Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio EarthSummit, the ong>Conventionong> on Biological Diversity is dedicated topromoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practicaltool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality, theong>Conventionong> recognizes that biological diversity is about morethan plants, animals and micro organisms and theirecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security,medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthyenvironment in which to live.1How successful has the ong>Conventionong> been during its first tenyears? The September, 2002 World Summit on SustainableDevelopment will offer the international community anopportunity to assess progress under the ong>Conventionong>, as wellAgenda 21 and the other Rio agreements. This review will givereason for both celebration and criticism, but mostimportantly it will help governments to set the ong>Conventionong>’sdirection for the next ten years.W HAT HAS B E E N ACH I EVE D S O FAR?Since its entry into force in 1994, the ong>Conventionong> has beenratified by 180 Parties and it has helped change howgovernments and civil society approach the challenges ofbiological diversity. It has validated the three key concepts thatare shaping global action today:
2* SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. The ideal of natureconservation has now been joined by the recognition thatsaving biodiversity must go hand in hand with meetinghumanity’s social and economic needs. This philosophy isthe basis for the ong>Conventionong>’s triple goals of conservingbiodiversity, using its components in a sustainable manner,and sharing the benefits arising from genetic resources fairlyand equitably.* THE ECOSYSTEM APPROACH. Rather than treatingindividual species or ecosystems in isolation, effective actionviews biodiversity in its entirety, as encompassing all essentialprocesses, functions and interactions among organisms andthe environment – including humans in all their culturaldiversity. In this perspective, the “integrated management”of land, water and living resources becomes the most effectiveway to promote the conservation, sustainable use, andequitable sharing of biodiversity resources.* “MAINSTREAMING” BIODIVERSITY. Althoughchallenging, policymakers need to integrate biological diversityinto other sectors and policies, such as natural resourceplanning, forestry, coastal and marine environmentmanagement and agricultural and rural developmentplanning. The ong>Conventionong> can contribute to all chaptersof Agenda 21 – and vice versa – including those on nationalplanning processes, technical and scientific cooperation,capacity-building, and financial resources, to mentiononly a few.
4* INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION. The ong>Conventionong> haslaunched joint programmes with the Ramsar ong>Conventionong> onWetlands, the UN ong>Conventionong> to Combat Desertification, theregional seas programmes facilitated by the United NationsEnvironment Programme, the Global Plan of Action to protectthe Marine Environment from Land-Based Sources ofPollution, and other programmes and agencies, such as FAOand IUCN. It has also worked closely with the GlobalEnvironment Facility to channel international financialsupport to where it is most needed.* THE CARTAGENA PROTOCOL ON BIOSAFETY.Adopted in January 2000, the Cartagena Protocol is intendedto address potential risks posed by living modified organismsand to ensure an adequate level of protection in the transfer,handling and use of living modified organisms resulting frommodern biotechnology that may have adverse effects onbiological diversity, taking also into account risks to humanhealth. The Protocol breaks new ground through its practicalapplication of the precautionary approach – the idea that lackof absolute scientific certainly is no reason to delay action toprevent potential risks. It also promises to make a realcontribution to promoting technology transfer and to enablingdeveloping countries to gain access to information andtechnology from the biotechnology industry.
T HE NEXT 10 YEARSThere has been progress, then, but clearly not enough.Biological diversity continues to be destroyed by humanactivities at an unprecedented rate. Reversing the tide ofdestruction will require fundamental changes in the wayresources are used and distributed. Action over the next10 years must go far beyond anything seen to date.As part of its review of Agenda 21, the World Summit onSustainable Development will explore how the ong>Conventionong>on Biological Diversity could best contribute to sustainabledevelopment over the next 10 years. Some of the options thatcould be considered include:51. STRENGTHEN NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS. While theong>Conventionong>’s international institutions are up and running,some governments still lack the capacity to participate fully inthem. Many have yet to evaluate their national policies andcircumstances, adopt national strategies and plans, establishthe necessary institutions or laws, or appoint experts to theong>Conventionong>’s international rosters. Greater capacity-building isneeded to ensure that all governments actively contribute toand benefit from the ong>Conventionong>.
