Quick access :

French policy on biodiversity

Overall aspects

Biological diversity – or biodiversity – is the term for all forms of life on Earth and their natural characteristics. Biodiversity covers the diversity found in each species (genetic diversity) and the diversity between species (species diversity) and between ecosystems (ecosystem diversity).

Biodiversity plays a vital role because its preservation sustains the fragile equilibrium of the ecosystems that provide the basic services that are crucial to life on earth (production of atmospheric oxygen, recycling of nutrients, primary production) and supply services (food, natural material and fibre, fresh water, bioenergy, etc.) that are essential to human well-being. Ecosystems also play a regulating role in the face of natural disasters, epidemics and climate change. They shape human cultures and spiritual beliefs.

The ongoing crisis of extinction of biological diversity is unprecedented in human history. Its extent was measured from 2005 as part of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA). This assessment has shown that, over the past 50 years, human activities have caused swifter and more extensive modifications of ecosystems than at any other time in human history, and substantial and very largely irreversible loss of biological diversity on earth.

According to many experts, if energetic measures are not taken rapidly to check the erosion of biodiversity, at the present pace and by 2050 forests and grassland could be reduced by 10% to 20%, the collapse of fish stocks will continue and the proliferation of invasive alien species will increase. Moreover, climate change will compound the biodiversity crisis and the loss of services provided by ecosystems. The consequences of this hence go beyond the saving of certain emblematic species and place the issue of biodiversity conservation at the forefront of environmental concerns, including in the context of adaptation to climate change.

Yet raising awareness about the biodiversity crisis still largely remains to be done.

International biodiversity protection instruments

The loss of biodiversity is a global challenge. There exist a great many international instruments with global or regional scope that try to address this challenge.

The first instruments have developed approaches based on:

- the preservation of endangered species (International Whaling Commission (IWC), Bonn Convention on Migratory Species, Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats);
- the protection of habitats (European Union legislation, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Alpine Convention, etc.).

International trade in endangered species and the wildlife products derived from them is also strictly regulated by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). As regards the marine environment, several conventions developed in particular by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are designed to protect coherent geographical areas, including the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the South Pacific.

1. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted at the Rio "Earth Summit" and today brings together 194 countries, with the notable exception of the United States. It has three fundamental objectives:

- the conservation of biodiversity: designation of protected areas and conservation of species and natural areas.
- the sustainable use of biodiversity;
- access to genetic resources and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their utilization. The CBD is supplemented by two important protocols:- the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity. The Protocol also takes account of risks to human health. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 and entered into force on 11 September 2003. Since 2010, the Cartagena Protocol has been supplemented by the Nagoya - Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress (not yet in force);
- the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS). It aims at sharing the benefits resulting from the utilization of genetic resources and related traditional knowledge in a fair and equitable way, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies (adopted on 29 October 2010, entered into force on 12 October 2014). The first meeting of the Parties, held in parallel with the Twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12), adopted a number of operational decisions and the budget.

The decisions adopted at meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD are international in scope. France participates actively in COP meetings. In 2010, at the Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (Nagoya, Japan), the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, with its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and a strategy for resource mobilisation were adopted.

In October 2012, the Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11, Hyderabad, India) concluded with the adoption of a decision, confirmed at the Twelfth meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 12, Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea), which proposed doubling international financial resource flows from all sources by 2015 and until 2020 for the protection of biodiversity in developing countries. This was the first time that an international financial target was set in support of biodiversity. The Parties to the Convention agreed, moreover, to significantly increase domestic biodiversity expenditures and to report on such expenditures, including by means of national financial plans. The different objectives and progress towards these different points will be reviewed regularly at each of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention until 2020.

Regarding the marine environment, COP 12 has helped recognize about 150 areas worldwide as meeting the scientific criteria for "ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs)" and include their "description" in the global EBSA repository.

2. IPBES or the "IPCC of biodiversity"

Though there are many expertise centres for biodiversity, there was no global international mechanism recognized by scientists and policy-makers, to gather available related information, summarize it and analyze it with a view to climate change policy-making in the different bodies concerned like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Based on this observation and following the International Conference "Biodiversity: Science and Governance" (Paris Conference) in 2005, an international process was established to assess the need for, scope and form of such an international mechanism for scientific expertise on biodiversity and ecosystem services. A decisive step was taken on 20 December 2010 when the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution giving the go-ahead to create the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The IPBES was formally inaugurated in Panama City on 20 April 2012. It is headquartered in Bonn, Germany. An initial, ambitious work programme was adopted at the second Plenary Session (IPBES-2) for the period 2014-2018 and is currently being implemented. Among other outcomes, it provides for identification of priority capacity-building needs in Southern countries, a number of thematic assessments (of pollinators, land degradation and restoration, invasive alien species, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use) and for a set of regional and global assessments of the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

France’s action

Following on from the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan adopted at the Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD at Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010, France has strengthened its action in support of biodiversity by adopting a new National Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) for the period 2011-2020.

