Conservation of Biodiversity

updated May 2017

Conservation of biodiversity is one of the three core objectives of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). For this purpose most countries have legislative frameworks in place for designating areas of land or sea as national parks. These protected areas of habitat aim to prohibit human intervention.

At the 2010 CBD Conference at Nagoya in Japan, it was agreed to set 2020 targets to increase protected areas to at least 17% of the world’s land area and 10% of the oceans, from the 2010 baseline of 12.7% and 1.6% respectively.

Progress with terrestrial protected areas is viewed as promising, with hopes that the 2020 target will be met. There are approximately 200,000 protected areas in the world, covering around 14.6% of the land.

Projections for the oceans are less optimistic, with coverage having increased only to 3.4%. A structural barrier to progress is the current legal void for establishing marine protected areas beyond coastal waters under national jurisdiction. Although the CBD lacks clear authority to conduct negotiations in this context, the UN has established a roadmap for potential action.

Expansion of conservation will be pursued in the knowledge that only about half of existing protected areas can claim a reasonable degree of success in their biodiversity goal. Insatiable demand for natural resources, combined with weak law enforcement, limits capacity to prevent illegal poaching, logging and clearance for agriculture.

Independent of the goals of the CBD, many national authorities have established seed and gene banks where thousands of varieties are stored as protection against catastrophe. As these repositories are known to be fallible to violent conflict or natural disaster, duplicate specimens are frozen in the “doomsday vault,” the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in northern Norway.


UN Ocean Conference Summary – the recent UN Ocean Conference was convened to support the implementation of SDG 14 – to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
from IISD Reporting Services

GOC SDG14 – An Ocean Opportunity – the Sustainable Development Goals approved in 2015 include a Goal dedicated to the oceans
from the Global Ocean

more Biodiversity briefings
The Anthropocene
Importance of Biodiversity
Biodiversity Loss and Planetary Boundaries
Causes of Biodiversity Loss
Climate Change and Biodiversity
Solutions to Biodiversity Loss
Sustainable Development Goals for Biodiversity
Biodiversity Finance and Economics
Biodiversity Access and Benefit-Sharing
Source Material and Useful Links

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