The Convention on Biological Diversity, one of the main outcomes of the United Nations Conference on the Environment and the Development, was adopted in Rio de Janeiro on June 5, 1992 and entered into force on December 29, 1993. This is the first international treaty relating to biodiversity that does not target any particular species or ecosystem, but rather recognizes biological diversity as a “common concern of mankind”, and attempts to protect the biological diversity as a whole, encompassing ecosystems, species and genetic resources.
The Convention also recognizes the ever expanding field of biotechnology and biosafety. The Cartagena Protocol of Biosafety to the Convention, adopted on January 29, 2000 and entered into force on June 13 2003, aims to address potential risks posed by living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology on the environment and human health. It focuses on the transfer, handling and use of these organisms and the cooperation of the states in their transboundary movements.
The World Bank is the biggest financier of the biodiversity protection. Its activities include the establishment and strengthening of protected areas, and raising awareness on and addressing some of the most serious threats to biodiversity such as alien invasive species and illegal and unsustainable exploitation of species. The World Bank is also closely involved in sustainable agriculture and fisheries initiatives.
To ensure the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, the World Bank has safeguard policies, including, OP/BP 4.04 on Natural Habitats and OP/BP 4.36 on Forests. Furthermore, OP 4.01 on Environmental Assessment requires an environmental assessment for all proposed projects for Bank financing to analyze all potential social and environmental impacts, including impacts on biodiversity.