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International Convention on Biological Biodiversity - Outcome of the 2018 Conference of the Parties

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Context - These GreenFacts Highlights key decisions adopted in 2018 by the COP to the Convention on Biological Diversity in preparation for a 2050 Biodiversity Vision for the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report published in 2020.

This is a faithful summary of the leading report produced in 2018 by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): "Report of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity on its 14th meeting and its decisions - 2018  " 

  • Source document:CBD (2018)
  • Summary & Details: GreenFacts
Latest update: 5 May 2021


At its 14th meeting in 2018, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity reviewed progress towards the Aichi Protocol's biodiversity targets. They adopted a programme of work, a budget and the Vision 2050 scenarios for the Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report to be published in 2020.

1. What are the main reasons of considering biological diversity as being a major concern?

Biological diversity - or “biodiversity” which is the term given to the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms - is the fruit of billions of years of evolution, shaped by natural processes and, increasingly, by the influence of humans. It forms the web of life of which we are an integral part and upon which we so fully depend.

It is the combination of life forms and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment that has made Earth a uniquely habitable place for humans.

The loss of ecological interactions creates an internal imbalance of the ecosystem that in turn gravely reduces ecosystem functions and services, including provision of pharmaceutical compounds, biocontrol agents, food resources and disease regulation. Moreover, between 23 and 36% of birds, mammals, and amphibians used for food or medicine are now threatened with extinction.

(See more details on the Level 2 of these Highlights)

2. What were the main vision and decisions of the 14th Conference of the Parties?

The 2050 Vision of the Strategic Plan “Living in harmony with nature” is that “by 2050, biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people”. It contains elements that could be translated into a long-term goal for biodiversity and provide context for discussions on possible biodiversity targets for 2030.

The three objectives of the Convention reflected in the 2050 Vision were:

  • The conservation of biological diversity;
  • The sustainable use of the components of this biological diversity;
  • The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources;

And these objectives could indeed reach broader socioeconomic objectives by deploying a combination of measures.

All the conclusions of the COP also highlighted the urgent need of a more coherent approach on biodiversity and climate change and of adopting more integrative (or holistic or systemic) operational methods to reach its objectives.

This requiring transformational changes in behaviour at all levels: producers and consumers, governments and businesses to ensure in particular that impacts of climate change on biodiversity are really reduced.

The four main decisions of the COP were thus to encourage the Parties:

  1. To undertake cross-sectoral dialogues and joint trainings on sustainable wildlife management, among relevant sectors;
  2. To promote and facilitate the use of monitoring tools and databases among Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations;
  3. To further evaluate multidisciplinary approaches to combining better knowledge of the use of and trade in wildlife;
  4. To review and strengthening legal frameworks, the identification and promotion of best practices for sustainably managing and using wildlife.

A procedure was also put in place to enhance transparency and to contribute to ensuring the scientific integrity and independence of the work of expert groups of the COP to develop their conclusions and recommendations with credible, evidence-based and balanced information for taking decisions.

(See more details on the Level 2 of these Highlights)

3. What were the main vision and decisions of the 14th Conference of the Parties?

It was underlined that societal and disruptive technological developments can contribute positively to, but also counter sustainability transitions towards biodiversity. The measures to be particularly considered in international “policy mixes” depend on the needs and priorities of countries and stakeholders highlighted in the report.

The appropriate pathways and scenario analyses developed in such various “policy mixes” should be tailored to regional, national or local circumstances and include participatory approaches in the building of the capacity for decision-making within these scenarios.

(See more details on the Level 2 of these Highlights)

4. What does the COP suggest to reduce the impact on biodiversity of the energy, mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing sectors?

The COP encourages Parties, and invites governments and relevant stakeholders, notably public and private entities engaged:

  1. To establish a long-term strategic approach for mainstreaming biodiversity by applying best practices on environmental impact assessments ;
  2. To review and use, as appropriate, existing tools;
  3. To apply a mitigation hierarchy when planning and designing new projectsand to review and update legal frameworks;
  4. To promote the full and effective participation of relevant sectors and stakeholders including indigenous peoples and local communities, academia, women, youth;
  5. To provide, as appropriate, effective incentives and appropriate governance mechanisms and evaluate and pursue opportunities to utilize ecosystem-based approaches in the planning and development of cities;
  6. To invite multilateral development banks, insurance companies and the business sector.

