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The Convention on Biological Diversity

In a nutshell

The Earth's biological resources are vital to our economic and social development but human activities are taking a toll on many animal and plant species. A legal framework exists for countries all over the world to protect biodiversity together: the Convention on Biological Diversity.

What is the CBD?

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) stems from the growing recognition that biological diversity is an asset of tremendous value to present and future generations across the world.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) tasked experts to prepare an international legal instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. They were to take into account "the need to share costs and benefits between developed and developing countries" as well as "ways and means to support innovation by local people".

The text of the Convention was adopted on 22 May 1992 in Nairobi and was opened to signature on 5 June 1992, during the Rio "Earth Summit". Within a year, it had received 168 signatures. It entered into force on 29 December 1993.

At the 10th Conference of the Parties in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, the 193 Parties to the Convention agreed on a ten-year Strategic Plan to combat biodiversity loss over the next decade and defined 20 concrete targets, known as the Aichi targets, in order to achieve this overall objective. The Nagoya commitments are reflected in the EU's 2020 Biodiversity Strategy."

The Convention on Biological Diversity meets every two years. Its website offers more information about the CBD and how it works, as well as all the available documents, for every meeting since the first Conference of the Parties.

Sharing nature's genetic resources

During the Nagoya conference, the CBD Parties also adopted a new international Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation (the ABS agreement).

The commitments of this new agreement, known as the Nagoya Protocol, are reflected in the new EU ABS Regulation ((EU) No 511/2014), adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 16 April 2014.

Interinstitutional documents related to the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol:

Further information

  • In 2000, Parties to the CBD adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, seeking to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living genetically modified organisms (GMOs), taking into account human health. Find out more about the EU approach to GMOs.
  • The EU supports and implements many other international agreements protecting global biodiversity.

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