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Biodiversity

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Human activity and climate change present an ever greater threat to the biological diversity found on our planet. The international community considers preserving biodiversity to be one of its goals, and is supported in this by Germany’s efforts.

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The Earth is home to some 1.74 million identified species. Experts assume that the number of undiscovered species is far higher, and that we may share the planet with some 14 million other kinds of animals and plants. Human activity and climate change present ever more of a threat to this fascinating biological diversity. Preserving biodiversity, the biological diversity found on our planet, is closely linked to issues of international climate protection – even if this has not yet been fully understood in the public debate – and is no less important for ourselves and future generations than is climate policy. Preserving biodiversity is an imperative if we are to sustain our planet’s ecosystems.

Convention on Biological Diversity

Germany is a party to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which already has 191 states parties. The objective of the Convention is to preserve biodiversity, to which it counts the diversity of species on Earth, genetic diversity and the diversity of ecosystems. Alongside the conservation aspect, this objective includes the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. The CBD is the first international convention that regards biodiversity as a resource controlled by states. Biodiversity is thereby placed on the same level as minerals or other natural resources.

At the 10th Conference of the Parties in October 2010, the international community set itself a new global biodiversity target and developed a Strategic Plan for the years 2011 to 2020. The adoption of an international Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their Utilization (Nagoya Protocol) represented another milestone.

Intergovernmental Platform (IPBES)

In order to raise international awareness of the urgency of protecting biodiversity, in addition to other environmental and climate policy issues, the UN General Assembly decided in December 2010 to set up an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which advises governments on the science of climate change, the Biodiversity Platform is designed to foster the links between science and politics, enabling scientists to monitor changes in biodiversity and advise environmental policy-makers.

Intergovernmental Science Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Germany has been working for a long time to create this platform. The Federal Government offered to host the IPBES secretariat in the city of Bonn, which is already home to various related UN bodies, as a sign of its continued commitment to the process and thus since the beginning of 2014 the IPBES office has been located at the UN Campus on the Rhine.

The protection of endangered species

One aspect of the conservation of biodiversity is protecting endangered species in the animal kingdom. Germany is particularly committed to protecting whales and other migratory animals, and has signed both the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Washington Convention, CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention, CMS). Germany has also been a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) since 1982. The Federal Government actively supports the ban on commercial whaling. Under the Berlin Initiative on Strengthening the Conservation Agenda of the International Whaling Commission, adopted at Germany’s behest, considerably more weight is now attached within the IWC to preserving and protecting whales, including small cetaceans and dolphins. In addition, Germany is party to various regional agreements on the protection of specific species or groups which are endangered but not yet necessarily threatened with extinction.

Additional content

Convention on Biological Diversity

COP 9 in Bonn (May 2008)

9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 9) in Bonn, Germany, from 19 to 30 May 2008