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United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity PDF Print E-mail


Table of Contents

Principles and Objectives

The UNCBD is a legally-binding treaty to promote the protection and conservation of the world’s biological resources. It was signed by 150 countries that participated in the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 1992. The objectives of the UNCBD are to conserve the world’s biological diversity; promote the sustainable use of all components of biological diversity; and promote the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from biological diversity. The Convention sets out commitments for maintaining ecological balance vis a vis economic development. Its main goals are 1) the conservation of biological diversity; 2) the sustainable use of its components; and 3) the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.

The UNCBD focuses on seven thematic programs: 1) agricultural biodiversity; 2) biodiversity of inland waters; 3) biodiversity of dry and subhumid lands; 4) forest biodiversity; 5) marine and coastal biodiversity; 6) mountain biodiversity; and 7) island biodiversity. It also includes among its concerns relevant issues that cut across the seven programs, e.g., plant conservation, invasive alien species, intellectual property rights, traditional knowledge, biosafety, access to genetic resources, and taxonomy. The Convention also recognizes the unique situation of developing countries that require financial and technical assistance to enable them to comply with their treaty obligations. Thus, biodiversity-related activities are funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

An adjunct agreement to the UNCBD is the Cartagena Protocol. It provides for the parties’ obligations on the transboundary movement of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Specifically, the protocol aims to contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity taking also into account risks to human health, focusing on transboundary movement).

The Philippines ratified the UNCBD on October 8, 1993 and ratified the Cartagena Protocol on August 14, 2006, the latter entering into force on January 8, 2007.


Commitments and Obligations of Parties

All parties to the UNCBD are obligated to conserve and utilize biological diversity in a sustainable manner. They are also encouraged to collaborate and to assist each other to fulfill the objectives of the convention.

The parties’ obligations are also classified into in-situ and ex-situ conservation. In-situ conservation refers to the conservation of ecosystems and natural habitats and the maintenance and recovery of viable populations of species in their natural surroundings and, in the case of domesticated or cultivated species, in the surroundings where they have developed their distinctive properties. Under this category falls the obligation to establish a system of protected areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity. In the Philippines, this obligation is met with the enactment and implementation of the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Law or Republic Act No. 7586.

Ex-situ conservation, on the other hand, is the conservation of components of biological diversity outside their natural habitats. Under this category falls the obligation to establish and maintain facilities for ex-situ conservation and research, the adoption of measures for the recovery and rehabilitation of threatened species and their reintroduction to their natural habitat, and the regulation and management of the collection of biological resources from natural habitats, or bioprospecting.

The Philippines has ten obligations under the UNCBD:

  1. Develop a National Strategy and Action Plan on biodiversity conservation and integrate this into broader national plans for the environment and economic development;
  2. Identify and monitor the important components of biological diversity that need to be conserved and used in a sustainable manner;
  3. Establish protected areas to conserve biological diversity while promoting environmentally-sound development around these areas;
  4. Rehabilitate and restore degraded ecosystems and promote the recovery of threatened species in collaboration with local residents;
  5. Respect, preserve and maintain traditional knowledge of the sustainable use of biodiversity with the involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities;
  6. Prevent the introduction of, control, and eradicate alien species that could threaten ecosystems, habitats or species;
  7. Control the risks posed by organisms modified by biotechnology;
  8. Promote public participation, particularly when it comes to assessing the environmental impacts of development projects that threaten biodiversity;
  9. Educate people and raise public awareness on the importance of biological diversity and the need to preserve the same;
  10. Report on how the country is meeting its biodiversity goals.