2. INVOLVE ALL STAKEHOLDERS. In particular, moreattention needs to be paid to the involvement of women, theprivate sector, local and indigenous communities and the poorin developing and implementing national planning processes.63. TARGETS. The ong>Conventionong> can be thought of a long-termplan. Most Parties have completed the preliminary planningand assessment phase of implementing the ong>Conventionong>. Now itis time to start planning activities designed to achieve agreedtargets. The first step in this next stage, one which theong>Conventionong> will be pursuing on over the next two years is toset targets, such as slowing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2015.4. EDUCATE THE PUBLIC. Despite progress, the costs andimportance of biodiversity loss are still not well enoughunderstood by large segments of the public. One way tohighlight the stakes involved could be to emphasize the roleof biodiversity destruction in causing natural disasters andreducing options for recovering from them. The growing scaleand frequency of crop failures, forest fires, flooding, andinvasions of alien species could be used to demonstrate thatthe biosphere is not impervious to human impact. The linksbetween biodiversity and poverty eradication, food securityand medical developments also need to be stressed.
5. INTEGRATE BIODIVERSITY POLICY MORE FULLYINTO NATIONAL DECISION-MAKING. The ong>Conventionong>must be further mainstreamed into social and developmentpolicy. Unfortunately, this is more easily said than done. Eventhough many governments have established multidepartmentalcommittees to mainstream biodiversity into allpolicy areas, these committees have often had little or noimpact. Emphasizing environmental impact assessments,certification schemes and efforts to reflect biodiversity valuesin national accounting systems could help. At the internationallevel, a major push is needed to integrate biodiversity into thepolicies of the World Trade Organization, the WorldIntellectual Property Organization, the World Bank, and theInternational Monetary Fund.76. RATIFY THE BIOSAFETY PROTOCOL. The Protocolpromises to help developing countries participate moremeaningfully in what is set to become one of the majorindustries of the 21st century, “biotechnology”. But this willonly happen once the Protocol enters into force and itsinstitutions and procedures start working. Fifty ratificationsare required, and the process is moving slowly.
87. A CCELERATE ACTION ON GENETIC RESOURCES.Work on the ong>Conventionong>’s third goal of promoting access andbenefit-sharing arrangements in proceeding slowly. Greaterprogress is needed on access to genetic resources and benefitsharing, preserving, maintaining and promoting the traditionalknowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and localcommunities; on promoting cooperation on science,technology, and research and development; and ontransferring technology. The Parties to the ong>Conventionong> haveestablished working groups to address the issues of traditionalknowledge and of access and benefit-sharing.8. MAKE FASTER PROGRESS ON MARKETINCENTIVES. The failure of markets to reflect the valueof biological diversity is one of the starting points for theong>Conventionong>'s work on incentive measures. This workconcentrates on quantifying the value of biodiversity andthen internalizing this value into market prices in orderto encourage the conservation and sustainable use ofbiological diversity.
9. STRENGTHEN SYNERGIES AND COLLABORATION.The ong>Conventionong> is the link between biodiversity loss, climatechange, land degradation, etc., among others. The partnershipsalready launched with other biodiversity-related treaties willremain central to broadening participation in the ong>Conventionong>.Reinforcing these partnerships and capturing potentialsynergies will be an important task for the foreseeable future.Collaboration with the UN Framework ong>Conventionong> onClimate Change (for example on elaborating a definition offorests as carbon “sinks”) and the World Trade Organization(notably on revising the Agreement on Agriculture) would bevaluable steps forward.910. IMPROVE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTALGOVERNANCE. Decisions are needed on streamliningnational obligations (especially reporting under differentagreements), streamlining administrative procedures andexpenses, and improving cooperation on decision-making atinternational and national levels, especially on forests andother topics that are addressed in more than one forum.11. INCREASE FINANCIAL RESOURCES. Despite manygenerous bilateral and multilateral contributions, theong>Conventionong> remains in great need of new and additionalfinancial resources. New and creative sources need to be found.
FOR MORE INFORMATION,PLEASE CONTACT:The Secretariat of the ong>Conventionong>on Biological Diversity393 St. Jacques, Suite 300Montreal Quebec, Canada H2Y 1N9Phone: 1 (514) 288 2220Fax: 1 (514) 288 6588e-mail: email@example.comWebsite: http://www.biodiv.orgPrinted on recycled paper