Complete text of Biodiversity Convention
Convention on Biological Diversity
The world’s biological diversity— the variability among living organisms— is valuable for ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic reasons.
The diversity is important for evolution, and for maintaining the life-sustaining systems of the biosphere. The conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity are of critical importance to meet the food, health and other needs of the growing world population.
However, biological diversity is being significantly reduced by certain human activities, and it is vital to anticipate, prevent and attack the causes of this loss. Substantial investments are required to conserve biological diversity, but they will pay off with a broad range of environmental, economic and social benefits.
The world needs to conserve biological diversity and make sustainable use of its components in a fair and equitable way. Sustainable use means use in a way and at a rate that does not lead to the long-term decline of biological diversity. This will maintain its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations. The uses include those of genetic material, which is any plant, animal, microbial or other material containing functional units of heredity. We also need to conserve ecosystems, which are groupings of living and non-living material that act as a unit.
Countries have rights over their biological resources, but they are also responsible for conserving their biological diversity and for using their biological resources in a sustainable manner.
Nations that sign the Convention shall:
Many indigenous and local communities have a close dependence on biological resources, and nations should make use of this traditional knowledge of the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Countries are to preserve and maintain such indigenous and local knowledge and promote its wider use. This is to be done with the approval and involvement of those who have such knowledge, and these people should benefit from the use of their practices.
- Identify the components of biological diversity important for conservation and sustainable use, and monitor activities which may have adverse impacts to this diversity.
- Develop national strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
- Make conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity part of planning and policy-making.
- Use the media and educational programmes to help people understand the importance of biological diversity and need for measures to conserve it.
- Establish laws to protect threatened species, develop systems of protected areas to conserve biological diversity, and promote environmentally sound development around these areas.
- Rehabilitate and restore degraded ecosystems and promote the recovery of threatened species, helping local people to develop and carry out these remedial plans.
- Establish means to control the risks from organisms modified by biotechnology.
- Use environmental impact assessment, with public participation, on projects that threaten biological diversity, in order to avoid or minimize damage.
- Prevent the introduction of, and control or eradicate alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species.
The Convention says that:
The convention comes into force once it has been ratified by 30 nations.
- Countries are to facilitate access to genetic materials within their borders for environmentally sound uses. Access will be allowed with the aim of sharing in a fair and equitable way the results of research and development and the benefits arising from the commercial and other uses of genetic resources.
- Developing countries are to have access to environmentally sound technologies that they need for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. This access will be under fair and most favourable terms, and will recognize patent rights.
- Developing countries are to have access to technology that makes use of resources they provided. They are also to have a role in biotechnological research.
- Developing nations are to receive technical and scientific assistance, so they can develop their own institutions and expertise in sustainable use of biological diversity.
- Countries are to consider the need for an agreement on the safe handling and use of living organisms modified by biotechnology.
- Developed countries that sign the convention shall provide new financial aid to developing countries to help them implement terms of the Convention. The initial funding will be handled by three United Nations organizations involved in environment and development.
For more information on this subject, please see Chapter 15— Conservation of Biological Diversity.
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