Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of 1992 (1992)

What is "Convention on Biological Diversity"? Each year, migratory birds complete amazing journeys between their breeding and wintering grounds. Migratory birds are a vital part of biodiversity and play a critical role in all ecosystems. They also play an important cultural, aesthetic and economic role in the lives of people around the world.

Preface: The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of 1992 was signed on  5 June, 1992 at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro and ratified in 1993.

Report card: Convention on Biological Diversity.
Report card: Convention on Biological Diversity.

Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality, the Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.

The CBD is a comprehensive, binding agreement covering the use and conservation of biodiversity. It requires countries to develop and implement strategies for sustainable use and protection of biodiversity, and provides a forum for continuing international dialogue on biodiversity-related issues through the annual conferences of the parties (COPs).

Biodiversity refers to the infinite variety of life forms; genetic diversity – variation of genes within individual species, species diversity – variety of species in flora and fauna, and ecosystem diversity – variety of ecosystems, such as rainforests, coral reefs and deserts, that exist on our planet. This biological diversity is the sine qua non for the resilience of ecosystems and life forms and their ability to prevent and to recover from disasters and adverse conditions. Activities of microbial and animal species lead to soil creation, the maintenance of its quality and detoxification and decomposition of wastes. Appropriate plant cover can prevent catastrophic inundations, landslides and avalanches, mitigates soil erosion, and contributes to air and water quality, as well as to climate stabilization. The maintenance of species diversity facilitates natural pest control, pollination, crop production and food security. Furthermore, biological diversity plays an important role in the spiritual and cultural life of human societies.

Report card: UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Report card: UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

As the first global treaty to provide a legal framework for biodiversity conservation, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of 1992  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 2002 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 at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the CBD. It will enter into force on the 90th day after the 50th ratification is deposited.

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.

Timeline: Convention on Biological Diversity.
Timeline: Convention on Biological Diversity.




The United Nations, Rio de Janeiro, 5 June, 1992.


  • The Convention was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993, recognized for the first time in international law that the conservation of biological diversity is “a common concern of humankind” and is an integral part of the development process.
  • The agreement covers all ecosystems, species, and genetic resources. It links traditional conservation efforts to the economic goal of using biological resources sustainably. It sets principles for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources, notably those destined for commercial use.
  • It covers the rapidly expanding field of biotechnology through its Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, addressing technology development and transfer, benefit-sharing and biosafety issues.




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About Sunney 116 Articles
I am currently a Professor of Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou, China.

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