Convention on Biological Diversity

Official title: Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Subject category:
Biodiversity / Ecosystems
Type of agreement / instrument:
Legally-binding treaty
  • Signed by Canada: November 6, 1992.
  • Ratified by Canada: April 12, 1992.
  • In force in Canada: December 29, 1993.
  • In force internationally: December 29, 1993.
  • Ongoing.
Lead & partner departments:
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Global Affairs Canada, Department of Justice, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, ,Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Heritage, Transport Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
For further information:
Web links:
ECCC Inquiry Centre
Compendium edition:
February 2022
Reference #:

Plain language summary

The Convention on Biological Diversity arose from a growing recognition that the diversity of nature is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations. It aims to conserve nature, ensure nature is used sustainably and that the benefits to people from the use of genetic diversity are shared fairly.  Canada is home to significant wild spaces and iconic wildlife and   Canadians place high value in Canada’s natural spaces.  For this reason, Canada was the first industrialized country to ratify the Convention in 1992 and we are the proud host of the CBD Secretariat, located in Montreal.


There are 3 objectives to this agreement:

  • the conservation of biological diversity
  • the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
  • the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources

Key elements

National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) are the principal instruments for implementing the Convention at the national level (Article 6). The Convention requires countries to prepare a national biodiversity strategy (or equivalent instrument) and to ensure that this strategy is mainstreamed into the planning and activities of all those sectors whose activities can have an impact (positive and negative) on biodiversity.

The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-10) adopted a revised and updated Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, for the 2011-2020 period. This plan provides an overarching framework for biodiversity, and Parties agreed to translate this overarching international framework into revised and updated national biodiversity strategies and action plans within two years.

The fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2022 is expected to update the current Strategic Plan, in the context of the 2050 Vision, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, other relevant international processes, and in light of an assessment of progress in achieving the current goals and Aichi Biodiversity Targets. It is expected that the global community will adopt a new global biodiversity framework, with associated goals and targets, which will guide worldwide efforts on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use toward 2030 and beyond .

Expected results

Article 26 and Article 10(a) are closely linked to Article 6. The first calls for Parties to present, through their national reports, information on measures that have been taken for the implementation of the provisions of the Convention and their effectiveness in meeting the objectives of the Convention. The latter encourages Parties to integrate consideration of the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources into national decision-making.

Parties have agreed to:

  • develop national and regional targets, using the Strategic Plan and its Aichi targets as a flexible framework;
  • Monitor and review of NBSAP implementation in accordance with the Strategic Plan and national targets, making use of the set of indicators developed for the Strategic Plan as a flexible framework;
  • Report on progress achieved towards implementation of the Strategic Plan and Aichi Biodiversity Targets through the fifth and sixth national reports.

Canada’s involvement

  1. This agreement is important to Canada because Canada is home to globally significant biodiversity such as the boreal forest and iconic wildlife including polar bear, grizzly bear, caribou, and millions of migratory birds breeding in the Arctic and elsewhere in Canada. Biodiversity and the services it provides are essential for human health and well-being. A survey indicated 89% of Canadian adults participated in nature-based activities and, overall, Canadian adults made an estimated $41.3 billion (Cdn) in expenditures related to these activities in 2012.  The well-being of Canadians is also linked to the biodiversity and related ecosystem goods and services of the rest of the world (e.g. pharmaceutical drugs, trade). The CBD is compatible with the Canadian approach to conservation and sustainable use (e.g., promotes integration of economic, environmental, social and cultural objectives as well as inclusiveness and recognition of Indigenous interests).

    Canada is a continued supporter because the CBD advances global recognition of Canada as a responsible steward of its biological resources and contributes to sustainable development and achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Canada is the host of the CBD Secretariat in Montreal and has been for twenty-six years.

    Environment and Climate Change Canada provides the National Focal Point for the CBD,  who represents the government in its routine dealings with the Secretariat, including responding to requests, dissemination of information, representation at meetings, and promoting and facilitating national implementation.

    Canada is active in all CBD meetings, including inter-sessional meetings and Conferences of the Parties (COPs), and participates as appropriate in expert groups and other meetings related to COP decisions.

  2. In Canada, the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy is Canada’s NBSAP. This strategy was developed to identify the measures that are required to meet Canada’s obligations under the Convention and to enhance coordination of national efforts aimed at the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources. The primary responsibility for conserving biodiversity and ensuring its sustainable use is shared among provincial, territorial and federal governments. An intergovernmental Biodiversity Working Group, with representation from every jurisdiction, developed the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy and remains active today.<1p>

  3. Canada developed a Biodiversity Outcomes Framework in 2006 which provides an action oriented approach to implementation of the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy.  In 2015 federal/provincial/territorial Ministers adopted the 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada. These complement the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy and the Biodiversity Outcomes Framework and constitute Canada’s most recent update of its NBSAP.

Results / progress


Canada has many conservation and sustainable use initiatives, all of which contribute to implementation of its obligations as a Party to the CBD.  The 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets for Canada focus on Canada’s biodiversity priorities for the 2015-2020 period. Implementation of the goals and targets has relied on ongoing collaborative work with provinces and territories and meaningful, full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.  

Domestic implementation has also included the Canadian Biodiversity: Ecosystem Status and Trends series and the Value of Nature to Canadians study, which includes the 2012 Canadian Nature Survey and the Ecosystem Services Toolkit.


As part of commitments under the Convention, all Parties are required to report every four years on progress towards implementing the Convention domestically.  As National Focal Point for the Convention on Biological Diversity, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) led the preparation of Canada's 6th National Report to the CBD, which was submitted in November 2018. The Report provides an update on the status of biodiversity in Canada and significant actions since Canada's 5th National Report of 2014. The 6th National Report was prepared in consultation with other government departments, provinces and territories, and with input from aboriginal organizations and selected stakeholders. The report can be viewed at (Canada’s National Reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity).


The CBD has had many significant successes in its 23 years. For example, it has seen a significant increase in terrestrial and marine protected areas globally; enhanced protection for species at risk; adoption of the ecosystem approach; emphasis on the precautionary approach; description of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs) in the open ocean;  exchange of information, technology and capacity building in developing countries; the mobilization of significant resources for conservation, sustainable use and to promote fair and equitable sharing of genetic resources; and the adoption of two protocols – the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.

After years of discussion, the CBD can also take some credit for initiating the development of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). In May 2019, the IPBES released its global assessment report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which explores the impact of biodiversity and ecosystem services on human well-being and the effectiveness of responses, including the Strategic Plan and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets. This deliverable will contribute to the process for the evaluation and renewal of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets and  provides a strong scientific foundation for further actions to improve the status and trends of biodiversity globally.

The CBD is a model agreement within the UN for considering the viewpoints of Indigenous people.

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