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The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entered into force on 29 December 1993.

It has 3
main objectives:
1. The conservation of biological diversity
2. The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic
4. The Earth's biological resources are vital to humanity's economic and social
development. As a result, there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a
global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations. At the same time, the
threat to species and ecosystems has never been so great as it is today. Species extinction
caused by human activities continues at an alarming rate.
5. In response, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened the Ad Hoc
Working Group of Experts on Biological Diversity in November 1988 to explore the
need for an. international convention on biological diversity. Soon after, in May 1989, it
established the Ad Hoc Working Group of Technical and Legal Experts to prepare an
international legal instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of biological
diversity. The experts were to take into account "the need to share costs and benefits
between developed and developing countries" as well as "ways and means to support
innovation by local people".
6. By February 1991, the Ad Hoc Working Group had become known as the
Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee. Its work culminated on 22 May 1992 with the
Nairobi Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological
7. The Convention was opened for signature on 5 June 1992 at the United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio "Earth Summit"). It remained
open for signature until 4 June 1993, by which time it had received 168 signatures. The
Convention entered into force on 29 December 1993, which was 90 days after the 30th
ratification. The first session of the Conference of the Parties was scheduled for 28
November 9 December 1994 in the Bahamas.
8. The Convention on Biological Diversity was inspired by the world community's growing
commitment to sustainable development. It represents a dramatic step forward in the
conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair
and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.
Pre-CBD Meetings
Dates and Venue Meeting
May 1992
20 - 21 May 1992
Nairobi, Kenya
Conference for the Adoption of the Convention on Biological
11 - 19 May 1992
Nairobi, Kenya
Seventh Negotiating Session / Fifth Meeting of the
Intergovernmental Negociating Committee for a Convention on
Biological Diversity
February 1992
6 - 15 February 1992
Nairobi, Kenya
Sixth Negotiating Session / Fourth Meeting of the Intergovernmental
Negotiating Committee for a Convention on Biological Diversity
November 1991
25 November - 4 December
Geneva, Switzerland
Fifth Negotiating Session / Third Meeting of the Intergovernmental
Negotiating Committee for a Convention on Biological Diversity
September 1991
23 September - 3 October
Nairobi, Kenya
Fourth Negotiating Session / Second Meeting of the
Intergovernmental Negociating Committee for a Convention on
Biological Diversity
June 1991
24 June - 3 July 1991
Madrid, Spain
Third Negotiating Session / First Meeting of the Intergovernmental
Negociating Committee for a Convention on Biological Diversity

Biodiversity - The Web of Life
Biological diversity - or biodiversity - is the term given to the variety of life on Earth and the
natural patterns it forms. The biodiversity we see today is the fruit of billions of years of
evolution, shaped by natural processes and, increasingly, by the influence of humans. It forms
the web of life of which we are an integral part and upon which we so fully depend.
This diversity is often understood in terms of the wide variety of plants, animals and
microorganisms. So far, about 1.75 million species have been identified, mostly small creatures
such as insects. Scientists reckon that there are actually about 13 million species, though
estimates range from three to 100 million.
Biodiversity also includes genetic differences within each species - for example, between
varieties of crops and breeds of livestock. Chromosomes, genes, and DNA-the building blocks of
life-determine the uniqueness of each individual and each species.
Yet another aspect of biodiversity is the variety of ecosystems such as those that occur in deserts,
forests, wetlands, mountains, lakes, rivers, and agricultural landscapes. In each ecosystem, living
creatures, including humans, form a community, interacting with one another and with the air,
water, and soil around them.
It is the combination of life forms and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the
environment that has made Earth a uniquely habitable place for humans. Biodiversity provides a
large number of goods and services that sustain our lives.
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, world leaders agreed on a comprehensive strategy
for "sustainable development" -- meeting our needs while ensuring that we leave a healthy and
viable world for future generations. One of the key agreements adopted at Rio was the
Convention on Biological Diversity. This pact among the vast majority of the world's
governments sets out commitments for maintaining the world's ecological underpinnings as we
go about the business of economic development. The Convention establishes three main goals:
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.

