‘Biological diversity’ means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD), Article 2

What is Biodiversity?

The natural environment can be seen as a web of life, where a multitude of different organisms (animals, plants and microorganisms) interact. The variability existing in nature among organisms, within and between species as well as ecosystems is synthetized by the expression “biological diversity” (“biodiversity” in short).

About 1.75 million species have been identified so far, but scientists estimate the existence of about 13 million species throughout the world. This variety is essential for life on Earth and for the wellbeing of our societies, which depend on the natural capital of our planet, represented by ecosystem services: these have a key role in delivering important resources for economic and social development as well as in enhancing quality of life and limiting the impact of human activities.

Ecosystems also have an important economic value, since their degradation significantly affects economic growth and development. In this context TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) is an instrumental discipline to sustainable development.

For example, forests offer a wide range of goods (timber, food, fibre, biomass…) extremely useful for our economies and societies, but at the same time they are “carbon sinks” sequestering human-generated carbon emissions and thus tackling climate change.

Biodiversity loss and ecosystems deterioration jeopardise the provision of ecosystem services, and they therefore represent one of the most serious threats to human wellbeing and economic development.

Tackling biodiversity loss: a global challenge

One of the main agreements adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro was the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). World leaders and governments committed to preserve the ecological diversity of the Earth and established three main goals to achieve in this domain: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.

This legally binding Convention, which has been signed by 193 Parties so far, recognises biodiversity as a common concern of humankind and an integral part of the development process, stressing the importance of protecting biodiversity for the environmental, economic and social benefits that it offers.

The tenth Conference of the Parties (COP 10), held in Nagoya in 2010, led to the adoption of the global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation (ABS Protocol), and a strategy to mobilise resources for global biodiversity.

In addition, the Conference led to the adoption of the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities on Biodiversity 2011-2020, and launched the process for the establishment of two CBD Advisory Committees of Subnational Governments and Cities and other Local Authorities, respectively “in recognition of the critical complementary and distinct role in the implementation of the Convention.”

nrg4SD has the honour of being identified in the Plan of Action as a key partner for the establishment of the Advisory Committee of Subnational Governments.


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