International Legislation

Developments in International Biodiversity Legislation

The most important piece of international legislation is the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The countries (called ‘parties’, currently 193) agreed to
  1. The conservation of biological diversity
  2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
  3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources
Two protocols were developed under this convention:
  1. The Nagoya Protocol (Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilization)
    In this protocol the access to genetic resources and the sharing of its benefits is organised. An example is a pharmaceutical company that uses a plant from the rainforest to develop new drugs. Under the new protocol, it pays the indigenous community to use the plant that grows in their territory.
  2. The Cartagena Protocol (Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety)
    This protocol aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living genetically modified organisms (Living GMOs or LMOs) that may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health. There are several other pieces of international legislation outside the Convention on Biological Diversity, the most important being CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) that was developed to ensure that international trade in species does not threaten their survival.
Key Messages
  • The most important international piece of legislation is the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • Under the CBD, two protocols were developed: the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing and the Cartagena Protocol on living genetically modified organisms.
  • Other important legislation is Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

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