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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

13 - Strengthening the biodiversity-related multilateral agreements

Summary

Identifying the biodiversity-related multilateral agreements

Nation states are not the only bodies capable of securing international environmental public goods, but they are still the most important. The standard approach to the provision of environmental public goods that span national boundaries is through multilateral agreements between nation states. The primary multilateral agreement for biodiversity change is the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). However, the CBD is only one among many multilateral agreements concerned with biodiversity change. There are several global agreements addressing different aspects of biodiversity conservation. Aside from the CBD these comprise the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources (ITPGRFA), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the UNESCO World Heritage Convention (WHC). All are associated through the Biodiversity Liaison Group.

But these agreements too are just the tip of the iceberg. The international environmental agreements database project lists 522 MEAs (plus 412 amendments and 196 protocols) signed in the last one hundred and fifty years, the earliest among them addressing the regulation of fisheries in the Rhine (1877) and the North Sea (1882, 1884), and measures to combat the phylloxera outbreak that devastated the vineyards of Europe in the late nineteenth century (1881, 1882). The list includes 255 agreements for the management of particular species or groups of species, 157 concerned with the conservation of flora and fauna, and 30 concerned with the conservation of landscapes, seascapes, and habitat (Mitchell, 2002–2012). Most of these agreements have been signed within the last fifty years, and nearly a third of all agreements, amendments, and protocols were signed during the 1990s (see Figure 13.1).

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