COP Decisions
COP 10 Decisions Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity
Nagoya, Japan
18 - 29 October 2010
COP 9 Decisions Ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity
Bonn, Germany
19 - 30 May 2008
COP 8 Decisions Eighth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity
Curitiba, Brazil
20 - 31 March 2006
COP 7 Decisions Seventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
9 - 20 February 2004
COP 6 Decisions Sixth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity
the Hague, Netherlands
7 - 19 April 2002
COP 5 Decisions Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity
Nairobi, Kenya
15 - 26 May 2000
ExCOP 1 Decisions First Extraordinary Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the
Convention on Biological Diversity
Cartagena, Colombia & Montreal, Canada
22 - 23 February 1999 & 24 - 28 January 2000
COP 4 Decisions
Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity
Bratislava, Slovakia
4 - 15 May 1998
COP 3 Decisions Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity
Buenos Aires, Argentina
4 - 15 November 1996
COP 2 Decisions Second Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity
Jakarta, Indonesia
6 - 17 November 1995
COP 1 Decisions First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity
Nassau, Bahamas
28 November - 9 December 1994
The United Nations proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase
understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. When first created by the Second Committee of the
UN General Assembly in late 1993, 29 December (the date of entry into force of the Convention of
Biological Diversity), was designated The International Day for Biological Diversity. In December 2000,
the UN General Assembly adopted 22 May as IDB, to commemorate the adoption of the text of the
Convention on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act of the Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed
Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity. This was partly done because it was difficult for many
countries to plan and carry out suitable celebrations for the date of 29 December, given the number of
holidays that coincide around that time of year.
2012 - Marine Biodiversity
2011 - Forest Biodiversity
2010 - Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation
2009 - Invasive Alien Species
2008 - Biodiversity and Agriculture
2007 - Biodiversity and Climate Change
2006 - Protect Biodiversity in Drylands
2005 - Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World
2004 - Biodiversity: Food, Water and Health for All
2003 - Biodiversity and poverty alleviation - challenges for sustainable development
2002 - Dedicated to forest biodiversity
What's New
22 May 2012
Statement by Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary, on the occasion of the
International Day for Biological Diversity, 22 May 2012, Hotel GRT, Chennai, India. More

22 May 2012
Remarks by Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary at the Special evening event
with the participation of school and college students, on the occasion of the International Day for
Biological Diversity, 22 May 2012, Marina Beach, Chennai, India. More

23 May 2011
Press Release: Montreal Marks the International Day for Biological Diversity as a Contribution to the
Celebration of the 2011 International Year of Forests.

The IDB2012 logo is available in Tamil

Cochin, Kerala, 22 May 2012
India will host the main celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity 2012 in Cochin,
Kerala, more details will follow.

Uttar Pradesh State Biodiversity Board
Uttar Pradesh State is a land locked state, never the less, we feel every human
being uses/benefits from the oceans, in one way or another - hence, a very
special effort to spread awareness about the importance of marine biodiversity.
About the Conference and Call for Papers
Past IBD celebrations at UPSBDB

Children from Indian Himalaya Learn about Importance of Marine Biodiversity
The states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand saw
numerous children participate in the celebrations through different activities
that combined learning with fun. Read more.

University of Kashmir, J&K, 21 May 2012
The Department of Botany, University of Kashmir, J&K, intends to organize a day
long deliberation on the eve of the International Day for Biological Diversity on
22 May 2012, wherein the issues pertaining to biodiversity shall be highlighted.

WWF-India, 22-29 May 2012, Mumbai
WWF-India, MSO will be observing the the International Day for Biological
Diversity, 22 May 2012. We are organising a 'Phototgraphic Exhibition' which will
give information on 'Marine Biodiversity of India'.
The exhibition is open for all 22-29 May (except Saturday & Sunday) from 10am
to 6.30pm
Venue: WWF-India, MSO
204, D. N. Road,
National Insurance Building, 2nd Floor,
Fort, Mumbai: 400001
Phone: 2207 8105 / 2207 1970
Email: wwfmumbai@yahoo.co.in

Other activities in India, coordinated by the International Collective in Support of
Fishworkers (WFFP-ICSF)

Gujarat Science City celebrates the IDB2012 (PDF)
Programme (PDF)

Beloon village of (WB) hosted an event to celebrate the IDB2012. This was
organised by block-level governmental management board and an NGO. Local
officers, teachers, policy-makers, students and community people were present
at the event. See the pictures.

