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December 2010
Biological resources are vital for humanity’s survival and for the economic and
social development of nations. Food security and discovery of new medicines are put
at risk by the loss of biological diversity. Vital goods and services that are often taken
for granted, such as clean air and fresh water, are threatened by the deterioration of
ecosystems. However, biological diversity is under threat around the world as
Ecosystems are being damaged or destroyed and species are disappearing.

There is an intrinsic value in nature and biological resources which need to be

protected. It is therefore the responsibility of mankind to ensure the diversity of such
biological resources. Biological diversity constitutes a reservoir of resources, which
can be used to achieve economic potential. The underlying cause of biodiversity loss
is the explosion in human population, now at 6 billion, but expected to double again
by the year 2050. The human population already consumes nearly half of all the food,
crops, medicines, and other useful items produced by the Earth’s organisms, and
more than 1 billion people on Earth lack adequate supplies of fresh water.1

It is the reckoning of the intrinsic value to nature of such biological resources and
the imminent threat its destruction pose to the ecosystem that led to the Convention
on Biological diversity.

The Convention on Biological diversity stems from the conference on

environment and development, which took place in Rio de janerio in 1992 – the Rio
‘earth summit’. Its main objective was to seek to;

1. Protect genetic diversity,

2. slow the rate of species extinction and
3. Conserve habitats and ecosystems, earth’s biological resources, which form
the basis of our food, fibre and many industrial materials.

The Convention on Biological diversity is made up of 42 Articles which sets out a

programme to reconcile economic Development with the need to preserve all aspects
of biological diversity.

Eldredge Niles, Biodiversity, Microsoft Encarta 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.

Article 1
Article 1 of the Convention on Biological diversity states the following
objectives as being those of the convention:

1. The conservation of biological diversity

2. The sustainable use of its components; and
3. The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of
genetic resources

What then is biological diversity?

The Convention on Biological diversity defines biological diversity as “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”.2
While states have the sovereign right to exploit their own resources, and the
responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause
damage to the environment of other States 3, it has to be stressed that issues linked to
the protection of Biological diversity transcend national boundaries. Therefore, the
Convention of Biological Diversity reflects an international intent to promote and
protect biological resources for all the benefits which accrue from them.
The Convention on Biological diversity contains few directly enforceable
provisions. The Convention's decision-making body - the Conference of the Parties
(COP) - has adopted a wide range of programmes of work, guidelines and other
measures to create a global framework for national and regional action. The
Convention on Biological diversity addresses the biological diversity of the world's
main habitat types (forests, agricultural land, dry-and sub-humid lands, oceans and
coastal areas, inland waters, mountains and islands), and also 'cross-cutting' issues,
such as protected areas, access and benefit sharing, incentives, and invasive species. 4
In one stroke, article one encapsulates the entire objective to be strived for by the
international community and provides that framework for action and protection of
biological resources.

Article 2 of the CBD
As was held in Trail Smelter Case/1937
Introduction to the Convention on Biological Diversity:

Article 8
Each party shall establish a system of protected areas to conserve biological
diversity, develop guidelines for the selection, establish and management of these
areas; rehabilitate and restore degrading ecosystems and promote the recovery
of threatened species; prevent the introduction of control or eradicate those
alien species that threaten ecosystems, habitats and species.

The diverse biological resources found within any particular environment plus all
the surrounding physical attributes of such environment constitute the ecosystem. The
continued existence of biological resources and humans depend on the ecosystem.

Humans benefit from the smooth-functioning of the ecosystem in many ways.

Healthy forests, streams, and wetlands contribute to clean air and clean water by
trapping fast-moving air and water, enabling impurities to settle out or be converted
to harmless compounds by plants or soil. The diversity of organisms, or biological
diversity, in an ecosystem provides essential foods, medicines, and other materials.
But as human populations increase and their encroachment on natural habitats
expand, it brings detrimental effects on the very ecosystems on which they depend.
The survival of natural ecosystems around the world is threatened by many human
activities: bulldozing wetlands and clear-cutting forests—the systematic cutting of all
trees in a specific area—to make room for new housing and agricultural land;
damming rivers to harness the energy for electricity and water for irrigation; and
polluting the air, soil, and water. 5
It is with this in mind that the Convention on Biological diversity contains the
provision in article 8, sometimes called the ‘in-situ conservation’ 6, which mandates
parties to the convention to take steps to manage ecosystems and habitats for the
continued existence of biological diversity in any such habitat. All species require a
minimum amount of habitat for survival. Wildlife habitat reserves are established to
meet these requirements for as many species as possible. Some national parks,
wilderness areas, and other protected habitats are suitable for the survival of a wide
range of species. This requires member states and indeed nations to create and
manage protected areas where all the difference species of plants and animals are
protected against outside tempering. This has the effect of allowing the natural course
of events to control all such biological resources. The world’s first national park,
Joel P. Clement, Management of Ecosystem, Microsoft Encarta 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft
Corporation, 2008.
Meaning the conservation of ecosystems and natural habitats and the maintenance and recovery of viable
populations of species in their natural surroundings and, in the case of domesticated or cultivated species, in the
surroundings where they have developed their distinctive properties (Article 2 of the CBD).

