Biodiversity @ UNITAR

Maintaining the earth’s biodiversity is essential for the natural environment to deliver goods and services on which humanity thrives. It is also a key dimension of poverty alleviation.

Several UNITAR Programmes and Offices are engaged in supporting governments, organizations, and stakeholders in developing capacity to respond to the global biodiversity challenge. Activities are linked and seek to make a contribution to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), signed at the Rio Summit in 1992. In 2007, UNITAR signed a Memorandum with the Secretariat of the CBD with the goal to enhance UNITAR’s contribution to the implementation of the Convention. In 2006, the Institute also became a member of the Heads of Agencies Task Force on the 2010 Biodiversity Target.

Cross-cutting Issues

  • UNITAR’s International Law Programme offers a crosscutting module on biodiversity in its Diploma Course in International Environmental Law. The Diploma Course is a self-tailored and self-study 18-month distance learning course
  • The Fellowship Programme on International and Comparative Environmental Law in 2006 devoted several lectures to global and regional conventions on biodiversity protection (Ramsar Convention, CITES, CBD, etc.)

Integrated Water and Resource and Wetlands Management

  • The Workshop Series on Biodiversity in Kushiro (Hokkaido, Japan) conducted by UNITAR’s Hiroshima Office aims to contribute towards national policy planning related to biodiversity conservation and management in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on integrated water resource and wetland management

Satellite Information and Biodiversity

  • The inventory, monitoring, and assessment of global land cover, soil degradation, and habitat changes can be facilitated through satellite imagery. UNOSAT provides expertise to facilitate the implementation of the CBD using objective and updatable geographic information derived from satellite imagery.

Biodiversity and Local Development

  • The Local Development Programme has been involved in biodiversity training for local authorities, mainly through CIFAL Curitiba. A special event for local authorities was organized at the Conference of the Parties (COP8) of the CBD in March 2006 contributing to the development of a Declaration of Cities on Biodiversity, approved in March 2007, which is linked to the 2010 Biodiversity Targets
  • In the Mahakam Delta in Indonesia, UNOSAT is supporting capacity-development of local authorities and communities, focusing on ecological rehabilitation and local economic development planning
  • In the Niger Delta Region training activities conducted through the UNITAR Niger Delta office in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, focus on ecological and socio-economic aspects of oil and gas exploitation

Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing

  • In 2005, the Multilateral Diplomacy Programme designed and used a simulation exercise on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS) in the context of various training activities, including training organized in cooperation with UNEP and the University of Joensuu (2005, 2006)
  • In March 2006, on the occasion of the COP 8 of the CBD, UNITAR supported a side event on “ABS Dialogue: A Search for Innovation on Trust and Partnership”, with the CBD Secretariat providing institutional support. The event gathered relevant stakeholders to envision an ABS system using an Appreciative Enquiry Methodology
  • Starting in 2009, UNITAR contributes to the second phase (2009-2011) of the ABS Capacity Development Initiative for Africa focusing on training of African negotiators to develop capacities (both substantive and process skills) in view of making the ABS regime as development-friendly as possible


  • Within the framework of the UNEP-GEF project “Capacity-Building for Effective Participation in the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH)” UNITAR assisted UNEP in the design and development of on-line training modules on “Obligations of Parties with regard to BCH under the Cartagena Protocol” and “Using the BCH”, and in developing an instructional manual for regional trainers