IGNOU launches online course on biodiversity
New Delhi, May 22 The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) launched an appreciation
programme on sustainable management of biodiversity on the occasion of International Day for
Biological Diversity Tuesday. Read more / PDF version.

Green Guardian Society, 22 May 2012, Raipur
Green Guardian Society, a leading NGO in the realm of environmental conservation, will be celebrating
the International Day for Biological Diversity 2012. More details will follow shortly.

Society for Promotion of Science & Technology in India, 22 May 2012, Panchkula, Haryana
The Society for Promotion of Science & Technology in India Celebrated the International Day for
Biological Diversity 2012 with a lecture from a Biodiversity-expert-scientist Professor R.K. Kohli, FNA,
FASc, FNASc, FNAAS, FNESA, Dean Research, Panjab University Chandigarh, India for the intelligentsia.

Web-casting country-wide live programmes on Biodiversity awareness and conservation by
NKN/NBA/NIUCBD - National Biodiversity Grid. Hosted by: SLI webcasting centre, Department of Botany
& DST PURSE Centre, S.V. University, Tirupati.
1. Webcast recording (Java plugin needed): Eco-learning, Conservation & Advocacy & Sustainable
Science, by Dr. S K Balachander, 18 May 2012 at 4.30pm (Mumbai time), click here for instructions if
you're having trouble connecting to the webcast or for assistance please contact Prof. G. Sudarsanam,
Coordinator, NIUCBD, Tel.: 9989053632, sudarsanamg@gmail.com
2. Webcast recording: International Day for Biological Diversity-20120522 0433-1, May 21, 2012, 9:33
pm (San Francisco time), duration: 1 hour 44 mins. For assistance please contact gvsatish1@gmail.com.

Marine Biodiversity is the theme for this year's International Day for Biological Diversity
(IDB). Designation of IDB 2012 on the theme of marine ecosystems provides Parties to the
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and everyone interested in marine life, the
opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and increase practical action.

