Biodiversity: International Instruments


The Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), adopted at the Rio Earth Summit, today brings together 193 States, with the notable exception of the United States. It is the main international convention in the area of biological diversity. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition are the two national focal points for the CBD.

The CBD has three fundamental objectives:

• Conservation of biodiversity (designation of protected areas and conservation of species and natural areas);
• Sustainable use of biodiversity (connection with sustainable development);
• Access to genetic resources and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their utilization.

The Convention is reinforced with two important protocols, which have both been ratified by France and have entered into force:

• The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety;
• The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS)

The decisions adopted at meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD are international in scope and non-binding. 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 mobilizing resources were adopted.
The commitments made under this Convention are included in national action plans and strategies to ensure their concrete implementation.

See France’s National Plan for Biodiversity (in French)

In October 2012, the Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11, Hyderabad, India) concluded with the adoption of a decision, 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. France achieved this target with official development assistance for biodiversity (more specifically commitment authorizations), which went from a yearly average of €105 million in the period 2006-2010 to more than €477 million in 2018.

The global diversity framework is to be renewed in 2020 at COP15 in Kunming, China, which has been postponed to 2021 because of the health crisis caused by COVID-19.

Negotiations aiming to develop this global framework have been instigated by an open-ended inter-sessional working group, co-chaired by Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Basile van Havre (Canada), and supervised by the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties. This group is to meet several times ahead of COP15 and to conduct its work in several regional thematic workshops and consultations.

Along with its European partners, France supports ambitious positions with the aim of reversing the alarming decline in biodiversity over the coming decade and to putting nature on the path to sustainable regeneration so that ecosystems continue to provide services that are essential to our survival.

Under the CBD, the clearing house on biodiversity in France is managed by the French National Museum of Natural History.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

On 20 December 2010, a resolution was adopted at the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the creation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

This platform was officially created on 20 April 2012 in Panama City and its headquarters were established in Bonn, Germany. The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is the national focal point for the IPBES.

This group of international experts is tasked with assessing the global status of biodiversity and the services that ecosystems provide people. Its work helps ensure independence of the observations and recommendations and provide policymakers with reliable and neutral scientific information.

France hosted the most recent IPBES plenary session (IPBES-7) in Paris from 29 April to 4 May 2019. At this session, the first Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services was adopted. Unprecedented in its scope and in the precision of its observations, thisreport takes stock of the overall decline in biodiversity, which is occurring at an alarming rate. For example, one million species could become extinct in the short term. This report is now a reference for drawing up the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that will be defined in October 2020 at COP15 in Kunming, China. It also stresses the urgent need to implement protection and restoration measures at every level to curb the widespread collapse of biodiversity.

Since 2011, the Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB) has been providing scientific and technical support to BPBES negotiations, by mobilizing many French scientists. Since 2013, it has led the French Committee for IPBES. This committee is a tripartite body, made up of representatives from research organizations (AllEnvi), the ministries concerned (foreign affairs, research, environments, overseas) and stakeholders (representatives from the FRB’s scientific steering committee and monitoring committee of the National Biodiversity Strategy).

International Union for Conservation of Nature

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union composed of both government and civil society organizations. Created in 1948 in Fountainebleau, the IUCN has 1,300 member organizations (including 88 States) and receives input from a network of more than 16,000 experts. It is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. Its experts participate in six commissions devoted to safeguarding species, environmental law, protected areas, economic and social policies, ecosystem management, and education and communication.

The IUCN focal point for France is the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. The IUCN Secretariat, with its headquarters in Gland, employs around 900 people in 50 countries. The IUCN President is currently Zhang Xinsheng (China) (currently serving his second term ending in 2020). A new President will be elected at the new IUCN World Conservation Congress.

Created in 1992, the IUCN French Committee is the network of IUCN experts and bodies in France. The network brings together 8 public bodies, 42 non-governmental organizations and more than 250 experts in a partnership between the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition.

Since 2005, France has developed a unique partnership in the form of framework agreements, with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), involving four French Ministries (Foreign Affairs, Overseas France and since 2017, Agriculture) and theAgence Française de Developpement (AFD).
Since 2005, more than €20 million have been mobilized through this framework agreement, which has helped finance some 30 projects.

