The Earth's biological resources are vital to
humanity's economic and social development. As a result,
there is a growing recognition that biological diversity
is a global asset of tremendous value to present and
future generations. At the same time, the threat to
species and ecosystems has never been so great as it is
today. Species extinction caused by human activities
continues at an alarming rate.
In response, the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) convened the Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts on
Biological Diversity in November 1988 to explore the
need for an international convention on biological
diversity. Soon after, in May 1989, it established the
Ad Hoc Working Group of Technical and Legal Experts to
prepare an international legal instrument for the
conservation and sustainable use of biological
diversity. The experts were to take into account "the
need to share costs and benefits between developed and
developing countries" as well as "ways and means to
support innovation by local people".
By February 1991, the Ad Hoc Working Group had become
known as the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee.
Its work culminated on 22 May 1992 with the Nairobi
Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the
Convention on Biological Diversity.
The Convention was opened for signature on 5 June
1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (the Rio "Earth Summit"). It remained open
for signature until 4 June 1993, by which time it had
received 168 signatures. The Convention entered into
force on 29 December 1993, which was 90 days after the
30th ratification. The first session of the Conference
of the Parties was scheduled for 28 November - 9
December 1994 in the Bahamas.
The Convention on Biological Diversity was inspired
by the world community's growing commitment to
sustainable development. It represents a dramatic step
forward in the conservation of biological diversity, the
sustainable use of its components, and the fair and
equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of