How Much Life Is in the Sea?
From 2000 to 2010, an unprecedented worldwide collaboration by scientists around
the world set out to try and determine how much life is in the sea.
Dubbed the Census of Marine Life, the effort involved 2,700 scientists from over
80 nations, who participated in 540 expeditions around the world. They studied
surface seawater and probed the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean, sailed tropical
seas and explored ice-strewn oceans in the Arctic and Antarctic.
By the time the Census ended, it had added 1,200 species to the known roster of life in the sea;
scientists are still working their way through another 5,000 specimens to determine whether they
are also newly-discovered species. The estimate of the number of known marine species - the
species that have been identified and the ones that have been documented but await classification
- has increased as a direct result of the Census efforts, and is now around 250,000. (This total
does not include some microbial life forms such as marine viruses.) In its final report, the Census
team suggested it could be at least a million. Some think the figure could be twice as high.
Marine and Coastal Biodiversity
The ocean covers 71 percent of the surface area of the globe, and constitutes over 90
percent of the habitable space on the planet. It contains the blue whale, the largest
animal ever to have lived on Earth, and billions upon billions of the tiniest: there are
more microorganisms in the sea than there are stars in the Universe.
From sandy shores to the darkest depths of the sea, the ocean and coasts support a
rich tapestry of life, from kelp forests that sway beneath the waves, to vents on the sea bed
through which super-heated water and gases erupt, supporting a unique ecosystem that few
humans have ever seen; from polar bears that stalk seals across the sea ice of the Arctic, to tiny
photosynthesizing plants called phytoplankton that provide 50 percent of all the oxygen on Earth.
People have lived near and fished from the ocean for thousands of years; today, an estimated 41
percent of the worlds population lives within 100 km of the coast, and fisheries provide over 15
percent of the dietary intake of animal protein.
However, although humanity has frequently benefited from the bounty of the ocean and the
wildlife it contains, the ocean and the marine wildlife have not always benefited from the
attentions of humanity. Some species, such as the great auk and the sea mink, are extinct; others,
notably the great whales, have been hunted to fractions of their original populations. Commercial
overexploitation of the worlds fish stocks is so severe that it has been estimated that up to 13
percent of global fisheries have collapsed. Between 30 and 35 percent of the global extent of
critical marine habitats such as seagrasses, mangroves and coral reefs are estimated to have been
destroyed. The burning of fossil fuels is causing the ocean to become warmer and more acidic,
with consequences we are only beginning to grasp.
But there is hope. Around the world, species and populations are recovering with effort and
intervention from communities and governments; large areas are being established as protected
areas; and the Convention on Biological Diversity has established a series of specific targets that
require stakeholders at all levels to work together to protect the biodiversity that lives in the
ocean, for its own sake and for the benefits it brings to people worldwide.
Along the Coast
Coastal areas are often among the most dynamic and productive of environments.
They are in many ways the definition of living on the edge. Waves crash against
rocky cliffs or roll onto sandy shores. Estuaries exhale the last breath of river
systems, the frenetic riverine pace yielding to a sprawling mixture of fresh- and
In warm estuarine waters of the tropics, hot and humid mangrove forests are a hybrid of
terrestrial and marine: above the water, they host insects, birds, monkeys, alligators and large
mammals like deer and even tigers; beneath the waters surface, fish swim among mangrove
trees thick roots, which are covered with filter feeders like oysters, mussels, and anemones,
while the muddy banks are inhabited by amphibians and crabs.
Whereas mangroves occupy the boundary between saltwater and fresh, and ocean and land,
seagrasses form submerged beds, or meadows, in the sandy floor in shallow coastal seas. The
plants extensive roots anchor the meadows firmly into the sand, making seagrass meadows safe
shelter for invertebrates and fish; the fact that some plants can grow as much as a centimeter per
shoot per day means they are able to withstand the attentions of a variety of herbivorous grazers,
from sea urchins to turtles, manatees and dugongs.
In cool, nutrient-rich temperate waters, giant seaweeds called kelp reach upwards from the sea
floor beyond the low tide, growing by as much as sixty centimeters a day as they race to be close
enough to the surface where they can use the Suns light to photosynthesize. When conditions
are suitable, they can cover vast areas: the coast of California alone has approximately 18,000
hectares of giant kelp growing along its coast. Kelp forests provide a sheltered calm amid the
chaos of the pounding surf, and many organisms use the thick blades as a safe shelter for their
young from predators or even rough storms. As a result, kelp forests support a greater variety and
higher diversity of plants and animals than almost any other ocean community.
In contrast to kelp forests, coral reefs require clear, shallow waters with an ideal temperature
range of between 20 and 30 degrees C. The reefs themselves are structures that have formed over
hundreds, thousands or even millions of years by countless tiny organisms called polyps, which
produce skeletons of calcium carbonate. Reef-building corals contain symbiotic, microscopic,
photosynthesizing algae called zooxanthellae; the polyps provide the algae with carbon dioxide,
and the zooxanthellae use sunlight to convert it into oxygen and carbohydrates. The algae are so
small that there may be as many as two million of them in each square centimeter of coral tissue,
making them by some distance the most abundant species on reefs, although far from the only
Although coral reefs occupy only approximately 0.1 percent of the surface of earth, one-third of
all known marine species live on them, and the total number of reef-dwelling species may
number a million or more. Certainly, ecologists believe that they support a great number of
species per unit area than any other marine system, and may in fact be the most diverse system
on Earth. A study of a 15,000 hectare region in the Philippines documented over 5,000 species of
molluscs, most of them tiny and observed just once. As testimony to this abundance and
diversity, coral reefs are frequently referred to as rainforests of the sea.
The Continental Shelf
The area fringing coastal landmasses is known as the continental shelf; during ice
ages, when sea levels were lower, the shelf was the boundary of the continents but
now extends offshore underwater by an average of 80 km. Continental shelf waters
are relatively shallow, generally between 100 and 200 metres deep; because their
shallowness means they are bathed in sunlight in their upper layers and because
their relative proximity to shore provides them with ongoing sources of nutrients from land, they
are some of the most productive waters in the ocean. Coral reefs, seagrasses and kelp forests are
all in continental shelf waters, as are the vast majority of the worlds fisheries.