Yellowstone National Park, was established in Wyoming in 1872 to protect an area of
incredible natural beauty. In 1873, the American Association for the Advancement of
Science petitioned Congress to halt unwise use of natural resources, the Forest
Reserve Act of 1891 authorized what would become known as National Forests, and
the Lacey Act of 1900 established the first wildlife protection measures by restricting
commercial hunting and the trade of illegally killed animals. 7 In Nigeria, the
establishment of several national parks and reserves are in concurrence with the
principles embedded in the above article. The Yankari national reserve is an example
of one of such protected areas.

Article 10
Each contracting party shall Integrate consideration of the conservation and
sustainable use of biological resources into national decision-making, adopt
measures to avoid or minimise adverse impacts on biological diversity; protect
and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with
traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation and the
sustainable use requirements, support local populations to develop and
implement remedial action in degraded areas where biological diversity has
been reduced; and encourage co-operation between governmental authorities
and the private sector in developing methods for the sustainable use of biological

This article has immense importance to biological diversity. This is because it has
five main arms attached to it.
Despite the fact that members of the international legal regime are sovereign, the
Convention on Biological diversity encourages parties as sovereign nations to
inculcate and integrate the conservation and indeed the protection of biological
resources into its municipal national decision-making processes. This means that it is
not enough for member nations or parties to the convention to merely agree and sign
the provisions of the convention, such members must take the extra step of including
such objectives of the conference into its national decision-making process. This
allows individual nations to make special arrangements considering the peculiarity of
the environment and ecosystem within its territorial boundary.
Indeed it’s settled that certain biological resources form part of man’s source of
survival. However, such resources must be managed and consumed in ways that

Noss, Reed F, Endangered Species, Microsoft Encarta 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.

encourage its continued existence. Article 10 encourages parties to the convention,
recognizing the importance of biological resources to humans; to adopt measures to
avoid or minimize any impact on biological diversity and to protect or promote
customary use of biological resources that are compatible with conservation
requirements. For instance, Human activities have exerted pressures put on marine,
coastal and inland water ecosystems. Biological diversity concerns have to be
integrated into the management of marine resources, water and fisheries on one hand
and these customary usages. The European Union Biological diversity Strategy8, as
an example, had put forward broad objectives for the fisheries sector, while the
Biological diversity Action Plan for Fisheries, adopted in 2001, made specific
recommendations to protect biological diversity from the impact of marine fisheries
and aquaculture. The Action Plan for Environmental Integration, adopted in 2002,
contained guiding principles, management measures and a work programme to move
towards an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries, and to limit the environmental
impact of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). These objectives, integrated into the
reformed CFP, include:
1. reducing fishing pressure to sustainable levels;
2. improving fishing methods to reduce discard, by-catch and impact on
3. protecting non-target species and habitats; and
4. Decreasing the environmental impacts of aquaculture.
This has the cumulative consequence of maintaining stability and avoiding or
minimizing adverse impact on biological diversity and of the depletion of biological
In addition to this, nations are urged to support local populations to take remedial
steps in areas where biological diversity has already been depleted. The bottom-line
here is that whatever policy decisions are been made by nations, proper consideration
must be made with reference to the environment and the biological resources.
However, for the sake of these biological resources and the concrete benefits which
come with them, governments and private sectors are encouraged to work hand in
hand in order to secure the continued survival of such biological resources. In
summary, article 10 advocates the sustainable use of components of biological

"The Convention on Biological Diversity; the implementation in the European Union", Belgium, pp16, 2006.

Article 11
Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate, adopt
economically and socially sound measures that act as incentives for the
conservation and sustainable use of components of biological diversity.

These talked about biological resources are also sources of survival of lots of
persons. Irrespective of legal frameworks put in place, certain groups of persons
would not discontinue from interfering with biological resources for good legitimate
reasons. The reason for this can not be far-fetched; several of these biological
resources are the very essentials for survival and development. In order to ensure the
sustainable use and indeed the protection of biological resources, several economic
and social incentives must be put in place to encourage such people not to otherwise
over-exploit these biological resources. A successful example of this is what is
obtainable in Brazil, where in exchange for dirt and garbage, the government swaps a
sizeable amount of fruits in exchange for such garbage. This might not necessarily be
the appropriate example, but the point been made here is the social and economic
incentive made available here to encourage citizens to swap their dirt and garbage
and in turn promote sanitation.

Such incentives would prove very effective in dissuading people with no other
choice from overexploiting the biological resources. This in turn allows for the
continued existence and indeed stability of all such biological resources.

The Convention on Biological Diversity is an international instrument
demonstrating the international community’s concern about the depletion of the
biological resources. However, these biological resources are found in the individual
nations that make up the international community. Therefore, individual nations must
take positive steps in order to stem the gradual depletion of these biological resources
which would consequently ensure the availability of these resources for mankind’s