The theme of France’s partnership is:

• Promoting nature-based solutions,
• which have helped highlight the contribution of natural ecosystems to adapting to climate change and curbing greenhouse gas emissions during COP21, as well as the important work being done on innovative biodiversity financing mechanisms. This is essential because it promotes the development of action that supports efforts to fight climate change and conserve biodiversity.
• The “science and decision-making” component has helped to support the IUCN’s Red List (44,867 species evaluated, broad geographical scope, assessment of 900 species of reef fish), and to use knowledge on biodiversity to further sustainable logging (creating a red list of exploitable tree species in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and to contribute to the assessment of biodiversity globally (IUCN’S contribution to the development of the IPBES through increased technical participation in international discussions and negotiations, raised awareness of civil society and production of advocacy documents).
• The “conservation instruments and measures” component consists in establishing training courses and assessments in connection with the management of protected areas in Africa (more than 300 managers trained and 120 parks and reserves assessed in 15 countries), through better knowledge on bushmeat, thereby participating in assessing the feasibility of an observatory for monitoring bushmeat trade, and through the mobilization of the private sector in tourism and biodiversity (publication of the “Biodiversity: My hotel in action” guide on the sustainable use of natural resources in the operation of hotels).
• The “partnership capacity-building” component has made a significant contribution to creating forums for exchanges and cooperation in the following areas: governance of the high seas of the Mediterranean; creation of a European overseas round table and a Voluntary Scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of European Overseas (BEST), financed by the European Union.

In May 2017, France and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) renewed their partnership agreement for 2017-2020.

The framework agreement focuses on four common areas:
• Governance and biodiversity management;
• Businesses, the economy and financing of biodiversity;
• Oceans, islands and coasts;
• Promoting nature-based solutions.

Engaging the State and with a budget of €8.8 million (including the cost of France’s provision of five experts), this partnership ensures that France remains one of IUCN’s fmain donors.

In January 2021, France will host in Marseille theIUCN World Conservation Congress (which was initially planned for June 2020 but postponed because of the COVID 19 health crisis). This event, which is held every four years, is considered to be the most important global event in the field of biodiversity protection. The Congress will include three main components:

• The Members’ Assembly, during which IUCN members vote on priority issues. France is the co-drafter of 20 of the 128 draft motions that will be reviewed in January 2021.
• The Forum, a global space devoted to innovation and the science of conservation. France will have its own pavilion.
• The Exhibition, where exhibitors showcase their work to Congress participants and the general public.

At the same time in the same venue of the Congress, France will host Nature Generation Areas, open to the general public, which will showcase the actions of private actors and citizens involved in the fight against biodiversity loss.

Several summits will be held on the sidelines of the Congress. They will centre on young people, indigenous communities, business leaders, and local communities.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Signed in March 1973, the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to ensure that the international trade of animals, plants and products does not threaten the survival of the species to which they belong.

This legally binding intergovernmental agreement signed on 3 March 1973 in Washington, D.C. concerns more than 5,500 animal species and 29,500 plant species. CITES has 183 States Parties, including the European Union since April 2015, and is attached to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and is headed by Ivonne Higuero, whose role is to ensure the overall working of the Convention.

All the cross-border movements of plants and animals for which CITES regulates trade, whether they are alive or dead, whole or not, are subject to prior administrative permits. The same goes for transactions regarding products derived from these wildlife plants and animals (leather, fur, feathers, scales, eggs, ivory, trophies, wood, furniture, artworks, food products). All import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system.

The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need for their survival and the biological and trade criteria:
• Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Their trade is only permitted in exceptional circumstances;
• Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival;
• Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.

More than 5,000 animal species and 28,000 plant species are concerned.

At the CITES COP18 in August 2019, France was noted for its support for and attainment of strong decisions regarding emblematic species including elephants and giraffes and for lesser known species such as sea cucumbers.

Since 2016, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has been coordinating the National Johannesburg CITES Enforcement Task Force. This task force is chaired by the ambassador working on the environment and bringing together representatives from the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition (CITES national management authority), the French National Museum of Natural History (CITES national scientific authority), the Ministry for Overseas France, the Gendarmarie (OCLAEPS), customs, the National Office for Biodiversity and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

France also provides active support to organizations working in the field, including INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), an initiative involving five inter-governmental organizations. France also supports coalitions such as the African Elephant Fund and the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP, UNEP-UNESCO).

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is a treaty of the United Nations Environment Programme, which aims to conserve terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range.

The Convention was ratified in 1983 by 130 States Parties and has since been supplemented by several agreements, memoranda of understanding and special species initiatives.

The CMS provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. It brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.

• Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed in Appendix I of the Convention. CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Besides establishing obligations for each acceding State to the Convention, CMS promotes concerted action among the Range States of many of these species.
• Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention. For this reason, the Convention encourages the Range States to conclude global or regional agreements. In this respect, CMS acts as a framework convention. The agreements may range from legally binding treaties (called agreements) to less formal instruments, such as memoranda of understanding, and can be adapted to the requirements of particular regions. The development of models tailored according to the conservation needs throughout the migratory range is a unique capacity to CMS.

The CMS COP13 was held in February 2020 in Gandhinagar. Seven species (Mainland Asian Elephant, Jaguar, Bengal Florican, Little Bustard, Antipodean Albatross, Ocean White-tip Shark) were listed in Appendix I of the Convention, which provides the strictest protection, and three species (Urial, Smooth Hammerhead Shark, Tope Shark) were listed in Appendix II listing the migratory species which have an unfavourable conservation status and would benefit from enhanced international cooperation and conservation actions

Updated: May 2020