The Open Ocean
Peering over the sides of a ship steaming over its surface, it might appear that the
open ocean is one big, boundary-free expanse of water, its wildlife swimming back
and forth, from surface to depths, without constraint. But Census of Marine Life
researchers found that, although many areas of the open ocean may look equal, to
marine animals there are clear differences.
The researchers found, for example, that white sharks congregate in an area off Hawaii that
scientists dubbed the white shark caf, and that several species of turtles, seabirds, seals,
whales and sharks all congregate at hotspots such as in the California Current.
The top 100 meters of the ocean is the zone within which most of the life with which we are
instantly familiar most of the fish, turtles, and marine mammals, as well as the microscopic
plant and animal plankton that forms such an important part of the marine food web primarily
resides. Much deeper than that, and sunlight struggles to penetrate. Six hundred meters deep,
sunlight in the ocean is as bright as starlight on the surface; at 693 meters it is approximately ten-
billionth its surface brightness; and by 1,000 meters, the sea is completely dark.
And yet, even here, there is life.
The Deep
In the absence of sunlight, many deep sea fish create lights of their own, in the form
of bioluminescent symbiotic bacteria that dangle as lures or shine a path ahead like
headlights. Marine invertebrates burrow through the silt of the seabed itself.
Seamounts, underwater mountains that climb 1,000 meters or more from the ocean
floor, often have complex surfaces of terraces, pinnacles, ridges, crevices and
craters, and their presence diverts and alters the currents that swirl about them; the net effect is to
create a variety of living conditions, providing habitat for rich and diverse communities. There
are believed to be in excess of 100,000 seamounts of 1,000 meters or higher, although only a
fraction has been studied.
Perhaps most unique and remarkable of all are the ecosystems that surround hydrothermal vents
and cold-water seeps. Hydrothermal vents occur in volcanically active areas of the seafloor,
where super-heated gases and chemically-rich water erupt from the ground at temperatures of up
to 400 degrees C. Microbial organisms are able to withstand these extreme temperatures to create
energy from the chemical compounds being forced up through the floor. Some of these microbes
live symbiotically inside tubeworms, while others form large mats, which attract progressively
larger organisms that graze on them. So far, over 500 species have been discovered that live only
at hydrothermal vents; it is possible that these communities are the oldest ecosystems on Earth,
and that vents are where life began.
The Human Impact
For many coastal peoples, the sea is rich in meaning and spirituality, religiously
significant and central to their very being. The legends and traditions of the Maori
of New Zealand feature fishing heavily, with one tale positing that the country was
discovered by the great explorer Kupe while hunting a giant octopus. Traditional
coastal whalers in Japan maintained Shinto whale shrines and whale temples, where
detailed descriptions of the whales and their deaths were maintained. For the Inupiat of Alaska,
the hunting of the bowhead whale remains to this day more than a form of acquiring food, but is
instead the fundamental act around which every aspect of their society, and indeed the very
purpose of their existence, revolves.
However, the human presence on and near the ocean has not always been to the oceans benefit.
Because of over-hunting, gray whales are no longer found in the Atlantic and are close to
disappearing from the western Pacific; in the Atlantic Arctic, bowhead whales number in the
hundreds at most. In the Southern Hemisphere, where once there were perhaps 200,000 blue
whales, there are now maybe 1,000. The great auk, sea mink, Stellers sea cow and Caribbean
monk seal are all extinct.
Today, the vaquita, a porpoise found only in the Gulf of California, may number as few as 100
individuals. The southern bluefin tuna and elkhorn coral are critically endangered, as are several
species of sea turtles. Hammerhead, thresher and white sharks have declined in the Northwest
Atlantic by more than 75 percent in 15 years; in the Mediterranean Sea, sharks have declined
99.99 percent from historical abundances in the early nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries.
Since 1980, an area of seagrass meadow the size of a soccer pitch has been lost every 30
minutes, and almost 30 percent of all seagrass beds are estimated to have been lost. Similarly,
about 35 percent of both mangroves and coral reefs worldwide are believed to have been
damaged or destroyed as a result of human activities - a figure that does not take into account the
growing impacts of climate change.
Causes of Decline
Many different human activities impact marine and coastal wildlife and ecosystems.
Over-hunting has reduced the numbers of many marine species. Toxic pollution
from chemical compounds and heavy metals can affect the reproduction, growth,
and behavior of seabirds, fish and other marine wildlife. Nutrient pollution, the
result of excess nitrogen from, for example, fertilizers and animal waste entering coastal waters,
can cause a phenomenon known as eutrophication, which ultimately results in areas of seawater
where oxygen levels are greatly reduced. Dam construction can alter the flow of rivers, and the
transport of needed sediments and nutrients, to coastal ecosystems. Coastal urbanization can
squeeze ecosystems like sandy beaches. Plastic debris can entangle, strangle and be eaten by
marine life. Non-native species, released from aquariums or discharged in ships ballast water,
can invade ecosystems and out-compete native species. Even the noise generated by shipping
