The Convention on Biological Diversity, which is also known as Biodiversity Convention, is said to be the international treaty adopted in June 2002 in Rio de Janeiro. The Convention seeks to accomplish the series of tasks and has three primary goals. The first one is the conservation of biological diversity, second- sustainable utilization of its components and finally, the last goal is to share fairly and equitably the benefits arising from genetic resources. In general terms, the purpose of the Convention is the development of the national conservation strategies and strategies for sustainable use of biological diversity. It is referred to as the principal document on regarding the sustainable development. The Convention was open to the signature on June 5, 1992, in Rio de Janeiro at the Earth Summit and entered into force on December 29, 1993.
In the document “The Convention on Biological Diversity. From Conception to Implementation” Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that biological diversity is essential to human being and for the livelihoods and cultural integrity of people.
The history of the Convention began in 1987 when the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) called for the convening of the series of the expert group meetings on regard of sustainability and economic value of biodiversity. In November 1988 the initial sessions upon the issue began as the meetings of the Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity. Two years later, in 1990 the Ad Hoc Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts was established by UNEP Governing Council for the preparation of the new legal international instrument for the sustainable usage and conservation of biodiversity. The first formal draft of the Convention on Biological Diversity was prepared by Mostafa Tolba, who was the Executive Director of UNEP as that period, and in 1991 it was considered by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC).
Between February 1991 and May 1992, the Committee was meeting four times until finally on May 22, 1991, it adopted the final text of the Convention in Nairobi.
The primary objective of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or of the “Earth Summit” was to gain the understanding of the development that is to occur without contribution to the environment deterioration and lay the foundation for the international global partnership upon the basis of mutual needs and interests, between developing and industrialized countries. A series of agreements were adopted to ensure the healthy future of the planet: Agenda 21-comprehensive programme for global action in all areas of sustainable development, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development- a series of principles defining the rights and responsibilities of States, the Statement of Forest Principles- a set of principles to underlie the sustainable management of forest worldwide. Governments also signed two legally binding Conventions, as the evidence to their commitment to the agreements, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and The Convention on Biological Diversity, and they also agreed upon the negotiation of one more- The Convention to Combat Desertification. Governments that signed the Convention on Biodiversity set into motion the actions that were supposed to put biodiversity concerns at the center of the global, regional and national efforts for the eradication of poverty and sustainable development.
The objectives of the Convention are stated as follows in the Article 1: “The objectives of this Convention, to be pursued in accordance with relevant provisions, are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, and by appropriate funding.”
In May 1993, the Intergovernmental Committee on the Convention on Biological Diversity (ICCBD) was established by the UNEP Governing Council for the preparation of the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) and to ensure the efficient operation of the convention after its entry into force. The first session of ICCBD was held in Geneva on October 11-15 1993 and two working groups were established there. The first working group was connected with the issues of conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, as well as technical and scientific work between the meetings, including the biosafety issue. The second working group was responsible for issues related to the financial mechanisms, estimating funding needs process, full incremental costs meaning, capacity-building, technical cooperation and the procedures and rules for COP. The second session of ICCBD was held in Nairobi in 1994 from June, 20 to July, 1 and the participants were aimed to prepare the first Conference of the Parties, which involved legal, institutional and procedural issues, as well as technical and scientific matters along with the discussion of financial mechanisms. The first meeting of the Conference of Parties was held in Nassau, Bahamas, from the November, 28 to December 9 1994. During the Conference, the following issues were adopted: the medium-term work programme, permanent Secretariat designation, Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) establishment and also the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) along with the Global Environment Facility Designation (EFD), as the temporary financial mechanism.
The second meeting of the Conference of Parties was held in Jakarta, Indonesia from November, 6 to 17, 1995. Major results of the 2nd Conference were: making Montreal, Canada, the permanent Secretariat location, Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group on Biosafety establishment, overall Convention work programme adoption and the discussion of coastal and marine biodiversity.
Convention on Biological Diversity
For the first time issues of the Convention were recognized in international law as the common concern of the humankind and as the undividable part of the process of development. The convention covers all species, ecosystems and genetic resources. It connects the traditional conservation efforts to the economic objective for the sustainable utilization of biological resources. The Convention set the basic principles for the equitable and fair benefits share that arise from the usage of the genetic resources, especially for commercial use. It also contains information on regard of biotechnology through Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which is about the transfer and development of the technology, biosafety, and sharing of the benefits. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety or Biosafety Protocol was adopted in 2000. It is looking forward the protection of the biological diversity from the possible risks that can be posed by the living modified organisms caused by biotechnology. The Protocol clarifies that products from new technologies should be laid upon the basis of the precautionary principle and let nations that are developing to set the balance between the public health and economic benefits. The Protocol entered into force on September 11, 2003.
Parties to the Convention are obliged to put into practice all its provisions. The Convention’s goal is to remind governments that natural resources are not endless and should be sustained.
Article 6 of the Convention sets up the following
Requirements for the parties to follow: “Each Contracting Party shall, in accordance with its particular conditions and capabilities: (a) Develop national strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity or adapt for this purpose existing strategies, plans or programmes which shall reflect, inter alia, the measures set out in this Convention relevant to the Contracting Party concerned; and (b) Integrate, as far as possible and as appropriate, the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies.”
The Convention also provides the governments with the guidance upon the basis of the precautionary principle that where is the danger of drastic loss of biological diversity, total scientific certainty lack should not be applied as the reason for putting off measures to minimize these dangers. The Convention also takes into consideration that essential investments are needed for the conservation of biodiversity. But it also claims that in return the conservation is supposed to bring sizable economic, social and environmental benefits.
The issues discussed in the convention include incentives and measures for the sustainable use and conservation of biological diversity, regulated access to traditional knowledge and genetic resources, scientific and technical cooperation issues, impact assessment, financial resources provision, public awareness and education, and also national reporting regarding the efforts to treaty commitments implementation.
Biodiversity Convention is referred to as the international treaty that pursues the following goals: biodiversity conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity components and equitable and fair benefits share from genetic resources. Current executive secretary to the Convention is Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf (from January 3, 2006).
There are 191 parties to the Convention and five non-parties. Among non-parties, the US had signed the treaty, but not ratified it yet.