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Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Convention on Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Convention or CBD) entered into force in December 1993, and has been ratified by almost 200 nations. 

The CBD is a 'Rio Convention' – it is one of three Conventions adopted at the "Earth Summit" (the Conference on Environment and Development), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. The other two Conventions adopted were the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), and the Convention to Combat Desertification.

Convention summary

As the first global treaty to provide a legal framework for biodiversity conservation, the Convention established three main goals:

  • the conservation of biological diversity;
  • the sustainable use of its components;
  • the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

Contracting Parties are required to create and enforce national strategies and action plans to conserve, protect and enhance biological diversity. They are also required to undertake action to implement the thematic work programmes on ecosystems and a range of cross-cutting issues which have been established to take forward the provisions of the Convention.

In January 2000 the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was adopted to supplement the provisions of the Convention. This Agreement, which came into force in September 2003, aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs), resulting from modern biotechnology, that may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health.

Subsequently, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted on 29 October 2010 and entered into force on 12 October 2014  (ratified by UK 22 May 2016).

The Nagoya Protocol aims to share the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources, thereby contributing to the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components.

In October 2010, at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the CBD in Nagoya, Japan, the Parties adopted a new ‘Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020’ along with its 20 ‘Aichi targets’. The latter set out 20 challenging targets under five strategic goals to stimulate "effective and urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity in order to ensure that by 2020 ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services, thereby securing the planet's variety of life, and contributing to human well-being, and poverty eradication....”. The goals and targets comprise both aspirations for achievement at the global level and a flexible framework for the establishment of national or regional targets. Parties are invited to set their own targets within this flexible framework, taking into account national needs and priorities.


Implementation in the UK

The UK ratified the CBD in June 1994.

Within the UK, delivery of the CBD and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 is guided by the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.  This framework is overseen by the Environment Departments of all four governments in the UK working together through the Four Countries' Biodiversity Group. The framework demonstrates how the work of the four countries and the UK contributes to achieving the ‘Aichi targets’, and identifies the activities required to complement the individual country biodiversity strategies.

The framework supersedes earlier approaches under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (1992–2012). 

Since 1994, JNCC has provided technical and scientific support to Defra on issues relating to the CBD, including prominent roles in National Reporting, the Global Plant Conservation Strategy, the Ecosystem Approach, the Global Taxonomy Initiative and JNCC hosts the UK Clearing House Mechanism for biodiversity.



Parties to the CBD are required by Article 26 of the Convention to submit national reports to the Conference of the Parties on measures taken for the implementation of the Convention and their effectiveness in meeting the objectives of the Convention.

JNCC has helped produce the UK’s most recent 6th National Report to the CBD, which was published in 2019, and which focussed on work being undertaken to achieve the 20 Aichi Targets in the 'Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020'.


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