and benefits between developed and developing countries" as well as "ways and means to support innovation by local people".as well as "tools and methods to assist local people's innovation." 

The Ad Hoc Working Group was renamed the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in February 1991. Its efforts culminated on May 22, 1992, with the Nairobi Conference for the Adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Agreed Text. On June 5, 1992, at the United Nations 

Conference on Environment and Development (commonly known as the "Rio Earth Summit"), the Convention was opened for signature by member nations. It remained available until June 4, 1993, when it received 168 signatures. The Convention entered into force 90 days following the 30th ratification, on December 29, 1993. The inaugural session of the Conference of the Parties was slated to take place in the Bahamas from November 28 to December 9, 1994.

The increased dedication of the international community to sustainable development served as the impetus for the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is a major advancement in the preservation of biological variety, the sustainable use of its constituent parts, and the just and equal distribution of the advantages brought about by the utilisation of genetic resources. The Convention has three key goals:
  1. The conservation of biological diversity 
  2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity 
  3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources
The Convention on Biological Diversity is arguably the broadest international accord ever to be ratified. The Convention's objectives will require development on a number of fronts. A deeper understanding of human ecology and environmental effects must be gained and communicated to those who can inspire and shape policy change. It is also necessary to apply environmentally more friendly practises and technologies. Finally, unprecedented technical and financial cooperation at the global level is required.

All Parties are required by Article 6 of the CBD to develop national strategies, plans, or programmes for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, as well as to incorporate these goals into pertinent sectoral and cross-sectoral plans, programmes, and policies.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in India

After the CBD was ratified, a National Policy and Macrolevel Action Strategy on Biodiversity was created and adopted by the Committee of Secretaries in 1999. This was done through a participative and consultative process involving numerous stakeholders. The CBD Secretariat received this submission. After that, from 2000 to 2004, the Government of India's Ministry of Environment and Forests carried out a project on the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) with assistance from outside sources. The National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) was started after the Union Cabinet approved the National Environment Policy in 2006. The 1999-developed National Policy and Macrolevel Action Strategy on Biodiversity has been updated and altered. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) project's final technical report was utilised. Additionally, it was made sure that the NBAP adhered to the National Environment Policy. The Union Cabinet accepted the updated NBAP on November 6, 2008, taking into account the feedback. The CBD website contains the two generations of NBSAP documents for India.

The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity Conservation for 2011-2020, agreed by the Conference of Parties (CoP)-10 in 2010, specified five objectives and 20 Aichi Targets. The Aichi Targets' primary objectives are
  • Strategic Goal A: By mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society, you can address the root causes of biodiversity decline. This aim has four targets: to increase public awareness of biodiversity values; to incorporate them into development plans; to eliminate detrimental subsidies; to make production sustainable; and to safeguard natural resources.
  • Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use Six targets are set for how, by 2020, the conservation of various species can be taken up, pollution reduced and biotic pressures reduced
  • Strategic Goal C: to raise biodiversity standards by preserving habitats, species, and genetic variety This objective establishes goals for safeguarding habitats, species, and genetic resources.
  • Strategic Goal D: increase the advantages of ecosystem services and biodiversity for everyone For improving ecosystem services and increasing ecological resilience, three goals have been established.
  • Strategic Goal E: Participatory planning, knowledge management, and capacity building can improve implementation. For this purpose, four objectives must be fulfilled. These include preserving traditional knowledge, advancing conservation science and technology, raising money, etc.
The plan was created with the goal of motivating all nations and stakeholders to take extensive action in favour of biodiversity during the next ten years. The Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets serve as the overarching framework for biodiversity for all UN member states as well as the CBD and accords linked to biodiversity. The Strategic Plan's term, 2011 to 2020, was designated as the UN Decade on Biodiversity by the UN General Assembly in a resolution.

The nations have agreed to set their own national goals utilising the Strategic Plan and its Aichi Targets as a flexible framework, and to update or alter their NBSAPs as necessary to align them with the Strategic Plan in order to include the national goals. The work of several Ministries and Departments is connected to many of the Aichi Targets (commerce, industry, agriculture, health etc.). Therefore, strong cross-sectoral collaboration is required to develop national targets that are consistent with the Aichi Targets. Using the Aichi objectives as a framework, India produced 12 national biodiversity targets and the monitoring indicators through a thorough collaborative process, and released a National Biodiversity Action Plan Addendum to NBAP 2008 in 2014. The Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) Conference of the Parties' (COP 11) eleventh conference was held in Hyderabad, India, between October 8 through October 19, 2012. India had the chance to strengthen, expand, and highlight its national biodiversity strengths during the event. Since India was the host nation and the CoP-11 President, the meetings were presided over by the Minister for Environment and Forests.

