Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Looking Afresh at the Convention on Biological Diversity
Elisa Morgera and Elsa Tsioumani
University of Edinburgh School of Law Working Paper no. 2011/21 (August 2011)

In light of almost twenty years of implementation, this article looks afresh at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), by assessing its evolution and current legal significance with a view to better understanding its immediate future. To this end, the article critically analyses the outcomes of the tenth meeting of the CBD Conference of the Parties, in order to determine progress in the development and implementation of the Convention at the level of both international cooperation and national implementation.

After briefly introducing the modus operandi of the convention, the article outlines the legal and policy relevance of the international community’s failure to meet the global target of reducing significantly the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. Attention then focuses on the process and main outcomes of COP-10, which is arguably the most important CBD COP thus far, and assesses these outcomes with a view to discussing the future of the convention. Among other topics, the article offers a brief analysis of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilisation, in order to clarify how the operationalization of the third objective of the CBD may influence the implementation of the whole CBD regime. The article then assesses COP-10 decisions on indigenous and local communities and traditional knowledge, exploring the reciprocal influence between the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the CBD. The legal implications of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 are then identified, followed by a discussion of the developments in addressing the relationship between sustainable funding and successful implementation, and of the increasing attention paid by the CBD parties to climate change impacts and response measures. The conclusions identify the challenges posed by the significant evolution of the CBD’s scope as well as the increased need for coherent implementation of its three objectives at the international and national level.

The paper is a pre-publication version of an article to be published in the 2011 Yearbook of International Environmental Law. Read the abstract, including link to full article …