Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), commonly known as the Biodiversity Convention or the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), is a multilateral treaty. 
  • This international legal instrument has been ratified by 196 countries, aiming for “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable utilization of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.” 
  • The primary objective of the CBD is to promote actions that contribute to a more sustainable future, encompassing all habitats, species, and genetic resources under its purview.


  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was presented for signature at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit on June 5, 1992, and officially came into force on December 29, 1993. 
  • Notably, the United States is the sole UN member state that has not ratified this Convention.
  • Encompassing biodiversity on various levels, including ecosystems, species, and genetic resources, the CBD also extends its scope to biotechnology, incorporating agreements like the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. 
  • It spans a broad spectrum of domains directly or indirectly linked to biodiversity, covering areas such as science, politics, education, agriculture, business, and culture.
  • The governing body of the CBD is the Conference of the Parties (COP), which convenes every two years. During these meetings, the ultimate authority of all governments (or Parties) that have ratified the treaty reviews progress, establishes priorities, and commits to work plans.
  • In addition to the CBD, the Nagoya Protocol and the Cartagena Protocol are two supplementary agreements that further enhance and complement the objectives of the Convention.

Cartagena Protocol

  • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, an international agreement supplementary to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), governs the transboundary movements of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology. 
  • This protocol, serving as an extension of the CBD, was enacted on January 29, 2000, and officially entered into force on September 11, 2003.

Nagoya Protocol

  • Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) is another complementary agreement to the CBD. 
  • It provides a clear legal framework for achieving one of the CBD’s primary goals: the fair and equitable distribution of benefits derived from the utilization of genetic resources. 
  • Adopted in Nagoya, Japan, on October 29, 2010, the Nagoya Protocol became effective on October 12, 2014.


The Convention on Biological Diversity sets out the following objectives:

  • Preserve Biological Diversity: Safeguard the variety of life on Earth.
  • Responsible Use of Elements: Utilize biological resources in a responsible manner.
  • Equitable Distribution of Benefits: Ensure fair distribution of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
  • Appropriate Access to Genetic Resources: Facilitate suitable access to genetic resources.
  • Appropriate Transfer of Relevant Technologies: Promote the proper transfer of relevant technologies.
  • Appropriate Funding: Provide adequate funding, considering all associated rights to resources and technologies.

Goals of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The three primary goals are:

  • Biodiversity Conservation: Conserve biodiversity and prevent its degradation.
  • Sustainable Use of Biodiversity Components: Promote the sustainable use of various elements of biodiversity.
  • Sharing Benefits from Exploitation: Ensure the equitable sharing of benefits derived from commercial and other forms of exploitation.


  • The Convention has 196 Parties, including the European Union and 195 states. 
  • The United States has not ratified the treaty, while Cook Islands, Niue, and the State of Palestine, among non-member states, have ratified it. 
  • The Holy See and nations with limited international recognition are not parties.


  • The Convention covers all habitats, species, and genetic resources. 
  • It links conservation efforts to the financial objective of judiciously using biological resources. 
  • Through the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, it addresses biotechnology-related issues, technological development, benefit-sharing, and biosafety.
  • The Convention is legally binding, requiring Parties to adhere to its rules. 
  • It emphasizes sustainable usage, recognizing that ecosystems, species, and genes should benefit humanity. 
  • The precautionary principle guides decision-making, urging preventive action even in the absence of complete scientific certainty.
  • While acknowledging the need for substantial financial investments in biodiversity preservation, the Convention argues that conservation yields significant benefits for the environment, economy, and society.


  • Critics argue that CBD implementation faces challenges due to resistance from Western nations to its pro-South provisions. 
  • Some view it as a strong agreement that softened during execution. 
  • Calls for enforcing it as a binding multilateral agreement gain support, with monitoring violations and non-compliance by the Conference of Parties.
  • Despite the Convention’s assertion of covering all forms of life, reports from participating nations indicate a gap in reality.

Related Initiatives 

  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Promotes coexistence of human development, economic progress, and natural conservation.
  • World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF): A non-governmental organization dedicated to global environmental conservation, research, and restoration.
  • Global Biodiversity Assessment: An independent scientific study addressing contemporary biodiversity concerns.
  • Man and the Biosphere Program: Focuses on biodiversity, human impact, and the interplay between biodiversity and human activities since 1970.

Related Links:

Biological Diversity Act 2002Most Important Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserves
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in IndiaEcology, Ecosystem and Environment