(See more details on the Level 2 of these Highlights)

5. What does the COP recommend for the control of invasive and alien species?

In this specific context, the COP urges Parties and other Governments to prevent unintentional introductions of invasive alien species associated with trade in live organisms through the coordination with the authorities responsible for customs, border controls, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures and other relevant competent bodies at the national and regional levels.

When unintentional introduction is observed, states should intensify the monitoring so that invasive species do not spread further, and carry out rapid response to control, contain and if possible eradicate the invasive species.

The COP also encourages Parties and invites Governments to develop and share a list of regulated invasive alien species, based on the results of risk analysis, where appropriate.

(See more details on the Level 2 of these Highlights)

6. What does the COP recommend regarding health and climate change in relation to biodiversity?

Regarding biodiversity in relation with health, the COP invites Parties and Governments:

  1. To integrate holistic approaches in their national biodiversity strategiesand action plans in the effective use of the Guidance on integrating biodiversity considerations into One Health approaches1 ;
  2. To promote dialogue among ministries and agencies responsible for the sectors of health to foster these integrated approaches;
  3. To further develop communication, education and public awareness tools
  4. To provide effective incentives in the health sector to mainstream biodiversity;
  5. To require the World Health Organization (WHO) to further support the development and implementation of measures, guidance and tools.

In the area of climate actions, the COP adopted voluntary Guidelines for the design and effective implementation of ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. It recommends in particular to identify regions, ecosystems and components of biodiversity that are or will become particularly vulnerable to such climate changes. Again, holistic, ecosystem-based approaches are to be encouraged since biodiversity is key to maintaining their resilience.

It also encourages Parties, governments and relevant organizations to take into account domestic priorities, circumstances and capabilities and to make use of these voluntary Guidelines when designing and implementing such ecosystem-based approaches a.o. in the frame the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the approaches of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem.

(See more details on the Level 2 of these Highlights)


7. What were the main decisions and recommendations adopted by the COP regarding pollinators, wild meat supply and marine biodiversity issues?

7.1 Pollinators

Pollinators and pollination service are recognized vital and are of key importance for all ecosystems while strong declines of some pollinator taxa over the last few decades have been observed including in the most vulnerable biomes and agricultural systems2.

The COP insisted on the need to address this critical, paying especially close attention to the risk of introducing and spreading invasive alien species. Appropriate international and national policies are thus needed in order to provide an effective enabling environment to support activities by farmers, land managers, beekeepers, the private sector and civil society.

7.2 Wild meat supply

For wild meat, responsible consumption of certified sustainably-sourced should be promoted, since certification has the potential to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of wild species by influencing consumer choices for sustainably-sourced products. A Technical Guidance document, is proposed in this area in line with the Plan of Action on Customary Sustainable Use under the Convention. A local governance authority should then be made responsible for each land-use zone.

7.3 Marine and coastal biodiversity

Regarding more specifically marine and coastal biodiversity, the COP urges in particular the Parties:

  • a) To avoid, minimize and mitigate the impacts of marine debris;
  • b) To address the potential impacts of deep-seabed mining on marine biodiversity
  • c) To protect biodiversity in cold-water areas.

(See more details on the Level 2 of these Highlights)

2 Data however on the status and trends of wild pollinators are limited and largely restricted to some regions of Europe and the Americas

8. What has the COP decided regarding synthetic biologic and its potential issues?

Synthetic biology3 covers a wide range of different biotechnology applications, for instance what the general public knows as genetically modified organisms or GMOs’. The COP noted the conclusions of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Synthetic Biology that, given the current uncertainties regarding engineered genes, the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and local communities might be warranted when considering the possible release of organisms containing engineered gene drives that may impact their traditional knowledge, innovation, practices, livelihood and use of land and waste.

The COP calls thus to apply a precautionary approach, in accordance with the objectives of the Convention taking into account the current uncertainties regarding engineered gene drives.

(See more details on the Level 2 of these Highlights)

3 Synthetic biology is a multidisciplinary area of research that seeks to create new biological parts, devices, and systems, or to redesign systems that are already found in nature. It is a branch of science that encompasses a broad range of methodologies from various disciplines, including such as btechnology, genetic engineering, molecular biology and engineering. 

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