As a signatory state to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and numerous other biodiversity-related international agreements, Switzerland is working towards effective framework conditions, measures and policies for the conservation, promotion and sustainable use of biodiversity.
The most far-reaching biodiversity-related agreement is the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the two complementary international agreements, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization. The Kunming–Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted at the 2022 CBD Conference of the Parties in Montreal, and its targets for 2030 and 2050, are relevant to all biodiversity-related conventions and international processes.
There are several other conventions in addition to the CBD that cover specific elements of biodiversity (e.g. specific species or ecosystems).
Biodiversity-related international agreements
Global conventions: Global biodiversity-relevant conventions include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (UNESCO WHC), the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
Regional conventions: Regional biodiversity-relevant conventions include the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, the Council of Europe Landscape Convention and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).
Switzerland is also actively involved in negotiations within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on an agreement to protect marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (i.e. the high seas).
It 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) established in 2012, and of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
- 1. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- 2. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
- 3. Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing ABS
- 4. Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
- 5. Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
- 6. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- 7. Bern Convention
- 8. International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)
1. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
The Convention on Biological Diversity (Biodiversity Convention or 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 196 Parties. It was ratified by Switzerland on 21 November 1994.
The Parties to the CBD commit to taking appropriate measures for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and to regulate equitable access to and use of genetic resources.
The implementation of the CBD is monitored by the governing body, the Conference of the Parties (COP), and where necessary advanced through the decisions it takes at its periodic meetings. In April 2002, the Parties to the CBD undertook to significantly
reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. At the COP meeting in Nagoya in October 2010, the Global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets were established. Unfortunately, none of the global targets could be fully achieved by 2020.
Kunming–Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework
The Kunming–Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was adopted in December 2022 in Montreal at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP15); it replaces the previous Global Strategic Plan. The Global Biodiversity Framework includes clear and measurable global targets to be achieved by 2030 and overarching goals by 2050 with standardised indicators that address the main global causes of biodiversity loss.
The framework of targets gives concrete form to implementing the CBD and is also relevant for all biodiversity-related conventions and processes.
In addition to this framework, a reporting and review mechanism and measures to mobilise funding to achieve the targets were also agreed in Montreal. This mechanism to support implementation of the targets should allow the Parties to better assess the success of the measures and draw lessons from them. A decision was also made to share benefits from the use of digital sequence information on genetic resources (or DSI for short) and a process was initiated to create a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism.
Further information: Official CBD press release, December 2022
To ensure the long-term conservation of biodiversity, the Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) developed a national biodiversity strategy, which was approved by the Federal Council on 25 April 2012. The associated action plan was approved on 6 September 2017; this sets out concrete measures for the ten strategic goals in order to ensure the long-term conservation of biodiversity in Switzerland.
2. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety
Under the umbrella of the Biodiversity Convention (CBD)[WNB1] , the same states that adopted the CBD also adopted the Cartagena Protocol on Biodiversity in 2000. This was ratified by Switzerland on 26 March 2002. The Cartagena Protocol is an instrument of international law that addresses environmental and health aspects related to the use of living modified organisms (LMOs). It is designed to ensure the safe transport and use of LMOs resulting from modern biotechnology that could pose risks to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
An agreement supplementary to the Cartagena Protocol, the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol, was adopted in Nagoya in 2010. It specifies international rules and processes in relation to liability and redress in the event of damage caused to biodiversity by LMOs. Switzerland ratified the supplementary protocol on 27 October 2014 and it came into effect on 5 March 2018. 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 access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation (Access and Benefit-Sharing, ABS). It serves to implement the third objective of the CBD and contributes to achieving the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components. Genetic resources are often connected with traditional knowledge of indigenous and local communities, which is why the Nagoya Protocol also contains provisions concerning access and benefit-sharing when such knowledge is used.
Switzerland ratified the Nagoya Protocol on 11 July 2014 and it came into force on 12 October 2014. New provisions 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 (Art. 23n–q, Art. 24h para. 3 and Art. 25d NCHA). They came into force on 12 October 2014. 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 as 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 Switzerland on 16 July 1976. 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 (CMS) was concluded in Bonn, Germany, in 1979 and came into force in Switzerland on 1 July 1995. Its secretariat is located in Bonn.
6. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), also known as the Washington Endangered Species Convention, was concluded in Washington DC, USA, in 1973. It came into force in Switzerland on 1 July 1975. The CITES secretariat is located in Geneva. The authority responsible for CITES in Switzerland is the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO).
7. Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats
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. Special attention is given to endangered and vulnerable species. The Bern Convention implements at regional level many of the global goals defined in the Biodiversity Convention (1992).
8. International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA)
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) adopted the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) in Rome in 2001. The treaty came into force in Switzerland on 20 February 2005. The authority in Switzerland responsible for the ITPGRFA is the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG).
Last modification 14.04.2023