Biodiversity Treaty Goals


UNEP News Release. For information only. Not an official record.


BUENOS AIRES/MONTREAL, 4 November 1996 -- Some 1,500 participants are expected here in the Argentine capital, today, for a two-week intergovernmental meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-3).

Now that Governments are taking their first practical steps towards carrying out their treaty commitments, their representatives are looking to discuss their efforts and experiences with colleagues in other countries. Countries have been asked to submit their national biodiversity action plans by 1997.

As they approach the end of the medium-term work programme (1995-1997), they are in a better position to evaluate the progress made so far in meeting the Convention's objectives, which are "the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources."

The ministerial segment of the meeting (13-14 November) will include statements from many senior government officials and from Ms Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which provides the Convention Secretariat in Montreal.

Agenda items include agricultural biodiversity, access to genetic resources, intellectual property rights and economic incentive measures for conservation and sustainable use.

Scientific and technological cooperation will also play an important role as national programmes are set up. The clearing-house mechanism, now in the pilot phase, will enable parties to exchange information on technology transfer, joint ventures and research collaboration. The meeting will hear suggestions for its improvement and refinement.

Another important discussion will focus on the Global Environment Facility's role as the operator of the Convention's financial mechanism. The GEF has served as the mechanism's interim operator to date. Delegates will also review a study on the availability of additional financial resources.

Administrative issues will include the budget for 1996 and the report on the administration of the Secretariat. The Montreal headquarters agreement was signed last week between the Canadian Government and UNEP.

The Convention on Biological Diversity was negotiated under the auspices of UNEP and was opened for signature at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. It has been ratified by 162 parties. The first session of the Conference of the Parties, held in 1994 in the Bahamas, established how the Convention process would operate.

It also proposed that 29 December, the date the Convention entered into force in 1993, be established as International Day for Biological Diversity and observed annually. The current session of the COP was preceded by regional preparatory meetings for Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe.

For further information, please contact:

Ann Brocklehurst at the Convention Secretariat in Montreal at (1-514) 287-7009, fax (1-514) 288-6588, All documentation for the Buenos Aires Conference of the Parties is available on Internet at

UNEP News Release 1996/60


Robert G. Bisset
Media/Information Officer
Information and Public Affairs
United Nations Environment Programme
PO Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254-2-623084
Fax: +254-2-623692

Personal Mail: PO Box 47074

Subject: Rich Nations & Biodiversity

Forest Networking a Project of Ecological Enterprises


Rich nation's promises to respond to the current biodiversity crisis have gone unkept, and they are under increasing pressure to live up to their commitments. Following is a photocopy of Reuters coverage of the Third Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity being held in Buenos Aires.

Rich nations take rap at biodiversity forum

Copyright 1996 by Reuters

BUENOS AIRES (Reuter) - Rich countries came under pressure to live up to their commitments to finance conservation efforts in the developing world at the start of an international conference on biodiversity Monday.

"There is compelling evidence that the developed countries, with the sole exception of Norway, are failing to meet their financial obligations," the Global Biodiversity Forum said in a statement released at the opening session.

The forum, specialists from public and private groups, has drawn up recommendations for the Third Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity. Over the next two weeks the conference will debate a broad agenda of topics including alternative sources of funding for biodiversity, forest management, agriculture practices, food safety, intellectual property rights and indigenous knowledge.

The conference brings together delegates from 162 countries that signed the Convention on Biodiversity drafted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The treaty aims to protect the diversity of the world's ecosystems, species and genuses and to ensure that these resources are used in a sustainable manner and that the benefits are equitably shared.

But participants said the new funds pledged in 1992 by industrialized nations to help implement the convention in developing countries have not been forthcoming.

"If you look at whether the developed countries have really come up with new money, the short answer is no," Rob Lake, senior policy officer of the biodiversity network BirdLife International, told Reuters. "In 1992 there was a big peak in donations because everybody wanted to be seen to be green. But since then it's fallen off."

Lake presented the conference with an analysis of data provided to him by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He found total OECD development aid peaked at $60.8 billion in 1992 and dropped to $56.7 billion in 1994. Preliminary data for the last two years suggest a similar downward trend, both in terms of global overseas development aid and in specific funds for biodiversity.

Experts said Monday that because donor contributions were decreasing innovative financial mechanisms were needed to boost biodiversity programs at a national level, such as debt swaps and tax incentives. They also called for an end to subsidies on environmentally unsound agricultural practices.

"Efforts should be redirected toward changing the incentive structure for private-sector actors, making it more profitable to conserve than to destroy biodiversity," Charles Barber, senior associate at the World Resources Institute, told Reuters.

"However, this is politically difficult because when you talk about trying to get rid of subsidies for industry, agriculture or commercial fisheries there are vested interests. You get people marching their cows down the Champs Elysees or piling their nets up in front of the Canadian Ministry of Fisheries."

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