Considering their importance in the pursuit of sustainable development , the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, and the promotion of their sustainable use, are among the main topics the Italian Development Cooperation Agency deals with.

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Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is  used to define the variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity can be referred to different levels, ranging from genes to species and ecosystems, whose regulations is linked to inhabiting species.

Biodiversity represents a key feature and component of the natural capital that underpins the development and prosperity of populations. As recognised by the declaration of adoption of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, biodiversity loss, along with other environmental issues, has been added to the list of major challenges facing humanity. Biodiversity and ecosystem functionality are inextricably linked to climate change and related  phenomena such as desertification and sea level rise.

Considering their importance in the pursuit of sustainable development , the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems, and the promotion of their sustainable use, are among the main topics the Italian Development Cooperation Agency deals with.

Biodiversity and terrestrial ecosystems

The protection and sustainable use of biodiversity and terrestrial ecosystems are the backbone of many of the Agency’s development aid initiatives in partner states. Most countries with poorer economies or economies in transition are heavily dependent on natural resources and the services provided by ecosystems, e.g., for agricultural production or the supply of energy for domestic purposes, and are therefore highly exposed to the consequences of biodiversity loss. At the same time, ecosystems and biodiversity can in many cases provide opportunities for the development or diversification of economic activities.

Within the framework of Sustainable Development Goal No. 15, and of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Agency’s actions in many cases concern the protection of particular ecosystems through support for the management of protected areas. Such areas include mountain ecosystems in countries in the Balkan region or in Pakistan, or arid or semi-arid ecosystems in several countries on the African continent such as Egypt or Kenya. The Agency also fosters the sustainable use of biodiversity, e.g., by promoting forms of sustainable management or restoration of ecosystems such as forests or savannas, or by combating degradation factors such as fires, as in some countries of the Amazon basin.

Biodiversity and marine ecosystems

The protection of biodiversity and coastal and marine ecosystems is of interest to many countries with which the Agency cooperates, such as Albania and several African and Caribbean countries. In these countries, the Agency is active with initiatives concerning the management of marine protected areas or the protection of endangered species. It also promotes the restoration of ecosystems that are fundamental both because they support high levels of biological diversity and because they play a key role in regulating phenomena such as coastal erosion or carbon absorption or in providing other exosystemic services, such as mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass meadows and coastal dunes. Initiatives are also underway to promote sustainable use of marine resources, for example through artisanal fishing and related activities, contributing to opportunities for developing the so-called blue economy.

In addition to projects involving individual countries, biodiversity is also a central theme of the Convention on Biological Diversity and other multilateral treaties of interest to the Agency, such as the ‘Treaty on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity in Areas beyond National Jurisdiction‘ (also referred to as the ‘High Seas Treaty’). Negotiated and recently adopted at the UN, the treaty aims precisely to protect biological diversity in marine areas that are beyond the jurisdiction of individual states and are therefore particularly vulnerable to uncontrolled exploitation and other anthropogenic threats.

Biodiversity & Land

The Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity at global level. It was signed in 1992 during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio Earth Summit) and entered into force on 29 December 1993.

It is a legally binding international treaty with three main objectives: conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of biodiversity, and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources.

Its overall objective is to encourage actions that will lead to a sustainable future.

The Convention covers biodiversity at different levels: ecosystems, species and genetic resources, as well as biotechnology, through the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. In fact, it covers most possible domains that are directly or indirectly related to biodiversity and its role in sustainable development, ranging from science, politics and education to agriculture, trade and culture.

The governing body of the Convention is the Conference of the Parties (COP), composed of all countries (Parties) that have ratified the Treaty. It meets every two years to review progress, set priorities and commit to work plans.

In April 2002, the Parties to the Convention developed a Strategic Plan to guide its further implementation at the national, regional and global levels, and committed to achieving a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, so as to ensure the continuation of its beneficial uses through the conservation and sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the advantages arising from the utilisation of genetic resources.

This target was then endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the UN General Assembly and was accepted as a new goal within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals.

At its 10th meeting in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010, the Conference of the Parties adopted a new Strategic Plan with new targets for the post-2010 period.

The Global Environment Facility provides the financial resources to developing countries for implementing the Convention. Its core budget comes from national governments with significant additional voluntary contributions.

Two Protocols have been agreed under the Convention. The first one is the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety that regulates the movement of living organisms modified by modern biotechnology from one country to another. The second is the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.


Convention on Biological Diversity

Convenzione sulla Biodiversità (Convention on Biological Diversity)


The ‘Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat’, was adopted in Ramsar (Iran) in 1971, and is in fact commonly known as the ‘Ramsar Convention’. Entered into force in 1975, and ratified by Italy in 1976, the main purpose of the Convention is to contribute to sustainable development by promoting the conservation of wetlands, both through actions at local and national level and through international cooperation. Wetlands are understood under the Ramsar Convention in a broad sense, i.e., as all those land areas where the presence of water is the primary factor influencing the environment and the structure of ecosystems. Wetlands, within the meaning of the Convention, include, for example, swamps and marshes, peat bogs, permanent or transient natural or artificial basins with standing or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt water, including expanses of seawater whose depth at low tide does not exceed six metres.

Although its official name reflects the treaty’s original emphasis on the protection and use of wetlands as habitats for waterbirds, over the years the Ramsar Convention has seen its mandate broadened to include all aspects of the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands as vital ecosystems for biodiversity and sustainable development. Relevant in this perspective was the fact that, although its adoption preceded by many years the international debate on sustainable development and the recognition of this principle in major international environmental treaties, the text of the Ramsar Convention already explicitly considered for wetlands the very related concept of the ‘wise use’ of ecosystems.

One of the main commitments under the Ramsar Convention for signatory states is to designate one or more wetland sites to be included in a list of ‘wetlands of international importance’ (the so-called list of ‘Ramsar sites’), and to ensure their conservation and sustainable use. Contracting countries are also required to commit to establishing protected areas to protect other wetlands in addition to those already designated in the list of Ramsar sites, to encourage scientific research, the exchange of data and publications, the implementation of wetland education programmes, and to co-operate internationally on areas related to the convention, especially with other states in the case of transboundary

ecosystems. The actions to be implemented have been gradually defined in the context of the work of the Convention with more specific indications and recommendations, for example with regard to the realisation of inventories regarding the presence and condition of wetlands on their territory.

The bodies established under the Ramsar Convention include the Conference of the Contracting Parties, a Standing Committee, a Secretariat and a Technical and Scientific Review Panel. The Convention has a ‘core budget’ consisting of contributions provided by signatory countries, and voluntary contributions from states, organisations or individuals, for the implementation of specific programmes.

Source: The Convention on Wetlands

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Last update: 07/05/2024, 12:25