UNESCO and the Convention on Biological Diversity Join Forces to Conserve and Promote Diversity

On 22 September 2006, Mr Ahmed Djoglaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) paid a courtesy call on the Director-General, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura.

Their discussions centred around the importance of diversity, in its all forms, for the resilience and sustainability of current and future generations. Notably, they agreed on the importance of their two agencies working together to achieve the 2010 target to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss., adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002). “The spirit of the CBD is already well reflected in many of the actions carried out by UNESCO, both in the area of intangible culture heritage, and of cultural diversity” said Mr Matsuura. “Indeed”, he continued, the protection of cultural diversity, an issues of central importance to UNESCO, goes hand in hand with the protection of biological diversity”.

Mr Djoglaf informed the Director-General of the recent decision of the UN Secretary-General to include the biodiversity target in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), specifically to act as an indicator of the achievement of MDG 7, which aims at ensuring environmental sustainability. To this end, the Secretary-General established a Heads of Agency Task Force, which has already developed a strategy and an outreach programme that it has requested UNESCO and CBD to implement jointly. Mr Matsuura welcomed this initiative, underlining the importance of putting in place the indicators that will help monitor the progress of Member States in achieving the target: “While we pursue this important target,”, he said, “we must also ensure that an efficient and scientifically sound monitoring system for measuring progress towards its achievement is also in place”.

Further, Mr Matsuura and Mr Djoghlaf agreed that education and outreach, especially of policy-makers, educators and young people, are at the heart of the combat to conserve and sustainably use biological diversity - a main component of the Implementation Plan for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, which UNESCO leads.

Other important areas of joint action and synergy between UNESCO and the Convention on Biological Diversity that were discussed include biodiversity research and the interlinkages between cultural diversity and biological diversity. Further, Mr Matsuura and Mr Djoglaf discussed UNESCO’s planned hosting of the twelfth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which is scheduled to take place at UNESCO Headquarters in July 2007. This meeting will be a key step in preparing for the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention, which will take place in 2008 in Germany. It is hoped that during which this latter meeting, the Director-General of UNESCO will officially sign a memorandum of Heads of Agencies on significantly reducing the rate of biological diversity loss. In the same month, the Director-General of UNESCO will also host a meeting of the Heads of biodiversity-related Conventions and other Multilateral Environmental Agreements at UNESCO Headquarters.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force in 1994. Presently, it counts 188 States Party. The objectives of the CBD are the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits arising from its utilization. One protocol is attached to the Convention, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety[1].

UNESCO has been collaborating with the CBD since its inception, with the Organization participating in the work that led to the development and acceptance of the text of the CBD in 1992.


[1] The Protocol makes clear that products from new technologies must be based on the precautionary principle and allow developing nations to balance public health against economic benefits. It will for example let countries ban imports of a genetically modified organism if they feel there is not enough scientific evidence the product is safe and requires exporters to label shipments containing genetically altered commodities such as corn or cotton. The required number of 50 instruments of ratification/

accession/approval/acceptance by States was reached in May 2003. In accordance with the provisions of its Article 37, the Protocol entered into force on 11 September 2003.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info n°144-2006
  • 26-09-2006
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