Conventions related to Biodiversity Conservation

Conventions related to Biodiversity Conservation

This article deals with ‘Conventions related to Biodiversity Conservation  – UPSC.’ This is part of our series on ‘Environment’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles on Science and technology, you can click here


1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands  
1972 Stockholm Meet / United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
It led to Stockholm Declaration, which (1) recognized human impact on the environment; (2) recognized the need for nations to design integrative development plans to lessen air, land, and water pollution and human impact on the environment; (3) create regulations for protecting wildlife and conserving the natural resources and (4) creation national population policies.
It also led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), headquartered in Nairobi.
India passed Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972 and started Project Tiger (in 1973) as a direct result of this.  
1975 Limits to Growth Theory
It is a pessimistic model of how humans will cause their own end by 2022 (given by the Club of Rome).  
1982 10th anniversary of UNEP.  
1985 Vienna Convention signed
To save the ozone layer. Subsequently, Montreal Protocol was signed.   
1987 Brundtland Report
Brundtland Commission published a report known as ‘Our Common Future’ in which it gave the concept of Sustainable Development.  
1988 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed 
By UNEP and World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
The major work of IPCC is to provide an objective scientific view of climate change as well as its socio-economic impact.
The work of IPCC is to produce reports so that UNFCCC can work to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions.   
1992 Rio Earth Summit held (on the 20th anniversary of UNEP)
Three documents were opened for signature on 5th June 1992 at Rio Earth Summit
1. United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity  
2. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  
3. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)  
1992 Global Environment Facility established 
It works under World Bank.  
2002 Millennium Development Goals announced (on the 30th anniversary of the UNEP / Stockholm Declaration)  
2012 Sustainable Development Goals announced (on the 40th anniversary of the UNEP / Stockholm Declaration)

United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)

  • It is an organization under the United Nations.
  • It was formed in 1972 as a direct result of the Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. 
  • It is headquartered in Nairobi.

Earth Summit

  • 1992 marked the 20th anniversary of the Stockholm Declaration (United Nations Conference on the Human Environment).
  • Earth Summit or United Nations Conference on Environment and Development was held in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro to commemorate this and discuss further steps.
  • It led to the following important conventions wrt Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification.
    1. United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity 
    2. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change  
    3. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification 

Conventions related to Biodiversity Conservation

Convention on Bio-Diversity (CBD)


  • It aims to 
    1. Protect Biodiversity
    2. Safe use of biotechnology 
    3. Fair use of genetic resources
  • It is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.
  • CBD has a membership of 193 countries (the USA & Andorra are the only non-member countries).
  • It is a legally binding treaty.
  • CBD accepts the sovereign right of states on their biological resources but places the responsibility of conserving biodiversity on the states. States should create National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP) for this. 
  • CBD recognizes the close & traditional dependence of indigenous & local communities on biological resources & the need to ensure that these communities share the benefits arising from the use of their traditional knowledge & practices relating to conservation & sustainable use of biodiversity.
  • Funds are provided by GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY (GEF), which works under World Bank.

Conference of Parties and Protocols

  • Signatories of CBD meet regularly at conferences known as the Conference of Parties (CoP). 
  • In these CoPs, countries reach at various agreements known as Protocols. E.g., Under CBD, the Nagoya Protocol (for fair use of genetic resources) and Cartagena Protocol (for safe use of biotechnology) have been signed. 

Timeline of various CoPs and Protocols of CBD

1994 CoP-1 was held in Nassau (Bahamas)
2000 An extraordinary Conference of Parties (Ex-CoP) was held in Cartagena, and Cartagena Biosafety Protocol was signed.
2010 CoP-10 was held in Nagoya (Japan), and Nagoya Protocol was signed.
2012 COP was held in Hyderabad in India
2014 CoP was held in Pyeongchang in South Korea
2016 CoP was held in Cancun in Mexico
2018 CoP was held in  Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt
2021 CoP-15 will be held in Kunming in China
Convention on Bio-Diversity (CBD)

India and CBD

  • India has ratified the CBD. 
  • India has also enacted Biological Diversity Act, 2002
  • India was President of CBD from 2012-to 201414 because in 2012, COP was held in Hyderabad. The present President is China.

Why the USA hasn’t ratified?

  • Provision of CBD that concerns the USA is that which calls for technology transfer for developing countries. USA thinks it would threaten its IPR.

