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Convention on Biodiversity (CBD)

Background | NOAA Fisheries Participation | Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Issues

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) The previous link is an external site. is the first globally comprehensive agreement to address all aspects of biological diversity—genetic resources, species, and ecosystems. CBD recognizes these aspects of biological diversity in the context of sustainable development, i.e., development that meets the needs of today without compromising the needs of tomorrow. Currently, there are 188 Parties to the Convention. The United States, while not a Party to Convention, attends all CBD meetings.

The last few decades have seen rapid species extinction and habitat loss, leading to significant changes in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The international community began negotiating the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to address these ecological changes. CBD negotiations were completed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. CBD is unique in that it addresses the conservation of biological diversity and sustainable development. This dual goal is evident in CBD's three objectives – the conservation of biological diversity; sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

CBD focuses on three levels of biodiversity – gene, species, and ecosystem. These three levels are incorporated into CBD's work program. CBD's work program The previous link is an external site. is divided between thematic areas, like marine biodiversity, and crosscutting areas, like the ecosystem approach.

Parties and interested non-Parties meet every two years at the Conference of the Parties (COP), to discuss CBD's work program. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) meets between COPs to provide advice to the COP. In addition to SBSTTA, the COP can establish standing and ad hoc committees to deal with specific issues. CBD also serves as a framework for binding protocols, such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety The previous link is an external site. .

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NOAA Fisheries Participation

The major commitments made by Parties to the Convention encompass nearly all aspects of NMFS work and responsibilities. These commitments include:

  • To identify and monitor the components of biodiversity and activities which have or might have significant adverse impacts (Art. 7).
  • To establish protected areas or areas where special measures are needed, and to regulate or manage biological resources important to biodiversity;to promote protection of ecosystems and natural habitats; to promote environmentally sound and sustainable development in areas adjacent to protected areas;to prevent introduction of species from outside a country that could threaten native ecosystems or species;
  • to develop or maintain necessary legislation and other regulatory provisions for protection of threatened species and populations; and to establish means to regulate, manage or control risks associated with use and release of living modified organisms from biotechnology with likely adverse environmental effects (Art. 8).
  • To adopt measures for the ex-situ conservation of biological diversity's components (Art. 9).
  • To integrate consideration of conservation, and sustainable use of biodiversity resources into national decision-making; to avoid or minimize adverse impacts on biological diversity by adopting measures relating to the use of biological resources; to preserve and maintain knowledge and practices of indigenous and local communities embodying traditional lifestyles that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements; to support remedial action in degraded areas; and to encourage cooperation between the government and private sector to develop methods for sustainable use (Art. 10).
  • To adopt economically and socially sound measures that act as incentives for conservation and sustainable use of components of biological diversity (Art. 11)
  • To establish programs for scientific and technical education and training in identification, conservation, sustainable use of biodiversity, and promote research that contributes to biodiversity (Art. 12).
  • To promote public education and awareness programs (Art. 13).
  • To require environmental impact assessments that address impacts on biodiversity and to minimize such impacts. (Art. 14).
  • To create conditions to facilitate access to genetic resources on mutually agreed terms, recognizing sovereign rights of States over their natural resources; and to share in a fair and equitable way the results of research, development, and the commercial utilization of genetic resources with contracting Parties providing such resources (Art. 15).
  • To encourage access to, and transfer of, technology relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity or that makes use of genetic resources and does not cause significant damage to the environment (Art. 16).
  • To facilitate the exchange of information, and scientific and technical cooperation in the field of conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (Art. 17&18).
  • To encourage biotechnology research, especially in developing countries; ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from biotechnology; and address safety concerns related to the transfer, handling, and use of living modified organisms (Art. 19).

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What Are The Marine And Coastal Biodiversity Issues Under The CBD?

The first meeting of the Convention's Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) focused on aspects of marine and coastal biodiversity. SBSTTA's recommendations formed the basis of the "Jakarta Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity" adopted in November 1995at the Second Conference of the Parties (COP2). The Jakarta Mandate identified five priority areas for action, and directed the CBD Secretariat to set up a 15-person ad hoc Panel of Experts to advise the CBD Secretariat and SBSTTA on priorities for implementing the Mandate.

The five priority areas are:

  1. Promoting integrated marine and coastal area management as the framework for addressing human impacts on biological diversity.
  2. Establishing and maintaining marine and coastal protected areas.
  3. Using fisheries and other marine and coastal living resources sustainably. This was the most controversial recommendation, including issues of overcapacity, subsidies and bycatch.
  4. Ensuring that mariculture practices are environmentally sustainable.
  5. Preventing the introduction of, and controlling or eradicating, alien species that threaten ecosystems, habitats or species.

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