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In effect since December 29, 1993, The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the only existing global agreement for preserving and improving marine and terrestrial biodiversity.

The main objectives of the CBD are to promote the conservation of biological diversity, ensure the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity, and to promote the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits resulting from the utilization of genetic resources.

With the exception of the United States, Andorra, and the Holy See, every member state of the United Nations has signed the CBD (known as ‘Parties to the Convention’). An analysis of why the U.S. has not yet ratified the Convention and why it should do so is found here.

CBD Parties (193 total) are encouraged to implement comprehensive ocean health policies, establish integrated coastal zone management programs, protect spawning and nursing areas, reduce the introduction of invasive species, create educational programs and research initiatives, enact improvements in waste treatment, and enforce controls on destructive fishing practices.

How Was It Measured?

Information in the country reports prepared for the Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) third national survey in 2005 were applied in varying combinations for five separate Resilience measures for different goals and sub-goals; the response layers used were 'alien species', 'habitat', 'mariculture', 'tourism', and 'water'. Each question was weighted equally within each category and responses were averaged to give a score between 0-1 for all respondents. For each question, a score of 1 was assigned if a country was a signatory and responded “yes”; a 0 was assigned if a country was a signatory and either answered “no” or had no response.

153 of the 193 members of the CBD prepared reports for the CBD's third national survey. All contributing countries were given 0.5 credit within each of the Resilience measures for being a member of the CBD.  The other 0.5 of the Resilience score came from each country’s responses to specific questions within each Resilience measure. In cases where the European Union answered “yes” or was a signatory, all 25 EU countries were given that response unless individual countries responded differently on an individual basis. Data were provided for 147 regions. Geographical means, weighted by country area, were computed as scores for the remaining regions.

CBD signatory status and responses to the CBD survey questions detailed above were used as Resilience components for calculating goals as follows. CBD water was used for nearly all goals. CBD Tourism, Alien Species and Mariculture were used for Biodiversity (Species and all Habitats). Additionally CBD Mariculture was used for the Maricultyure subgoal of Food Provision.

Why Is This Important?

The measures that a country is taking to conserve biodiversity can be seen as an indicator of its implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) goals. The following indicators were developed by the CBD and the United Nations Environmental Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC) to assess the extent to which a nation is meeting these goals.

-Parties support the CBD goal of designating 10% as Marine Protected Areas (MPA) by working to designate 10% or more of their EEZ waters as MPAs through plans, monitoring, enforcement and creation of national networks of MPAs.  

-Parties have strategies and action plans targeted to key terms of the CBD, e.g. having a comprehensive ocean health policy, developing new MPAs, improving the management of existing MPAs, protecting spawning and nursery areas, creating educational programs and research initiatives, improving waste treatment, and controlling destructive fishing practices.  

-Parties’ marine and coastal resource management plans identify critical components and key threats to ecosystems, incorporate local and traditional knowledge, and strengthen institutional, administrative and legislative support for integrated marine and coastal ecosystem-based management (EBM).  

-Parties’ marine management programs include assessing, monitoring, reporting and responding to the health status of coral reefs, including bleaching; restoring degraded reef habitat; and providing education and training programs for communities dependent on coral reef services and for scientists who study reefs.  

-Parties minimize the negative effects of mariculture by conducting environmental impact assessments, effective site selection, effective methods for waste control, and by avoiding introduction of invasive species or genotypes and minimizing use of antibiotics.  

-Parties assess and minimize the impacts of tourism on biodiversity by educating tourism operators; assisting indigenous and local communities to participate in policy-making, development planning, product development and management for tourism; and incorporating guidelines on biodiversity and tourism development in national plans for tourism development.

What Has Been Done?

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area, created by the nation of Kiribati, covers 408,250  km2 (157,626 mi2) – far more than 10% of its EEZ - in the central Pacific Ocean and is currently the sixth largest MPA in the world according to UNEP-WCMC

© Conservation International/photo by Toby de Jong

In 2008, researchers in Albania began tagging and monitoring sea turtles in an attempt to learn more about migratory patterns and threats to the endangered species. The overall goal of the project was to initiate a legislative process in order to protect the sea turtles and to conserve Albania’s overall biodiversity.

© Mauricio Handler / National Geographic Stock

Get More Information

IUCN Environmental Law Centre and IUCN Biodiversity Programme

A Guide to the Convention on Biological Diversity. 1994. 

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

CBD provides a strategic plan for the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its component factors on local, national, and international scales.

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