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety


  • Since the domestication of the first crops & farm animals, humans have altered their genetic makeup through selective breeding & cross-fertilization. But in recent years, advances in biotech techniques have enabled scientists to cross the species barrier. E.g., Tomato has been modified using a gene from cold-water fish to protect plants from frost.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have become part of an increasing number of products, including foods, food additives, beverages, drugs, fuels etc. It has raised concern about side effects on human health & environment, including risk to biodiversity. 
  • Cartagena Protocol (under the Convention of Biodiversity) was signed in 2000 to address the potential risks posed by the cross border trade & accidental release of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs).
  • India is a member of the Cartagena Protocol.


Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

1. Advanced Informed Agreement

  • Advanced Informed Agreement (AIA) is to ensure that member countries have access to the necessary information to make an informed decision before importing such organisms into their territory.

2. Biosafety Clearing House

  • To signal whether the country is willing to accept the import of agricultural commodities, including LMOs.

3. Clear Labelling

  • Commodities that may contain LMOs are to be clearly labelled when they are being exported.

Can a country ban import of LMO

  • The country can ban the import of genetically modified organisms if they feel there is not enough scientific evidence that the product is safe.

Nagoya Protocol

Nagoya Protocol
  • Full Name: Nagoya Protocol on the access to genetic resources & fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilization.
  • The Protocol was signed at the Conference of Parties-10 (CoP-10) to Convention on Biodiversity, which was held in Nagoya (Japan) in 2010. If Kyoto entered history as a city where the climate accord was born, Nagoya would be remembered as a city where Biodiversity Accord was born. Subsequently, it became operational in 2014 at Pyeongchang CoP (South Korea).
  • It is a legally binding agreement.
  • Only those countries that are members of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) can sign the Nagoya Protocol. Hence, USA and Andorra are not the members.

What is sharing the benefits of genetic resources?

  • Most of the world’s biodiversity is found in developing countries which consider it a resource for fuelling their economic & social development. Foreign bio-prospectors have searched for natural substances to develop new commercial products such as drugs & medicines. The product such developed would often be sold & protected by patents or other IPR without giving fair benefit to source countries. Hence, in the whole process, all parties suffer because biopirates don’t share profit, and as a result, countries are unwilling to share their genetic resources with MNCs (biopirates).
  • The provision of access and benefit-sharing comes into the picture in such a situation. Under access and benefit-sharing, if any foreign or Indian company or any individual wants to get access to Indian biological resources like medicinal plants or traditional knowledge associated with that, that entity has to take consent from National Biodiversity Board. The board can impose a condition on the entity to share benefits in the form of royalty fees or profit-sharing arising from the commercialization of that product. 

Basis of Nagoya Protocol

  • CBD recognizes national sovereignty on all genetic resources & provides that access to valuable biological resources be carried out on mutually agreed terms & subject to prior informed consent of the country of origin.
  • When a microorganism, plant or animal is used for a commercial application, the country from where it has come has the right to benefit.
  • Such benefits include 
    1. Cash 
    2. Samples of what is collected from the source country 
    3. Participation or training of national researchers 
    4. Transfer of biotech equipment & know-how 
    5. Shares of any profit from the use of resource 
  • Nagoya protocol covers  
    • Genetic resources 
    • Derivatives (antibodies, vitamins, enzymes, active compounds & metabolics)
    • Traditional Knowledge associated with genetic resources 
  • It doesn’t apply on 
    • Genetic resources covered under special access & benefit sharing agreements like (1) Framework for Pandemic Preparedness of WHO and (2) International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for food & agriculture.
    • Human genetic material  
    • Genetic resources acquired before the protocol 

Obligations of the country under Nagoya Protocol

  1. Obligations related to access to genetic resources
    • Each party is required to create unambiguous & clear legal processes related to access to genetic resources.
  2. Obligations related to benefit-sharing 
    • It provides for fair & equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources with the contracting party providing genetic resources subject to mutually agreed terms.
    • The benefit may be monetary (royalties) or non-monetary (sharing of research results).
  3. Compliance obligations  
    • Party should cooperate in cases of the alleged violation of another contracting party’s requirement.

Implications of Nagoya Protocol on the economy such as India

  • India would benefit as it is the most genetically diverse nation in the world.
  • Now MNCs / bio-prospectors making use of Indian genetic resources in making commercial products would have to share profit with India.

Bonn Convention

  • Bonn Convention is the Convention on the conservation of migratory Species of Wild Animals.
  • It was established under the aegis of UNEP in 1983.
  • Bonn Convention brings together the States through which migratory animals pass and take coordinated conservation measures. 
  • It has two Appendix  
    • Appendix I – Migratory species threatened with extinction
    • Appendix II – Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international cooperation

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