The Nagoya Protocol

In 2010, a Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) was agreed following six years of discussions to expand the ABS framework offered by the Convention. The CBD-covered genetic resources and the advantages resulting from their use are covered by the Nagoya Protocol. The CBD-covered genetic resources and the advantages resulting from their use are also covered by the Nagoya Protocol's traditional knowledge (TK) section.

The Nagoya Protocol aims to increase legal clarity and transparency for both genetic resource producers and users by
  • Establishing more predictable conditions for access to genetic resources. 
  • Helping to ensure benefit-sharing when genetic resources leave the country providing the genetic resources
The Nagoya Protocol increases the contribution of biodiversity to development and human well-being by encouraging the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources. This is accomplished through helping to secure benefit-sharing. India significantly aided the Nagoya negotiations in a favourable way. The fair and equal distribution of benefits resulting from the exploitation of biological resources is the Nagoya Protocol's main goal. On October 12, 2014, the Protocol went into effect. India ratified the Protocol on October 9, 2012, after having signed it on May 11, 2011.

During her Presidency, India engaged in a number of biodiversity-related initiatives, some of which were particularly distinctive and novel. These, among others, comprise:
  • Positioning of Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS) train as the brand Ambassador of CoP-11 to help create large-scale awareness of biodiversity issues. Following its success, the second and third phases of SEBS were launched in 2013 and 2014 respectively. 
  • Establishing a biodiversity garden and a (proposed) National Biodiversity Museum in Hyderabad.

Agenda 21

The United Nations System, governments, and major groups are to implement Agenda 21 as a comprehensive plan of action on a global, national, and local level in every area where people have an impact on the environment. It was also a result of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It is an action plan that can be carried out at the local, national, and international levels by the UN, other multilateral organisations, and other governments around the world. The 21st Century is indicated by the "21" in Agenda 21.

Agenda 21 is a 350-page book with 40 chapters arranged into the following 4 sections:
  1. Section I: Social and Economic Dimensions, which is directed toward combating poverty, especially in developing countries, changing consumption patterns, promoting health, achieving a more sustainable population, and sustainable settlement in decision making. 
  2. Section II: Conservation and Management of Resources for Development, which includes atmospheric protection, combating deforestation, protecting fragile environments, conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity), control of pollution and the management of biotechnology, and radioactive wastes. 
  3. Section III: Strengthening the Role of Major Groups, which includes the roles of children and youth, women, NGOs, local authorities, business and industry, and workers; and strengthening the role of indigenous peoples, their communities, and farmers. 
  4. Section IV: Means of Implementation. Implementation includes science, technology transfer, education, international institutions and financial mechanisms
An grasp of several fundamental concepts and ideas that permeate Agenda 21 is crucial to a proper understanding of it. These include the crucial role that national strategies, plans, and programmes must play, the necessity of integrated decision-making at all levels, and the significance of community involvement in putting Agenda 21 into action. Monitoring the application of UNCED decisions is the responsibility of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). The first CSD meeting, held in 1993, was an organisational gathering. The second, third, and fourth meetings, held in 1994, 1995, and 1996, respectively, were in-depth analyses of various chapters of Agenda 21. In 1996, the initial round of the reviews was finished.

Indigenous peoples' groups value Principle 22 highly. It reads, "Due to their expertise and customs, indigenous people, their communities, and other local communities play a crucial part in environmental management and development. In order to enable their meaningful engagement in sustainable development, states should acknowledge and appropriately promote their identity, culture, and interests."

A local Agenda 21 must be developed by each town, according to Agenda 21's Chapter 28. To create "a Local Agenda 21," each local government should have a conversation with its residents, community organisations, and private businesses. Local authorities would learn from individuals and from local, municipal, community, corporate, and industrial organisations through consultation and consensus-building and gather the data required for drafting the most effective strategies. –

The 115 distinct and extremely targeted projects that make up Agenda 21 are intended to encourage or compel the switch to sustainable development. The goal of the Earth Summit, as explicitly stated by its leaders, is to alter the current system of sovereign nations. There are 8 "programme areas for action" on the agenda:
  1. Agriculture 
  2. Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management 
  3. Education 
  4. Energy and Housing 
  5. Population 
  6. Public Health 
  7. Resources and recycling 
  8. Transportation, Sustainable Economic Development
180 countries participated in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, and their final document, "The Future We Want," reiterated their commitment to Agenda 21. Members may choose to implement Agenda 21 at their discretion, and different groups may accept it. The United Nations' attempt to enforce a centralised agenda through Agenda 21 has drawn criticism. Its value as a manual for diverse conservation initiatives, however, is still undisputed.


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