The commitment made in 2012 during the first French Environmental Conference "to make France an exemplary country in terms of restoration of biodiversity" has been translated into a draft biodiversity framework law to be reviewed by the French Parliament in the first half of 2015. This draft framework law aims to help better reconcile human activities with biodiversity and hence respond to the commitment made as a Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity "to live in harmony with nature". Through this draft law, France is also mobilizing towards the effective implementation of the principles contained in the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS Protocol).

Many actions have already been implemented at national level to combat loss of biodiversity: designation of new marine and land-based protected areas; identification of ecological continuities; definition of action plans for endangered species; strategies for controlling invasive species; dissemination of biodiversity friendly practices; awareness actions and knowledge development; and regional and international cooperation actions. France reported on all its actions in its 5th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (in French) (July 2014).

At European level, France is involved through the application of European directives, namely the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) and the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). In this framework, it is actively participating in the development of the European Union’s Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

Combating poaching and illegal trade in wild species

France is highly involved at the highest level in combating poaching and illegal trade in wild species. On 5 December 2013, France organized a round table on "Combating poaching and trafficking of endangered species" that brought together nine African Heads of State together with the French President. A Declaration was adopted at the Round Table and a French Action Plan made public. On 6 February 2014, France destroyed 3 tonnes of illegal customs seized ivory as a symbolic gesture. Under its Action Plan, France pledged €25 million in gifts in 2014 and 2015 to Combating poaching and trafficking of endangered species as part of its development assistance policy.

Specific financial instruments for biodiversity-related French official assistance

The fight against the erosion of biodiversity and the protection of natural environments and terrestrial and marine ecosystems has been part of French development and international solidarity policy since 2014 (Law no. 2014-773 of 7 July 2014 - in French).

As the linchpin operator of French cooperation, in 2013 the French Development Agency (AFD) developed a Cross-cutting Intervention Framework – Biodiversity (2013-2016) which focused its action around three objectives:
- To sustainably protect, restore, manage and promote ecosystems;
- To include ecosystem conservation in all sectoral applications of development policies (agriculture, energy, transport, mining extraction, urban development);
- To strengthen partnerships between French players and the AFD’s intervention countries for improved global governance of biodiversity.

The AFD’s Sectoral Innovation Facility for NGOs (FISONG) is a financing tool for promoting NGOs’ specific expertise and capacity for innovation. A call for proposals was launched in 2012 on the topic of "Biodiversity and development" - in French".

Linking biodiversity with other areas of the global environment is a priority of the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM) which, for the past 20 years, has financed with gifts sustainable development projects under the multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) ratified by France. FFEM biodiversity financing is targeted at the sustainable management of natural resources, the establishment of innovative financing mechanisms for protected areas and biodiversity conservation actions (see key FFEM figures for 2013 the FFEM 2013 Activity Report).

Created in 2006, the FFEM’s Small-scale Initiatives (SSI) Programme aims to support civil society organizations in African countries that are actively involved in biodiversity protection and climate change action by funding small-scale projects. Thanks to the SSI Programme, civil society structures are able to take concrete action on the ground, improve their skills in setting up, managing and monitoring projects, build their capacity to influence environmental choices in their countries and share their experiences. Also financed by the FFEM, the PPI-NASCO Programme (Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia) inspired by the Small-scale Initiatives (SSI) Programme, began its activities in 2014.

Through its multilateral assistance, France also supports the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that finances biodiversity-focused projects in developing countries and countries in transition. In 2014, France consolidated its involvement in environmental protection and its support for the Global Environment Facility by contributing $300 million (for all issues covered by the GEF, including biodiversity), amounting to an increase of almost 6% in euros, under the GEF 6 Replenishment.

In connection with the financial commitments made in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2014 (see Decision XII/3 on resource mobilization), France has established an accounting system for biodiversity resources mobilized internationally which is presented on the website of National Biodiversity Observatory (in French). France also promotes the development of innovative financing mechanisms. It has initiated a debate on innovative financing for biodiversity in the framework of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development whose secretariat it provides. A synthesis report listing 20 different initiatives for mobilizing new financing sources for ecosystem conservation and restoration and helping reduce financing needs by easing pressures on biodiversity was published in June 2014.

France’s international strategic biodiversity partnerships

Since 2005, France and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have developed a unique partnership for cooperation on biodiversity governance, the conservation of forests, savannas and arid areas in sub-Saharan African, and of oceans and island environments, including in Overseas France.

France is also a partner of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) which enables civil society to engage in the conservation of endangered environments and involve local communities in protecting the ecosystems on which they depend for their well-being.




All rights reserved - French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development - 2015