International Agreements

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was established on the occasion of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. 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, and the global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 are important supplementary agreements which have been adopted under the umbrella of the CBD.

Other conventions also exist which cover certain species or particular natural environments, such as the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, etc. Switzerland is also a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which was established in 2012, as well as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

All of these agreements contribute to the implementation of the global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the efforts being made to attain the Biodiversity Targets for 2020 (20 Aichi Targets). The latter were adopted in October 2010 in Nagoya (prefecture of Aichi) for the concrete implementation of the CBD.


1. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Convention on Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Convention, CBD) was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Convention now has a total of 193 Parties. It was ratified by Switzerland in 1994.

The signatory states of the CBD undertake to conserve biodiversity in their own territories, support appropriate measures for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in developing countries, and regulate equitably the access to genetic resources and their utilisation.

In April 2002, the Parties to the CBD undertook to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss significantly by 2010. Unfortunately, the agreed target of significantly reducing the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 was not attained. The global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and new biodiversity goals, the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, for the decade to 2020, known as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, were defined at the Conference of the Parties in Nagoya in October 2010. The measures to be attained under the strategic plan and goals include the elimination of counterproductive incentives, the improved interconnection of protected areas and the sustainable use of areas with an economic function.

To ensure the long-term conservation of biodiversity, on behalf of the Federal Council, the Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) developed a national biodiversity strategy. It was passed by the Federal Council on 25 April 2012. The associated action plan should be completed by the end of 2017. It will define concrete measures for the ten strategic goals so that the conservation of biodiversity in Switzerland can be guaranteed in the long term.


2. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Under the umbrella of the Biodiversity Convention, the same states also adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biodiversity in the year 2000. The Cartagena Protocol was ratified by Switzerland in 2002. The Cartagena Protocol is an international law instrument concerned with the environmental and health issues that arise in relation to the use of genetically modified, living organisms. It is designed to ensure the safe transport and use of living organisms that have been modified using biotechnology, which could pose risks to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol was passed in Nagoya in 2010 as a supplement to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The supplementary protocol specifies international rules and processes in relation to liability and redress in the event of damage caused to biodiversity by genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Switzerland ratified the supplementary protocol on 27 October 2014. The supplementary protocol is still in effect, but its provisions are harmonised with the applicable Swiss Gene Technology Act (GTA SR 814.91).


3. Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (Access and Benefit-Sharing, ABS)

The Nagoya Protocol, which was negotiated within the framework of the Biodiversity Convention (CBD), regulates the access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation (Access and Benefit-Sharing, ABS). Hence the Nagoya Protocol serves the implementation of the third objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity and contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components. There is often an interrelationship between the traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities and genetic resources. That is why the Nagoya Protocol also has provisions concerning access and benefit-sharing when such knowledge is used.

Switzerland ratified the Nagoya Protocol on 11 July 2014. It came into force on 12 October 2014. New provisions (NCHA Art. 23n – q. 24h, para. 3 and 25d) were introduced in the Federal Act on the Protection of Nature and Cultural Heritage (NCHA, SR 451) in order to implement the protocol in Switzerland. The associated Nagoya Ordinance (NagO, SR 461.61) came into force on 1 February 2016. Its purpose is to apply the provisions concerning genetic resources in the Nature and Cultural Heritage Act and implement the Nagoya Protocol in Switzerland.


4.   Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially Waterfowl Habitat was concluded in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. Therefore, it is one of the oldest international agreements on the protection of nature. The Ramsar Convention came into force in 1976 in Switzerland. The secretariat for the Ramsar Convention is located in Gland (canton of Vaud).


5.   Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Convention on Migratory Species, CMS) was concluded in Bonn, Germany, in 1979 and entered into force in Switzerland on 1 July 1995. The CMS secretariat is located in Bonn.


6. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

Also known as the Washington Endangered Species Convention, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was passed in Washington in 1973. It entered into force in Switzerland on 1 July 1975. The CITES secretariat is in Geneva. The authority responsible for the CITES in Switzerland is the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO)


7. Bern Convention

The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats was signed by the Council of Europe in Bern in 1979. It is the first agreement to regulate the protection of biodiversity at European level.

The aim of the Bern Convention is to conserve wild flora and fauna and their habitats, and to promote cooperation between European countries in the conservation of biodiversity. Particular attention shall be paid here to threatened and particularly sensitive species. The Bern Convention implements many of the global goals defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) at regional level.


8. International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) was passed in Rome in 2001 and came into force in Switzerland on 20 February 2005. The authority in Switzerland responsible for the ITPGRFA is the Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG.


9. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

The vast number of scientific insights available into biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems are currently too fragmented to provide a general overview and enable the extrapolation of policy measures. The purpose of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which was established in April 2012, is to provide assistance in this regard and assume a mediation role between science and politics. The IPBES is meant to inform policymakers and international forums about the state of and changes in biodiversity and about the necessary reactions. The Technical Support Unit (TSU) for the regional assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe and Central Asia has been located at the University of Bern since 2015 and receives financial support from Switzerland.


Further information

Contact
Last modification 06.06.2018

Top of page

https://www.bafu.admin.ch/content/bafu/en/home/themen/thema-biodiversitaet/biodiversitaet--fachinformationen/biodiversitaet--internationales/internationale-abkommen.html