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Chapter 8 - The new regional planning and implementation of the convention on biological diversity

Arturo Martínez

Activities under the CBD
Sustainable use of biodiversity: Developing incentive measures
Generating new opportunities in biodiversity trade


During the negotiation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) the four points outlined in the Introduction of this volume were intensively discussed and supported. These four points - "Conservation as a Development Tool" (Articles 1 and 20 (4)), "Consider the Neighbors" (Article 14), "Broaden the Development Agenda" (Article 8 (i)), and "Systems Thinking" (Article 10)--briefly summarize the new paradigm that establishes that without conservation of biodiversity, there is no development for future generations.

The importance given to this paradigm by both developed and developing countries is reflected in the speed with which they have endorsed the Convention, which is a binding intergovernmental instrument. It entered into force in December 1993, after having been signed in Rio in June 1992. More than 100 countries were already parties to the CBD when the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties was held in November of 1994, and its full implementation is now under way. An important facet of the CBD is the political realization that all human beings--whether from developed or developing countries--are responsible for the loss of biological diversity, though with differing degrees of responsibility. Another important contribution of the CBD is the provision of a basic standard for enhancing cooperation to fulfill its objectives.

The three objectives of the CBD are the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the utilization of genetic resources. On the basis of these objectives, the CBD recognizes first that conservation and sustainable use are closely interrelated. Second, it acknowledges the right of sovereign states to determine access to genetic resources and to share the benefits derived from their use. Third, it recognizes the expertise of local and indigenous communities in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, in particular in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.

In Agenda 21 and the CBD, there is no reference to operational units except for the concept of protected areas. However, the CBD objectives go beyond protected areas by referring to sustainable use of the components of biodiversity. So far there has been no attempt to define a portion of the earth's surface with some kind of common element such as a river basin or a coastal region where an integrated plan for conserving biodiversity is being developed. This is the reason why the new regional planning concept could be an integrated operation to help countries to develop national strategies for implementing the CBD. The purpose of this paper is to describe the aspects of the CBD that should be taken into account in defining the new regional planning model.

Activities under the CBD

Articles 7, 8, 9, and 14 describe the activities that the parties need to carry out to comply with the objectives of the CBD. These articles are key to its implementation.

Article 7 deals with the identification and monitoring of the components of biodiversity. The process of identifying any living organism is a continuous basic inventory in support of any plan or program for conservation and sustainable use in any region. It is a straightforward, essential scientific action that should accompany any process of regional planning.

With regard to the other relevant point in Article 7, the need for monitoring, the CBD provides some technical guidance (Article 7 (a)), leaving the complicated process of organizing an effective monitoring system to the countries. However, some general guidance must be developed to assist in the organization, management, and operation of a monitoring system. For example, the area where the system will be used needs to be defined. In this sense the new concept of a region as an integrated unit for action may facilitate the difficult process of monitoring. It is also important to remember that monitoring the components of biodiversity needs to have a framework of time and space. An ecophysiological experiment might be set up in which efforts would be made to define dimensions and variables in order to obtain predictable results. The definition of parameters is a key condition for an effective diagnosis; advanced technology is contributing to this important field of ecosystem management.

The same article recommends rather repetitively the identification of processes and categories of activities having significant adverse impacts (Article 7 (c)). It may be that the negotiations uncovered some reason for identifying indirect socioeconomic activities resulting in deforestation, unsustainable agriculture, the drainage or filling of wetlands, unsustainable use of river basins and marine coastal areas, overfishing, pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Indirect adverse impacts can cause neighboring similar ecosystems to suffer from different adverse impacts.

Article 14 complements the recommendations of Article 7 (c) by calling for action to minimize adverse impacts. It also encourages the conclusion of bilateral, regional, or multilateral arrangements to reduce activities that have a significant adverse effect on the biological diversity of other states or areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (Article 14 (c)). Here the CBD provides a legal basis for considering the health of biodiversity in neighboring states or areas, as described in the Introduction.

Article 8, on in-situ conservation, is the key article of the CBD in this context, and the concept of new regional planning can assist in its implementation. This article considers that a protected-area system should not be established without taking into account the political, social, economic, and environmental aspects of the region. The new concept of integrated region can help in particular to implement the aspects mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (e) concerning the establishment and management of protected areas and their surroundings.

In Article 8 (j), the parties agree that if the knowledge, innovations, and practices of indigenous and local communities are not respected, preserved, and maintained, humanity is losing experience, knowledge, and technology for conserving biodiversity. The provision in the CBD for improving the standard of living of these communities by making them partners in the benefits derived from the use of the genetic resources that they are continuously providing is a moral and a utilitarian recommendation. The CBD recognizes the moral debt that this generation owes to traditional and indigenous communities for their contribution to modern agriculture and medicine. In addition, there are utilitarian reasons to preserve and improve the living conditions of traditional and indigenous communities, since it is widely recognized that close collaboration with these communities will enhance the genetic diversity of crops and provide new pharmaceutical products to modern medicine. The CBD provides legal support to these still-marginal communities by introducing concern for their preservation into the international agenda.