and industrial activity can prevent species like whales from communicating with each other
across miles of ocean.
A Warmer Ocean
The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas is warming Earths atmosphere
and also its ocean: Average sea surface temperature has increased by 0.4 degrees
Celsius since the 1950s.
Because warm water is lighter than cold water, the warmer sea surface is less able to
sink and mix with the colder waters beneath it, limiting the flow of oxygen and
nutrients from surface to deep water and vice-versa, and creating expanses of ocean desert. As
temperatures change, some species will adjust their range generally away from the tropics and
toward higher latitudes while the range of other species will expand and still others will
Additionally, as water warms, it expands, and such thermal expansion of the ocean is the primary
reason why, since 1880, sea level has risen by an average of 22 centimeters; increased warming,
combined with groundwater extraction, the melting of glaciers and some melting of the massive
sheet of ice covering Greenland, is likely to cause sea levels to rise by a meter, or possibly even
significantly more, by 2100.
Some areas and environments will be affected more than others. In the Arctic Ocean, for
example, sea ice extent is declining by an average of 12 percent per decade, profoundly altering
Arctic marine ecosystems and threatening the survival of species such as ringed seals, walruses,
and polar bears. Coral reefs are particularly susceptible, as they have a very narrow temperature
band in which they can thrive; once the temperature exceeds the upper limit of that band, the
corals become stressed, and when they do so they expel the symbiotic zooxanthellae that give
them most of their color, a frequently-fatal phenomenon known as coral bleaching. A
widespread bleaching event took place in 2010, with bleaching observed in every ocean and
major sea in which coral occurs, from the Persian Gulf to southeast Asia, the Central Pacific to
the Caribbean. In the Caribbean, more than 80 percent of corals surveyed by researchers had
bleached and in many places 40 percent or more had died.
A More Acidic Ocean
The ocean has absorbed approximately 30 percent of the carbon dioxide that has
been emitted by human activities since the Industrial Revolution. That has helped
limit the overall extent of global warming, but as carbon dioxide dissolves in
seawater, it makes that water more acidic. Such increasing ocean acidification may
make it more difficult for species that build carbonate shells and skeletons from shellfish to
corals to do so, and may even ultimately cause those structures to decay or break. The study of
ocean acidification is in its relative infancy, and much more remains to be learned.
The Problem of Over-Fishing
The earliest known example of humans turning to the sea for food dates back
approximately 164,000 years, when people began using shellfish to supplement
their diet at Pinnacle Point in southern Africa. Recent studies suggest that people
may actually have been hunting tuna off the coast of Australia as early as 42,000
years ago. Prehistoric Native American fisheries were taking place along the central
California coast at least 7,000 years ago.
Today, more than four million fishing vessels of all kinds in the world, from industrial trawlers
to small boats powered by sails and oars, provide, in combination with the worlds fish farms,
over 140 million tonnes of fish every year. That averages out to approximately 17 kg for
everyone in the world, with fish providing more than 1.5 billion people with almost 20 percent of
their average per capita intake of animal protein.
But, although numerous small fishing operations in coastal communities provide subsistence-
level catches without causing severe environmental consequences, the commercial fishery
worldwide comprises too many ships, with too much capacity, chasing an insufficient number of
fish, with predictable consequences.
A 2011 study estimated that 28-33 percent of all fish stocks are being over-exploited, and 7 to 13
percent have collapsed completely. For example, in 1992, the cod fishery off Newfoundland
collapsed, after dire warnings of impending disaster from scientists, with the loss of 40,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the southern bluefin tuna has been depleted by an estimated 92 percent, and catch
quotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna continue to be set at levels higher than those recommended by
scientists, leading to concerns for the future of that species.
Commercial fishing has had a particularly devastating effect on large, predatory fish species such
as tuna, billfish and sharks. A 2003 study found that, on average, industrial fisheries required no
more than 15 years to reduce communities of such fish, and estimated that, overall, 90 percent of
predatory fish worldwide have been removed from the ocean. In many cases, these declines have
been accompanied by significant decreases in those species ranges: that is to say, as a result of
over-fishing, there are areas of the ocean where some species of tuna, billfish and sharks no
longer exist.
In their search for more fish, commercial fisheries are even extending into the dark, deep ocean.
Bottom trawl nets scrape along the floor, devastating sea bed communities, damaging sea mounts
and crippling the long-lived cold water corals that live on them, and targeting deep-sea fishes
such as orange roughy.
The very slow reproduction and growth rates of many deep sea fishes makes them especially
vulnerable to the impacts of fishing so much so, in fact, that it seems likely that for many
species, once a stock has been depleted, it will take decades, and potentially centuries, before it
will recover.
Why We Should Care
For many coastal communities, the survival of marine and coastal ecosystems and
