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HTML Document Why was the Convention on Biological Diversity established?

Release date 24/03/2006

Our natural environment provides the basic conditions (oxygen, water, food, shelter, materials, etc.) without which we could not survive, and therefore biological resources are vital for the world's economic, social and cultural development.

In addition, the richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for medical discoveries and adaptive responses to new challenges such as climate change.

Biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations. At the same time, due to human activities, species and ecosystems are more threatened today than ever before in recorded history.

The growing concern over the unprecedented loss of biological diversity inspired negotiations for a legally-binding instrument aimed at reversing this alarming trend. As early as 1973, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) identified the "conservation of nature, wildlife and genetic resources as a priority area".

In the 1980’s, it became clear that existing environmental legislations and conservation programmes were not sufficient. In 1988, UNEP asked experts to explore the need for an international convention on biodiversity. Soon after, in May 1989, it established a working group of technical and legal experts to prepare an international legal instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

On 22 May 1992, in Nairobi (Kenya), the nations of the world adopted a draft for the Convention on Biological Diversity, the so-called "Nairobi Act". It was presented to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in June 1992. The definitive text of the Convention was signed on 5 June 1992 by more than 150 countries.

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