Implementing Article 8 (j) will not be easy. Perhaps, as is pointed out by Glowka et al. (1994), the first step might be to provide rights under national legislation to indigenous and local communities. Exchange of experiences and knowledge can help countries to consider seriously the conservation of traditional practices for future generations. Regional cooperation through the organization of seminars and workshops on political, legal, economic, and scientific aspects can assist governments in complying with Article 8 (j).

Ex-situ conservation (Article 9) is a means of supporting actions to rehabilitate and restore degraded ecosystems (Article 8 (f)), and to develop sustainable agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. Article 9 says specifically that measures to conserve genetic resources should preferably be taken in their country of origin, but very few developing countries have the facilities and human capacity to establish and maintain ex-situ facilities. This is one issue, together with identification of the components of biodiversity in Article 7, that needs fluid regional and global cooperation.

Sustainable use of biodiversity: Developing incentive measures

Perhaps the most progressive concept in the CBD is that conservation and development can be achieved through the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity. The concept of sustainability of biodiversity and the need for incentive measures were developed prior to the CBD in non-binding documents such as the World Conservation Strategy (IUCN et al., 1980), Our Common Future (WCED, 1987), Caring for the Earth (IUCN, 1991), the Global Biodiversity Strategy (WRI et al., 1992), and Agenda 21 (UNCED, 1992).

During the CBD negotiations, these concepts were introduced in two articles: Article 10 on sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and Article 11 on incentive measures. Both provide an outline to be developed by each party to the CBD. One important element is the need for incentives and disincentives for developing sustainable agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.

The difficulty here is the still small number of economic incentives that will make the concept of sustainable use of natural resources attractive to the main actors. Public education (Article 13) using products from sustainable agriculture, forestry, and fisheries is one solution. At the same time policy-makers, particularly in the area of planning, have the obligation under the CBD to integrate conservation measures with socioeconomic aspects in the development of a protected-area system (Article 8 (c)).

Generating new opportunities in biodiversity trade

One outcome of the CBD grants to sovereign states the rights and obligations regarding access to genetic resources (Article 15). This new responsibility of countries also creates opportunities for partnerships between countries with genetic resources and those with advanced sustainable use technologies (Article 16). Articles 15, 16, and 19 provide minimum standards for transactions in biodiversity trade (Downes, 1993). These standards are provided by Article 15, which outlines how to access genetic resources from the providers' point of view, and by Articles 16 and 19, which outline the kind of technology, including biotechnology, to be transferred and the requirements for such partnerships.

The provisions in Articles 15, 16, 18, and 19 should be linked to Articles 8, 9, and 11. A strategy to access genetic resources cannot be separated from a strategy for their conservation, either in situ or ex situ, and a consideration of the potential benefits expected from their use since these are one incentive for developing countries to conserve biodiversity.


The CBD enhances conservation by adding the concepts of sustainability and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. In addition, the guidance for action recommended by Article 8 (c) includes the regulation and management of biodiversity whether within or outside of protected areas.

This recommendation indicates that any political, social, or economic activity directly or indirectly related to biodiversity should be taken into consideration in developing national strategies, plans, and programs. This comprehensive approach of the CBD is a particular challenge for developing countries in which the major revenues are from agriculture, fisheries, and forestry and a high percentage of the population is involved in farming.

To pursue this approach and alleviate the loss of biodiversity, a process to define management tools is needed. The new regional planning concept, with clear and concrete objectives, can help in this. The main components to be taken into account in the planning are (1) human resources; (2) research and development of scientific and technical tools for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity; (3) institutional coordination through the development of synergy between different institutional capabilities; and (4) policies for information exchange, technology transfer, and regional and international cooperation. The planning itself should consider (1) indigenous knowledge and its value in the conservation and use of biodiversity (including traditional land management); (2) land tenure and land-use planning for conservation and appropriate bio-production, including forestry and agriculture; (3) ecological history and past land management; (4) identification of economic uses and potential market value of genetic resources (including plants, animals, and microorganisms); and (5) intellectual property regimes and their relation to the conservation and use of biodiversity.

Now that policy-makers have included the conservation of biodiversity as a priority in their agenda, the search for technically, socially, and economically viable means of implementing the CBD is the second step.


Downes, D.R. 1993. "New Diplomacy for the Biodiversity Trade: Biodiversity, Biotechnology and Intellectual Property in the Convention on Biological Diversity." Touro Journal of Transnational Law, Spring, vol. 4. pp. 1-46.

Glowka L., et al. 1994. A Guide to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Gland, Switzerland. World Conservation Union.

IUCN/UNEP/WWF. 1980. World Conservation Strategy: Living Resource Conservation for Sustainable Development. Gland, Switzerland. International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

IUCN/UNEP/WWF. 1991. Caring for the Earth: A Strategy for Sustainable Living. Gland, Switzerland. World Conservation Union.

UNCED. 1993. Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development. New York. United Nations.

UNEP. 1992. Convention on Biological Diversity. Nairobi. United Nations Environment Programme.

WCED. 1987. Our Common Future: The Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. New York. Oxford University Press.

WRI/IUCN/UNEP. 1992. Global Biodiversity Strategy. Washington, D.C. World Resources Institute.

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