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Nature conservation
1. United Nations Conference On Environment And Development (UNCED)
2. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
3. Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
4. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES)
5. The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC)
6. Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS)
7. Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT)
8. International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTC)
9. United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)
10. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)
11. Global Tiger Forum (GTF)

Hazardous material
12. Stockholm Convention
13. Basel Convention
14. Rotterdam Convention Land
15. United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

Marine environment
16. International Whaling Commission (IWC)

17. Vienna convention and Montreal Protocol
18. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
19. Kyoto Protocol

1. United Nations Conference On Environment And Development (UNCED)
Also known as the Rio Summit, Rio Conference, Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992.
The issues addressed included:

  • Systematic scrutiny of patterns of production — particularly the production of toxic components, such as lead in gasoline, or poisonous waste including radioactive chemicals
  • Alternative sources of energy to replace the use of fossil fuels which are linked to global climate change
  • New reliance on public transportation systems in order to reduce vehicle emissions, congestion in cities and the health problems caused by polluted air and smog
  • The growing scarcity of water

The Earth Summit resulted in the following documents:

  • Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
  • Agenda 21
  • Forest Principles

Moreover, two important legally binding agreements
1. Convention on Biological Diversity
2. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, often shortened to Rio Declaration, was a short document produced at the 1992 United Nations “Conference on Environment and Development” (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit. The Rio Declaration consisted of 27 principles intended to guide future sustainable development around the world.

Agenda 21

  • Agenda 21 is an action plan of the United Nations (UN) related to sustainable development and was an outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.
  • It is a comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans directly affect the environment.
  • The number 21 refers to an agenda for the 21st century.

Local Agenda 21

  • The implementation of Agenda 21 was intended to involve action at international, national, regional and local levels. Some national and state governments have legislated or advised that local authorities take steps to implement the plan locally, as recommended in Chapter 28 of the document. Such programmes are often known as ‘Local Agenda 21’ or ‘LA21’.

Agenda 21 for culture

  • During the first World Public Meeting on Culture, held in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2002, it came up with the idea to draw up document guidelines for local cultural policies, a document comparable to what Agenda 21 meant in 1992 for the environment.
  • The Agenda 21 for culture is the first document with worldwide mission that advocates establishing the groundwork of an undertaking by cities and local governments for cultural development.


  • In 1997, the General Assembly of the UN held a special session to appraise five years of progress on the implementation of Agenda 21 (Rio +5).
  • The Assembly recognized progress as ‘uneven’ and identified key trends including increasing globalization, widening inequalities in income and a continued deterioration of the global environment.

The Johannesburg Summit

  • The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit 2002) affirmed UN commitment to ‘full implementation’ of Agenda 21, alongside the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other international agreements.

Rio +20

  • “Rio+20” is the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012 – twenty years after the landmark 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.
  • At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from the private sector, NGOs and other groups, came together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet.
  • The official discussions focussed on two main themes:
    1. How to build a green economy to achieve sustainable development and lift people out of poverty; and
    2. How to improve international coordination for sustainable development.
  • AT Rio+20, more than $513 billion was pledged to build a sustainable future. It signalled a major step forward in achieving the future we want.

2. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

  • CBD is a Legally binding Convention recognized for the first time, that the conservation of biological diversity is “a common concern of humankind” and is an integral part of the development process. The agreement covers all ecosystems, species, and genetic resources.


  • The conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and to technologies, and by appropriate funding.

Three main goals:

  • The conservation of biodiversity
  • Sustainable use of the components of biodiversity
  • Sharing the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way

The Convention acknowledges that substantial investments are required to conserve biological diversity. It argues, however, that conservation will bring us significant environmental, economic and social benefits in return.

Do you know?

The current population of the Greater adjutant stork is only 1,200, of which, 80 percent are found in Assam. The bird’s habitat has been greatly impacted by human development.

Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity

Biosafety refers to the need to protect human health and the environment from the possible adverse effects of the products of modern biotechnology.
The Convention clearly recognizes these twin aspects of modern biotechnology.

  1.  Access to and transfer of technologies
  2. Appropriate procedures to enhance the safety of biotechnology technologies.

Is to contribute to ensuring an adequate level of protection in the field of the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health, and specifically focusing on transboundary movements.

  • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is an additional agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • The Protocol establishes procedures for regulating the import and export of LMOs from one country to another.
  • The Protocol also requires Parties to ensure that LMOs being shipped from one country to another are handled, packaged and transported in a safe manner.
  • The shipments must be accompanied by documentation that clearly identifies the LMOs, specifies any requirements for the safe handling, storage, transport and use and provides contact details for further information.

