Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, world leaders agreed on a comprehensive strategy for "sustainable development" - meeting our needs while ensuring that we leave a healthy and viable world for future generations. One of the key agreements adopted at Rio was the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This agreement among the vast majority of the world's governments sets out commitments for maintaining the world's ecological underpinnings as we go about the business of economic development. The Convention establishes three main goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.

Ireland is a signatory to the CBD and as such undertook to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. The outlines the measures which it has taken for the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

In January 2000 a supplementary agreement to the CBD known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was adopted by the Conference of the Parties. The protocol aims to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology practices. Visit the CBD Clearing House Mechanism for more information.


The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between Governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

CITES is implemented in the EU through a set of Regulations known as the Wildlife Trade Regulations. Currently these are Council Regulation (EC) No. 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein (the Basic Regulation) and Commission Regulation (EC) No 865/2006 laying down detailed rules concerning the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 (the Implementing Regulation).

To find out more about CITES and the conventions implementation in Ireland visit our CITES permit pages.

Bonn Convention

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or The Bonn Convention Bonn Convention) aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, concerned with the conservation of wildlife and habitats on a global scale. Since the Convention's entry into force, its membership has grown steadily to include 92 (as of 1 August 2005) Parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The main pieces of legislation to ensure that the provisions of the Bonn convention are applied include the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive.

Bern Convention

The European Community is a contracting party to the Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats adopted at Bern on 19 September 1979. The aim of the Bern Convention is to ensure the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats by means of cooperation between member States. The Bern Convention co-ordinates the action of European States in adopting common standards and policies for the sustainable use of biological diversity, thus contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of Europeans and the promotion of sustainable development.

Ramsar Convention

The Ramsar Convention - the Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 147 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1524 wetland sites, totaling 129.2 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

The World Heritage Convention

The 1972 World Heritage Convention links together in a single document the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties. The Convention recognizes the way in which people interact with nature, and the fundamental need to preserve the balance between the two.

OSPAR Convention

The 1992 OSPAR Convention is the current instrument guiding international cooperation on the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic. It combined and up-dated the 1972 Oslo Convention on dumping waste at sea and the 1974 Paris Convention on land-based sources of marine pollution.

A list of the marine protected areas in Ireland listed on the OSPAR convention can be downloaded OSPAR MPAs PDF icon [33KB]