biodiversity is essential to their nutritional, spiritual, societal and religious well-
being. But even for the many millions of people who may not think that they have
any strong reliance on the ocean, marine ecosystems and wildlife provide all kinds
of benefits.
Many coastal environments provide protection for those farther inland from the ravages of the
sea. Coral reefs buffer land from waves and storms and prevent beach erosion. Dune systems on
beaches stabilize shorelines from erosion and encroachment. Mangroves, mudflats and deltas
trap sediment, preventing the land behind it from sliding ever-seaward.
The ocean world is in all our daily lives. For example, sponges from the Mediterranean have
been used for painting, cooking, cleaning and even contraception for at least 5,000 years.
Substances derived from seaweeds stabilize and thicken creams, sauces, and pastes, are mixed
into paint and used to make paper and even in skin lotion and toothpaste.
Many marine plants and animals also contain a multitude of substances already being used, or
identified as being of potential use, in medicines. Each of the 700 known species of cone snail
produces a unique cocktail of 100 to 200 toxins, some of which have already been developed
into pain killers: one, which has been on the market since 2004, is more than 100 times more
powerful than morphine. A 2010 study predicted the existence of between 250,000 and close to
600,000 chemicals in the marine environment, approximately 92 percent of which remained
undiscovered; those chemicals, the studys authors estimated, might yield up to 214 new anti-
cancer drugs, worth anywhere from US $563 billion to $5.69 trillion.
Most importantly of all, tiny marine plants called phytoplankton produce energy, like plants on
land, through photosynthesis. As a result of that photosynthesis, they release oxygen. In fact,
phytoplankton release half of all oxygen in the atmosphere.
Without life in the ocean, there would be no life on Earth.
Blue Carbon
One way to mitigate the effects of climate change is to try to prevent the release of
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, by reducing the burning of fossil fuels but also
by protecting vegetation that sequesters large amounts of carbon through, for
example photosynthesis. Coastal ecosystems such as salt marshes, seagrasses and
mangroves sequester far greater amounts of carbon that do terrestrial forests: each year one
square kilometer of seagrasses absorbs approximately the same CO2 as 50 square kilometers of
tropical forests. The goal of the Blue Carbon Initiative, set up by a coalition of non-governmental
and intergovernmental partners, is to develop a mechanism by which a value can be assigned to
this carbon, and a market established under which countries would be paid to protect them
hopefully simultaneously arresting the decline of rapidly disappearing coastal environments and
mitigating climate change.
The Value of Marine Reserves
In many cases, and whenever applicable, a hugely successful factor in promoting
the recovery of coastal and marine ecosystems and biodiversity is the establishment
of marine reserves and marine protected areas (MPAs).
For example, a comprehensive study found that, on average, coral cover remained
stable or slightly increased in areas that were covered by MPAs, while it continued
to decline in areas that did not. Recovery of coral cover and size distribution after bleaching and
hurricane disturbance was significantly enhanced inside a marine reserve in the Bahamas
compared to outside. There is evidence also that protecting species inside a reserves boundaries
can have spillover effects that result in increases in fish outside those boundaries, leading to
economic benefits for local fisheries. In Kenya, fishers catches and income strongly increased
after the establishment of closed areas in conjunction with the aforementioned beach seine bans.
Far less area has been set aside as a reserves in marine and coastal waters than on land. Whereas
approximately 13 percent of the worlds land surface area is protected in reserves, in marine
environments that figure is a little over one percent. However, progress is being made, and the
Convention on Biological Diversity has established a target of 10 percent of all coastal and
marine waters being protected in reserves by 2020.
CBD and the Jakarta Mandate
As part of its Jakarta Mandate on marine and coastal biodiversity, the Convention
on Biological Diversity is committed to a series of specific goals including the
development of a global system of marine and coastal protected areas, the
establishment of and implementation of a global program of making fisheries and
mariculture sustainable, blocking the pathways of invasions of alien species,
increasing ecosystem resilience to climate change, and developing, encouraging, and enhancing
implementation of wide-ranging integrated marine and coastal area management (IMCAM) that
includes a broad suite of measures at all levels of society. The latter of these is of particular
importance, involving comprehensive assessments, setting of objectives, planning and
management of marine and coastal areas for all relevant economic and social sectors. It is a
participatory process of combining all aspects of the physical, biological and human components
of the marine and coastal areas within a holistic management framework. It involves all
stakeholders decision-makers in the public and private sectors; resource owners and users;
managers and users; non-governmental organisations and the general public.
That is vital, because incorporating and empowering all sectors from small coastal
communities to political interests and operating on a variety of levels, including voluntary
community participation and legally binding frameworks, will be essential if we are to tackle the
immensity and scope of the problems affecting marine and coastal biodiversity.

Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity
across government and society

Target 1
By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to
conserve and use it sustainably.

Target 2
By 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and
poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national
accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems.

Target 3
By 2020, at the latest, incentives, including subsidies, harmful to biodiversity are eliminated, phased out
or reformed in order to minimize or avoid negative impacts, and positive incentives for the conservation
and sustainable use of biodiversity are developed and applied, consistent and in harmony with the
Convention and other relevant international obligations, taking into account national socio economic

Target 4
By 2020, at the latest, Governments, business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve
or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of
use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits.

Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use

Target 5
By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible
brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.

Target 6
By 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably,
legally and applying ecosystem based approaches, so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and
measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on
threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and
ecosystems are within safe ecological limits.

Target 7
By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring
conservation of biodiversity.

Target 8
By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental
to ecosystem function and biodiversity.

Target 9
By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are
controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction
and establishment.

Target 10
By 2015, the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs, and other vulnerable ecosystems
impacted by climate change or ocean acidification are minimized, so as to maintain their integrity and

Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and
genetic diversity

Target 11
By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas,
especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through
effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected
areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes
and seascapes.

Target 12
By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status,
particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.

Target 13
By 2020, the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and of wild
relatives, including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable species, is maintained, and
strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their
genetic diversity.

Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services

Target 14
By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute
to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of
women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.

Target 15
By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced,
through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded
ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating

Target 16
By 2015, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of
Benefits Arising from their Utilization is in force and operational, consistent with national legislation.

Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management
and capacity building

Target 17
By 2015 each Party has developed, adopted as a policy instrument, and has commenced implementing
an effective, participatory and updated national biodiversity strategy and action plan.

Target 18
By 2020, the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities
relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their customary use of biological
resources, are respected, subject to national legislation and relevant international obligations, and fully
integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention with the full and effective
participation of indigenous and local communities, at all relevant levels.

Target 19
By 2020, knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity, its values, functioning,
status and trends, and the consequences of its loss, are improved, widely shared and transferred, and

Target 20
By 2020, at the latest, the mobilization of financial resources for effectively implementing the Strategic
Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 from all sources, and in accordance with the consolidated and agreed
process in the Strategy for Resource Mobilization, should increase substantially from the current levels.
This target will be subject to changes contingent to resource needs assessments to be developed and
reported by Parties.