There are two main sets of procedures, one for LMOs intended for direct introduction into the environment, known as the advance informed agreement (AIA) procedure, and another for LMOs intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing (LMOs-FFP).

Advance Informed Agreement

  • Under the AIA procedure, a country intending to export an LMO for intentional release into the environment must notify in writing the Party of import before the first proposed export takes place.
  • The Party of import must acknowledge receipt of the notification within 90 days and must communicate its decision on whether or not to import the LMO within 270 days.
  • Parties are required to ensure that their decisions are based on a risk assessment of the LMO, which must be carried out in a scientifically sound and transparent manner.
  • Once a Party takes a decision on the LMO, it is required to communicate the decision as well as a summary of the risk assessment to a central information system, the Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH).

LMOs- food or feed, or for processing

  • Under the procedure for LMOs-FFP, Parties that decide to approve and place such LMOs on the market are required to make their decision and relevant information, including the risk assessment reports, publicly available through the BCH.

Nagoya—Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol

  • The Cartagena Protocol is reinforced by the Nagoya— Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress.
  • The Supplementary Protocol specifies response measures to be taken in the event of damage to biodiversity resulting from LMOs.
  • The competent authority in a Party to the Supplementary Protocol must require the person in control of the LMO (operator) to take the response measures or it may implement such measures itself and recover any costs incurred from the operator.

Nagoya Protocol

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) to the Convention on Biological Diversity is a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
It provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD.

Is the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources, thereby contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.


The Nagoya Protocol sets out core obligations for its contracting Parties to take measures in relation to access to genetic resources, benefit-sharing and compliance.

Access obligations

  • Domestic-level access measures are to:
  • Create legal certainty, clarity and transparency
  • Provide fair and non-arbitrary rules and procedures
  • Establish clear rules and procedures for prior informed consent and mutually agreed terms
  • Provide for issuance of a permit or equivalent when access is granted
  • Create conditions to promote and encourage research contributing to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use
  • Pay due regard to cases of present or imminent emergencies that threaten human, animal or plant health
  • Consider the importance of genetic resources for food and agriculture for food security

Benefit-sharing obligations

  • Domestic-level benefit-sharing measures are to provide for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources with the contracting party providing genetic resources.
  • Utilization includes research and development on the genetic or biochemical composition of genetic resources, as well as subsequent applications and commercialization.
  • Sharing is subject to mutually agreed terms.
  • Benefits may be monetary or non-monetary such as royalties and the sharing of research results.

Compliance obligations

Specific obligations to support compliance with the domestic legislation or regulatory requirements of the contracting party providing genetic resources, and contractual obligations reflected in mutually agreed terms, are a significant innovation of the Nagoya Protocol. Contracting Parties are to:

  • Take measures providing that genetic resources utilized within their jurisdiction have been accessed in accordance with prior informed consent, and that mutually agreed terms have been established, as required by another contracting party
  • Cooperate in cases of an alleged violation of another contracting party’s requirements
  • Encourage contractual provisions on dispute resolution in mutually agreed terms
  • Ensure an opportunity is available to seek recourse under their legal systems when disputes arise from mutually agreed terms
  • Take measures regarding access to justice
  • Take measures to monitor the utilization of genetic resources after they leave a country including by designating effective checkpoints at any stage of the value-chain: research, development, innovation, pre-commercialization or commercialization

Traditional Knowledge 

  • The Nagoya Protocol addresses traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources with provisions on access, benefit-sharing and compliance.
  • It also addresses genetic resources where indigenous and local communities have the established right to grant access to them.
  • Contracting Parties are to take measures to ensure these communities’ prior informed consent, and fair and equitable benefit-sharing, keeping in mind community laws and procedures as well as customary use and exchange.


The Nagoya Protocol will create greater legal certainty and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources by:

  • Establishing more predictable conditions for access to genetic resources.
  • Helping to ensure benefit-sharing when genetic resources leave the contracting party providing the genetic resources

By helping to ensure benefit-sharing, the Nagoya Protocol creates incentives to conserve and sustainably use genetic resources and therefore enhances the contribution of biodiversity to development and human well-being.

The Biodiversity Target

  • It was adopted in May 2002 during the sixth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • The Target aimed to achieve, by 2010 ‘a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth.
The document International Environmental Convention - 1 | Environment for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Environment for UPSC CSE.
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