Biodiversity is defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems.” In simple terms, it can be described as the “diversity of life on Earth.”
The Importance of Conservation
Biodiversity is under heavy threat. Reducing and preventing further biodiversity loss are considered among the most critical challenges to humankind. Of all the problems the world faces in managing “global goods,” only the loss of biodiversity is irreversible.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment identified the most important direct drivers of biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystem goods and services: habitat change, climate change, invasive alien species, overexploitation, and pollution. These elements are influenced by a series of indirect drivers of change, including governance, institutions and legal frameworks, science and technology.
The GEF supports projects that address the key drivers of biodiversity loss which focus on the highest leveraging opportunities to achieve sustainable biodiversity conservation. Biodiversity projects constitute about 36 percent of the GEF’s portfolio, making it the largest portfolio within the institution.
Fulfilling the Convention on Biological Diversity Objectives
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) provides the global policy framework to address biodiversity issues. The objectives of the CBD are defined in Article 1 of the Convention as:
“…the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources, including appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies, taking into account all rights over those resources and to technologies, and by appropriate funding.”
The CBD also provides the guidance under which the GEF, as the financial mechanism of the Convention, operates to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition in meeting their obligations under the Convention and generating global environmental benefits in the area of biodiversity.
The United Nations General Assembly at its 65th session declared the period 2011-2020 to be “the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, with a view to contributing to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for the period 2011-2020”.